2020 Wasn't All Bad... #BookwormsUnite

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. 

One of my positives from 2020 was the fact that I found so much time to read. In fact, after I pulled this graphic from Goodreads, I was able to add an additional book to the year, bringing it up to a grand total of 70, officially, and quite a few more than that, unofficially, as I didn't count all of the books I read aloud to the kids during the year, for nightly reading and school reading. Considering the fact that I barely made my goal of 52 in 2019, I was surprised and pleased with this result, which happened, in part, because I gained extra time in my day by not driving kids to two different schools in another town, and sitting in car lines every afternoon. Thank you, COVID-19. I will never be sorry not to do that drive twice a day (if not more, when someone had an after school activity). 

Since I'm setting a goal for this year to read all of the books on my nightstand, I thought it might be prudent to share my top reads (out of the 70+) from 2020. In no particular order, here are the six that I enjoyed the most—or impacted me the most—over the last twelve months...

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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What did YOU read in 2020?


  1. Your comment section doesn't like me, but I'm gonna try again. I only read 26-27 books last year. I had so much less free time it seems than previous years -- or harder books to read. LOL. This year, I'm trying for 1 book/week. So far, I've got two books done, so I'm ahead. I hated The Year of Living Danishly but really enjoyed My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry.

    1. Ooohhh...I read The Year of Living Danishly...I gave it 3 stars (and no review) on Goodreads. It was clearly a forgettable book for me.

  2. I read way more than I expected last year... a lot of it was lighter murder mystery series that just kept going. This year I'm hoping to slow down and work through some longer books that have been "on my nightstand" for a while - The Silmarillion, Journals of Jim Elliot, Hercule Poirot Complete Short Stories, etc. All books to savor and read unhurriedly, but it will be nice if I can finally mark them as complete! :)

    1. Love it! I'm actually aiming a bit higher this year, and will be counting the books I read with the kids as well, because it certainly takes up a lot of my reading time! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Poirot Short Stories!


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