The Best 5 Books I Read in 2020

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Another year done, another reading recap.

In 2020, I read a total of 21 books and five of them really stuck out. Today I’ll be sharing those five best books I read last year along with my thoughts on them for you!

If you’re interested in seeing more of the books I read check out this full list on Bookshop or friend me on GoodReads.

The Girl He Used to Know

I feel like I had seen this book while working in the library in 2019 and was drawn to the cover so when I found it on BookOutlet I purchased it. I was not disappointed.

Annika is such a well rounded character, and I loved being in her mind. I thought she was just going to be another “shy girl” trope which I always related to, but was happily surprised that there was more to her than that. Spoiler alert, it’s soon easily discerned that Annika has some sort of developmental disorder making the book deter from the typical “shy girl” trope. 

the book The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves on top of cheese pieces

I had never read a book told from the POV of someone with a development disorder so I loved the new perspective and representation. I especially loved that the author didn’t advertise that specific quality of the main character to capitalize on the recent call for diversity in all media.

I read this book in two days and cried two times. A great one to start off this list right? 

Details

291 pages

5/5 stars

Description from GoodReads:

“Annika Rose likes being alone. She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone. Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.”

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The Light We Lost

I was originally drawn to this book because I liked the idea of meeting the right guy at the wrong time. It’s a common thing in Hallmark movies and thought about every year you go home for the holidays (‘Tis the Damn Season anyone?), but I don’t see very many books with the theme. 

I really enjoyed the timeline of this book. It’s Lucy narrating in the present, but going over everything that happened with her and Gabe. It’s a cool perspective to get both her present and past thoughts on those moments at the same time. This unique storytelling brings up feelings of nostalgia that I could relate to when looking back on college or previous relationships.

This book pulled on my heartstrings harder than any Taylor Swift album could. I felt like true love could never exist and everyone ended up with the wrong person and like life always got in the way of soulmates. I bawled reading the last chapter. (Yes, a lot of crying in this year’s books.) 

the book The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Details

321 pages 

5/5 stars

Description from GoodReads:

“Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.”

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The Map that Leads to You

Do you love to travel? Do you daydream about finding the love of your life while galavanting around Europe? Well then do I have a book for you. Must I say anything further?

If so, here’s more: this book is one of the most realistic romance novels I’ve ever read. Sure it’s far fetched (otherwise everyone would be meeting their spouse while traveling) but it’s not unrealistic. The characters are relatable and not the typical romance leads, I think they have more depth than the average romance novel I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good raunchy romance novel every once in a while, but this one is more of a deep true love story that will leave you falling in love yourself.

Did I mention this book made me cry, too? Read at your own heart’s risk.

the book The Map That Leads to You by J.P. Monninger on a photo album of Scotland

Details

390 pages

5/5 stars

Description from GoodReads:

“Two strangers take the road less traveled…

Heather Mulgrew’s world is already mapped out: she is going to travel abroad with her friends after college, come back to a great career in September, and head into a life where not much is left to chance. But that was before an encounter on an overnight train introduces her to Jack, a passionate adventurer who changes the course of her journey and her life.

Throwing Heather’s careful itinerary to the wind, they follow Jack’s grandfather’s journal through post-World War II era Europe: Vienna, Budapest, Turkey—exotic places that serve only to heighten their feelings. As September looms, Jack urges Heather to stay with him, to keep traveling, to give in to the romance of their experience; Heather convinces him to return to the United States.

Jack has a secret that could change everything. And Heather’s world is about to be shaken to the core.”

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Girls Like Us

This book made me cry. And let me tell you, books rarely make me cry. It’s a moving and heart wrenching story about four young girls (aged 14-17) who fall pregnant in the 1970’s and have no other choice than to go through with giving birth. Each girl has different circumstances and the author does a great job at explaining why some may want to terminate a pregnancy along with showing the emotional side effects that may come when not given a choice. 

Perfectly crafted I have no idea why this book doesn’t have more hype surrounding it. I would recommend anyone to read this book. The beginning was a little hard to get into for me as I’m not a fan of Izella and Ola, but their story still needs to be told. 

the books Girls Like Us by Randi Pink

Details

305 pages

5/5 stars

Description from GoodReads:

“Set in the summer of 1972, this moving YA historical novel is narrated by teen girls from different backgrounds with one thing in common: Each girl is dealing with pregnancy.

Four teenage girls. Four different stories. What they all have in common is that they’re dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

In rural Georgia, Izella is wise beyond her years, but burdened with the responsibility of her older sister, Ola, who has found out she’s pregnant. Their young neighbor, Missippi, is also pregnant, but doesn’t fully understand the extent of her predicament. When her father sends her to Chicago to give birth, she meets the final narrator, Susan, who is white and the daughter of an anti-choice senator.”

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The Sundown Motel

This book was a whirlwind! I’m a fan of any book that tells the story in alternating chapters between different characters or different timelines and this does both! Told from the POV of Viv in 1982 and Carly (Viv’s niece) in 2017, the book flies by and always kept my attention. 

I always feel like murder mystersy and suspense novels are hyped up to much and turn out to be quite boring, but this did not disappoint! The ending wasn’t the greatest, but author’s writing and overall plot made me overlook that point. I read the last 200 pages of this book in one sitting because it was that riveting, so I knew I had to include it here.

the book The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Details

326 pages

4/5 stars

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Description from GoodReads:

“Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…”

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And that’s a wrap! I hope you found a new book to read this year, or just to add to your TBR. I would also love to hear some recommendations on what I should read this year!

Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite books you read last year?

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