One of the best habits I formed years ago was putting my phone away before bedtime. It helped relax my mind and my eyes to read instead.
I tend to seek out suspense fiction novels, especially those set in the WWII era. This year, I branched out a little bit and was surprisingly enamored with a few non-fiction books.
Here is a quick breakdown of the 40 books that I picked up this year:
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The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, as I have yet to read a book of hers that I did not like. All of her stories are incredibly detailed to the point that you close the book, forgetting that you are not actually existing inside of the story alongside the characters. The Dutch House was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and it’s easy to see why. The story centers around two children and a mansion + wealth that they had to leave behind due to their father’s death. The premise reminds me a bit of Cinderella, but the storyline is much more profound.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
I could swim in Vuong’s prose forever. His beautiful writing takes the reader through a personal history, exploring immigration, forbidden love, and poverty.
After The Flood by Kassandra Montag
I’m not one to typically enjoy post-apocalyptic stories, but this one felt like a true reality. The scene is set a hundred years from now after most of the world is flooded. Only colonies exists with pirates and dangerous people in between. A single mom and her daughter start an adventure to find her long-lost daughter that was kidnapped by her husband at the start of the floods. The story is heart-wrenching, suspenseful, and fully-engrossing. I couldn’t put it down until I finished the last page.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
I listened to this book, and the narration was brilliant. The story is set on an island off the coast of Ireland where a celebrity wedding is hosted. A murder occurs, and the chapters alternate between present and past, filling in the blanks.
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
A lawyer at the top of her career gets engaged, and her life seems to be perfect until she falls asleep and has a premonition of a completely different life five years from the present. The dream offsets her reality and perception of relationships, causing her to question her engagement and her best friend’s fiancé. This is one of those effortless delightful reads with a story that keeps your attention until the end.
Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland
The story begins with a tragedy, and the rest of the story is spent revealing family secrets and how a family copes with a loss.
Deadly Cross by James Patterson
I’ve been following this series for years and thought Patterson knocked it out of the park again. If you haven’t read the Alex Cross series and like mystery novels, now is the time to start.
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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
After everyone gets food poisoning at a wedding, only the twin sister (MOH) and best man leave the event healthy. With a honeymoon that cannot be postponed or refunded, the sister and best man are gifted the experience, dreading the vacation, as they cannot stand one another. This is an enjoyable “chick flick” type of read.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
A reporter explores the truth behind HeLa cells, which were taken without consent. The cells have been used for decades to cure diseases and create vaccines. The story reveals the horrible history of racial injustice in the medical field. It was a fascinating story and an important history to learn.
Devotions by Mary Oliver
I know this is a favorite book of poetry for most. I did enjoy it, but I have found a greater connection to other works.
Home Body by Rupi Kaur
I think Kaur’s work is exquisite. Her reflections on the pandemic, BLM movement, and other issues speak to the heart of the matter. I enjoyed her previous books more, but this was still a beautiful collection of poetry.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This is a classic that I have been meaning to read for years. It took me a while to get into the story, but I was hooked halfway through. The story follows a poor family in Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century.
The Stand by Stephen King
This was an odd book to read during a pandemic, but I could strangely relate to some of the plot lines because of our recent history. The book follows a group people that escape from a plague that takes out 99% of the world population. It is one of the longest novels I’ve ever read (1152 pages), but I never was bored. It was my first King novel, and I enjoyed it.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
This was a fan favorite in 2020, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me personally. There were chapters I connected with, and there were others that I didn’t. Regardless, it is a stand-out book for feminism and for challenging the church to be more inclusive of women and the LGBTQ community.
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Another audiobook for me, but it was a great thriller. A couple uses their date nights for an unusual activity, which seems to spark their relationship until a huge plot twist.
The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine
This audiobook was great too. A thriller about a wife who feels threatened by her husband’s girlfriend. A very twisted story in which I couldn’t guess the ending.
The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
A group of investment bankers are trapped in an elevator, left with clues for their escape. Throughout the experience, their history of lies and betrayal are revealed and exposed.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This is more of a 4.5 star choice for. I really enjoy Backman’s work in general. His stories are always relatable, funny, and lighthearted with deeper meaning. A group of strangers are trapped at an apartment showing by an accidental bank robber.
Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker
A chilling thriller that scared the heck out of me. A woman is kidnapped and held hostage while her family looks for her.
Play The Forest School Way by Jane Worroll and Peter Houghton
Since we’re avoiding preschool because of the pandemic, we’ve been trying to integrate curriculum into our daily life. This book has wonderful ideas for incorporating the outdoors into early childhood education.
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
I think I enjoyed the graphics and design of this book more than anything else. I learned a lot about the elements of cooking, and there are some fabulous recipes inside too.
The Glittering Hour by Iona Gray
A Romeo and Juliet-type story of a forbidden love between different social classes.
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These books were fine reads, but they fell flat or didn’t stand out.
You by Caroline Kepnes
Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
Cross Cross by James Patterson
Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman
His and Hers by Alice Feeney
On Writing by Stephen King
A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
20th Victim by James Patterson
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I had a really hard time finishing these five stories. Some started on a good foot but dragged a lot in the middle (TDITWC and Starless Sea).
The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson
Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena