But the main focus of this post is the best books I read in 2020. Maybe I'm slacking off. I only read 62 books. That totaled 17,434 pages. That's a lot less than in 2019. I'm not entirely sure why. There are at least 5 books that I've started but not finished. They don't get to go in my spreadsheet until they are done. Even with those, however, it's still a lot less. 12 were non-fiction, 33 were mysteries/suspense. Some are by best-selling authors. Others are by Indie friends that I know. But I don't give a book extra points just because I know the author. If a book made this list, I really think it's excellent.
I did have trouble finding books I thought were excellent. I got discouraged with reading a whole string of marginal books in a row. What can I say? I find myself doing a lot more reading with being an author in mind. I read children's books to see what tone of book is selling. I read some mysteries just to see if I think the author is a good writer.
Anyway, presented here in alphabetical order, are my picks for the 10 best of 2020.
|This is part of the series with main character Anna Pigeon, an employee of the National Park Service. Each book takes place in a different park. This one is set in Texas Big Bend, and is actually quite different from most of the series. If I wasn't already in love with Anna, and had read this one first, I might not have liked it as much. Anna is supposed to be on leave after the post-traumatic stress of her last adventure. But you know how that goes! In this book, she is much more attuned to her feminine side. Border issues and a baby are involved. A great addition to the series.|
|Courage to Care||Stan Hagemeyer||practical Christian living|
|Stan is a member of my writing group, and I didn't even previously realize that he is a pastor! This book is an excellent resource for how to listen to people who are hurting and how to get over our own fears of saying the wrong things, etc. There are personal examples and practical exercises.|
|The Emporer's Tomb||Steve Berry||thriller|
|I had a hard time putting this one down, but it was long enough that I had to a couple of times. It's based on the premise (which has actually been proposed) that oil is organic, that it is not a fossil fuel, but is produced in an on-going natural process. Supposedly the ancient Chinese had learned this and protected the secret in the tomb of an Emporer. This book takes you around the world in politics, espionage, secret societies, and personal drama.|
|The Forgotten Child||Don Levin||mystery|
|Don, as you may know, is a friend of mine. His books never fail to grab me. This is book 4 in the Martin Preuss series. Martin is at loose ends, having left the police department. He's asked to try to find out what happened to a boy who disappeared forty years ago. He's eager to do the only kind of work he knows, but he suddenly has no authority to demand answers of people. Frustrated, he finds refuge in the time he spends with his handicapped son, Toby. This is a somewhat transitional book in the series as Martin evolves from a police detective to private.|
|High Hearts||Rita Mae Brown||historical fiction|
|Rita Mae Brown is better known for her Sneaky Pie Brown mystery series, which I absolutely love. However, she's a great writer in several genres. This is a story of a southern woman who is determined to find her place in the world in the American Civil War. Her solution may surprise you!|
|The Lost Empire of Atlantis||Gavin Menzies||speculative history|
|I really enjoy this genre of book, especially when it makes sense and is well-written. Menzies traces the culture of the Minoans, their world travels and trade, and their sudden end. Maybe he's got it right, maybe not, but I love stretching my brain out of the standard history.|
|Pearl in the Storm||Tori McClure||adventure|
|I am going to read this one again. It's amazing. In 1998, Tori set out to row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean. That attempt failed as the year was one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. Of course, she tried again! Adventurous women, hooray!|
|Pontiac and the Indian Uprising||Howard Peckham||history|
|This book was written in 1947, but is still considered the definitive work on Chief Pontiac. This Native American Chief managed to consolidate several tribes, and very nearly succeeded in pushing the British out of North America.|
|The Return||Aaron Paul Lazar||mystery|
|The latest installment in the Gus LeGarde mysteries, this one does not disappoint. Gus thinks he is seeing things when his dead first wife, the twin of his best friend, is seen in town. What is going on? I love the characters in this series so much, I'm not sure I could actually tell a bad book if I read it. But don't worry, this one is good. Gus is a loving family man who seems to get entangled in every local mystery. This series is cozy but not cutsie. Is it the conclusion of the series? I hope not.|
|The Street Lawyer||John Grisham||legal thriller|
|Grisham is always good, eh? In this one, a member of a powerful D.C. law firm is brought face-to-face with the plight of the homeless population when an apparently deranged man appears at their offices and holds them hostage until he is shot and killed. Michael Brock, one of the lawyers, becomes curious as to why the man would do such a thing. He investigates, and begins to learn about and care for the people of the sub-culture of big cities.|
I have to add one post script. I really thought the book Forensic Botany would make the list. However, it was a very general introduction, and I didn't learn enough new stuff for it to make the cut. Sorry to report that.
OK, two post scripts. I also read two Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. If you know this series, they are pretty formulaic and heavy duty thrillers. I love them, even though the plots are somewhat improbable. Sometimes you just need to read a book where the world is ordered in a way that the good guys can kill the bad guys and get away with it. It was hard to leave these off the list.
|See Best Books Read in 2019|