Every Book I Read in 2020

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Have you ever wondered what Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto reads?

Well, today you’ll find out.  A different kind of post for this Thanksgiving week, but one I hope you find of interest – perhaps my list will spark some Christmas gift ideas for a loved one (or yourself!).  If nothing else, you’ll have some insight into my interests beyond what I write about on this blog.  

Today, a summary of every book I read in 2020. Curious what The Retirement Manifesto reads? Now you'll know... Click To Tweet

Every Book I Read in 2020

A quick glance at my profile on Goodreads.com provides a clean and easy summary of my annual reading.  It’s fun to watch your progress through the years, and I’ve been increasing my reading since retiring in 2018, as shown in the summary below (through November 2020):

Also, I came across this quote as I was writing today’s post, and thought it relevant to include:

“Retirement without literary amusements is death itself, and a living tomb.”

-Seneca The Younger

I love the concept of “literary amusements”, and agree that reading does improve retirement (never stop learning).  I disagree, however, with the concept that retirement would be a “living tomb” without it.

So, what do I read? 

You’ll see a wide variety as I tend to shift from genre to genre as the mood strikes.  I may read a “meaty” self-help book, then move into a casual fiction, then something on personal finance/retirement.  There’s always a historical non-fiction or two since those tend to be my favorite. I just read what appeals to me at the moment, and see where it leads. 

To keep this process simple and objective, I’ve included the first paragraph of the Goodreads book summary, as well as Goodreads, Amazon and my personal rating (all on a scale of 1 to 5) for each of the books I’ve read.

With that, here’s the list.

The List of Every Book I Read in 2020

In chronological order, here’s every book I’ve read this year (all have Amazon affiliate links, so I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you if you click):

Money For The Rest of Us – David Stein (Amazon affiliate link)

Too see my detailed thoughts on this one, read the book review I wrote.  Worth a read if you’d like to learn more about investing. 

“You manage your own money. You understand the basics of investing and diversifying your portfolio. Now it’s time to invest like a pro for greater profits–with investment expert David Stein, host of the popular weekly podcast, “Money for the Rest of Us.” He’s created a unique ten-question template that makes it easy for individual investors like you to:

– Invest more confidently
– Feel less overwhelmed
– Build a stronger portfolio
– Avoid costly mistakes
– Plan and save for retirement”

Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.06
  • Amazon Rating: 4.7
  • Fritz’s Rating: 5

Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities – Richard Leider  (Amazon affiliate link)

A book worth reading as I focused on discovering my new life in retirement.  

“Are you at a point in your life where you’re asking, “What’s next?” You’ve finished one chapter and you have yet to write the next one. Many of us face these transitions at midlife, but they can happen at any point. It’s a time full of enormous potential, and it defines a whole new phase of life. It’s called Life Reimagined.”  Source:  Goodreads.

  • Goodreads Rating: 3.44
  • Amazon Rating: 4
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4 

The Institute – Stephen King  (Amazon affiliate link)

After taking a long break from Stephen King, I read this one at my wife’s suggestion.  I was glad I did.  Man, that guy can write.  A twisting tale of child kidnapping and mind control.  Brilliant tale.

“In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Amazon Rating: 4.7
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4 

Money, Possessions and Eternity – Randy Alcorn (Amazon affiliate link)

An excellent and challenging look at money from a biblical perspective.

“Randy Alcorn presents a biblical and comprehensive view of money and possessions, including the following:
Why is money so important to God?
How can we be liberated from materialism?
What should we do about debt?
How much does God want us to give?
What about gambling? Investing? Insurance? Saving? Retirement? Inheritance?
Who wants to settle for fleeting treasures on earth . . . when God offers everlasting treasures in heaven? It’s time to rethink our perspectives on money and possessions. In this thoroughly researched classic, Randy Alcorn shows us how to view these things accurately―as God’s provision for our good, the good of others, and his glory.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Amazon Rating: 4.6
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4 

Escape Clause – John Sandford (Amazon affiliate link)

My first Sandford book, but not my last.  There’s a reason 

Whenever you hear the sky rumble, that usually means a storm. In Virgil Flowers’ case, make that two. The exceptional new thriller from the writer whose books are “pure reading pleasure” (Booklist)

The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they’ve been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others — as Virgil is about to find out.  Source: Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Amazon Rating: 4.5
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4 

Keys To A Successful Retirement – Fritz Gilbert (Amazon affiliate link)

Yep, I’m counting the book I wrote!  Why?  Well, I DID read this book more than any other book on the list, at least 7 times by my count (the editing process is brutal with a professional publisher).  I’m pleased with the response to my book, and thank all of you who have read it.

