Bookish Witch

25 Best Reads of 2020 (Out of A 118 Total Read Books)


2020 hasn’t been an easy year for most of us around the globe. But, for creative nerds like me (including content creators, artists, and such), the flexibility of working from home or working remotely, gave us a lot of time to introspect, be experimental about (as well as with) our content, and grow exponentially. 

There were also book lovers, who utilized this time to catch up on their lost reading. Taking advantage of the WFH facility and ‘stay at home’ requirement, many of us were able to read, more than what we normally would have been able to. Speaking out of my personal experience, according to my Goodreads stats (images below), I was able to read close to 12000 pages and a whopping 118 books. 

Screeenshot of my Goodreads profile

For someone who was only able to read a maximum of 25 books per year till 2019, this is a proud worthy feat.

Sceernshot of my Goodreads profile

I know what fellow bibliophiles are thinking at this point. ‘Out of these 118, tell us which ones we should (and must) read!” Hence, here I am, helping out those like me, who spend every free waking minute, gobbling up (figuratively speaking) as many books as possible. 

Screenshot of my Goodreads profile

It will be difficult for me to randomly pick and choose my favorites out of such a wide pool, hence I will be listing out my favorites in various genres (a minimum of 1 book and a maximum of 5 books), broadly divided into fiction and nonfiction.


Fiction

A. Romance

  1. Three Nights & Four Days-A Romantic Comedy by Shilpa Jain
Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a feel-good plus fun (and funny story) which turned out to be an absolutely unexpected delight. When it caught my interest I thought ( based on the title and cover ) that it would be a romantic getaway story of a couple but boy I was so wrong! Read this for the sheer joy, laugh out loud moments, and smiles it dishes out on almost every page.

What I liked about the book:

 → The brilliant idea of telling the story in the first-person narrative of a ten-year-old (A 10/10 from me for that). 

→ Pari’s (the ten-year-old protagonist) absolutely adorable maturity as well as a dry sense of humor.

 → I could easily imagine the story as a movie which is a testament to the author’s great narrative and writing style.

 → Loved all the female characters, including Binata who surprisingly turns out to be the smartest of the lot, despite coming off a vamp and a gold digger initially.

Best Quote: It’s amazing that people who really love us convey so much without the use of any words. And the ones who don’t really care may say so many words, yet mean nothing.


2. Love, Truth and Taking Chances by Shilpa Suraj

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is an out-and-out rom-com that makes you happy, sad, and even laugh out loud. If you’re a sucker for cutesy, mushy, opposites attract romance stories, this is a must-read. Other than the obvious ‘love in the air’ vibe, what makes this book a great read is the ample funny and chuckle-worthy one-liners and moments.

What I liked about the book:
 → That it talks from both the lead character’s PoVs.


 → Vihana’s ‘breath of fresh air’ character.


 → The bonding between the three brothers.


 → The bonding between Alisha and Arjun is so comfortable and doesn’t bring in any sort of envy from their respective partners, Vihana and Vihaan.

Best Quote: Don’t let the worry of the future ruin what we could have in the present.


B. Drama

1. A Dead Man’s Trials by Jagadesh Sampath by Jagadesh Sampath

Read a detailed review of this book here

This book provides a lifetime of insights and thought-provoking questions/answers in a mere few pages. Do you have the habit of judging people and their actions+choices? Read this one to understand that nothing is simply right or wrong, and black or white. There’s a perspective or way of looking at things that are brought out by each incident narrated in this book.

What I liked about the book:
 → There is no name given to any characters and yet they all felt so real.

→ All the trials were written in such a raw and haunting manner, that I could easily visualize it all. Somebody, please turn them into a series or a movie!

→ For the incidents of the last trial, there was no place mentioned, and yet we know right away where it is all happening. That’s the mark of great writing right there.

Best Quote: When we look at anything complex, be it a crowded canvas, a logical problem, even a large number of people or things, what gets noticed first is tied intrinsically to the nature of the viewer.


