As we near the end of 2020, I’ve pulled out my list of the 106 books I read this year (so far) and culled it down to my top-ten favorites for fiction and nonfiction. 

I’ve linked the Goodreads descriptions for each one, in case you want to check out any of the books in more detail (come connect with me there to see what I’m reading in real-time!).

Top Ten Favorite Fiction Books

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fineby Gail Honeyman: I read this book late into the night since I couldn’t put it down. It’s a great book if you want to be immersed or read something in one sitting, since you are rooting for the main character and just have to know what happens next.
  • Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: I really enjoyed this book. It’s about the sole survivor of a plane crash and I loved how it goes back and forth in time so that you see the situation from a range of angles.
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: The follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale was everything I was hoping for. Atwood is great at world-building, so this was another immersive read.
  • The Powerby Naomi Alderman: This author is a student of Atwood’s, so her revisionist history was similar in some ways to The Handmaid’s Tale. Highly recommended. (Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault.)
  • Monogamy by Sue Miller: I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this book, but it was a great addition to my literary fiction pile for the year. The book is the study of a marriage after the husband dies unexpectedly.
  • Leave the World Behindby Rumaan Alam: This book has been getting a lot of well-deserved hype. It doesn’t tie up everything neatly at the end, so if you like clear endings it may not be for you.
  • The Witch Elm by Tana French: This is a standalone and a great place to start if you’ve never read French’s work. The mystery has a wonderful sense of place and ambience that suck you right in.
  • Truly Deviousby Maureen Johnson (series): This is now a four-book series about a quirky teenager solving a mystery at a boarding school for creative children. I’ve read three of the books so far and they are super fun — just be prepared to dive right into the next book due to cliffhangers.
  • Force of Nature by Jane Harper: Harper is an Australian author that I found last year and I’ve been working my way through her back list. In this book, a woman goes missing at a company hiking retreat and there are a lot of fun twists and turns.
  • Long Bright River by Liz Moore: I read this book early in the year and it’s stuck with me. The plot is about two sisters, one who is a cop and the other who is addicted to drugs. It’s gritty and really well written.

Top Ten Favorite Nonfiction Books

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear: I held off on this one for a while, but it did not disappoint. I love the practical steps that Clear includes for all levels of habit building.
  • The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele: This is a great book for those wanting to learn a little more about yogic philosophy and ethics. The examples provided throughout help the content to be more applicable to modern life.
  • The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel: I love memoirs about solitude, so this one about a hermit who lives in the woods and steals from the local community for years without getting caught was right in my wheelhouse.
  • The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott: This book gave me so much to think about regarding planning for longevity in one’s career and life. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you have younger children.
  • Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey: This book on project management is one that I’ve already recommended to several of my coaching clients. It’s practical and breaks down complex processes into manageable steps.
  • The Anatomy of a Calling by Lissa Rankin: This memoir about a doctor searching for a new way to practice healing was so interesting! I was exposed to a lot of ideas that I had never heard of before. (Trigger warning for infertility and miscarriage.)
  • Loving What Isby Byron Katie: This work is so useful if you are trying to reframe thought patterns or become less frustrated with an area (or person) in your life. The scripts from her live sessions are super helpful in applying her ideas to real-world examples.
  • American Fire by Monica Hesse: I heard this book recommended on a podcast and I’m so glad I picked it up. This is the true story of a couple who become arsonists in a small town. I read this in just a couple sittings.
  • Keep It Moving by Twyla Tharp: I love Tharp’s The Creative Habit, so this book on how she is maintaining her creativity as she ages was really wonderful to dive into. 
  • Pause by Rachael O’Meara: I read a couple books on the theme of “pausing” this year and this one offers a practical guide to sabbaticals, vacations, and other forms of rest and respite for working professionals.

What are some of your favorite reads from 2020?