The Top Books of 2020 / My Year In Books
2020 is one for the books. In lieu of publishing my annual top books of the year post, I am going to talk about my year in books. It is not fair to authors to post top books this year as so many books got so little buzz thanks to COVID, politics, etc. And for many of us, reading was difficult amidst a pandemic, shutdown, uncertainty and stress.
January and February were normal and happy in book world with great releases and book events. Little did we know that in mid-March the world would literally stop. And sadly, we have had no in-person book events since then. We went from not really knowing what Zoom was to using Zoom all the time. Social media took on new urgency for authors.
In my Great Thoughts Great Readers book salon, we exclusively revealed 10 covers for authors so far this year with another 2 coming next week. Covers revealed were Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig, The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda, Half Life by Jillian Cantor, Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland, The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen, Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie, Little Pieces of Me by Alison Hammer, The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose, Truths and Other Hidden Things by Lea Geller and The Tribes by Mari Howes. These books were from major publishers including William Morrow, Thomas & Mercer, Harper Perennial, Berkeley Publishing, Forever, Atria, Blue Box Press, Lake Union and Audible. This week we will reveal covers from Dial Press and Wyatt-McKenzie.
My year in books started perfectly with my friend Rochelle Weinstein’s book This Is Not How It Ends. How prescient is that title- our pandemic year is ending with vaccines. We had an amazing book club with Rochelle in the Great Thoughts’ Great Readers group.
In January, I also enjoyed First Street by Catherine McKenzie, Elyssa Friedland, Randy Susan Meyers, Kermit Roosevelt III, Jasmine Guillory and Shawn Klomparens, You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley, Cartier’s Hope by M.J. Rose and All The Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Karen White and Lauren Willig.
In February, we were still living “normally” and I traveled to Florida for a book event. That month, I really enjoyed The Light After the War by Anita Abriel, Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West, The Queen’s Fortune by Allison Pataki, The Other Mrs. By Mary Kubica, Follow Me by Kathleen Barber, The Girl in the White Gloves by Kerri Maher and This Won’t End Well by Camille Noe Pagan.
And then came March and we began hearing of Covid in the U.S. and our world began to change. My favorite March books were The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi, Woman on the Edge by Samantha Bailey, A Good Neighborhood by Therese Fowler, And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Thornton, The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton, Code Name Helené by Ariel Lawhon, The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian, The Shape of Family by Shilpi Gowda, and Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone.
My March column for Frolic is here.
The Great Thoughts Great Readers Book Festival
On March 11, 2020, I started the Great Thoughts Great Readers Book Festival never knowing how big it would become and that we would host 88 authors from March to August. My friend author Susie Schnall immediately stepped up and offered to kick off our festival. Brenda Janowitz followed the next day and then it ballooned. We hosted seasoned best-selling authors and debut authors of fiction and non -fiction.
Here are the authors who participated:
Susie Schnall, Brenda Janowitz, Jackie Friedland, Heather Chavez, Rochelle Weinstein, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, Lynda Loigman, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Jennifer Rosner, Shilpi Gowda, Chris Bohjalian, Lynn Messina, Kerri Maher, Stephanie Thornton, Richard Fifield, Michael Zapata, Christina Adams, Anita Hughes, Nguyen Phan Que Mai, Lea Geller, Patti Callahan Henry, Andrew Alschul, Tess Thompson, Kathleen Barber, Meredith Schorr, Sarah Slusher, Sue Meissner, Alireza Taheri Araghi, Sarah McCoy, Ellen O’Connell Whittet, Ellen Meeropol, Alison Hammer, Stephanie Alexander, Julie Maloney, Brooke Fossey, Kristy Harvey, Haley Shapley, Kate Milliken, Heather Webb, Jamie Brenner, Camille Di Maio, Wendy Francis, Karen Dietrich, Kimberly McCreight, Mary Kay Andrews, Karen Abbott, Alli Frank and Asha Youmans, Lisa Duffy,
Heather Gudenkauf, Ava Homa, Steena Holmes, ShaNay Norvell, Kathryn Kopach Biel, Sonali Dev, Allison Pataki, Marya Parr, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Amy Mason Doan, Lauren Willig, Heather Young, Emily Liebert, Kimberly Belle, Catherine McKenzie, Lauren Ho, Susie Orman Schnall, Julie Clark, Beatriz Williams, David Bell, Elise Hooper, Kerry Lonsdale, Roz Nay, Robyn Harding, Lainey Cameron, Danielle Younge-Ullman, Kristin Harmel, Amy Poeppel, Samantha Downing, Stephen Kiernan, Jillian Cantor, Hank Philippi Ryan, Fiona Davis, Liza Nash Taylor, Lynne Hugo, Liza Weimer, Renee Rosen, Kristin Fields.
