All year I have completed hundreds of 10 Good Things Lists. At the conclusion of 2020, I’m writing a series of blog posts on some of the best things that got me through this year. The first list that is up is my Top 10 Books of 2020.
(*denotes books that were released in 2020)
In no particular order…
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)– Fiction
I loved this book so much that I listened to it on audio book and then ordered my own copy to read and keep forever. I want Mae and Kate to read it soon too. It’s a book about coming of age, growth, and the value of reading as the means to a rich life. A great reminder that life is rarely made up of huge milestones, but rather the everyday living among the mundane. Beautiful story. Beautifully written. (Huge thanks to Amy Nalley for telling me about this book years ago. I wish I’d read it sooner.)
Sea Wife (Amity Gage)– Fiction*
I’m not usually much for thrillers but this was so well written: it was literary and real. Deals with life, how tragedy and grief shape us, and a raw take on how marriage can change us both for good and bad. Also, this book was as close as I got to the ocean this year. LOL.
Open Book (Jessica Simpson)–Memoir/auto-biography*
I’ve been a big fan of Jessica Simpson since she came on the scene. She was kind of the “good girl’s” Brittney or Christina. Cheered her on in her music career. Was heart-broken when her marriage to Nick Lachey fell apart. Have supported her fashion brand over the years (shoes, purses, perfumes!). This was an audio book listen for me and I loved hearing Jessica tell her story. She didn’t hold back on the good and bad parts of fame. It was an inspiring story to hear how she continues to overcome addiction, body image issues, and self-acceptance.
Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager (Eugene Peterson)–Parenting
I’ve read several “parenting teenagers” books this year (Untangled, Teen Wise, Doing Life With Your Adult Children, and Adolescence Isn’t Terminal) , but this was a GAME changer. Ryan actually discovered it as we have added to our EP library. It turns most other parenting models on their heads. I can’t say just how much I loved this book. I plan to re-read it again. It’s full of Biblical truth, wisdom, and practical application on how we as parents have to rethink our parenting strategies as our kids transition to young adulthood.
I Miss You When I Blink (Mary Laura Philpott)– Essays on Middle Age*
Adored this book. As a type A, high-strung, over-thinker, so much of this book of essays resonated with me. The author is roughly my age and I literally laughed and cried throughout the whole book…all while shaking my head in agreement. It has some language but it was just so on the nose for the stage of life I am in. MLP is a master story-teller. Lots of humor and realness here.
The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s (Andy Greene)– TV History*
If you are a fan of The Office, you will adore this book. It’s full of heart and humor. Tons of actor, writer, and show-creator interviews and behind the scenes. It’s a kind of “how the sausage got made” overview of the entire series. You will fall even more in love with Steve Carrell, Jim, Pam, Creed, and learn about a lot of the politics of the show as well as the chemistry between everyone who worked on the project and why it’s such a cult classic.
Welcome Home (Myquillin Smith- The Nester)–Homemaking + Hospitality*
Maybe this was just one of those books that I read at exactly the right time, but as a decades-long devotee of The Nester, I loved this book. Since we moved and set up another new home this year (on post, in quarters that are different from what I’d choose if it were solely up to me), it was so great to gain inspiration to think creatively about the spaces inside our homes. More coffee-table book with pretty photos, a hard cover, and thick pages, this book will be one I reference again and again. It’s already changed my approach to making our home more cozy and minimal.
Some Kind of Crazy (Terry Wardle)– memoir, self-help, psychology, spiritual
This book is kind of an outlier. I don’t even really know how to categorize it. However, when I think back to all I read this year, it definitely stands out as memorable. I read this early in the year. In fact it was one of my last checkouts at the Fort Polk library (and I didn’t even know it). This book was an amalgamation of books like The Glass Castle, Hillbilly Elegy, and Educated with a dose of practical counseling/psychology/trauma/healing but through the help of the Holy Spirit. I’m kind of butchering the description, but it was incredibly moving and gave me a lot to think about.
Handle With Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry (Lore Wilbert)–faith based
What a book to read during a year when there was limited physical contact with those we love and serve. This book challenged me in many ways as someone who is “in her head” and often disembodied from herself. I loved reading about how Jesus physically touched those he encountered. It talks a lot about abuses of touch (even in the church), but how when understood within a Biblical context touch can be valuable.
Locomotion (Jacqueline Woodson)–YA poetry
This year I read three books by Jacqueline Woodson. This one as well as Brown Girl Dreaming and Red at the Bone. Her books are more for a young adult audience, but many have been Newberry and National Book Award winners. I read these books because I love how poetically she writes. They are also a way to stay somewhat connected to my profession as an English teacher. Locomotion was such a well written story on overcoming personal obstacles.