My Favorite Books Read in 2020

By Thursday, February 18, 2021 , ,

Hi, everyone. This has to be the latest yearly book round-up post on record in the world of bookish blog posts, but nonetheless, I hope it’s still interesting and helpful if you enjoy this sort of thing. I’ve already written some about what a different reading year 2020 was for me, and I think the timing of this post, as well as my reading so far in 2021, just continues to prove how much my reading has been affected by the strangeness of this past year. And that’s okay! I hardly read a single new thing in January of this year. I lived in the Narnia books, the Harry Potter books, and Pride and Prejudice for most of it, and I was completely fine with that. It’s also sweet to look back on the books I re-read in 2020 and remember what a comfort they were to me. And despite how unexpected and strange my reading life was in 2020, I still read a lot of really good, edifying, thoughtful books. I hope you enjoy my list and are perhaps inspired to pick up something new. And the nerdy stats perhaps won’t interest anyone but me, but thank you for indulging me anyway :) 

Total Books Read (new to me): 33! 

Books Re-read: 6 – 
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Format Breakdown:
- Read the physical book: 26/33 (~79%)
- Listened to the audiobook: 7/33 (~21%)
I found it interesting that I didn’t read anything on Kindle last year. Maybe I just couldn’t take one more screen, even if it does look more like a book.

Author Stats: 
- Male: 14
- Female: 15

Favorites of 2020

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
A gentle, lyrical, endearing novel about family dynamics, wartime romance, and Cornwall. Haley Atwell’s narration of the audiobook is sublime.
Seeing Green: Don’t Let Envy Color Your Joy by Tilly Dillehay
Possibly my favorite Christian living book of the last 3-5 years. It not only helped me to understand envy and recognize its signs and damage, but also how to counteract it and how much joy we exchange when we give into it. It equipped me to fight envy, and, to my sweet surprise, more deeply delight in my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
There’s a reason this book has been so thoroughly read and recommended and reviewed in Christian circles since its publication last April. I believe its release at that particular time was clearly providential, given how difficult the following months became for so many people. I’m grateful to be one among the swarms who drew strength from it last year. It’s a warm and comforting divine hug, a balm to the soul, and a needed look at the “breadth and length and height and depth” of Christ’s love. Carefulness and trepidation might usually characterize some Christians’ conversation about Jesus’ affection for his people, but Dane Ortlund takes his readers there without hesitation. I’m so glad he does.
Sex and the City of God by Carolyn Weber
If you’re not raising an eyebrow at that title, congratulations. I know I did. But also, extra congratulations if you’ve already identified the two cultural references that it riffs on, because I admit that took me longer to do. This is a follow-up to Carolyn Weber’s memoir Surprised by Oxford, which remains one of my favorite books of all time. This is a worthy and heartfelt sequel about Carolyn’s growth as a new Christian, reordering desires and priorities based on Jesus, theology of the body and of being known, and much more. And she puts you right in the middle of her scenes with her gorgeous word pictures. It never gets old.
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997, and Selected Poems by Wendell Berry
I largely credit Wendell Berry with saving my 2020 reading. He helped me get out of my own thoughts, look at what was in front of me, recognize and name the good and beautiful things around me, and fix my heart heavenward over and over again. 
Winnie-the-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
My other 2020 reading saviors! If you need something equal parts lighthearted and profound, laugh-out-loud funny and tear-jerker poignant, look no further than A.A. Milne.

Honorable Mentions:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: My first read of this classic! God bless it, indeed. It is a sweet and redemptive delight. I needed it.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson: Also a classic that I had somehow passed by in earlier years. Excellent crime drama made superb by Richard Armitage’s narration.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri: Yet another classic that I missed during childhood, but am thankful I read in 2020. Bright, innocent, sweet, and surprisingly gospel-rich.
Handle with Care by Lore Ferguson Wilbert: A needed and fascinating discussion on the theology of touch and the role of touch in a Christian’s life. I’ve been convinced for a while that touch is important, but this book convinced me of it even more. It’s not prescriptive, but it’s thoughtful, tied to Scripture, and may challenge you to at least start by giving a few more hugs. I think we could all use more of those, especially after this past year. 
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner: A fun jaunt through the post-WWII English countryside with a motley crew of Jane Austen fans who band together to save her legacy in southern England. An easy and charming read for anyone who enjoys Austen’s work. Richard Armitage narrates this one too and he’s perfect (he could read me the phone book and I think I’d swoon, tbh).

Happy reading, all! Let me know what your 2020 favorites were and what I should read in 2021!

Books Read in 2020 (full list of books I read that were new to me, in the order completed): 
The Reading Life by C.S. Lewis (compiled by David Downing and Michael Maudlin)
What is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander
The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
Bella Poldark by Winston Graham
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Handle With Care by Lore Ferguson Wilbert
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
When Pain is Real and God Seems Silent by Ligon Duncan
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
One Assembly by Jonathan Leeman
The Soul in Paraphrase: A Treasury of Classic Devotional Poems compiled by Leland Ryken
That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron
Sex and the City of God by Carolyn Weber
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Sleeping Tiger by Rosamunde Pilcher
An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen
Seeing Green by Tilly Dillehay
The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli
(A)Typical Woman by Abigail Dodds
A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen
God's Grandeur: the Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Friendish by Kelly Needham
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Holiness by J.C. Ryle

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