One thing I always enjoy at the end of the year is to look back over the books I’ve read and to select some favourites for the year. It was particularly interesting to reflect on how 2020 impacted my reading habits. I’ve definitely read less than usual this year, I’ve read significantly more fiction than non-fiction, and I’ve re-read more familiar books than I normally would have.
However, excluding my trusted re-reads, I’ve managed to pick out some favourites from the year – three non-fiction and three fiction books. These are not listed in any order of preference.
Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers
Alisa Childers shares her story of wrestling with doubt after encountering a progressive Christian pastor who presented a very different view of God, Jesus and the Bible from the one she was accustomed to.
The book describes her journey of working through the questions she had and rebuilding her faith. It also explores some common ideas in progressive Christianity and compares them with the Bible.
It sounds complicated, and it is extremely thought-provoking, but it is very accessible. It was a timely read for me in light of some conversations about theology that I’ve had this year.
Anxious For Nothing by Max Lucado
Another very timely book. I think many of us have had to deal with worry and anxiety in the midst of the challenges this year has brought. I found this book very helpful.
Philippians 4:4-8 are verses that are often quoted in relation to worry, but it’s one thing to know what the Bible says and another to actually stop worrying!
In this book, Max Lucado breaks down these verses and explores them. He identifies four steps we can take to deal with our anxiety.
C- celebrate God’s goodness
A- ask God for help
L – leave your concerns with him
M – meditate on good things
There are two or three chapters on each of these steps containing lots of encouragement and several helpful practical tips.
The Ruthless Elimination Of Hurry by John Mark Comer
This is definitely one of the books I’ve heard talked about the most this year. A friend recommended it to me last year, saying it was his favourite book of 2019, so I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed!
In it, John Mark Comer explores the history of speed – how the pace of life has constantly increased over the last century or so. He looks at some of the impact that has had on us, and presents a powerful case for choosing a slower, less-hurried life. He gives examples from the life of Jesus as well as sharing from his own experience of practicing silence and solitude.
There is lots of wisdom there. The challenge will be to put it all into practice as life (hopefully) begins to return to normal!
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Onto fiction, and another book which seems to have been popular this year.
This book tells the story of Kya Clark, known as “the marsh girl”. For years she has lived alone in a marsh by the North Carolina coast, almost completely alone. When a local man is found dead, the local people suspect that Kya is responsible.
I don’t want to give away, but it is a beautiful, compelling story with memorable characters. I read this right at the start of the year but it is one that has stuck with me.
Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown
I said it was interesting to reflect on how 2020 had altered my reading habits. It’s striking that my final two choices are very different from the type of books I normally read. I have rarely read any Christian fiction in the past, but I really enjoyed Sensible Shoes.
It follows the story of four women who attend a spiritual formation course – the individual stories of God working in their lives as well as how they grow through the support and friendship of one another.
It is a gentle and thoughtful read which was the perfect way to switch off at the height of the pandemic.
The End Of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
A more surprising read in the midst of a pandemic was The End Of Men. It is definitely not the kind of book I’d ever normally consider reading, but I was somehow drawn to it, and I’m glad.
It tells of a deadly pandemic, originating in Glasgow, which rapidly spreads around the world with devastating consequences. 95% of men who contract the disease die, while women can carry the disease but are asymptomatic. The book follows the stories of several women throughout the four years or so from the start of the pandemic. It was fascinating to explore the events that unfolded from the different perspectives – the doctor who discovered the first case of the virus but who was ignored when she tried to raise the alarm, scientists searching for a vaccine, bereaved wives and mothers…
While heartbreaking at times, the book also offered a sense of hope in the strength and resilience of the characters experiencing a pandemic far, far worse than the current one, which meant there was something strangely therapeutic about reading it.
What about you? What books have been your favourites in 2020? And have you noticed any changes in your reading habits this year?
I’m grateful to Tyndale House, Harper Collins, Waterbook & Multnomah, and Netgalley for access to a complementary digital copy of some of these books. As always, I only share books here that I genuinely think will be beneficial to my readers, and Amazon links are no affiliate links but simply included for your convenience.