“This book encapsulates the keys I’ve learned to achieve a successful retirement, based on my 5 years of research and personal experience preparing for, and transitioning into, retirement.

It is intended to help others achieve a great retirement as they cross The Starting Line, a transition that can be surprisingly challenging for many people. Thank you for considering my book, I hope it has a positive impact on your journey.” Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.1
  • Amazon Rating: 4.5
  • Fritz’s Rating: 5 

You Are A Writer – Jeff Goins (Amazon affiliate link)

Mixing some self-improvement into the mix, I like to read at least one book a year about writing.  I love the way Jeff Goins writes, though this book wasn’t his best.

“Becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are a writer; you just need to write.

In You Are a Writer, Jeff Goins shares his own story of self-doubt and what it took for him to become a professional writer. He gives you practical steps to improve your writing, get published in magazines, and build a platform that puts you in charge.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 3.8
  • Amazon Rating: 4.5
  • Fritz’s Rating: 3

The Boy From The Woods – Harlan Coben (Amazon affiliate link)

One of my favorite writers, Harlan Coben spins a great tale in this “shocking thriller” from the best-selling author.

In the shocking new thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away, a man whose past is shrouded in mystery must find a missing teenage girl before her disappearance brings about disastrous consequences for her community . . . and the world.

The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.0
  • Amazon Rating: 4.3
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4

The Summons – John Grisham (Amazon affiliate link)

I returned to Grisham in 2020 after giving him a break for few years (he had gotten a bit to “politically correct” for my liking).  I’m happy to say he’s returned to his former greatness, and this one is worth a read.

“Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He’s forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family’s black sheep.
And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 3.7
  • Amazon Rating: 4.4
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4

The Chase (Clive Cussler) (Amazon affiliate link)

I came across this one at the library and decided to read my first Clive Cussler.  It wasn’t my last (you’ll see another Cussler further in the list).  Great writer, I thoroughly enjoyed this “chase” set in the early days of the railroads.

“For decades, Clive Cussler has been delighting readers with novels filled with suspense, action, and sheer audacity. Now he does it again, in one of the wildest, most entertaining historical thrillers in years.

April 1950: The rusting hulk of a steam locomotive rises from the deep waters of a Montana lake. Inside is all that remains of three men who died forty-four years before. But it is not the engine or its grisly contents that interest the people watching nearby. It is what is about to come next . . .”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4
  • Amazon Rating: 4.6
  • Fritz’s Rating: 5

Growing Young:  How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100 – Marta Zaraska (Amazon affiliate link)

I wrote a book review on this one, and highly recommend it to anyone looking to find some “brain food” for living a good life.  

“A smart, well-researched investigation on how to live to 100.

Besides teaching her how to ride a bike and mow the lawn (without cutting the cord), Marta Zaraska’s father taught her the importance of diet and exercise for healthy living and a long life. Like many of us, the importance of a healthy, organic diet, physical activity, and lots of sleep were impressed upon Marta. As any parent, Marta’s father wanted his child to live to be 100.
When Marta became a parent herself, she found herself wanting the same thing for her own daughter: a long, healthy life. What’s more, though, is that she wanted to live long enough to see her daughter blow out eighty candles on her birthday.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4
  • Amazon Rating: 4.7
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4

Hornet Flight – Ken Follett (Amazon affiliate link)

Follett is the master of historical thrillers, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  A great story of espionage in WWII.