2. Accidentally Educated by R.V. Dadhe

Read a detailed review of this book here

This book is a fictional, philosophical, and insightful take on the education system. Rhushikesh, Sahil, and Parth get the opportunity of a lifetime to study in Canada for one semester. What more could three best friends want than getting to spend a six-months long vacation together in an unexplored land? Yes, that’s what they think it is, only to realize soon that the education system there isn’t just about rote learning and cramming up theory, to pass the exams easily. Read to know how these three fares in the exams, and much more beyond the curriculum.

What I liked about the book:
 → All the little anecdotes (calling the Babaji, learning to do laundry, the cooking mishap, going skinny dipping, etc) are so hilarious and relatable. We’ve surely done similar things with our own friends or would love to pull off such pranks and experiences together with them, after reading the book.

→ How Parth, the one who is considered the lowest scorer back in India, turns out to be the dark horse in Canada.

→ The management course and the professor who was teaching the subject.

Best Quote: Jealousy is just a lack of self-confidence.


3. Lollypops to Cigarettes: Walking Down Your Memory Lane by Abhishek Bhattacharya 

Read a detailed review of this book here.

This book is a must-read to relive or know about the 80s and 90s era in India. Being someone who grew up in the 90s, this was a very nostalgic read for me. Besides the charming walk down memory lane, the book even manages to tell us a good story in the form of the life journey of the protagonist from his childhood to adulthood.

What I liked about the book:
 → It completely fulfills its promise of taking the reader down memory lane (in case the readers happen to be born between the 70s to early 90s)


 → The memories and incidents have been very impressively narrated making the reader delve emotionally into the book.


 → The protagonist’s bonding with his father and how he refers to his father as his ‘best friend’ is surely true and all of us would realize this at one point or another, especially in our adulthood.


 → Loved how Bombay is described from the perspective of an outsider who falls in love with the city and eventually even chooses to settle down in the city of dreams. (which is very relatable for me as I belong to the same category of people)

Best Quote: Gradually I realized that even the biggest griefs mellow down with time. Yes, time is the best healer.

4. My Friend Genie by Suhas Inamdar

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a fantasy fiction story with factual learning. What would you do if you could have everything you ever wanted? Though that sounds like an ideal life, the story in this book tells us that it comes at a cost and is not so ideal after all. If you like fiction that teaches important life lessons, and leaves you motivated and inspired, this should be your next read.

What I liked about the book:
 → The simplicity of Arun’s character and routine life, with a typical Indian middle-class setting, makes the story believable.


 → The conversations between Arun and the Genie.


 → The foundation of the perfect setting for the conclusion of what happens with the Genie.


 → The tragic incidents used in the story are actually inspired by real-life tragedies and accidents.

Best Quote: People tend to believe you more when they do not understand your words and language correctly. The more incomprehensible you are, the chances of you being considered a Genius increase exponentially!


C. Crime/Thriller/Suspense

  1. The Itsy Bitsy Spyder by Apeksha Rao
Read a detailed review of this book here

What an absolute delight this book was! I’ve hardly read a book with so much humor as well as excitement and thrill on every page. It’s usually either just mystery and no laughs or just light-hearted humor and no thrilling moments, but this book gives both, and superbly so.

What I liked about the book:
 → The absolute sass and unabashed savageness of the teenage protagonist Samira.


 → Aaji ( Samira’s paternal grandma) is such a delight too and not the typical aged mother-in-law or grandma.


 → The fact that it made me want to want to meet and at least spend a day or a few hours with each of the characters.


 → It created a perfect pre-setting for the author’s debut novel (Along Came A Spyder) for which this book is a prequel.

Best Quote: What people actually mean when they say fair, is convenient. As long as you’re getting your way, life is fair. The minute it doesn’t, it’s not fair.


