Every year for the last decade or so I have set a goal of 100 books for the year. Some years are better than others. My lowest recorded number is 73. My highest, which incidentally was this 2020, is 128. I’m pretty proud of that. Of course, not all of these are “big” books.
I read books through several different mediums.
- My bible study software, Logos Bible Software, has a library of close to 7,000 books
- I read several books and magazines through Amazon Kindle. My app has several magazine subscriptions, Kindle Unlimited (which is a way to read free books through a subscription), and regular Kindle books I have purchased.
- I started using Audible back at the beginning of the COVID shutdowns and quarantines and have listened to several books through it.
- Physical books that I have purchased throughout the year.
This means that I have several different avenues from which to purchase, read (or listen), highlight, study and learn from. I also read from a very wide range of different genres. My list of books include titles that range from fantasy fiction to educational textbooks. There is a lot of theology (of course), but also several biographies, books related to higher science and astronomy, ancient history, graphic novels and a book on flying as a precursor to working towards a pilots license. Yeah… I read a lot.
Anyway, I thought it would be good to give a rundown of my favorite books from the 128 that I read during 2020. Narrowing these books down to just 10 was tough. I enjoyed most of the books I read quite a bit. You’ll see from this list that theology books were the most widely, and perhaps most enjoyed, books of the year. But, there is a sampling of others to give you a sense of what goes through my head on a regular basis. So, without any further rambling, and in no particular order… here are my 10 favorite books of 2020.
10. The American Puritans – written by Dustin Benge and Nate Pickowicz
This was a great book on some of the greatest American pastors and theologians at the beginning stages of our country. Through the 17th and 18th century, America was blessed to have such strong men of faith to continually call the colonists to worship and teach a strong view of Scripture. More of a collection of life “snapshots” than a full fledge biography, I enjoyed learning more about these men and the lives they lived.
As someone who is heavily invested in, and greatly interested in, the puritans and early reformation period, this book was a great companion to those in Europe who led the church during the volatile and chaotic reformation.
This was a fantastic series of high fantasy. Swords, spell slinging, great world building, character development and engaging battle are all a part of this series. I started reading through these books at the beginning of the year and it held my interest so tightly, I finished all 12 at a pace of 1 per day. The writing just pulled me in and I needed to know what was going to happen next.
I read these books through the Kindle app on my iPad. I find that it is much easier to use speed reading on this app than with physical books. Usually, when reading a fiction type book, I “skim” through the pages rather than doing an intense reading. While I don’t skip over parts, I do skim pretty fast through descriptions, long conversations and larger paragraphs. This cuts down on the reading time considerably, but also enables me to retain a lot of what I read. It takes a lot of practice, but I feel is an essential part of long term reading and learning.
Anyway, if you are into fantasy type books, this is a great collection with a great story.
This one sat in my “to read” stack for a few months before I could finally dig into it. And it didn’t disappoint. I’ve been a fan of Paul Tripp from many years now because of the way that he doesn’t sugarcoat anything and tells it like it is. His writing style is easy to read, but doesn’t skimp on a deep level of theology and understanding of Scripture.
Quoting from PaulTripp.com, the premise of the book is such;
“The church today has many more consumers than committed participants. Church is merely an event we attend or an organization we belong to. We don’t understand that God has called His children into daily ministry.
We would be relieved if God placed our sanctification in the hands of trained and paid professionals. We would be happy to let pastors and elders and counselors do all the work. But that’s simply not the biblical model.
As Paul David Tripp explains, God’s plan can be summed up in a sentence: people in need of change helping people in need of change. He calls all His children to participate in ministry all the time.
Through faithful ministry of every part, the Body will grow to full maturity in Christ. Don’t just sit on the sideline. Make ministry your life and life your ministry.
Become an effective tool of change in the lives of others.”
If I was to label my favorite book of the year, this would be very close. This is the latest title in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series edited by D.A. Carson. It was simply fantastic.
This title, as is the same with others in the series, is a deep look at scripture around a particular theme. I have read six other books in this series throughout 2020, and they were not quickly read. It took time. Writing notes, looking up scripture, worshipping through revelation, repenting within conviction… enjoying time with Jesus as I read, and reread portions to better get an understanding of how Christ is found throughout all of Scripture. Again, simply fantastic.
Deep, thorough, and well organized, this is one that I know I will continue to reach for in my personal devotion and study.
Another fantastic read of the year. I was a little bit familiar with this expedition, but it was only a few basics. This book, the 100th Anniversary Edition, really opened my eyes to the hardship of the trip and the courage of the crew in their fight for survival during this ill-fated journey to make a land crossing of Antarctica in the early 1900’s.
