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Best Books of 2020 by Genre

Cindy Burnett
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Cindy Burnett highlights her favorites of 2020 by genre.

2020 has been the LONGEST year. December is moving along, and I think we will all sigh in relief when January is here. In the past, as years come to a close, I usually enjoy reflecting back on that particular year, but 2020 does not lend itself to many fond reflections. 

This past year did have a few silver linings, and for me, one was the books. In a year where we could not travel much and when the stresses of the world regularly impacted our daily lives, books provided me with an escape, allowed me to armchair travel, and kept me from obsessing about the pandemic and other events.

Some books grab me from the very beginning – the subject matter, the writing style, or the characters draw me in from the start. Others are a slow build for me; as the book progresses, I become more invested in the story. And rarely, a book will not really resonate with me as I read it, but after I am finished, I continue to think about it for a long time afterwards. My best books lists usually consist of a combination of the first two types of books.

Next week I will share my top ten list for 2020 (which in previous years has frequently been my top eleven or twelve list- it is almost impossible for me to narrow it down to ten!). This week I am focusing on the best books of 2020 in the each of the remaining three genres in which I commonly read. I read so much nonfiction this year that I wrote about that genre separately; I feel that those books kept me sane in 2020. 

Within each genre, I listed the books alphabetically. 

Mysteries and thrillers:

Cut to the Bone by Ellison Cooper
Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker
Hi Five by Joe Ide
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
The Wild One by Nick Petrie
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Historical fiction:

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little 
Fast Girls by Elise Hooper
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall
When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor
The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull


Beach Read by Emily Henry
The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey
Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Followers by Megan Angelo
A Good Family by AH Kim
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

I hope you enjoy perusing these lists and finding some books that you have not yet read but now want to. December is a fun month for me because it brings a plethora of best book lists put out by magazines, newspapers, TV stations, and more – I love comparing my lists with others and discovering some new titles along the way. Feel free to share your favorite lists with me!

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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