One of my goals last year was to read at least two new books each month. And I’m pretty happy that I DID IT, even with an extra one to make it 25! Ok, I actually listened to most of them (Audible rocks!), but hey, sometimes you have to cling on to accomplishments like this because I’m failing miserably at a few other goals…just looking on the bright side here 🙂
ANYWAY, I decided to up the ante to 30 books in 2020, and I’m deep into my second one now (I read Mao’s Last Dancer first, loved it and can’t wait to discuss at book club, and now into Hillbilly Elegy which is also so interesting, much like The Glass Castle and Educated). I love how books can make you think. And the unique worlds they can pull you into, whether it’s Mao’s China or the struggles of the beginning of America or a trial of a start-up company gone wrong. So much to learn from so many vantage points!
I figured since people are always asking for book suggestions, and also since I want to remember my 2019 list, I figured I’d list them here. So here you go!
The Lake House — I enjoyed it ok, it was entertaining and would be an ok vacation book, but not on my “favorites” list (read it for book club)
The Last Romantics — another “just ok” one in my opinion, interesting family dynamics but to be honest it kind of made me mad.
Thirst — loved this one, someone who had some pretty life-changing experiences and helped change the lives of many because of his determined nature…made me want to be more like that. I wrote a lot about that one in conjunction with our Africa trip HERE.
Born a Crime — Loved this memoir from Trevor Noah that took me right into growing up in the middle of apartheid in South Africa. Made me think a lot about how people pull themselves out of tough situations and what gives them that kind of a drive. I loved that Trevor Noah was the one narrating when I listened to it.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky — SO GOOD, based on the true story of a harrowing journey of an Italian teenager who is faced with all kinds of challenges during World War II, including the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command.
The Handmaid’s Tale — another one we read for book club, kinda racy, futuristic, made me think but not one I’d really recommend.
The Secret Garden — this is one of Lucy’s very favorites and she wanted to re-read it this last summer so I read it with her. And loved it.
Where the Crawdads Sing — LOVED parts, didn’t like other parts, but I’d totally recommend it. Loved the writing style, loved that it took me directly into that world of marshlands and innocence amidst making me think about prejudices and moral dilemmas…more thoughts about that one back HERE.
Sapiens — Abby got us interested in this one, and Dave read it too, so I joined in and it was fascinating. A very high recommendation from me, all about the history of humankind that really makes you think and I loved it. I wrote lots more about that one back HERE.
Bad Blood — pretty interesting documentation of Elizabeth Holmes and her Silicon Valley start-up-gone-bad, made me think a lot about decisions and human nature and how people can be duped by confidence.
Wednesday Wars — Lu and I read this together (recommended by a blog reader…thank you!) and it’s probably one of my very favorite ever books for youth. So filled with goodness as Holling Hoodhood tries to figure out life, relationships, and all the things he learns sometimes from unconventional “teachers.” Talked about this one back HERE.
In Cold Blood — chilling and eerie true-crime that creeped me out but was pretty interesting.
Before We Were Yours — An unbelievable journey of a young girl who is taken from her parents to “sell” to the upper class in the pretense of adoption in the mid 1900s. It’s based on a real-life scandal Memphis and it’s so sad to think of all the families who were broken up, as well as the different paths our lives take us on. (more thoughts HERE)
And There Was Light — I wrote a bunch about this one HERE because it hit me so hard, especially as it hit so close to home having a daughter who is rapidly losing her vision. How I hope she will always “see the light” as this man could.
Dancing on Broken Glass — Interesting story about a couple dealing with cancer as well as mental illness. I didn’t love the writing style but I did love that it made me think about moral dilemmas and that it took me into the mental illness world which I’m trying to learn more about and understand better in this world where it is becoming more and more prevalent.
The Empowered Wife — Gosh I loved this one. I love any book that makes you re-evaluate your marriage and how to work on it from new angles. Marriage is so incredibly important and beautiful and I think the working-on-it part of it is beautiful too. No matter how great your marriage is, it’s always something to contemplate and work on, in my opinion. I’ve changed a few things after reading this book and that makes me happy. I wrote more about this book back HERE.
Just Mercy — Loved the way this one made me think. And still think. It is the memoir of Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer who works to defend the poor and wrongly condemned in the criminal justice system. He takes us deep into many of their stories, and compassionately makes a pretty inspiring argument for the need for mercy. And the need for some serious criminal justice system reform. I know it’s been made into a movie, and I haven’t seen it yet, but I can’t imagine it would be able to compare to the book. I wrote more about this book back HERE.
The Prosperity Paradox — I wrote about this one back HERE, so many thoughts about what brings prosperity in some nations while others can’t seem to catch a break. Gave me lots to think about, especially in wake of our experiences in Africa.
The Little Woman — (not to be confused with Little Women which we read straddling 2019 and 2020, but I’m counting it for 2020) Lucy needed to read this for her neighborhood book club, and we couldn’t find it on her little audible book reader so I read it aloud to her (sadly, she can’t read books any more). It is a pretty inspiring story of a woman who feels compelled to go share Christianity in China in the early 1900s, quite an adventure I have to say, and gave us lots to think about and discuss.
Genesis — futuristic book about a whole new generation and a big dialog about man vs. machine. Really interesting discussion at book club about that one and the future of artificial intelligence.
Alexander Hamilton — I started reading this one in preparation for our trip to see Hamilton, and it took me forever to get through. But I’m telling you, it’s one of those bedrock books that keeps you thinking. What an expansive study of history Ron Chernow had to delve into to write that puppy. Wow. I keep thinking about how “mess” can lead to so much beauty (I wrote more on that thought over HERE). (Early America was messy. We’re still messy in so many ways. But there are good things that come from messes sometimes.)
Ok, and I just realized this list doesn’t include my two more spiritual reads (perhaps some of the most important books I could read in my opinion, because they have the power to change not only your view, but your heart also): The Book of Mormon (all about that challenge last summer HERE), and also one of my very favorite books: He Did Deliver Me from Bondage. Wrote more about that one HERE, and I’m reading it again and taking another class on it now. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!
Ok, there you go, lots of book thoughts for the day. Phew!
Here’s to more good ones in 2020! Send me more of your favorites!