#TopTenTuesday TCL’s Top Ten Favorite Books of 2020.


2020: The Year of Too Many 5/5 Star Books!

This past year has been a particularly good one for my reading list, partially because I was furloughed for two months in April and May, and then I retired in July. That means that I was able to read 64 books this year (as compared to 50 during 2019). While last year I worried if I’d find enough books to fill out this list, this year started out with the first book I read getting a full 5/5 stars!

In fact, I found that there were so many great books published this year, that I’m continuing last year’s tradition and doing a top ten list, instead of a top five list, and joining this post up with That Artsy Reader Girl and this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic – Favorite books of 2020! Also, this way, I can still give out a few honorable mentions without flooding that list, or giving out any tied spots!


So, without any further ado…

10 – “The Girl in White Gloves” by Kerri Maher. Historical, biographical, women’s fiction novel about Princess Grace of Monaco, who, prior to her marriage to the Prince, was known as the actress Grace Kelley. Maher really gets into the head and heart of this iconic woman with such a tragic life.

9 –  “Her Last Flight” by Beatriz Williams. Historical, women’s fiction. A fascinating story about a woman trying to find out what happened to a famous female aviator who went missing. Obviously, Williams was inspired by Amelia Earhart’s story, but wanted a different ending to that story, so she invented another aviatrix to do so!

8 – At the Stroke of Nine O’clock” by Jane Davis. Historical, women’s fiction. Starting with the time when Big Ben’s chime was delayed by birds sitting on the minute hand, this novel includes a biographical element about the last woman in England to be put to death for her crimes, which serves as a timely, yet evergreen message to the world. 

7 – The Operator” by Gretchen Berg. Historical, literary, women’s fiction. This truly fun, but also heartwarming tale about a woman who hears the wrong thing while listening in on a phone call. Building on the idea that no one can resist overhearing a bit of gossip, and what can happen when the gossip you hear is actually about you!

6 –The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop” by Fannie Flagg. Historical, Contemporary, literary, humorous, fiction. This sequel to “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” is both funny and touching. If you’ve read the first book, you’ll adore this one! But even if you haven’t, this story is lovely.

5 – Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman. Contemporary, literary, humorous, translated, fiction. Another excellent study in human nature, which revolves around a bank robbery gone wrong, and the bunch of useful idiots that the robber ends up taking hostage. Backman proves again that he truly understands human nature and behavior.

4 – Miss Benson’s Beetle” by Rachel Joyce. Historical, women’s fiction. Margery Benson finally decides she’s going to leave her dull, school-teacher life and find that beetle that may or may not exist in New Caledonia. Joyce continues to give us characters that are quirky and spunky, that we fall totally in love with.

These next books could easily have tied for second place, but I’ve decided that I really shouldn’t do that anymore.

3 – Arctic Fury” by Greer Macallister. Historical, biographical, women’s fiction. Based on some historical figures, Macallister devises an all-female expedition to the arctic to find an all-male one that went missing. Talk about your strong women – Macallister can draw them beautifully, and then put them to the test!

2 –Code Name Hélène” By Ariel Lawhon. Historical, biographical, women’s fiction. Lawhon tells the story of Nancy Wake, an Australian woman who started out as a journalist, and ended up leading a group of resistance fighters in France during WWII. I’m thrilled that I now know about this amazing woman who achieved so much, by her sheer will and wits.

And my absolute, 100%, #1 favorite novel of 2020 is:

1 – Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. This biographical, historical fiction novel was beyond a doubt one of the finest books I’ve ever read! Certainly it is O’Farrell’s masterpiece and was, oh so very well deserving of the 25th Women’s Fiction Prize! This is the story of Agnes (or Anne) Hathaway, the wife of the famous poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, whose son Hamnet died at the age of only 11. O’Farrell has written a total masterpiece, with a point of view that no one has ever attempted.


Honorable Mentions:

FictionLady Clementine” by Marie Benedict. Historical, biographical, women’s fiction novel about Clementine Churchill, the woman behind the Prime Minister of the UK during World War II. The reason this didn’t get on the list above is because I actually read it in 2019, and not during 2020.

The War Widow” by Tara Moss. Historical, women’s, mystery, crime thriller, fiction. The reason why this isn’t among the others above is because it was originally published in Australia in 2019. This is the first in Moss’ new Billie Walker series and I intend to read more!

