10 Best Books That I Read In 2020

These Are My Picks For Top 10 Books Of 2020 – Out Of 95 I’ve Read So Far This Year!

Top 10 Books in 2020

Which are my Top 10 Books of 2020 ? This year has been topsy-turvy in many ways, thanks to the pandemic. One thing that happened as a result of the forced lock down and less outdoor activity is that I read many books.

Last night, I finished reading my 95th book of the year.

And it’s time to make up a short list of the top 10 picks for ‘Books of the Year’… so here goes:

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #1

THE YIELD by Tara June Winch

Ngu-ram-bang. If you say it right it hits the back of your mouth and you should taste blood in your words.

A complex story about identity, ‘The Yield‘ isn’t an easy read – yet a brilliant one. Words are chosen, and sentences crafted, with such care and attention that even the most mundane scenes take on a sense of the sublime. But essentially this is a book about how identity is linked to your land and your people.

After living in England for a decade, August Gondiwindi returns to her aboriginal Australian tribe to bury her grandpa. Almost inevitably, she re-integrates into the community, reconnects with family and works to save their ancestral land from the greedy grasp of a mining project. And from her grandpa’s dictionary of Wiradjuri words, she traces the customs and culture of an ancient tribe that lived along the fictional Murrumby River.

The Yield‘ will leave you feeling stirred and shaken – in a good way.

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TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #2

THE ANARCHY by William Dalrymple


A beautifully told history of the British East India Company‘s take-over of the Indian sub-continent and its transformation into a power center that fooled, fought and finessed its way to control over the entire land in an astonishingly short time.

In his unique style of story-telling, this expert historian spins a compelling story of how a rapacious profit-seeking enterprise clawed its way through means fair and foul to market domination in their trading ventures.

In ‘The Anarchy’ we learn about how they were then overthrown by the Crown which usurped authority into their official hands – only to continue the pillage of lucrative natural resources to eye-popping profit.

‘The Anarchy’ is a case study that any student of commerce, history or global affairs will do well to learn from because there are lessons in it that span various facets of international trade and nation-building, even into modern times!

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TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #3

ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman


It starts out in almost a comedic tone. With a group of people – anxious people – who meet at an Open House. And quickly turns into a complicated tangle of events and entertaining developments that’ll make your head spin.

A bank robbery gone wrong. An attempted suicide. A marriage on the rocks. A gay couple in search of a flat for their soon-to-be-growing family. And many more threads that weave into the fabric of a deliciously convoluted story that’ll have you in raptures – or leave you cold.

Fredrik Backman‘s writing has that impact on readers. Most LOVE him. A few absolutely don’t. I hope you’re in the former group – because you’ll find ‘Anxious People‘ a thrilling read.
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TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #4

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles


Even as I read it back in January, I had a feeling this was going to top my list of best books this year – and it does.

Gripping and captivating right from the moment we meet Count Rostov, a hapless victim of a post-Tsarist Russia who begins a lifelong exile… within the Hotel Metropole in a 1922 Moscow, we’re introduced to the Count’s father who tells his young son:

“If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.”

How brilliantly Rostov does makes up the entire story of ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’.

This is a book that will resonate within your heart, ring in your head, and echo through your psyche. And when you’ve finished, it will linger on… forever. Because it brings home forcefully a powerful message.

That it’s not about how big your canvas is that matters, but what you paint on it.

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TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #5

COROMANDEL by Charles Allen


For a history buff like me, this book is a treasure trove of information about ancient South India.

Tracing the region’s past from around 500 BCE, this well-researched book by an expert author covers diverse aspects like language, rulers and battles, arts and craft, inscriptions and carvings, religious systems and beliefs, trade and commerce, and a lot more. All the way through two thousand years.

Even though only two-thirds of the way through, I’ve learned an enormous amount about the history of the region south of the Vindhyas. Especially fascinating is the rise, ebb and fall of Buddhism which gave way to a growing Hinduism while itself migrating to Ceylon and China.

