My Favorite Reads in 2020
As it’s nearing the end of the year, I’m going to throw my hat into the ring of end-of-year book lists (Find my 2019 post here). While last year I followed Tim Challie’s Reading Challenge, this year I decided to pick titles on my own.
Last year I was really excited to accomplish my goal in books, and this year I far exceeded the last. I honestly don’t care about numbers, and I don’t think anybody should. It’s not about volume, but about what you learn. You can read 100 books a year, and if you don’t learn or retain anything, it’s worthless. (Samuel James just wrote a great post about there here. )
This year I was so excited to glean from biographies, fiction, and incredible theological commentaries. I’m sure the slow-down of life helped in this a bit, but I still found a lot of help in reaching my reading goals through intention, diverse genres, one book at a time, and really following my own interests. (I wrote a little about this here).
One of the sweetest gifts in in the midst of my reading this year was the chance to see God’s sovereignty in something as small as book choices. I can’t tell you how many times I completed a book only to find myself needing those exact truths soon after. This has happened with theology books and even fictional stories. I’d pick up a book because it looked interesting and then found myself reading commentary that answered the very questions I had been struggling with in my head for weeks.
This is just another reminder to me of the work of the Spirit in our lives. He is always active throughout the whole of life, even in the midst of my reading.
Now for my top picks! Instead of reviews, I’m going to share some key take-aways. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter, I share my reading pile and my review/synopsis all throughout the year!
Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord by L. Michael Morales
This commentary on Leviticus was my favorite book this year which made me marvel in the supremacy of the Lord and what it means to have life in his presence.
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey
This book corrected a lot of false assumptions I had about some stories in the gospels by giving me the context (Middle Eastern culture) I never had to begin with. Particularly the section on parables really stuck with me.
Letter to Diognetus by Unknown author
This historical work about 2nd century Christians (written in the 2nd century) was incredibly encouraging and left my faith bolstered as well as convicted me in the way that I live and view my place in this world.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom’s testimony encouraged me in the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. As I read about Corrie, her sister, and her family’s sacrifice and faith, I left thinking, “He is worth it. He is worth it.”
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This biography on the woman whose cells were used to create HeLa cells (which have been used in vaccines and medicine for decades) was fascinating, sad in parts, and left me very curious as to what has been done to my gallbladder since it was removed. 🙂
On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior
This book was a perfect audiobook, and I left this with a continued desire to read more fiction and to appreciate the virtue found in good stories. (Audio version is free on Hoopla!)
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
This was probably my second favorite book this year that left me so deeply encouraged in the merciful and compassionate nature of our Lord. Seriously read this one. (It’s also free on Hoopla audio!)
Companions in Suffering by Wendy Alsup/Resplendent Bride by Evan Welcher
Both of these books handled suffering for the Christian in such gentle and encouraging ways. The latter I read in January, the former I read last month. They both left me thinking about the “fellowship of the suffering,” the hope we have in Christ, and how we comfort.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I left this book mainly determined to read more Steinbeck. But really, this was my favorite fiction, and there are so many reasons, but overall well-done story line and so thought provoking on many levels.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This apocalyptic thriller about a father and son was captivating and left me thinking on faith and sacrifice. If you read this, check out Alan Noble’s paper for some excellent observations.
The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff
I really appreciated the unifying call of this book to both political parties to identify their own destructive tendencies in discourse.
Blogging for God’s Glory in a Clickbait World by John Beeson and Benjamin Vrbicek
I guess this is still Christian, but for bloggers this was excellent, and it left me invigorated to use the tools I have better and to continue to evaluate the purpose of my writing.
The Growly Books by Erin and Philip Ulrich
These were some of my favorite read-alouds with the kid this year. If you have little ones listening and don’t want anything really scary, these are excellent and still pretty fun.
You can see my full list here.