Best Books of 2020 and Complimentary TV Shows

Everyone loves a good list and there are no shortage of book recommendations from celebrities, media outlets and booksellers. I love looking at my overcrowded shelves and this year I added even more fantastic books. (FYI, the books I have read on the left and books I want to read on the right!) I had the wonderful opportunity to interview dozen’s of authors for the Q & A section of my reviews and enjoyed live discussions with many at my bookclub zoom meetings this year; what an honor to connect with so many brilliant writers and learn more about their stories and the writing process.

In addition to being a reading addict, I love my tv! Many times this year I watched shows that had similarities to the books I was reading and found this to be a fun coincidence! Below are some of my favorite books from this year of reading and some of the shows that complimented them.

Top Book Picks by Category With Honorable Mentions and Complimentary TV Shows

Creepy Relationships

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell – A student gets romantically involved with her professor

A Teacher on Huluhigh school boy gets romantically involved with his teacher


This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger – Native American orphans on a journey during the Great Depression

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – 1930s Tennessee children kidnapped and sold

The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix orphan becomes a top chess competitor

Settings in Far Away Places

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – two girls go missing in the rugged beauty of Russia

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy – a woman on a personal journey follows the Arctic terns to Antartica

My Octopus Teacher on Netflix man on personal journey makes friends with an octopus in the South African Kelp forrest

Love and Fate

The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali – A love story in Iran that was foiled by politics

The Sight of You by Holly Miller – a love story foiled by knowledge of the future

Dash & Lily on Netflixa love story foiled by timing

Beating the Odds

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré – a young Nigerian slave fights for her future

Fifty Words For Rain by Asha Lemmie – a young African American/Japanese girl fights for her future

Vietnam War

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai – the Vietnam war and the impact on the Vietnamese people


Follow Me by Kathleen Barber – the perils of overusing social media

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – the perils of trusting people you think are friends

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam – unusual happenings breed anxiety

Honorable Mention

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle – mysterious dead body and lies

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim – mysterious dead body and lies

You on Netflixperils of social media, trusting people, dead bodies and lies


The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – tattooist at Auschwitz helped who he could and fell in love

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner – mother and daughter separate to survive the war

The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer – attempt to save Jewish artists and their work from occupied Europe

Honorable Mention

The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea For Help by Faris Cassell – true story of a Viennese Jew who tried to escape the Nazis in 1939

Holocaust Survivor

The Life Ahead on NetflixHolocaust survivor (played by Sophia Lauren) takes in a street kid who robbed her


Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett – born into a cult and life during and after escape

Honorable Mention

Promise Me Dad: A Year of Hope, Promise and Hardship by Joe Biden – life of the Vice President during the time his son was ill and passed away

Group by Christie Tate – life of a woman who tells the personal benefits of group therapy

Indian Stories

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda – family, Indian traditions, and a tragedy

Well Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave – relationships and Indian traditions

A Burning by Megha Majumdar – three characters and a catastrophe in India

Indian Matchmaking on Netflixmatchmaker sets up Indian Americans to date


The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – the life of a gay Irishman

Memorial by Bryan Washington – relationship between a black daycare worker and a Japanese chef

The Happiest of Seasons on Hulu – girl tells her parents about her relationship with another woman

Schitt’s Creek on Netflix – family loses wealth and moves to motel; same sex relationship

Pose on NetflixAfrican American and Latino LGBTQ drag ball culture in NYC 1980s

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix – girl moves across the country for a guy, friends are in same sex relationship

Class and Race

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – African American twins grow up and one lives as a black woman and one as white

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West – African American family in Chicago; family, faith, race and class

Honorable Mention

Members Only by Sameer Pandya – Indian American college professor, white tennis club and racism

A Good Neighborhood by Theresa Anne Fowler – single parenting a biracial son and wealthy white neighbors

Just Mercy on HBO Max – true story of a young, black lawyer fighting for justice for the wrongly accused

Character Study and Family Dynamics

Night. Sleep. Death. The Joyce Carol Oates – American family endures tragedy; touches on race, trauma, class, grief

Bloodline on Netflix – American family with dark buried secrets, mistrust and crime

Honorable Mention – Interesting Characters

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez – woman agrees to be by the side of her dying friend

The Book of Jeremiah by Julie Zuckerman – short stories about a father, husband, Jew who tries to be the best he can be

Other People’s Pets by R. L. Maizes – an animal empath and her father are thieves

Honorable Mention – Family Dynamics

My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy – community and chosen family in the face of tragedy

The Sweeny Sisters by Lian Dolan – love, sisterhood and surprises

Her Sister’s Tattoo by Ellen Meeropol – family, loyalty and politics

Little Known History

The Third Daughter by Talia Carner – Jewish women trafficked into prostitution in Buenos Aires

Author Interviews 2020

Interviewing an author allows me the opportunity to dive deep into the story and characters with an inquisitive eye. Hearing more about the book from the one who created it gives us greater understanding and appreciation for the written work. I hope you take the time to check out some of the Q & As in the two links below to see what the authors have to say!

Book Nation by Jen Author Interviews

Author Interviews During the Pandemic

Popular Lists of Best Books of 2020

Goodreads Choice Awards 2020

Time Magazine’s Must Read 100

Esquire’s Best 47

NPR’s Best

Obama’s Favorites 2020

The Atlantic

USA Today Best 13

Reese’s Picks 2020

New York Public Library Best Books For Adults

Boston Globe Best Books

Jenna’s Book Picks

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year

Vanity Fair’s Top 15


  1. I’ve read many of these this year, and look forward to reading some of the others and also going back to your list when I’m looking for something new to binge on TV. Happy New Year and thanks for the terrific suggestions! Best, Christy Colasurdo

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