Also “A House in the Country” by Ruth Adam should get an honorable mention, although it was originally published in 1957, it was re-released this past year.

Non-Fiction: Um… sorry, I didn’t read any non-fiction books published this year (it really wasn’t a good year for getting involved in reality while reading for pleasure, now was it?)!

What were your favorite reads among the books published in 2020?

Hey, did anyone notice the different graphics here?
If so, do you have a favorite – the GIF above, or the picture below?

2020 Top Ten HAB Big

53 thoughts on “#TopTenTuesday TCL’s Top Ten Favorite Books of 2020.

  1. Great list! I’m not sure why, but I read less historical fiction in 2020 than I typically do. I need to rectify that in 2021. I love Beatriz Williams! I’m excited to get to this one. And Anxious People is on my tbr, too. Happy Reading this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a great list. I’m steaming through “Hamnet” right now and finding it a magical read. Outstanding novel. I’ll be curious to read “Code Name Hélène”. I read Russell Bradden’s account of her exploits when I was about ten and Nancy Wake was one of my childhood heroes. I’m wondering how the fictionalized version will work. One terrific book I read this year was “Agent Sonya” by Ben Macintyre. It’s not fiction but it’s a brilliant read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh… thanks. Mind you, I hardly ever read non-fiction. I think Hélène is a very powerful portrayal of Wake, and Lawhon is very precise in trying to keep the facts straight.


    1. I’m really very grateful that I got ARCs of these books, because otherwise, I’d have to wait until they came out in paperback or there was a sale on them on one of the ebook sites.


  3. Lots of great looking historical fiction on your list for me, some of which I had on my mental TBR and some not. As a 16th century major, I was planning to read Hamnet but your enthusiasm made me decide to buy it for my sister and read it first. As it turned out, I was only a few chapters in before I had to mail it and it still didn’t make it 200 miles by Christmas. Oh well, sometimes people appreciate things more when they come unexpectedly! I am about 400 on the library reserve list so will get to read it in March or so.

    I went to college with Grace Kelly’s nephew and I know his family resents the functionalization of her life, but I guess that is the price you pay as a public figure. I was anticipating meeting her at his wedding – she was killed a few days before the wedding was scheduled. It was postponed and when it took place it was smaller and the Grimaldis did not attend, which was doubly sad.

    Happy 2021! It has to be better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You seem to have read a lot of great historical fiction this year! The only one of those books I’ve read is Hamnet, but I would like to read Miss Benson’s Beetle and Code Name Hélène too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well I’m glad Beatriz Williams invented her own character to give her story a different ending — historical fiction writers are not always so careful about that! Sounds like a great read anyway. And it seems I really have to read Hamnet! I was no so sure having read mixed reviews, but you are making me lean towards yes…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Davida! First of all – the Air Balloons Graphic is my favorite! I love it.

    You have such a great list here and you just toppled my well balanced TBR list of strictly 500 books, to 503.

    I got a copy of The Girl with the White Gloves (after I saw your review!) and I also have a copy of Anxious people. But At the stroke of Nine O’Clock, Arctic Fury and Code Name Helene just went on the TBR list.

    Miss Benson’s Beetle made my list as well.

    I hope 2021 will bring some great books for you!

    Happy New Year!

    Elza Reads’ Top Ten Favorites for 2020

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and just so you know, already 2021 is off to a great start! OMG… I’m reading The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin (due out on Jan 12), and unless she screws it up, it will be on my 2021 list for sure!


  7. Actually, my own reading just went down 50% in 2020 (I spent more time WATCHING stuff). I’m bookmarking this post because there are so many awesome reads here. The Operator, At the Stroke of Nine O’clock, and The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop really caught my eye. Happy TTT and Happy 2021 in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve heard good things about Beatriz Williams but haven’t read anything by her yet. And the Macallister book sounds quite good, and I’ve been seeing lots of reviews. The Berg books sounds like quite a good read as well .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good stuff here! Many of these are on my TBR (waiting on library copies). You might get me to try Lady Clementine again. I’ve read too much on the Churchills that the first try I didn’t finish it. Maybe I’ll try again. Great list! Mine goes up tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s the most wonderful time of the year when the top ten lists are assembled! Great choices! 🙌 And I love your newspaper graphic! 😍 I’m working on my post right now!

    Liked by 1 person

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