2. Beyond Lies: A nail-biting psychological thriller with a killer twist by Alka Dimri

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a nail-biting thriller that keeps you hooked till the very end. I read such a thrilling book, which made me excitedly look forward to the time I could go back to reading it, after a really long time. The ‘What happens next?’ and ‘OMG, I did not expect that’ moments and elements in this one, make it a great read.

What I liked about the book:
 → The story is told from the PoVs of all the main characters, which makes us doubt everyone.


 → The end really really takes you by surprise (kudos to the author for this one as I’m usually able to correctly guess the culprit in most of the suspense and thriller books that I read)


 → Tia’s character is so relatable, innocent, and likable that we are immediately drawn to her and feel hatred towards the culprit even without knowing their identity.

Best Quote: Love is a beautiful feeling, hatred is ugly, but love and hatred towards the same person are daunting.


3. The Best Friend: Two friends. A murder. A secret that binds them together by Akash Verma

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a karmic murder mystery and thriller. Nakul and Samir are best friends in school but get separated after a haunting incident. In an unbelievable twist of fate they’re brought together again as adults under similar circumstances; however this time someone has died. Are they able to forgive and forget? Amidst all the haunting memories of the past, can they unravel the mystery of the death? Read the book to know and enjoy a story that will leave the thriller lover in you satisfied.

What I liked about the book:
 → Starts with a bang (I was reminded of The Kite Runner which happens to be one of my all-time favorites)


 → Samir’s gullibility and adorable dedication towards Nakul.


 → How Samir grows up to be an adult with trust issues (among many of his other major problems) because of what happened with him in his childhood.


 → Few chapters are dedicated to Anna’s (Nakul’s daughter) PoV which helps build curiosity and adds more thrill to what went around the death incident.

Best Quote: No life is perfect; there is something that’s broken in each one.


4. That Thing About You by Ahhaidev

Read a detailed review of this book here

This one is a very simple story with an unexpected twist. Subodh is a regular guy who takes life too seriously, without thinking beyond his 9 to 5 job. Like most people, he has his flaws which he knows about but is unwilling to accept or work upon. All of this, changes with the entry of a certain girl. But wait, there’s something off about this girl. Why can’t anyone else but Subodh hear her? Is she even real? Read this book to find out the secret and the answer is definitely not what you think.

Best Quote: People prefer to remain in the dark than to accept the harsh truth about themselves.


5. In The Shadow of Inheritance by Manjiri Prabhu

Read a detailed review of this book here.

The book impressively conveys the message that family ties and inheritance always find a way to find you. 

Tara leads an idyllic life in the small town of Kesarli in Goa. But as she grows up, her desire to explore beyond the confines of her palatial home and the little town takes her to Panchgani. Life takes a 360 degree turn when she begins to discover that her roots might be tied to the Rajwada, a beautiful mansion situated not far from her college in Panchgani. Her growing feelings for the mysterious Sarang who takes care of the Rajwada and its business makes matters even more complicated. Will Tara unravel the answers to her past? Read this family drama to find out.

What I liked about the book:
 → Begins with a bang and hooks you in the right manner to read more, right away.


 → All the female characters, right from the three central ones of Tara, Rohini, and Meerakka, to the side characters like Bela, Sanika, and even the many house-help characters, were fierce and independent in their own way and had an aura of mystery around them which helped keep the curiosity of the suspense in the story, intact.


 → The way the Rajwada and its beauty has been described. It made me wish for it to exist in reality so I could visit and admire it someday in person.


 → The build-up of the suspense around what happened so many years ago is kept intact till the end, making the reader doubt all the characters about who the culprit would be (We even begin to doubt the hero Sarang at many points)

Best Quote: It’s unfair to form opinions before giving someone a chance to prove their worth.


D. Short Stories/Anthologies 

  1. Midnight Sun: A Collection of Tiny Tales By Umme Kulsum
Read a detailed review of this book here

For someone so young, Kulsum writes with such maturity and penchant that it will amaze the reader about the fluidity and vast array of topics she has covered in this collection. From mystery to horror, to turning a new leaf and fairy tales with a twist, this book has it all.

