My 2020 reading list

3 January 2020

Here’s something I’ve never done before: decided in advance what I’m going to read in a year. I might end up hating this structure and abandoning it two months in, or it might be the most satisfying thing I’ve ever tried – we shall see!

For each month of 2020, I’ve chosen a fiction or memoir and a non-fiction read. (I hope to read more, but two books a month is typical for me and a pace I’m confident I can keep up with!) You’ll also see that I placed a few books specifically to coincide with the 2020 reading plans of friends or other bloggers I enjoy, just for fun.

This is certainly not a book club in the traditional sense, but you are more than welcome to join me for any of these picks throughout the year, if you like! Even if you don’t, you might see them pop up in posts in the months to come :) I’m hoping to share a few brief thoughts on Instagram along the way, too, as well as in my monthly goal posts.

Many of these picks line up with my 2020 goals, which I’ve finalized and am planning to share on Monday! Without further ado…

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry | Val’s favorite book of 2019, and hopefully a great set-up for my year as a whole.
Long Bright River | A brand-new book (releasing on January 7th!) by one of my literary-agent-brother-in-law’s authors. I got an early copy and have already finished it – it is FANTASTIC!

Just Mercy | Highly recommended by a dear high school and college friend. Will be reading with Janssen.
The Sound of Gravel | A memoir raved about by the Coffee & Crumbs ladies and many readers on this post.

How to Raise a Wild Child | Specifically for one of my 2020 goals!
Southern Lady Code | A collection of essays that will purportedly make me “howl – truly howl – with laughter.”

Bet on Talent | Recommended for my role at work!
The Tattoist of Auschwitz | Reading with Janssen

The Secrets of Happy Families | This has been on my TBR list for awhile, and when it popped up on Janssen’s plan I knew this was the year.
Save Me the Plums | I’ve read two other Ruth Reichl books and loved them both. Can’t wait to dig into this one about her time at Gourmet.

Stretch | Another Val recommendation related to my role at work
World Without End | Excited to dive into the sequel to the massive Pillars of the Earth, my favorite fiction read of 2019. (Apparently it’s even better than the first!)

Adopted for Life | An area of curiosity for me
Little Fires Everywhere | Everyone else has read it, so I might as well, too :)

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You | You KNOW I’m going to love this book
The Giver of Stars | Reading with Janssen

God and Money | Highly recommended by many people
The Farm | Same :)

Digital Minimalism | Reading with Nancy
The Great Alone | The third and only I haven’t yet read in the triumvirate with Educated and Crawdads

Time to Parent | Can’t remember where I read about this one but reading the description got me excited all over again
Make Something Good Today | I’ve always had a soft spot for Erin and Ben since Southern Weddings launched them onto HGTV (true story!). I’ve been wanting to read their memoir since it came out.

The Geometry of Wealth | Generosity and contentment seem like perfect topics going into the holidays
The Nazi Officer’s Wife | One of the most-starred book on this list to finish the year

I’d love to hear: do you plan your reading in advance? Have you read any of these books? Would you like to read any alongside me in 2020? Let’s chat!

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Allyson Angelini
January 3, 2020 7:01 am

Such a good list! I LOVED the Great Alone and Save Me the Plums and Just Mercy and The Farm, among others. But mostly I love reading what other people are reading so I can fill up my library wishlist. Thanks for sharing!

January 3, 2020 8:22 am

This is a great list that I know I’ll be referring back to. Do you typically borrow books from the library or buy them? If you buy them, do you keep them all or sell/donate later?

Zoe T
January 3, 2020 9:23 am

Happy New Year Em.

The parenting suggestions here are great. We are adding a second little one to our family this year (baby girl – due April. We did decide to go all in and live the bigger life!) and I want to be even more mindful about how I parent in the year to come, so will definitely be reading The Secrets of Happy Families with you in May (hopefully whilst nursing a tiny girl).

January 3, 2020 9:28 am

I am tempted to read with you! Or at least read one of the two. I know you are a fast reader, but when do you read? 2 books a month on top of the other things you do is a lot!

Kelly Strawberry
January 3, 2020 9:33 am

Literally just added all of these to my running list I keep on Amazon. Everyone i clicked on looked amazing and right up my alley! The Great Alone was my favorite book of last year. :)

January 3, 2020 9:42 am

I love this! Thanks for sharing, Emily! I loved The Sound of Gravel, and I just finished listening to The Great Alone. I’m almost through The Coddling of the American Mind at your suggestion – love it. I have a TBR list in the Notes app on my phone, but I don’t plan in advance because I get everything from the library – and there’s no telling when some of my many holds become available! I have the same question as Katherine – do you buy books? Get them from the library? Your book swap? I’d love to hear!

January 3, 2020 10:13 am

Giver of Stars is AMAZING!!! As a librarian and general lover of books, it was definitely one of the best I read in 2019.

January 3, 2020 11:38 am

Loved Save Me the Plums! I think you’ll especially appreciate it with your magazine experience! And I love that it lightly touched on topics like imposter syndrome and feminism. So good!

January 3, 2020 2:53 pm

Thanks for sharing – always looking for good reads!

January 3, 2020 4:13 pm

This is a great list! I’m reading along with Nancy Ray’s book club and added “Save Me the Plums” and “Southern Lady Code” to my list. Luckily, my library has both. ????

January 3, 2020 6:17 pm

Southern Lady Code really is hilarious, and I loved Save Me the Plums! I’ve read most of Ruth Reichl’s memoirs (and her one novel!), and I think Plums was my favorite!

January 4, 2020 11:35 pm

I’m currently reading Make Something Good Today and really enjoying it! I also was first introduced to Erin and Ben through SW, and now Woody and I love watching Home Town and have visited Laurel a couple times (only a few hours from Bham)!
I’ve grabbed a couple off your list and added them to my own. I’m most interested in Time to Parent, Southern Lady Code, and Digital Minimalism. You’ve inspired me to make a list for the year and loosely plan out months or seasons to read certain books. I always want to read, but sometimes find myself struggling to select what to read next and settling for not reading. I’m curious to see how a little more intentionality can set me up for a happier, fuller reading life in 2020 and beyond! :)

Victoria B
January 5, 2020 12:02 pm

Yes! This is a great list!

January 5, 2020 1:42 pm

Great idea! Definitely going to make a list of things I want to read this year. Pre planning it by month would definitely hold me more accountable too.

January 7, 2020 11:35 am

What a great list and love this idea of mapping out your reading! I got on the wait list for Little Fires Everywhere this week and I’m excited to see what all the hype is about. As a bonus, I’m looking forward to finishing it before the new series starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon comes out on Hulu in March. It will be interesting to see it come to life on screen!

January 7, 2020 9:43 pm

I love the idea of a reading list, but I find it so hard to plan my reads month by month. I almost exclusively use the library for fiction and prefer hard copies to ebooks, so the holds system makes scheduling a challenge. One way I may combat this is by making a “2020 Reads” list on Goodreads. At the very least, I am definitely going to try reading at least one non-fiction book each month! Several of the memoirs on your list sound fascinating!

Anna Thomas
February 4, 2020 1:47 pm

You should add How to Break Up with Your Phone to that list–it’s a great 30-day, very practical guide!

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