After Reading 130+ Books in 2020, These Are My Top Picks

Top Nonfiction and Fiction Brilliant Writer Book Picks

In an unstable world, one of the most important skills to learn is HOW to learn — to learn well, and quickly. That is why this year, most of my top nonfiction book recommendations have to do with learning.

But learning isn’t all. Books can also be a relaxation, an escape when life gets too stressful. And an encouraging reminder that what you see isn’t all there is.

Anyway, without further ado: Here are my Top Picks for nonfiction and fiction books in 2020 ~


1. The Talent Code & The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle

The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent are two separate books. But because they touch on the same topic and are by the same author, I decided to put them together as “one book” of the top 3.

Coyle is a strong writer, able to present concepts in a clear, easy-to-understand way. In fact, I read Little Book of Talent first, which is list-form book on all the things that make people extraordinarily talented at their skill of choice. I was so impressed by it, that I went on to read Coyle’s other two books, Talent Code and Culture Code, both of which were so well-written that I read them straight through.

The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent are based on Coyle’s research, studying schools and teachers that consistently turn out world-class performers in sports, music, and more. He points out that there are certain principles underlying every successful performer and school, and both of these books lay out exactly what those principles are. The Talent Code in more detail, and the Little Book of Talent is like the pocket-version that you can carry around with you as a refresher 🙂

2. Ultralearning by Scott Young

Last year, it was Atomic Habits, this year, Ultralearning. For some reason, the two are associated in my mind. Probably because both are well-written books on fascinating topics written by popular personal development bloggers.

Anyway, in Ultralearning, Young presents a roadmap for how to learn anything deeply and well, in an efficient and unforgettable way. From mapping out the terrain to executing your epic learning program, it’s all here inside this book.

Scott Young himself has conducted multiple extreme learning projects, from learning 4 languages in a year, to taking the entire MIT undergraduate computer science program in one year, and more. He uses his own experiences and that of others, to illustrate the principles he presents in this book.

3. …

You can find the third and final recommendation here: 


This year, I didn’t spend much time reading new fiction. Or at least, the ones I did were not of sufficient quality to put on this year end’s summary list, unfortunately.

Instead, the top fiction I’d like to share with you are actually old favorites that I re-read just for fun. Here are my top 3 for 2020:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’ve read Pride and Prejudice at least half a dozen times in my life at this point, and each time I am delighted by Austen’s witty and hilarious portrayals of the characters in her book.

The conversations, the verbal sparring, the behaviors and relationships of the people in Jane Austen’s world are so true-to-life, perhaps more so than actual human beings. It’s no wonder that this book is a classic, and that Austen is considered by many as one of the greatest writers in the history of the English language!

2. Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett is more famous for having written the Secret Garden, or A Little Princess, but if you ask me, my favorite of her books is Little Lord Fauntleroy.

The more cynical among us might criticize this story for being overly optimistic, but I think we often underestimate the power that loving, positive, expectations can have on people.

Even though I’ve already read this book multiple times and know what’s going to happen, it still had me close to (happy) tears when I picked it up to re-read it recently. When the world seems like a dark place, being reminded that selfish, unhappy people can change for the better, and that when you deliberately look for the good in others, you can often call out/create that goodness you seek, is more necessary than ever.

So if you haven’t yet read Little Lord Fauntleroy, you’re in for a treat 🙂

3. …

You can find the third and final recommendation here: 

Honorable Mentions

1. The Big Short

This book opened my eyes to the financial world, specifically subprime mortgages and the crash of 2008, but ultimately, more than that.

I’ve noticed that many in my generation (and perhaps generations older than mine too) are financially illiterate to a frightening degree. We don’t know what money is, how it works, and how easy it is for a few financial “experts” to pull some strings, manipulate some derivatives, and send the entire system crashing to the floor.

The first step to protecting and caring for those you care about (and those you’re responsible for — yourself, your family) is to know what’s going on. So even though I used to dislike anything having to do with money, I realize more and more that I have to learn more about it, and the economy, and finances in general.

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, besides being a mouthful to say, is an epistolary novel. Meaning, it’s written entirely in letters, or telegrams, between the various characters. It’s a rather limiting form, which is the first reason why I felt it deserved an honorable mention. Any writer (or writers, in this case because there were two of them) who can pull off writing a book in such a way deserves respect.

The second reason is the humor. The main character’s correspondence with her suitor, and her correspondence with her friends about the suitor, in particular, are laugh-out-loud funny. You can really see her personality shine through in those letters. Two thumbs up.

But why did it not make it into my top 3 novels for 2020?

I confess, I didn’t completely like the main character and the main-character-who-never-physically-appears (not-a-spoiler alert: the one who is taken away before the story begins), which makes it all the more impressive that I still liked this book, overall. It won’t make my Top 100 list, but I’m glad I came across it this year!

3. …

You can find the third and final recommendation here: 

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