What I liked about this book:
-> Each tale is unique, making the book a diverse read despite being a single title.


-> 0 grammatical errors, which is very very rare these days when it comes to new, young, and upcoming authors.


-> My favorite ones were Cinderella’s Promise and Prisoner Heart because they break stereotypical writing norms and talk about women empowerment and homosexuality most subtly.


-> Unexpected endings in almost all the tales, leaving the readers wanting for more. 

Best Quote: Tradition was merely peer pressure from dead people.


2. Rebelina: A Walk Into The Lives of Women by Rakhi Kapoor

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a collection of inspiring female-oriented, short fictional stories with ample real-life lessons. These 18 stories of about 22 different kinds of women are woven beautifully, all of whom teach us something important, and leave behind so many afterthoughts as well as life lessons for the reader.

What I liked about the book :
 → Each story represents and portrays a completely different protagonist and type of woman, and sometimes more than one woman.


 → Each story begins with a little poem and ends with a small passage around what was the essence of that particular story (kind of like ‘Moral of the story’ types)


 → The way it includes and talks about women of different ages and in different roles (daughter, friend, mother, grandmother, wife, girlfriend, etc)

Best Quote:It’s so tough to be free in this world where society teaches you from childhood to say appropriate things relevant to a situation with a purpose. It confines us to stick to the norms of society to please everybody else.


F. Flash Reads/Novellas (less than 100 pages)

  1. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Read a detailed review of this book here

The protagonist and her husband have moved to a mansion in which the female lead finds the wallpaper of their new bedroom, highly disturbing. Despite her constant pleas, her husband says it’s nothing to worry about. Is the wallpaper really haunted or is it something else altogether? Read this monologue to understand the plight of women in the 19th century.

What I liked about the book:
 → Through the monologue and first-person narration, we witness the protagonist’s helplessness in the imprisonment of her house and her marriage.


 → Though the book was written in the 1890s, some of the things like the plight of women, patriarchy, and our attitude towards mental health, still feel so relevant.


 → It is a brilliant study of a woman slowly losing her mind.


 →It might not be a brilliant story but it will definitely provoke you to ask hidden questions which are always lying in the back of your mind.

Best Quote: It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw — -not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.


2. Dolly Won’t Play by Monisha Gumber

Read a detailed review of this book here

This was definitely a one of a kind book for me as it was the first time I read a book that tells a story in verse form and though skeptical about it at first, I enjoyed it much to my own surprise.

What I liked about the book :

 → Handles a societal evil like child abuse with simple yet powerful words

 → Talks about school days, from the perspective of a special needs child who doesn’t enjoy it (and rightly says some things about our education and schooling system which need to be reformed)


 → Without saying it in clear words, manages to talk about how ADHD and other mental health issues need counseling and, even proper love and support at home.


 → It adds o the fact that predators of abuse are generally people in the family or inner social circle itself. Hence, we did to be the carer of who our children spend time with, especially alone. 

Best Quote: Whoever invented the idea that intelligent people are those who know by heart the names of presidents and vice-presidents or capitals or currencies of the countries of the world was the biggest dumbass to begin with! That’s GK, dude. 


3. The Thirteen Year Old Monk by Himanshu Goel

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a very short and simple yet impactful, honest, and powerfully written story. A successful and accomplished actor finds it difficult to sleep at night. Despite having everything that he has wanted, he feels that something is missing. To find peace and answers, he sets out to the “The Valley of Silence”, where an unexpected mentor guides him towards true happiness.

What I liked about the book:
 → It builds up a strong desire to visit the place described in the story.


 →The story very accurately teaches us that age is just a number and it doesn’t justify one’s wisdom, knowledge, or even caliber. 


 → It taught me that striving for perfection is great, but it is equally important to accept the imperfection in oneself as these are what make us human.


