The 17 Books I Read in 2020

I have a goal each year of reading one book each month. 2020 unexpectedly gave a lot of us extra time for reading so I ended up reading 17 books! I would love to read more, but I spend a good amount of time reading aloud to the kids. While the kids are little, I think my goal is going to stay at 1 book a month. I’ve tried (and failed) several times to get into audiobooks – I just am not really a noise person. I almost never have music or the tv on in the background. I’ll keep trying audiobooks every so often though because I feel like they could be fantastic if I could get the hang of listening to them!

Like always, I kept track of the books that I read in a little notebook. I write the title, author, number of pages, and date completed. I usually write 1-2 sentences about what I thought of the book. This helps me a ton if anyone ever asks what I thought of a book or for a book recommendation!

My favorite fiction book from this year: The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes

My favorite nonfiction from this year: Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie

Least favorite: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World (explanation below!)

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Without further ado, here are the books I read in 2020:

  1. Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler: This book was great at applying the gospel to different aspects of motherhood. It was a bit repetitive but still well worth reading. My favorite chapter was “The Gospel and Our Children with Differences.”
  2. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch: I wanted to love this book, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. Specifically, there was a point where she said, “If you want to feel grateful, go tour a cancer ward.” Our family spent a ton of time on the pediatric cancer floor and I would have been appalled if someone just came touring through to feel better about themselves! Umm…let’s not just be grateful because we have it “better” than others. I think gratefulness in kids begins with gratefulness of their parents and kids will emulate what they see. Overall I’d pass on this one even though I thought I would like it!
  3. Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein: This book described the damage done by the “purity culture” in the evangelical church especially through the 90s. A lot of the research the author cited was fairly anecdotal but it is important to realize how much hurt and shame came out of that movement.
  4. A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman: My first fiction book after a huge stretch of nonfiction! This book was a bit darker/heavier than I was anticipating but I see why so many people loved it!
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing By Delia Owens: This book started a little slow for me but really picked up towards the middle and I couldn’t put it down! I would recommend this one!
  6. The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer: This was a beautiful and melancholy book intertwining WW2 Poland with today. Every time I read a WW2 book it just blows me away the trauma and pain people lived through. I would definitely recommend this one!
  7. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver: The first few chapters made this book feel a bit dated (written over 20 years ago) but as the chapters went on there were some good points about finding rest and stability in God while continually serving everyone around you.
  8. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss: This book had a lot of similarities to the book I read last year called Influence. The stories from the author’s time in the FBI were interesting. It had good advice about disagreeing with someone without making the other person defensive or angry.
  9. Raising Worry-Free Girls by Sissy Goff (no relation to Bob Goff): This book is good not just for moms but for anyone who has or knows someone with anxiety. It is written from a Christian perspective and contains practical advice for anyone that struggles with anxiety or worry.
  10. Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie: This was probably my favorite nonfiction read of the year! It was wonderfully short and discussed both priorities in homeschooling along with practical scheduling ideas. I would recommend it to any homeschool mom! (Sarah Mackenzie is the author that also wrote Read Aloud Family)
  11. The New Husband by DJ Palmer: I picked this one up from a “free library” on our Teton trip this summer! It was basically the plot of any run of the mill suspense movie. It is never one that I would normally read but was fine for reading in the hammock in the Tetons!
  12. Made for Brave by Alyssa Galios: This book will make you cry guaranteed. It is a true story memoir of a young mom that loses her husband to cancer. She wrestles with questions like, “how can a good God allow bad things to happen?” I would definitely recommend this book!
  13. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This book was written like the transcript of an interview which was a really unique way to read! It was a really engaging fictional story about a band outside of my normal genre of reading.
  14. Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erickson: This had a similar vibe to Teaching from Rest but was quite a bit longer. It stressed that education is going to look different and work differently for every family. It was definitely pro-homeschool/anti-public school though which was a downside. I think for some families public school is 100% right and for some families something different is right. I’d take it or leave it with this one!
  15. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate: A heart wrenching story about the orphan trade in the US in the 1940s/1950s in Tennessee/Georgia. I had a little trouble following who was who at certain times since they kept some people’s identities hidden until the end of the book, but I would definitely recommend this one!
  16. The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart: This was another one that I really wanted to love, but it fell a little flat. The author is very type-B/permissive parent. I appreciated some of the ideas for routine that she had, but I’m still not going to set up a permanent art table in the middle of my living room or let my kids draw all over my couch and walls and just shrug that off as “kids learning.”
  17. The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes: Who knew a book about a traveling librarian could be so riveting! This one really kept my attention all the way through! I would definitely recommend it!

I would love to hear any book recommendations you have for me to add to my 2021 list!

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