The Best Books I Read in 2020
Choosing the best books of 2020 wasn’t easy. Between the pandemic, racial tensions, and an election year happening “out there,” and a new baby and moving “in here,” the year 2020 proved to be quite an interesting year for reading. Nevertheless, I read some great books this year, so keep reading to find out which ones you will want to add to your 2021 Christian reading list.
At the beginning of 2020, I set a reading goal to read more fiction than non-fiction. I did this for a number of reasons.
First, I found that I was flying through growth-minded books, consuming them quickly and then moving onto the next one quickly. I wasn’t really sitting with the books for very long, let alone applying what I was reading.
I had created space to read the books, but I hadn’t created space to apply what I was learning, which in the end means I wasn’t learning. Therefore, I decided to read less non-fiction and growth-minded books in 2020, so that I could read more slowly and apply what I was learning more faithfully.
Second, I needed to break the cycle of “do better Christianity” that I had cycled back into.
Do you ever get caught in the cycle of trying to earn your way to grace and you forget you’re simply loved just the way you are?
True, pursuing godliness is incredibly important. It’s in the DNA of a Christian.
But what’s also in the DNA of a Christian is worship and remembering we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS.
So even though I wasn’t doing all that great at applying what I was reading while I was focused on reading for growth, I was caught in the doing cycle and I needed to break the habit. Therefore, I chose more fiction and less self-help in 2020 because I need to simply BE.
So, 2020 was an interesting reading year because of my goal at the start of the year, but it was also so kind of the Lord to set the stage in my reading life for what was about to happen in 2020.
You know that 2020 was interesting in the world at large, but it was also interesting within the walls of our home.
At the start of the year, I had no idea we would be adding another baby to our family…during a pandemic. Nor did I know that I would be moving houses for the first time in nearly six years; thus buying and selling a home…in a pandemic.
We also had to sell our Jeep and upgrade to a vehicle that would fit our growing family, my husband had several amazing business opportunities that changed the way we were used to operating, and the home we bought has required A LOT of work.
Much of what has happened within our home this year has been GOOD, but it’s also been HARD.
Hard life circumstances will effect your reading life, and I want you to know that this is okay.
It’s okay to read for pleasure and not growth.
It’s okay to read (more or) less during stressful seasons.
It’s okay for your reading year to not look like you had hoped it would at the start of the year.
Since this was a year of less non-fiction and more fiction, I’m going to do my best to let my best books of 2020 list reflect that.
I know this is a little different than what you’re used to reading from me, but hopefully it inspires you nevertheless.
So, without further ado, here is my best books of 2020.
The Best Books I Read in 2020
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Before I start, I want to say that I decided not to include re-reads in my “best of” list.
So, books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Stepping Heavenward, The Secret Garden, and The Hunger Games aren’t listed below because I’ve read them many times before (though they are some of the best books I’ve ever read and would recommend them in a heart beat).
Below are only books I read this year for the very first time and thoroughly enjoyed. I narrowed the list down from over 60 books read to the following best of 2020 book list.
Hagenheim, Fairy Tale Romance Series by Melanie Dickerson
If you’re a sucker for knights and castles and damsels in distress, then this is a great series for you. I’ve always loved fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and The Frog Prince (to name a few). Melanie Dickerson masterfully retells these stories in new and wonderful ways, making for some great comfort reading while getting lost in a world of romance and chivalry. I enjoyed all of these this year:
- The Healer’s Apprentice
- The Merchant’s Daughter (my favorite out of all them)
- The Fairest Beauty
- The Captive Maiden
- The Princess Spy
Lovely War by Julie Berry
This book was not what I expected, and it took me a minute to get into it. However, once I did get going, I couldn’t put it down. Set during the days of World War I and II, this multi-layered romance will keep you reading until the last page.
Adventures With Waffles by Maria Parr
This was the #1 best read aloud of the year bar none. It was totally delightful in every way. It made us laugh. It made us cry. It made us wish time would hold still so we could fit in just one more chapter. We’ve read aloud some pretty fantastic books through the years, but I think this might be the best one of all time. The characters were so well developed, believable, and the story itself was full of emotion and meaning. I can’t wait to read this one again sometime. If you don’t have kids, read it anyway. You’re sure to enjoy it, too!
No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
This book hit closer to home than I anticipated. From cookie-cutter Christianity to racism to family, this is a book worth reading. The characters were believable, as well as how the story unfolded. I think this is a must-read for those looking to grow in understanding your own blind spots and biases, especially mothers.
Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge
This book has one purpose: to fuel your passion for the secret place with God. I plan to actually re-read this one this year. Divided into 52 short chapters, it can serve as a companion to your devotional life. It’s the perfect introduction to the spiritual disciplines, but it will also fuel the most devoted, long-time Christian’s spiritual life as well. It’s my number one recommendation to anyone getting started in the Christian faith.
Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle
This book was recommended to me over and over again as a must-read. I didn’t think I’d like it to be honest. I’m sort of sick of people telling me what biblical womanhood is and missing the mark entirely. Most of what you read is either a throw back to “the old days” and calling that “biblical womanhood” or it’s a really progressive look at the modern woman calling it the “new biblical womanhood.” I think both are wrong, and I’m a bit jaded on “biblical womanhood” books. However, this book sets aside all stereotypes of womanhood and addresses head on what God actually made women for. I couldn’t put it down, and it’s another one I plan to re-read because there is just so much there worth mulling over and getting deep into my heart.
Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel
I picked this one up from a Kindle deal at some point this year, and then it sat on my virtual shelf for months. If you struggle with worry, fear of making the wrong decision, or let things cycle over and over in your brain, then this book is for you. To be honest, I didn’t consider myself an overthinker before reading this book. And there are definitely parts of the book that weren’t directly applicable to me. However, there was enough there to change the trajectory of my actions from the moment I read the last sentence, and it’s stuck with me like glue. This book sticks with you. It’s practical and an easy read.
The following are books worth mentioning because even though they didn’t make my “best of” list, I think they are still worth reading:
- The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
- Awaking Wonder by Sally Clarkson
- Know and Tell by Karen Glass
- The Noticer by Andy Andrews
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This looks like a great list, and how refreshing that I have not heard of ANY of these books! Thank you for sharing, looking forward to procuring several of these.
One of the fun things I do with book blog posts is try to see how many books on the list I have read. I read over 200 books in 2020 but none of the books on your list. Eve in Exile is on my to read list.
There are so many books in this world! Love that I’ve now added to your list 🙂
Yes!! Everything you said… I struggle with reading non fiction, because 1. I don’t want to waste my time reading a book that really isn’t that good and 2. I don’t want to read worldly books, that pull me away from God and fill my mind with anything that is less than pure and excellent. So, I end up reading books about how to be a good Mom, good Wife, better Christian, which is all great, but sometimes I just want to give my brain a respite. I wasn’t brought up a reader, but in the last couple years went through the Chronicles of Narina and was introduced to Francine Rivers. And I realized how much I love good fiction!! It honestly started with read a louds I found for my boys. Anyway, this list is very much appreciated!! Thank you and happy New year!!
I got back into reading fiction myself because of reading aloud with the kids. I don’t mind just reading children’s books if I can’t find a good “adult fiction.” 🙂 But it’s my goal to be able to source good fiction for my readers because we all need a rest from time-to-time!
Thanks for sharing! I am reading many books for the first time! But my favorite this year was Devoted by Tim Challies. I loved how it was just moms doing simple prayer and scripture reading without anything fancy! I also really enjoyed a few classics like Anne of Green Gables, Trumpet of the Swan, and we really loved Adventures with Waffles too!
Great children’s books – some of my favorites! I’ve never read Devoted. I will have to check it out!
I picked up “No one Ever Asked” because you suggested it, oh it hit close to home for me, too. That was a good one.
I enjoyed “How to Lead When You’re Not In Charge”, such a good challenge for work ethic and attitudes toward leadership and service.
And “Garden City” and “In His Image” were the other most impactful. I need to pick up more non-fiction this year ?
Love hearing that about No One Ever Asked. I think Mark might have read How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, maybe? I’ve definitely heard of it. I loved Garden City, and In His Image is still on my “to be read” shelf. Thanks for sharing!
It’s always so hard to pick a ‘best books 2020″ list, or any year. I would have to say Tempting Tait by Chautona Havig, or Restoring Fairhaven by Carolyn Miller for contemporary, Amora by Grant Hallstrom and Redemption at the Eleventh Hour for Historical/Biblical, and Behind the Behavior by Lindsay Leiviska for Christian Parenting, and Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson for Spiritual Growth.
I’ve read Wild Goose Chase, but never heard of the other ones. I will definitely check those out! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Secrets of the Secret Place is one of my favorites. I have bought so many copies of it and given it to people over the years!!! It is a treasure!!! Bob Sorge’s other books are also really good!!!!!
Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg is the book that impacted me the most in 2020. It speaks to the heart (the second half is specifically for those in the counseling field, but the first half is on my must read list). I will read it again to digest more. It is a slower read because there is some soul searching to do as you process the content.
And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers was another one at the top of my 2020 list along with I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquish Sheikh. Both helped me see a bigger picture I needed to be able to see.
Read aloud favorites with the kids were the Ralph Moody series.