“Ken Follett follows his bestsellers Jackdaws and Code to Zero with an extraordinary novel of early days of World War II…It is June 1941 and the war is not going well for England.  Across the North Sea, eighteen-year-old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut on the German-occupied Danish island of Sande an discovers an astonishing sight that will change the momentum of the war.  He must get word to England-except that he has no way to get there.  He has only an old derelict Hornet Moth biplane rusting away in a ruined church: a plane so decrepit that it is unlikely ever to get off the ground…even if Harald knew how to fly it.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 3.9
  • Amazon Rating: 4.5
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4

The Immune – David Kazzie (Amazon affiliate link)

Wow, what a read, especially in a year with Coronavirus.  An evil plot to destroy the world with a deadly virus, and those who survived.  A true page-turner.


On a warm summer night at Yankee Stadium, a monstrous plot to eradicate the human race is set into motion.

Within days, the deadly Medusa virus is racing across the globe like a wildfire, leaving behind a handful of terrified survivors in a world unlike any they have ever known.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.1
  • Amazon Rating: 4.3
  • Fritz’s Rating: 5

On With The Butter! Spread More Living onto Everyday Life  Heidi Herman (Amazon affiliate link)

A quick read, and well worth it.  My friends at Aging With Freedom did a great book review, and I agree with their assessment.  If you’re looking for a way to live a better life, look no further than these “Viking Aging Lessons”.

“Carry on, keep doing what you’re doing, forge ahead, and keep moving. Icelanders have a saying for it: Áfram með Smjörið – on with the butter!

If you’re looking for new ways to add zest to your life or have free time in retirement, this book offers a wide variety of activities and challenges, along with inspiring and heartwarming stories. Discover ways to explore, play, take, chances, try new things, make a difference, and have more fun in life. You’re the activities director, and On with the Butter! is your guidebook.”   Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.5
  • Amazon Rating: 4.6
  • Fritz’s Rating: 5

The Bootlegger – Clive Cussler (Amazon affiliate link)

My second Cussler of 2020, and a bit of a disappointment.  I really enjoyed The Chase, but wouldn’t recommend The Bootlegger.  Every year’s gotta have one bust, and this was mine.  The ratings from other readers are strong, so perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for this one.

“It is 1920, and both Prohibition and bootlegging are in full swing. When Isaac Bell’s boss and lifelong friend Joseph Van Dorn is shot and nearly killed leading the high-speed chase of a rum-running vessel, Bell swears to him that he will hunt down the lawbreakers, but he doesn’t know what he is getting into. When a witness to Van Dorn’s shooting is executed in a ruthlessly efficient manner invented by the Russian secret police, it becomes clear that these are no ordinary criminals. Bell is up against a team of Bolshevik assassins and saboteurs—and they are intent on overthrowing the government of the United States.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4
  • Amazon Rating: 4.6
  • Fritz’s Rating: 2

Killing Crazy Horse – Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard (Amazon affiliate link)

I’ve ready every one of the “Killing” series by Bill O’Reilly and find them to be well written and an interesting way to get a glimpse into important historical events.  If you’ve not “discovered” them, I enourage you to check them out.  Crazy Horse wasn’t my favorite, but it was still well worth a read if you’re interested in the history of the Indian Wars.  It’s an objective look at the (unfair) treatment the Indians recieved at the hands of the US Government.

“The latest installment of the multimillion-selling Killing series is a gripping journey through the American West and the historic clashes between Native Americans and settlers.

The bloody Battle of Tippecanoe was only the beginning. It’s 1811 and President James Madison has ordered the destruction of Shawnee warrior chief Tecumseh’s alliance of tribes in the Great Lakes region. But while General William Henry Harrison would win this fight, the armed conflict between Native Americans and the newly formed United States would rage on for decades.”  Source:  Goodreads

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.2
  • Amazon Rating: 4.7
  • Fritz’s Rating: 4


Glad to see you’re still with me (THAT was a lot of scrolling, right!?).   I should mention I’m currently reading Michael Connelly’s Fair Warning, so this should be my comprehensive list for every book I read in 2020.