Oh April. I fell and broke my kneecap (I do not recommend.) and had surgery mid-pandemic (I do not recommend.) in early April. But the book festival rocked on. Not as much reading got done that month.
My April reads included You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer, The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez, That’s Not a Thing by Jackie Friedland and Feels Like Falling by Kristy Harvey.
My April column for Frolic is here.
Covid continued to rage on but… May brought the Summer books. Summer reading is always my favorite. read so many great ones in May including A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, Hello Summer by Mary Kay Andrews (her best book yet), Summer Longing by Jamie Brenner, The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson, Beach Read by Emily Henry, On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe, The Perfect Secret by Steena Holmes, The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley, Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev, The First Emma by Camille Di Maio and Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner.
June brought so many great reads. I especially LOVED The Last Flight by Julie Clark. We hosted Julie for a big book club which was amazing! You can read it here. In June, I also read Perfectly Famous by Emily Liebert, The Swap by Robyn Harding, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle, The Marriage Game by Sara Desai, Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho, 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand, We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall and Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan.
My June column for Frolic is here.
The highlight of 2020 in book world was author Byron Lane proposing to author Steven Rowley in the acknowledgements of Lane’s debut, A Star is Bored. Clearly that was the Happily Ever After we all needed this year. In addition to A Star is Bored, I really enjoyed these July books: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall, Side Trip by Kerry Lonsdale, The Heir Affair by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel, Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams, Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel, Hurry Home by Roz Nay and Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland.
My July column for Frolic is here.
Then came August. By August, we were all very over Covid but Covid sadly wasn’t over. In August, I read Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn, The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis, The Boys Club by Erica Katz, Etiquette for Runaways by Liza Nash Taylor, Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul. The Assignment by Liza Weimer, The First To Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan, You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria and The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis.
My August column for Frolic is here.
By September, it was clear to those of us with college kids that college and COVID were not good friends. While I had a quarantining offspring upstairs, I read His Only Wife by Peach Ado Media, I have Something To Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, White Coat Diaries by Madi Sinha and Ties That Tether.
My September column for Frolic is here.
What better book to start October than Jen Lancaster’s Welcome to the United States of Anxiety (and the perfect title for 2020). That month I also enjoyed, The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor, Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand, Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella, Stories from Suffragette City by Fiona Davis, M.J. Rose, Reviving the Hawthorne Sisters by Emily Carpenter and Why I Held Your Hand by Augusta Reilly
My October column for Frolic is here.
One of my very favorite books of 2020 released in November- The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Spielman. Trust me when I say this is the book we all need this year! In November I also enjoyed The Last Correspondent by Soraya Lane, The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn, My Dad My Dog by Rebecca Warner and the re-issue of The Diplomats Wife by Pam Jenoff.
Also in November, I moderated a panel with authors Rachel Beanland and Kristin Harmel for a large consortium of organizations. Both authors were amazing as are their books. Florence Adler Swims Forever and The Book of Lost Names.
My November column at Frolic is here.
And here we are in December. This month, I read Admission by Julie Buxbaum, The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict, My Last Duchess by Eloisa James and Under a Gilded Moon by Joy Jordan-Lake.
On December 1st, I moderated a fabulous historical fiction panel with Joy Jordan-Lake, Jane Healey, Fiona Davis, Lauren Willig and Ariel Lawhon. So much great info from so many great authors! Watch it here!
If you are shopping for holiday gifts, here is my Ultimate Bookish Holiday Gift Guide.
My December column at Frolic is here.
I have the privilege monthly of choosing books for 50 Plus- Today which is a great website and associated Facebook group. This year these choices included Woman on the Edge by Samantha Bailey, The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Spielman, Reviving the Hawthorne Sisters by Emily Carpenter, Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen, Etiquette for Runaways by Liza Nash Taylor, The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle and All The Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Karen White and Lauren Willig, A Good Neighborhood by Therese Fowler, Cartier’s Hope by M.J. Rose and The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan.
Vaccines And Good Books are Coming
2021 looks to be a fabulous year for books. My suggestions for Winter reads are here. I wish you all the very best of health, holidays and reading!
Great Thoughts’ Great Readers
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