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my 2020 book list

by Shawni

I like to keep track of the books I have read. The good ones have so much power to change me. To change my thoughts and my heart. To take me to different worlds that teach me and help me grow.

(My list from 2019 is HERE. And also there are affiliate links in this post, and other posts on this blog, only ever linking the stuff I love the most.)

Books are amazing.

I had a goal to read 30 books in 2020, but the global pandemic put a kibosh on that one. There were a few months in there where I couldn’t even think outside that very moment, trying to figure out which way was up. There was so much unknown and I wanted to be completely present with my house filled to the brim with the people most important to me.

But I did get in some good books at the beginning, then more after we could start to breathe again. So here we go with my 2020 books:

The first two are books that have changed my thinking quite a great deal. I know that sounds dramatic, but I think of both of them all the time. I think because they are stories of the power of human will. One person who, partly through being acted upon, and partly through fighting to act themselves, they fought battles and learned and grew in pretty beautiful ways.

The first is Mao’s Last Dancer:

There is one story in that thing that really hit me most, I’ll have to come back and write about it specifically some time.

And the second book was Hillbilly Elegy:

There is so much to talk about in this book. I can’t believe I never wrote a full blog post about it, because I could go on and on (again, being stuck in the middle of a quarantine problems). But I very highly recommend it.

These two books made me think about how beautiful it is that everyone has a story. Both based on true stories. Both so uniquely different and filled up with learning. And changing. And growing. Both made me want to write, better, my own story. I think books that do that are powerful.

Lucy and I read Little Women…one of the best classics of all time:

We also read Listening for Lions, which we loved in the middle, but that sort of fizzled and died at the end. Maybe it was just our mood, but we imagined up different glories of endings.

But following on the heels of that one, I read Tattoos on the Heart for my book club.

Boy oh boy.

That one I did write a whole blog post about, because I think it’s right up there in my top two books of all time. And I’m not even being dramatic. All about the power of love and seeing others in “the true shape of God.” The blog post is HERE. That’s one I think about all the time. And I would love to re-read it over and over and over again.

Talking to Strangers is one I’m so mad I didn’t write about right when I read it. So much to think about! This is the review from Amazon: “How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?” So interesting to think about human nature and our instinct to trust. I’d highly recommend listening to this one because Malcom Gladwell uses the recordings and the actual interviews of the people he’s talking about which makes it extra fascinating.

Harry Potter (and the Deathly Hallows) is, of course, always a classic.

I’ll always have fond memories of this one since Lucy and I read this one together, and were able to finish it up while she was in the hospital recovering from her scoliosis surgery (back HERE).

I’m so mad I didn’t write about Lost Connections right when I read it as well.

I’m trying to figure out depression and connection and there is so much packed in that book to think about. Some I was a little skeptical about since I’ve observed depression up close, (for instance, I do think medication is incredibly important), but most of it I just drank in, so many good reminders about how much we need each other!

I talked about The Moment of Lift back HERE.

It is so good. Everyone should read this book!

Melinda Gates chronicles her journey to “see” the world as individuals, and to empower women. To discover how she could share her voice. And share herself. I love that she said, “we change the culture by sharing our stories.” It made me think how important our stories are. All of us together with differing views and opinions. We all have something to give, and so much to gain by being open and trying to understand one another.

Lucy and I read An Old Fashioned Girl for her book club. I love Louisa May Alcott and I loved the main character, Polly’s, view of the world. Not having to “fit in,” and being content with the kind of values, beauty and charm that don’t come from wealth and position.

We read The Silent Patient for book club and I love that book club takes me out of the books I would normally choose. This one was a mystery and it sure kept me listening!

The Things We Cannot Say is another one we read for book club. It shifts between Nazi-occupied Poland and modern day uncovering a mystery.

I wrote all about How to be an Anti-Racist back HERE. Right at the beginning of the Black Lives Matter revolution I wanted to get more educated. Some things I agreed with as I read, and some I didn’t. But I think the bottom line is that there is so much beauty that lies in humility: something I realized as I read that I need to gain a lot more of.

I also read White Fragility, which was written from a different perspective. But both books helped me see how human nature goes and how automatic judgements are part of how we work. I have a lot to change. We all do. I guess that’s the purpose of life, right? To learn and to grow, and sometimes that sure takes a whole lot of humility.

I talked about What Got You Here Won’t Get You There just barely, back HERE if you want to read more (it’s one Dave recommended from his Masters program he’s in right now and it was good!)

And to finish off 2020, I ready Magpie Murders with my book club. Again, a mystery that kept me reading!

And there we go, a wrap of some good 2020 books!

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3 comments

Suzanne Morin April 8, 2021 - 2:38 pm

Always love a good book list! Will add some of these to my TBR. One book I think you may like is the choice by Dr Eva Edith Eger…her story is amazing and it was one of those books that changed the way I viewed things for the better.

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Snivee April 11, 2021 - 2:07 pm

I love this, Meredith! Thank you so much for sharing that journey. I’m sending all kinds of love through the internet to your mother, she sounds like she rocks, and to you too! I’m so grateful for the science and expertise that makes things like new legs (and new glasses) possible. xoxo

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Kimmjo87 April 12, 2021 - 5:24 pm

My daughter gave me White Fragility for Christmas. It is next on my list.

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