I’m pleased that I’ve increased my reading in retirement, it’s a great way to learn from the experience of others.  I encourage everyone to pick a book on a topic of interest and dig in.  Since retirement, we’ve made it a habit to spend our final 30 minutes of every day reading in bed.  It’s a great way to “slow down” at the end of the day, and helps increase the number of books I’m able to read in a year.  Interested?  Try it!

Your Turn:  Do you love reading?  What book have you read that you would recommend?  


  1. Hey Fritz,
    Although I’m not as aggressive as you I do like to read non-fiction. Currently I’m reading a Readers Digest non-fiction. I like the idea of reading in bed prior to going to sleep and am going to give it a try. Also, “On With The Butter” is going on my books to read list. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Hey to Jackie.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family Brother Fritz !
    Great list for those like me wanting to read, but just not sure what.
    I am on the closing chapters of The Three “C” That Made America by Mike Huckabee. Great little history book and reminder of what this country was founded and established!

    1. Nice list. Adding some to my want to read list. My favorite fiction book this year was This Tender Land and my favorite nonfiction was Bad Blood. Even more interesting since the trial is starting now. Bad Blood was a fascinating look at the world of venture capital in science/tech start up and what can go wrong when you fall for all the dazzle.

  3. I read Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle years ago and it was great short read about the joy of giving. I will have to check out this new one. Also, this year I read 20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now (long title I know). It’s a good look at each area of retirement planning. It has some good charts to look at how long different withdrawal rates might last with various allocations.

  4. Fritz, I had to LOL on how Covid has made us all prodigious readers. I have already set a record 23 books read with two more on my list to accomplish this year. Thanks for sharing your list, I will certainly add a few to my queue. Some of my books were long like three from Ron Chernow–Hamilton, Grant, & Washington. I don’t think he does anything less than 800 pages but what the heck, I had time. The most scary and appropriate book I read was John Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Though 101 years ago, the so-called Spanish Influenza had a lot of similar characteristics of this Covid mess. Herd immunity extinguished it, but hopefully, a vaccine will take care of this one.

    1. We have Chernow’s Washington on our bookshelf, but I haven’t read it yet. May have to move it to the stack by my bed, I really do enjoy historical profile-type books. And…you’re brave to read “…Pandemic…” this year, I bet they sold more copies of that book this year than they have since it first came out. Praying for herd immunity sooner rather than later. Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Haven’t read any of these but I read a lot. And I don’t read money books anymore ‘cuz I figured that part of life out a long time ago, but I’m sure yours is great 🙂

    I also rarely ever read fiction but want to do so more, I realize it can activate different parts of the brain. I just find history and real events more fascinating and strange than made up ones. Good list though

  6. Adding The Great Influenza and On With the Butter!

    What I’ve read and can recommend — The Girl with the Louding Voice, This Tender Land, There There (American Indian modern non-fiction,) American Dirt, The Splendid and the Vile (Winston Churchill) and Before We Were Yours. Read a dozen others but they didn’t make it to this strongly recommend list, enjoy 🙂

  7. Awesome! There’s some good reads on here that I just added to my queue. Cheers for being a reader as well. I’m at 184 books so far in 2020 and publishing the 2nd annual Fates on Fire books awards on Dec 9th. Hope you can drop by perhaps I can reciprocate on some ideas for your 2021 list. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  8. Added a couple to my list also – I did read your book this year and really liked it – well written and useful with new ideas I hadn’t thought about ! Currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear – worth a read imho.

  9. Thanks for your list! Completely agree with Keys to Success and Alcorn’s book. Others I greatly enjoyed: Bible, The Retirement Challenge by RCAM, Reflections (reflections on life’s final journey) by Howard, Productivity by Wilson (extended definition of wealth), On Reading Well (short commentaries on classic books), and Miracle Morning (personal growth and morning routine). Thanks again and I look forward to others’ comments.

  10. Fritz, thanks for the suggestions – added the Cussler book to my list just for the pure pleasure of reading a good story. I just finished reading “when they call you a terrorist a black lives matter memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha Bandele. It’s a heart-wrenching but hopeful account of Khan-Cullors’ life as a Black person growing up in a Black neighborhood. It’s a very touching read, and made crystal clear to me (an old White guy) why the Black Lives Matter movement had to happen. Truly eye-opening.

