A bazillion words have been written about 2020, and let's be real, most of them are pretty negative. Never in my thirty-nine years of life have I ever seen the collective world so ready to kick a year to the curb. Even the Bitmojis got into the action. But, as I said earlier, not every year is all bad—or all good—and 2020 was no exception. Along with a whole lot of yuck, there were definitely some highlights, and that's something I've been trying to reflect on as we head into 2021. Because we have no idea what the next twelve months will hold for us, as individuals, or our world, so dwelling solely on the negative of the last year isn't going to help any of us face whatever lies before us. And so I'm spending these first few days of the new year looking for the positive from 2020, and I hope you'll join me.
- The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield - this book shook me in ways I didn't expect. I'd read her first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, and knew that theologically, we didn't agree on everything. However, this book was nothing less than challenging, convicting, and one of my must read recommendations of the year.
- The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan - I grew up an hour away from the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, so I was excited to read this one. I felt the writing could be confusing, sometimes finding myself in the middle of a story about a friend of the Vanderbilts, with no idea how I got there or who I was reading about. It was also interesting to me that, although Kiernan mentions spending lots of time at the Biltmore House, she apparently had no access to their historical archives, as all of her sources came from other places.
- Orchids on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis - I had absolutely no expectations about this book when I picked it up, but ended up writing half of an unpublished blog post about the financial tips that I agreed with from this little bit of fun. It's all about choices - where you spend your money, how you spend your money, and why you choose to buy orchids while wearing the same old robe for 20 years. I liked it.
- The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe - This was a total "just for fun" read, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. I'm not usually a fan of these kinds of books, but I enjoy reading what Mike posts on Facebook, so I thought I might like his book. And, for the most part, I did. Disclaimer that the language can be a little rough at times.
- 1984 by George Orwell - to be honest, I HATED this book. I gave it a 1-star review on Goodreads, and finished reading it February 15, 2020. Ironically, throughout the remainder of the year, I was continually reminded of the book, and was stunned to realize that I was beginning to live in a world that resembled that found in 1984. God help us all. I still think it's a depressing and disturbing book, but living it out in real life is a lot more scary. So yes, it should be read.
- A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup - it took me a while to get through this book, picking it up and putting it back down again for a bit of a breather (lots of scientific stuff in this one, which can be overwhelming for an English major!), but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one, probably because of the tie-in to all of the Agatha Christie books (I'm a sucker for Christie!). It was fascinating.