 → It rightly points out that we know all our answers and that we just need to discover the correct question.

Best Quote: What kind of love doesn’t have its ups and downs.


E. Humour

  1. Humorously Yours !: Tales From The Gymkhana by Amitabh Sarwate
Read a detailed review of this book here

In the past year, I have rarely given a 5 star rating to any of the books I’ve read, but this one deserves it hands-down. The satirical and relatable humor in this book gives you ample chuckle-worthy and laugh-out-loud moments, making this a recommended read for people of all ages, and lovers of all genres.

What I liked about this book:
 → The fact that all the characters are people we either know or have heard about.


 → It made me want a Barkhurdar (the protagonist who narrates all the tales) type of friend in my life. His character is so colorful and his tactics plus his storytelling skills make him an instant favorite as well as completely worthy of being the protagonist (despite having no typical hero-type physical attributes, which makes him all the more relatable and endearing).


 → Each chapter throws light on our thinking and actions as a society, and questions it too, without making it obvious.

Best Quote: If a little lie accomplishes something big then it’s better than a truth that accomplishes nothing.


2. The Adventures of the JP Family: Humour Tidbits by Radhika Acharya

Read a detailed review of this book here

I wish I could give this gem a 10/5 but I’ll make my peace with a 5/5. There was hardly a page in this delightful book that didn’t make me either laugh or smile. The antics of JPUncle and The Aunt are so much like my own parents that it felt like I was reading everyday chapters from my own life. Reads this one to enjoy and appreciate the funny moments of a typical middle-class family from India. I’m definitely looking forward to more works from the author.

What I liked about the book:
 → The sass of JPUncle and the way he laughs at his own jokes; simple adorable.


 → The tricks played by the sons and JPUncle to make The Aunt change her mind.


 → The Aunt’s dilemmas around the kitchen and wardrobe ultimately put suffering on the other members of the house.

Best Quote:

“The Kanherias have got a new car. A big swanky one.” The Uncle grunted.

 “How did they manage to get one?” she wondered. 

The Uncle lowered the newspaper. “From the showroom like everyone else I imagine.”


3. Mrs. Basu’s Uncensored Familism by Chirasree Bose

Read a detailed review of this book here

This one is a laughter ride of a family drama. Arpita is a young newlywed, trying hard to be an ideal wife as well as a daughter-in-law. In her bid to please everyone, right from the members of her old family to her new family, she has forgotten her own happiness and there’s a constant battle of words between her heart and mind, which is brought out hilariously in this relatable drama, especially for Indian women. Does Arpita win the battle between her heart and mind? Read this book to find out.

What I liked about the book:
 → It taught me the word ‘Familism’. 


 → The many cheeky and relatable humorous anecdotes.


 → The first person narrative makes the whole story very personal and inclusive.


 → The conversations between Arpita’s head and mind, which are not only funny but also make us reflect on our own internal struggles where we do things just because they’re labeled as ‘Right’ even when our mind says it’s not logical or that we should question it.

Best Quote: Family — it promises nothing but teeny-weeny moments. The moments wherein your people including you are not faking happiness. Neither are you searching for it.


4. Thank God I’m Fired by Sandeep Pawar

Read a detailed review of this book here

This book is a humorous take on corporate life. I completed the book in two days straight and it left behind an aftertaste of fulfillment and understanding. For those with 9–5 jobs, irrespective of whether you love or hate your job, this is a must-read.

What I liked about the book :

 →The many witty one-liners.

 → The title makes sense in the end and it’s not what we initially think.


 →Gives so many wonderful insights, not just about work, but about life in general.


 → The whole process of the protagonist figuring out where his interest lies; which again teaches us to focus on things that bring us true happiness. 

Best Quote: When you know there are more people suffering the same problem like yours, you feel better.