  11. Appreciate the mention under On With The Butter! We clearly share some other interests. Long time Clive Cussler and Ken Follet reader. You’ve got a few to add to our reading list! Both fiction and nonfiction. Thanks for the reading recap.

  12. Hey Fritz – Thanks for the list. Have read a couple of the financial books, but I am REALLY excited to see a number of my favorite (and next-to-favorite) fiction authors, and maybe one to try. What surprises me 6 months next week into forced (via pandemic layoff) retirement is how busy I’ve stayed, not even traveling and going out to restaurants. I am still 2-3 months behind in periodicals and have hardly cracked a book (not even 2 I was working on when laid off). I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing, I just would never have guessed that. With winter moving its way into Seattle, perhaps I’ll start getting to the reads.
    Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving and stay safe!! Steve

    1. Steve, sorry to hear about the forced retirement, but pleased to hear you’re keeping busy. I’ve found reading for 30 minutes before bed the best way to carve out time to read, and it’s a great routine to calm you down before sleep. We’ve been doing it since I retired, and I love the new routine. Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to you, wifey and your fur babies! Do they get any turkey Thurs.?? 😉

    Love also to read. My increase in books read is increasing each year of retirement also, since 2015. I average about 24 per year. I like fiction and non fiction. Have you ever read “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand? Took her 7 years to collect all the data, including interviews with Louie himself. Hope you didn’t see the movie yet. Book is outstanding!
    Also, for those of you with spiritual preferences ….”The Shack” is pretty well written. Even if you don’t agree with the author. Also in that subject matter, a non fiction book, “The Cross and the Switchblade” is very good!

    And yes…Dave@AccidentalFire dissed you…but was pretty polite about it! LOL!

    Wishing a wonderful Thanksgiving to all…..humble and grateful to others….

    God speed, Steve

    1. Unfortunately, the dogs are going to be staying home with a dogsitter while we spend Thanksgiving at our daughter’s new place in Alabama, not sure if they’re going to get turkey or not! 🙂

      I’ve not read Unbroken, nor seen the movie, but adding it to my Goodreads “to read” list. We have The Shack on our bookshelf, I haven’t gotten to it yet, will have to give it a look. Also adding The Cross and the Switchblade. Thanks for the tips (and, for not dissing me like that guy Dave). Smiles.

  14. One thing I really like about this blog is to balances retirement life and the finance aspects. You don’t live your life for money, but rather have money to live your life. Thanks for sharing both sides. It’s a great reminder to focus on living.

  15. The Killing series sounds interesting. Which one would you say is your favorite?

    I haven’t read him in a few years, but Harlan Coben always seems to have some good page turners.

    For non fiction, I am trying to diversify my reading by trying a Dewey Decimal challenge. My goal (over some unspecified time) is to read a book in each of the categories of 10 (so 330s, 340s, etc.). I think I have hit about 20-25 or so of the roughly 100 (there are some categories no longer used). I just finished reading Packing for Mars, which is about life as an astronaut (took care of the 570s, Life Sciences). Based on that book I will try to stick to life on earth!

    Have a good Thanksgiving!

  16. I really enjoyed Killing Lincoln and Killing JFK. I got bogged down a little reading Killing the SS. Haven’t read Killing Jesus yet.

  17. Fritz! As I told you, your book was amongst the top 3 for me this year. I set a stretch goal to read 50 this year. I’m at 38, albeit, a bunch on audio…

    Best for ACTIONABLE advice for me were your book and The Simple Path to Wealth.

    I enjoy true stories so my other tops this year were, Killing Lincoln, Lincoln on Leadership & Killing Patton. Return of the Reich on audio was a tremendous true story about an American spy behind Nazi lines. Almost unbelievable. Amazing audio narration. The Suspect (Richard Jewel Atlanta Olymic Bombing story) on audio was probably the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to, and I’ve listened to hundreds. The movie stunk compared to the book.

  18. Thank you for sharing!

    What have you found to be the best reading ‘device’ for you? Physical books? eBook?

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