2020 Reading Retrospective: Our Top 15 Books

A dog in a Santa hat sitting in an open doorway next to a rainbow bookshelf and looking at a Christmas tree to represent a post listing our 2020 top 15 books.

Rather than compile the standard best 10 reads for 2020, we decided to split our 2020 reading retrospective three ways and list our top 15 books instead. A tough process because we have enjoyed some amazing titles between us this year.

I don’t know the exact total because I only recorded everything from May onwards, but as a family, I estimate that we finished around 120 books. This includes reads for school. I’d also mention that this list of bests isn’t restricted to new releases either. Most of the year was spent catching up on our TBR stack although most of my favourites were recent publications (as marked).


I had the good fortune to read a variety of excellent books this year and it was hard to pick the best. Interestingly, two on this list are upper middle-grade and one is young adult. What I liked about these was that no words were wasted. Each story was succinct, yet explored profound themes and revealed something new to me. This turned out to be the case with all of my choices.

I’m not sure that I could choose an absolute favourite but if I had to, I’d go with English Pastoral which intertwined memoir, agricultural history and ecology into one perfect knot. Some books can change human behaviour; I suspect that this may be one of them.


By his own admission, Al struggled with reading this year. The pressures of the pandemic and a demanding job encroached on his personal time, making him more inclined to seek the slighly easier solace of the screen. For this reason, it isn’t a surprise to see that his list is small with two graphic novels in the final selection. This is the reality of a bookish life. Sometimes things don’t go to plan, but he’s hopeful for a better reading year in 2021.

  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Paper Girls: The Complete Journal of Luke Kirby by Brian K.Vaughan
  • Summer Magic by Alan McKenzie and John Ridgeway

Little M

In contrast to Al, Little M has stormed the last half of the year by deciding on some favourite authors. She particularly likes Matt Haig and Em Lynas The Haunting of Aveline Jones has appealed to her spooky side so we’ll be looking out for the sequel. It’s great to see her tastes forming and it looks as if she’ll be following the family bias towards fantasy. Dragons, witches and cats are all wins in her eyes.

  • The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig
  • You Can’t Make Me Go To Witch School! by Em Lynas
  • The Dragon in the Library by Louie Stowell (I reviewed this a couple of years ago, but M has read it again on her own).
  • The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes (2020)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

You can find most of these titles on our Bookshop.org page. If you purchase books via this link we receive a small amount of commission at no cost to yourself.

With some life-changing events and homeschooling to content with, we’re pretty happy with the amount of books we’ve managed to read this year. I purposefully didn’t set myself any reading goals, although I may decide to do that going forward – if only to make sure that I prioritise the written page over other distractions.

I still need to write up November and December so will be adding these in the next few days as well as compiling the 2021 titles we’re excited about. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s reflections and hopes too.

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  1. January 5, 2021 / 12:58 pm

    So many great books. I have added a few to my wish list. Here’s to a great year of books xxx

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      January 5, 2021 / 4:01 pm

      Looking back on it, 2020 was outstanding for books. Definitely some gems in the 2021 lists too x

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