The Books I Read in 2020

I read a wide variety of books this year, but there’s probably a pattern there if you look closely. Most of them encouraged, challenged, and taught me a lot of new things. I didn’t love them all, but I’m glad I read them.

This year I had the goal to alternate between books I already owned and new books I happened across. I get so distracted by anything new and shiny that I let my interest in the old new books gather dust. It was an admirable goal. Maybe next year.

So here’s a list of the twenty-six books I read in 2020, presented in the order I read them.

Why You Like This Photo: The Science of Perception by Brian Dilg
This was a book about the science of what makes a photograph interesting. Beyond the topic photography, however, it was an informative book about how amazing God has tuned our eyes and minds to perceive the physical world around us.

Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle
This was a fantastic book about how a Christian should approach the topic of feminism. It was a real blessing for both Katie and me as it helped us understand that just because there are godly principles to be found in the feminist movement, feminism is not friend to Christianity. This is a must-read for the modern Christian.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
After years and years, I finally set out to read through the rest of the series of The Chronicles of Narnia.

On The Meaning of Sex by J. Budziszewski
This was a wonderful book on the beauty of sexuality. Think of it as a Christian philosophy book on sex. Very good.

Teach One, Reach One: Effective Teen Ministry by Thereasa Winnett
This is a downloadable book by one of UBI’s visiting teachers. I used it to prepare for my own course on youth ministry. It’s a good overview of starting and growing a healthy youth ministry. (Download it for free here.)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Still moving through the world of Narnia…

The Storm-Tossed Family by Russell Moore
Russell Moore is one of my more recent favorite Christian authors. He’s not just a good teacher, but he’s an excellent writer—not something I come across too often in Christian non-fiction. This book on navigating the difficulties of our physical families was excellent. (He also wrote one of my all-time favorites, Adopted for Life. Read it.)

How To Set Up Your Desk by Matt Perman
This was a short book on maximizing your work space. I moved into my first real office space this year. This short book was helpful.

An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture by Andrew Davis
After deciding to memorize First Thessalonians, I read this short book on how best to go about memorizing scripture. I made some of my own tweaks to the process (specifically, I did not memorize chapter and verse numbers along the way), but this book was very helpful.

The Silver Chair C.S. Lewis
Narnia, Narnia…

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer
When I hit a road block in First Thessalonians, I turned to this book to learn more about the methods of memorization that are out there (and, turns out, that have been around for thousands of years). Learning about constructing memory palaces was the key to getting past my road block.

Solomon’s Memory Palace Bob W. Lingerfelt
This is a book written by a Freemason who reworked the Memory Palace concept to better memorize long passages word for word. It helped me develop my process for memorizing scripture word for word.

The Salicylate Handbook by Sharla Race
I thought this might explain some of my health issues, but I’m not sure it did. It was interesting to learn about yet another health struggle many people have. And it may have helped us calm some sudden, unexpected behavior issues with Justus this summer.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
A very beautiful conclusion to a wonderful series. I look forward to reading this with Justus when he is older. [Amazon]

The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
I was looking for some wisdom as a stepped into my role as director of the institute. This was a highly rated book on Amazon, but I didn’t like it. There were of course some interesting tidbits along the way, but I didn’t find it very helpful.

Writing to Learn by William Zinsser
This book wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be (less how to and more how can), but it was still excellent. It was about the importance and power of writing to facilitate learning. The author argued that good writing is not limited to English majors, and that anyone in any discipline can and should write well. “Clear writing is a reflection of clear thinking. Writing is thinking on paper.” A great read for teachers.

The Five Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman
I read this book along with my students for my Christian Marriage course. I had read the original years ago, and this book is nearly a complete rewrite for the singles audience. A very good book.

How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens
I read this book on taking better notes so as to better internalize and use the information I’m learning. I love reading but rarely can remember to use or apply the information I read in a book. This book explained why simply highlighting and writing down quotes does very little for personal growth, and it went into detail on how to utilize the Zettelkasten Method. It was written more for those in academia, but I was still able to to take some valuable things away.

The Memory Book by Lorayne and Lucas
After successfully memorizing First Thessalonians, I was interesting in learning a bit more on memory. This is considered one of the classics on the subject.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
I’d been waiting to read this book for nearly a year. The story of Edward Snowden has always fascinated me, and as I’ve learned more about the amount of data that is being collected on us, I was eager to hear from the man himself.

The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick
After Permanent Record this was a book that helped me understand how nearly impossible it is to be untraceable. It also helped me balance the level of paranoia you can feel going too deep into this topic.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Oh man, this book was so sad. A depressing story about a father trying to keep his son alive in a weird, mostly-unexplained post-apocalyptic world. It’s not really my kind of genre, but when I saw the words father, son, and Pulitzer Prize, I had to read it.

Healthy Keto & Intermittent Fasting: A Simple Overview by Eric Berg, DC
This book is exactly what it is says it is: a simple overview to Keto and Intermittent Fasting. Katie and I have started learning more about both over the last couple months, and this short book helped explain them in a simple way.

Why We Get Sick by Benjamin Bikman, PhD
This is also along the lines of Keto and Intermittent Fasting, but with a focus on the dangers of insulin resistance and how that can impact all areas of our lives.

Keto Answers by Anthony Gustin
This was a real enjoyable Q&A-style book about the Keto diet. (In case you wanted to know, Katie and I are not Keto, but we are trying to control our number of carbs and are currently practicing a daily 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule.)

The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
This was such a strange book (very aptly titled). It’s not a Christian novel, but it’s a novel about a Christian minister. It’s also a weird, genre-bending story that begins on earth and ends up in another solar system. It’s a Sci-Fi book about marriage and mission work. It’s…a strange book. I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t so well reviewed, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Still, I enjoyed it.

So there are my 2020 books. I’m already looking forward to my 2021 reading journey because I’ve just rediscovered Scribd (essentially a Netflix for books). Many of the books I’ve had on my list for years are available on that service, so that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to getting to those.

That is, so long as I don’t find any shiny new books in the meantime.