Hello! Welcome to my reading log for the year 2020!
In 2018 my goal was to read one book a month. In 2019 my goal was to read one book a week. I crushed both of those goals so I knew for 2020 I wanted to do more than just set a number goal. Thanks to my 20 for 20 list I was inspired to set the goal of reading 20 books in each of three different categories that are important to me: classic novels, theologians, psychology. I will read other books as well (as time allows) and I will share my whole list in this blog post which I will update throughout the year. Books will only be added to this list once they are complete. If you have any suggestions for what I should read this year please reach out!
1. 1984 by George Orwell
I finally finished my first classic for the year! I only had to re-check this one out from the library oh...a half a dozen times or so? Once I finally made myself sit down and read I quite enjoyed it. The story is compelling and kept me engaged. I'm glad I've read it, especially because now I'll really get the references that are made to it all the time!
2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I must admit, I watched the Hulu series before I read the book...but I still enjoyed the book! I think watching the series gave me good visualizations for the book. I am glad to have read it and plan to read The Testaments as well.
1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
I highly enjoyed this book and found myself highly motivated to put some of its good points into action. I will best be able to do this when we are finally living in our own space so I am looking forward to that even more now. I plan to write a book review of this one soon!
2. Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle by Gin Stephens
Okay, it's probably a bit of a stretch to put this book under the "psychology" heading but since it does talk about the psychology of food/eating I'm gonna count it. Joel and I have been living the intermittent fasting lifestyle for over two years now, so I figured it was high time I read a book about it! A lot of it just affirmed things I already knew, but I did learn a few new things, and I'm even more sure that this will be how I live my life forever!
3. I Will Teach You To Be Rich: No Guilt, No Excuses, No BS, Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi
This is probably pushing it again but he does talk about the psychology of money and how our thoughts about it affect how we handle it, so I'm gonna count it. I took my time going through this book, not because it was hard to read, but because I was taking notes and implementing some things! He strongly encourages readers to take control of their finances and calls for having not a budget, but a "conscious spending plan." He really opened my eyes to some things and I would highly recommend this to anyone!
4. Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler
This book is an easy read written in a conversational tone. They parse through academic studies on money that show we think about it in some pretty illogical ways! They also give some great techniques for combatting those tendencies in yourself.
5. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
Probably another stretch to put in this category, but again, he really focuses on how we think about money and how that affects how we use it, so I'm gonna count it. I don't agree with everything Ramsey proposes - he is anti-debt to an absurd degree in my opinion, but I do love his focus on giving as an important way that we use our money. I got some benefit out of this even though I will never implement his full plan.
6. White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
This book is making the rounds as the Black Lives Matter movements gains speed this summer. It was convicting and enlightening and I would highly recommend it to every white person I know.
Just for Fun:
1. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
I have loved pretty much every Jodi Picoult book I have ever read and this one is no exception. She tackles the controversial topic of abortion through the eyes of everyone present and involved in a shooting at an abortion clinic. While I love how she approached the subject, I'm still not sure how I feel about the format. It started with a chapter at 5pm, then 4pm, etc and moved back through the day to the beginning. This meant you were thrown right into the action to start, then it gradually got easier and easier to digest. On the one hand, it was nice that my anxiety lessened as the story unfolded; on the other hand, it was somewhat discombobulating to put the story together in my head that way. I was tempted to stop reading it in printed order and just read it in chronological order instead but I resisted. Anyway, if you read it I'd love to hear what you thought of both the subject matter and the format!
2. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
This might be one of the most charming books I have ever read. The story is told from the perspective of almost-eight-year-old Elsa, as she navigates the world after the death of her beloved grandmother. Her grandmother told her wild, inventive fairytales that now seem to be crossing into the real world. Elsa must follow the treasure hunt her grandmother set up for her to defeat the dragon and find her happy ending. I laughed, I cried, I laughed through my years. It was so, so good and I highly recommend it!
3. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
This is a book that must be read in classic book form, not on an e-reader of any kind. Luckily, the people we are staying with have a copy and let me borrow it. Though it can easily be devoured in about 15 minutes, you'll want to take more time to peruse slowly, enjoying the hand-drawn pictures, calligraphy, and simple yet profound messages. I found it very moving. It is not often that I read a book and think to myself, I should purchase a copy of this for myself, but this is one of those books. It is one worth re-reading and enjoying again and again.
4. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
If you love historical fiction you absolutely must read this tale that follows Alexander Rostov's life in Russia from the 20's to after World War II. When the revolution happens, he avoids death, but is sentenced to live out the rest of his years under house arrest at the Metropol Hotel. I love the way the story twists and turns through the years and I feel like I gained some insight into Russia as a country. It was also full of insightful revelations about how to deal with a life that is other than what you expected.
5. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My reading is slow going so far this year, and this novel took me a while to digest. It deals with heavy subject matters and tells the story by jumping between the present day and the past. I had trouble relating to the main character but I still found it interesting and worth reading.
6. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
This was a super fun mystery novel that takes place in Scotland! A young woman gets hired as a nanny and takes care of three young girls in a house that may or may not be haunted. The format was interesting as it is written in the form of letters to her lawyer as she has been arrested after one of the girls died... I tore through it in practically one day as we traveled from the US to the UK.
7. The Suspect by Fiona Barton
The story of two girls who go to Thailand on their gap year and end up dead is told through the eyes of a mother, a cop investigating the deaths, a reporter whose son is somehow involved, and emails from one of the girls herself. It was an easy read and held my attention!
8. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
This one ended up on my list at the recommendation of a friend - and it was indeed a good recommendation! It is a psychological thriller that follows the twists and turns of one woman and her husband who has multiple wives. I loved it.
9. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
I loved this dystopian look at what a theocracy could look like in America. New punishments for criminals include "chroming" them to turn their skin a bright color (the color changing depending on the crime) and then releasing them into society to be shunned and shamed. The story follows one young woman and her journey as a "red." I was very impressed with the way faith was dealt with in the book and the story overall was very intriguing!
10. Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan
This was a re-read for me and only took an hour or so. But it was a good reminder of some ways to eat mindfully and healthfully!
11. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella is one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" authors (she wrote the Shopaholic series.) This funny tale follows two sisters as one of them rushes into marriage with an old flame after an unexpected breakup with her most recent love. It is an easy read, light-hearted, and hilarious!
12. The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Jason Fung, MD
This book delves into the science of why all diets work (at least short term) and why all diets fail (almost all long term.) He shares detailed medical research and studies to make the point that weight loss is not just about calories in/calories out, but has a lot to do with our hormones and regulation, particularly insulin. Ultimately he recommends intermittent fasting as the best way to lose weight - something that has and is continuing to work for me!
13. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
I love a good mystery and this one delivers! Plus it is set on a bespoke luxury cruise ship that made me really jealous of the characters even as mystery and murder surrounded them.
14. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I didn't like this one quite as much as Ruth Ware's other books, something about the premise of it just rang hollow to me. But it was interesting nonetheless and I read it pretty quickly!
15. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Well, you can tell I am officially on a Ruth Ware kick! This one was quite enjoyable as it delved into the mystery of an inheritance and the family history that the young main character never knew.
16. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
This was actually Ruth Ware's first book and it was a thriller! I read it in 24 hours which is always a sign of a gripping read (especially when I also had to write a sermon within those 24 hours!) So, so good.
17. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
I've been hearing a lot about hygge in the home design sphere so I knew I wanted to read this book as inspiration for decorating my own new home! I gleaned some new ideas about how to make my home extra cozy, welcoming, and comfortable and I am looking forward to putting all that into action soon!
18. Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000 Mile Adventure by Monisha Rajesh
I borrowed this book from a colleague who recommended it and I'm so glad he did! The author regales readers with stories of train travel around the world - from North America to North Korea and everything in between. They ride on trains that are opulent (The Venice Simplon Orient Express sounded amazing but then I Googled the £2,500/night price tag and my head about exploded) and train that are...the opposite of that. I loved traveling vicariously especially since they went to some places I'll be quite happy never to visit in my life.
19. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
This was a quick, fun read, that bounced back and forth between modern-day and 1950's New York City. I found myself rooting for both main characters and it was an easy read.
20. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
I wanted to like this one so much more than I did. The title was intriguing and could have been something really fun but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I still enjoyed it, just thought it could be better.
21. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
This mystery about a young woman apartment sitting in the most exclusive building in NYC had me gripped from the beginning to the very end. I read the whole thing within 24 hours. I highly recommend if you want something fascinating and easy to read!
22. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
This was only a short story and that makes me sad because I wanted more! The characters were well developed, intriguing, and I would totally keep reading if she wrote more.
23. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
This tale is told from two perspectives which is fun because they each give you insight into the other. It's a game of cat and mouse and you get to see both sides of it. Another fun and easy read! (Seems to be a theme for books I actually finish reading this year.)
24. The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson
The perspective the story is told from shifts throughout the novel, and it is a good murder mystery of sorts. Nothing high brow but enjoyable nonetheless.