This book was another Kindle app read so I was able to speed read through a lot of it. However, in complete honesty, I had to back up a few times and read sections a second time to get the entire scope of what the crew had to endure.
Books like this are perfect for pastors, because of the way that you can use the different stories and events as illustrations in sermons. I’ve actually already used a couple of illustrations from this story in a couple of morning devotions.
Several years ago, I watched a collection of YouTube videos about a crazy idea of completing an entire 4 year degree in just one year through MIT OpenCourseWare. Needless to say, I was hooked from the very first video and watched Mr. Young through his journey. Yes, I wanted to do it too. So I did.
Since then I have “earned” several degrees through his way of learning and have truly enjoyed it. My most recent course was in quantum mechanics. It was tough, but I loved the process of learning these high level concepts. Because of this, I have begun reading more and more books on physics and higher sciences like quantum mechanics and astronomy. This book, again through the Kindle app, challenged my brain to not just read over the words, but dig into the concept. Plus… there was a great by-product in reading this; I was able to better grasp how God is everywhere, at all times, in all times through His omnipresence.
I read this very early on in the year. In fact, I would say it was probably the first book I read in 2020. Written in an easy to read format didn’t detract from the depth of great information which lead to a greater understanding of the teachings within the reformed tradition.
Contrary to the title, this book isn’t about “calvinism” as a religious dogma, but gives a clear teaching on the doctrines of grace which are foundational to the reformed church. As a fairly new “reformed” baptist, I was grateful for this book when it came across my social media feed. I quickly found that it was on sale and, well… couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for a book sale.
Anyway, with a strong admonition to be “holier than thou”, the author declares that anyone who follows a reformed view of Scripture should be the most humblest of people. I tend to agree.
Another book I read through the Kindle App is a historical overview of Ancient Greece. For anyone who likes history, and especially ancient history, this one is a great introduction to Greece’s beginnings and the people who influenced her throughout the decades.
As someone who is intrigued by the ancient cultures (Greek and Roman to be specific, but with a recent leaning to Assyrian and Babylonian history), this book was a great reminder of things I had known, but had forgotten, and some newer information that ties different events together. One of the things that I truly thought was of great benefit was the overview of the culture and daily life of the ancient greeks. As a pastor, this is an invaluable treasure as it helps me to better understand the “how” and “why” of different verses. By seeing the original historical context, helps to better understand how the different stories of the Bible can be interpreted.
Another book by Matthew Barrett makes my top 10 list. However, this book is vastly different from his deeply theological entry at #7. While None Greater is a great theology of the attributes of God, it is written in an easy to read manner. While I could write about how great this book is, I think I will quote from this book’s description from GoodReads;
For too long, Christians have domesticated God, bringing him down to our level as if he is a God who can be tamed. But he is a God who is high and lifted up, the Creator rather than the creature, someone than whom none greater can be conceived. If God is the most perfect, supreme being, infinite and incomprehensible, then certain perfect-making attributes must be true of him. Perfections like aseity, simplicity, immutability, impassibility, and eternity shield God from being crippled by creaturely limitations. At the same time, this all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-wise God accommodates himself, exhibiting perfect holiness, mercy, and love as he makes known who he is and how he will save us.
The attributes of God show us exactly why God is worthy of worship: there is none like him.
That last line is really the importance of this book for any and every Christian; to worship God completely with an understanding of His worthiness.
Remember how I said that these books were in no particular order? Well…. it just so happens that coming in at #1 is my number 1 book of 2020. It is a must-have for every Christian.
Having received this book early in the year, I immediately dived into it. Spurred on by the amazing reviews and people I look up to giving it high praise, I had to put aside all other reading projects and open this one. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I read this book three times. The first two times to pour over the pages and learn. The last time to worship through the pages. It was a very deeply moving spiritual moment.
This book is an in-depth exegesis of Matthew 11:29 where Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Following the examples of the Puritan authors before him, Dane Ortlund creates a wonderful avenue for understanding Jesus and His love on a deeper level, while also submitting before the throne desiring His comfort and mercy. Again, a deeply moving spiritual moment.
Well, there it is. My list of my favorite books of 2020.
There are many more titles I could have chosen from… 118 more to be more specific. I’m hoping that this list will inspire you to read more in 2021, and to read something new that you wouldn’t normally. You never know where the next book will take you in terms of learning, understanding, and even in a worshipful spirit.