Coromandel‘ has given me fresh perspective and insight into the rich tradition and incredible historic art, intricate artefacts and memorabilia, people and their practices that have defined the region and continue to inspire our society.

When the pandemic ends and travel is safe once more, I’ll plan tours to some places mentioned in this excellent guide – because it would be fascinating to visit and see these pieces of living history, some as old as two millennia!

Meanwhile, this book will have to suffice as a surrogate for the ‘real thing’.

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BEST 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #6

MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL by Adam Higginbotham


Brilliantly researched, hauntingly narrated, and explicitly detailed, ‘Midnight in Chernobyl’ takes you to that dark day in April 1986 when a nuclear reactor melted down – and poisoned the world irreversibly.

In a blood-chilling description of the runaway hours inside the control room, to a botched up recovery effort, the massive cover-up that eventually failed, and the heroic (if misguided) attempt to finally entomb the radioactive embers under a massive concrete canopy, this is a book that will terrify you about man’s incredible potential to destroy nature.

I’ve always been against nuclear weaponry. After reading this, I’m just as vehemently opposed to ‘peaceful‘ use of atomic power – regardless of its several advantages. When you’ve read ‘Midnight in Chernobyl’, and realize how this disaster has continued to destroy our ecosystem for over three decades, you’ll probably feel the same.

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BEST 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #7

THE BASTARD OF ISTANBUL by Elif Shafak


I can’t quite describe exactly WHY this story finds its place in my list of top 10 reads this year – but there’s absolutely no doubt that ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ belongs here. In fact, it’s the only one of these 10 that I ordered in paperback form for my library, after reading the ebook!

It’s a tale of an unmarried Turkish lady Zehila, and her bastard child Asya who is 19 years old. They live with an extended family in Istanbul and are visited by a cousin from the USA. There’s plenty to learn about Armenian and Turkish culture, as well as historic elements central to their identity.

An engaging read that’s entertaining as well as informative, this is a rare book I plan to read at least once more over the years to come… and gift to my friends.

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BEST 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #8

HOW TO WIN AN INDIAN ELECTION by Shivam Shankar Singh


Eventually, this is a depressing book. One that’s practically guaranteed to disillusion and disappoint a reader – because it shatters our touching hope and faith in the democratic process.

How to Win an Indian Election‘ begins with the startling observation that “the purpose of a politician is to win elections” – and goes on to describe the winning system that prevails in our current electoral climate.

The data is extensive, shocking and eye-opening. And to many, it will be mind-boggling when you hear the cost of winning a modern election – and the extent of social media manipulation that has swung the vote in contemporary elections.

In arguments laid out with relentless logic, the author bluntly states an incontrovertible truth – Elections cannot be faironly won.

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TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #9

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena


Young Anne and Marco have dinner with their friendly neighbors – when a deadly crime is committed.

A thriller with twists and turns as people lie and cover up their lies, sometimes with success and at other times, not – this book is a page-turner that will keep you guessing right to the grand reveal at the end.

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BEST 10 BOOKS OF 2020 : #10

BEFORE THE COFFEE GETS COLD by Toshikazu Kawaguchi


I enjoy reading books on time travel, and this year was unusual in that I read four of them. This was easily the best… and has some intriguing aspects that will delight you.

There’s this cafe in the heart of a city where you can go to get a cup of coffee. And if you’re lucky to sit at one particular table, you can travel through time – but within a set of rules. The most critical is this: You should come back Before the Coffee Gets Cold!

So how much can you really accomplish in the past – or even the future – within this short time? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot.

Is it worth trying, and taking the risk? Absolutely.

Read this lovely little story and tell me if you disagree!

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Top 10 Books I’ve Read In 2020

So these are my picks for ‘10 best books I’ve read in 2020‘.

There are a few more that made the shortlist… but I had to bump them down. All are interesting reads as well.

If you’ve enjoyed any special books this year, please share your thoughts in a comment below.


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