F. Poetry 

  1. Yellow: The verses of hurting and healing by Urja Joshi
Read a detailed review of this book here

There’s self-love, healing, and growth in abundance in this poetic collection. Have you ever faced a heartbreak or rejection? Do you ever doubt yourself and feel you are not good enough? Read this one for some healing and acceptance of the self then. 

What I liked about the book:
 → There’s an abundance of motivating and healing words.


 → Almost every piece was relatable.


 → It is the perfect companion on a day when you’re feeling low or unmotivated.


 → It can be finished over a morning or evening cup of tea/coffee ( after all, a good book + a favorite beverage is the ideal combo for any reader)

Best Quote:What kind of Audacity I have.
I have never been there for me
And yet I expect the world
To be there
When I need help
When I need love.


2. Conversations With Coherent Worlds by Anusha Sridharan 

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is an insightful and charming poetry collection, divided into three parts which cover a varied array of topics. It is a must-read for all kinds of poetry lovers, across the world.

What I liked about the book:
 →A rare collection that takes time to absorb and appreciate its true essence.


 → About the only poetry collection (from this year’s reads) in which I’ve already read most of the poems multiple times.


 → It covers topics that touch your heart and soul, and some of the lines will feel like they’re your own thoughts put into words.

Best Quote: A chance,
Given if, to make things alright, and do it better,
Would one still take a chance to cut the cord?


Nonfiction


A. Anecdotal/Humour/Inspiration

  1. Three Thousand Stitches: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives by Sudha Murthy
Read a detailed review of this book here

Best Quote: Confidence doesn’t mean that everything will go our way. It simply gives us the ability to accept failures that we will inevitably meet on our path and move forward with hope.


2. INDIA POSITIVE CITIZEN: Building a great Nation, one India Positive action at a time by Savitha Rao

Read a detailed review of this book here

This book effectively tells us how and why you should contribute towards building a positive nation. Most of us demand our rights and complain about the services provided to us but do we fulfill our duties as citizens? This book rightly points out this point and teaches, through various real-life exemplary figures, how and why we need to contribute actively towards building a positive nation.

What I liked about the book:
 → That it is written by someone who is herself contributing to the development of the nation through exemplary work.


 → It’s not just ‘all talk and no show’ because it gives examples and even tells us how each one of us can do something similar.


 → Overall a very inspiring read. There was no chapter that did not leave me in awe or made me reflect on my contributions towards society.


 → It is not a dated version and is in fact written during the covid pandemic, hence talks about relevant as well as current issues.

Best Quote: As a citizen, you matter. You aren’t one among a billion. You are an important ONE in a billion.

3. Tongue-in-cheek: The Funny Side of Life by Khyrunnisa A.

Read a detailed review of this book here

This is a series of delightful anecdotes from the daily life of the author. From making sandwiches, to finding a parking spot, and from growing organic vegetables at home to visiting the dentist, each incident will either leave you in splits or chuckling.

What I liked about the book:
 → Reading the book makes you feel nostalgic for a slower, simpler life and enjoying the little things in life. 


 → The funny styles, puns, and non-stop commentary on decently simple things in life make this book highly relatable, especially for the Indian readers. 


 →With just a few words, the author has skillfully written about several quirky characters who flit in and out of the many anecdotes and leave you charmed with their many quirks.

Best Quote: I would like to alter that to ‘men can drive but won’t ask for directions.’ This is strictly based on home experience, but my friends assure me their spouses are no different.


Have a brief look once again at all the 25 books listed and recommended in this blog post.

A brief look at the best books I read (and definitely recommend) in 2020

Here’s to more reading and more wonderful books in 2021! 

P.S: While writing this article, I came across a small tidbit about myself on Goodreads (which I had blissfully overlooked till now)

I made it into the list of top 100 (number 78) reviewers on Goodreads.

Screenshot from my Goodreads profile
Screenshot from my Goodreads profile

5 thoughts on “25 Best Reads of 2020 (Out of A 118 Total Read Books)”

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