For the last several years, I’ve been writing down the titles of books I finish. Then, at the end of the year, I pick 10 favorites and make a list for you here. I’ll include the last six years at the bottom of the post. These are not books released in 2020, but ones I read in 2020. So many great books!
I’ve been reading Sean Dietrich’s work online for years on his website Sean of the South and I’ve always loved his writing. But to sit down with a whole book of his is next level. This is the story of his life, the story he said he would never tell. I was hooked from the first line. I read the hardcover copy but his southern accent drips with story so if you’re into audio books this might be one to listen to the audible sample online before you decide which version to read.
First, you must know I love novels where a house is one of the characters (see: my love for The House at Riverton by Kate Morton). I listened to the audio book of this one, read perfectly by Tom Hanks. The only thing I will tell you is from the book description: “Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.” And one of the main characters names is Maeve which meant I was immediately interested in her.
Scot McNight submits that the way we treat our birds is sometimes how we approach the bible. We trim their wings and put them in cages. Essentially, we tame our parakeets. What if we approached the Bible less like a systemic belief system we are to figure out and adopt and more like a story we are invited into? That sounds rather whimsical and I have to say if you know anything about Scot McNight the first word that comes to mind is not whimsy. He’s a New Testament scholar, theologian, and author who has written widely on the historical Jesus. When he taught at my Masters residency several years ago, I took notes so fast my hand cramped up.
One of my favorite things about this book, aside from the vulnerability with which Latasha tells her personal story, is how she emphasizes the importance of lament, confession, and forgiveness as the foundational framework for transformation.
Here’s what you need to know. First, Laura’s book will release in February 2021. But I read this for endorsement and knew I would like it a lot. I did not expect for it to be one of my all time favorite books. Why? I know favorite books are highly subjective and are resonate for all kinds of reasons having to do with stage of life, personal experience, and opinion. I loved this book because Laura Tremaine is a phenomenal storyteller. Beyond her honest vulnerability and graceful charm, the true gift of this book is the delightful alchemy that emerges at the end of every chapter where, after reading her story, I was compelled to share my own. That’s some skill right there. Five stars! Three cheers! I adore this book.
The only thing better than reading a book by a great author is reading a book by a great author who also happens to be your in real life friend. Your let’s-take-a-walk-around-our-neighborhood friend. Your I-have-to-run-to-the-store-can-you-watch-my-kids friend. That’s Kendra for me. I wrote the forward for this one so technically I probably read it in 2019 but I had to include it here because I think everyone who wants to prioritize what matters and ditch what doesn’t (raises hand super high) needs to have a copy of this book on their shelf. It’s kind, practical, smart, and also funny because Kendra.
Nothing profound to share here except if you liked American version of The Office and you also enjoy behind-the-scenes stories then you will enjoy this book. I listened to the audiobook version and it was a fun, lighthearted back-drop to my dish washing and dinner making.
Shortly after Rachel died in May 2019, I saw a photo of her writing desk that someone posted on Instagram. It was messy, lived in, and intentional. She has quotes posted so she could see them like One true sentence and Tell the truth. I didn’t know Rachel beyond us following each other on Twitter. I had read her blog off and on but never a full book. This summer, I picked up Searching for Sunday. What an incredible writer she was. What an incredible soul.
I don’t know how she manages to write about home stuff and bring me to both belly laughter and head-nodding tears but she does and she did and I will never get over it. In a year where no one was gathering or hosting, this book released and hit the New York Times Bestseller List and it wasn’t because people needed to know what to make for Thanksgiving. Maybe it was because she said what we all know is true: that hosting is never about the host and hospitality is never about the house. Instead of welcoming all the people into our homes in 2020, we learned to welcome ourselves home. And that makes all the difference.
Finally finally finally I finished my friend Deidra’s book this summer. I started it years ago but never finished it for who knows why. But this summer I just wanted to hear from her. I wanted to lean in closer and hear her wisdom and I’m so glad I did. I’m grateful she took the time to write all of this down. The feeling I had had at the end was hope, gratitude, and a profound longing for God who is and how, at this very moment, God is in the business of making all things new.
As you make your own lists of books to read in 2021, perhaps you’ll add a few of my favorites into the mix. To give you more to choose from, I’ll include my 10 favorite books from the past six years.
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