My Favorite Books from 2020

After coming off a year where I read a person best 104 books in one year, I had every intention of reading 105 in 2020. I started strong, reading 17 books in the first 10 weeks of the year. That’s slightly behind a pace of 2 books a week. Then the middle of March hit and we don’t need to be reminded of what occurred around Spring Break 2020.

When the shutdown first happened, I really thought I would have more time to read. I mean, we were stuck at home. I didn’t anticipate how busy I would be in that time frame. We reworked everything at the church level, which drastically changed my schedule. Between mid March and the end of September, I only read 22 books. That adds up to 39 books in the first 9 months of the year, exactly one book per week. If I continue at that pace, I’ll read half as many books in 2020 as I did in 2019. 

While I won’t reach my reading goal for the year, I still read some incredible books along the way. Here are my top 5 books that I read in 2020.

Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

I am a huge fan of Ron Chernow. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book on George Washington and his biography on Ulysses S. Grant is one of my favorite books of all time. I knew very little about Alexander Hamilton, but I knew Chernow would do an incredible job telling his story. 

An immigrant, Hamilton played a major role in the founding of the United States. He started as nothing but rose to be one of the most powerful men in our nation’s history. While he never served as President, his legacy continues to impact us today. 

If you’re a history buff, purchase the book and then head over to Disney+ and watch the popular broadway show, Hamilton, which is based on the book by Ron Chernow.

Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin

Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion

It’s not surprising that a lost world will be skeptical of Christianity. The skepticism often leads to questions that are both thought provoking and at times difficult for a Christian to answer. Rebecca McLaughlin provides helpful answers to “twelve questions of the world’s largest religion”. From the publisher:

Christianity is the most widespread global belief system, and promises to remain so well into the future. But for many educated westerners, biblical Christianity is a dangerous idea―challenging some of their deepest beliefs.

Channeling state-of-the-art research, personal stories, and careful biblical study, Confronting Christianity explores 12 questions that keep many of us from considering faith in Christ. Look more closely, McLaughlin argues, and the reality of suffering, the complexity of sexuality, the desire for diversity, the success of science, and other seeming roadblocks to faith become signposts. Jesus becomes not a relic from the ancient world, but our modern world’s best hope.

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers

Gentle and Lowly may have been my favorite book of the year. I enjoyed it so much, I intend to start 2021 by reading it again. Honestly, I don’t know if I have ever read a book like this before. It was encouraging from the first page and was refreshing on every page. From the publisher:

“Christians know what Jesus Christ has done―but who is he? What is his deepest heart for his people, weary and faltering on their journey toward heaven? Jesus said he is “gentle and lowly in heart.” This book reflects on these words, opening up a neglected yet central truth about who he is for sinners and sufferers today.”

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression

Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite old, dead guys. While his ministry in London impacted hundreds of thousands of people with the Gospel, it was also filled with immense suffering. During a Sunday service in 1856, someone yelled “Fire!” causing mass hysteria within the building. Several Individuals died as a result. 

That event was a turning point for the young preacher. Eswine’s Spurgeon’s Sorrows walks us through how Spurgeon struggled and dealt with the depression and grief and how we can look to Jesus to sustain us.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion: A Novel

Last year, I read the Wayward Pines series by Blake Crouch and thoroughly enjoyed it. It made it easy to pick up Recursion when it was released in March. I’ll admit, it’s not a genre I love but this book was a blast all the way through. If you love action packed, mind twisting stories, then you’ll love this one. Here’s a brief description of the plot:

Reality is broken.

“At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery—and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.

In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth—and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery . . . and the tools for fighting back.

Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy—before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos.”

The Entire Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling

This isn’t a book obviously and I talked more extensively about the series here on my podcast, but I decided to pick up the Harry Potter series this past year and give it a shot. Like Recursion above, Harry Potter is definitely not my genre. I don’t enjoy magic or dragons or Young Adult books but after a few friends convinced me, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It only took a few months to complete the entire series. I read some of them and then I listened to the others via Audible. Needless to say, I enjoyed the whole series. 

What were some of your favorites reads of 2020? Have you read any of these books? What books do you hope to read in 2021?

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