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Carole Barrowman Picks Her Top Books of 2020!

Plus a Christmas Book Tradition Continues!
Posted at 10:00 AM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 11:00:58-05

As 2020 draws to a close, a lot of people are looking back at the year that was. And while there was maybe a little more negative than positive this past year, today we are focusing on the good... good books, that is! Carole Barrowman had the near-impossible job of narrowing down her favorite books of 2020, and she joins us with her picks!

For more information on Carole, visit And see below for her picks!

1. Let’s start with my favorite holiday picture book. Every year since my children were born , I’ve bought a holiday picture books (32 years of Christmas picture books). Some years when Clare & Turner couldn’t agree we bought two.
This year’s book is "Narwhal’s True Christmas Wish" by Lisa Ann Scott (author) and Amberin Huq (illustrator). Narwhal’s are essentially sea unicorns and they are as popular as the land ones right now. This is a sweet story about Nigel Narwhal who wants to be one of Santa’s helpers. When he finds a lost present, he gets his chance.

2. "The King’s Justice" by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam) - One of my favorite mysteries of the year. Maggie Hope was once Winston Churchill’s secretary and she’s now a WWII spy. The King’s Justice opens with an unexploded bomb washing up in the banks of the Thames in 1943. This undetonated bomb sets the tone for this suspenseful, superbly crafted mystery.

3. "Hamnet" by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf) - This is my favorite book club novel of the year, and the most gorgeously written novel I’ve read this year. Set in the 17th century, it chronicles Shakespeare’s passionate and turbulent marriage and the loss of their son as the Bard writes one of his most famous plays. This book is nothing less than brilliant.

4. "Me and White Supremacy" by Layla F. Saad - This is my favorite book for taking action to become a good ancestor and a better ally in the Black Lives movement. It leads the reader through a 28 day journaling process of taking stock of our biases and behaviors. I’ve been working through it with a small group of my peers this semester. It’s been profoundly eye-opening.

5. "Wow, No Thank You" by Samantha Irby (Random House Audio) - This is my favorite laugh-out-loud non-fiction book that I read this year, and the best way to see the back of 2020 is with a good laugh. Irby’s essays are short and dead pan and self-deprecating. She takes on her life’s most absurd moments with exaggerated good humor. I recommend buying the audiobook to hear Irby’s own narration.