Every year around this time, I comb through my notes and lists of books I read in the past 12 months and share my favorite books I read in 2020. I love seeing book lists from others and always find some books to add to my reading list. I hope this post encourages you to do the same for your own edification or as gifts for others.
Like years past, these books are not necessarily written or published in 2020. Rather, these books make my list if I read it this year. And, for the fourth year in a row, I got my wife to share a few of her favorites (check out Kristen’s Korner below).
A couple of thoughts before I dive in to sharing my list.
- Several of the books I really enjoyed this year fall into a common theme of rest, renewal, and sabbath. It could be borne out my near ministry burnout or you can give COVID and the stress of this year the credit. Regardless, several of these books hit me where I most needed it.
- I still love reading. It relaxes me, helps stir up creative thoughts, and helps me grow spiritually, professionally, and relationally. This remains one of my favorite posts every year.
- I know your time is limited. When I put together a list like this, I hope it helps you cut through all the noise out there. I just read that over 2,000,000 new books will be published in 2020. This short list is an accumulation of one man’s favorites—just one person’s humble opinion. Part of the reason I put this list together is to be helpful and to give some recommendations.
Stick around to the end of the post for a few giveaways!
In no particular order:
My Favorite Books I Read in 2020
My #1 Favorite Book I read in 2020. I just wrote a blog post/review of this book, but I loved Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen. The book is timely, biblical, and honest. As I continue to battle negative thoughts and emotions, Allen reminded me to take my thoughts captive, to think on the right things, and that I have a choice of what to do with all my negative thoughts. In a year marked by transition for me and my family, I faced insecurities and negative thoughts in new ways in 2020.
The Book I Loved to Read That I Still Need to Apply. For too many years, I ran too hard in life. I worked too many hours, said yes to too much, and fell into bed exhausted most nights. All of life felt like a blur as we rushed from one activity or responsibility to another. Several people recommended this one, and I’m so thankful I read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. Comer unpacks four practices for unhurrying life. One of my goals over the Christmas holiday is to review my notes from this book and apply it!
The Book Our Family Needs to Read. A few years ago I read The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch (which made my 2017 list). This year i just finished the book The Tech-Wise Life written by Crouch’s daughter, Amy. In this book, she talks about how growing up in a tech-wise family shaper her upbringing and how it affects her life as a college student. The Crouch’s make a great distinction that they don’t live tech-free, but rather how they can be tech-wise. This is one Kristen and I need to read together.
My favorite marriage book I read this year. Last year I got to be on the FamilyLife Today Podcast where I was interviewed by Bob Lepine and Dave & Ann Wilson. This year Lepine wrote a new marriage book that I really enjoyed. In Love Like You Mean It, Lepine unpacks the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. He writes a full chapter on each aspect of love described in these verses. The book is honest, practical, and challenging, and will be one I refer back to on a consistent basis.
My #1 The Most Practical Book I Read This Year. Like several other books on this list, many recommended the book Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons. In the book she shares two input rhythms (rest and restore) along with two output rhythms (connect and create). Lyons gets incredibly practical as she includes seven chapters for each of the four rhythms. The book is practical, honest, and timely with the challenges of 2020.
My Favorite Business Book I Read This Year. A few good friends recommended the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Coyle writes about the importance of culture, and 3 keys to creating a healthy culture: build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose. Through great stories from businesses and healthy cultures, Coyle helps readers build culture.
My Favorite Book I Read Again in 2020 (and will need to read again in 2021). Perhaps more than any other ‘short’ read I’ve ever read, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller packs a punch. Freedom comes not from loving the self or hating the self, but from self-forgetfulness. I probably read or listen to this book two times every year.
My Favorite Commentary Series. Whenever I study a book of the Bible, I check to see if The Good Company has written a book in this series. In 2020 I read the John, Luke, Exodus, and Philippians commentaries in this series. My favorite ones are the ones by Tim Keller (i.e., Galatians, Judges), but I still appreciate the entire series.
The Book I’m Glad I Read With Others. Reset by David Murray might be on a list of mine from a few years ago, but I read it again in 2020 with a group of 4 other guys. The book is excellent on its own, but was so good to read with other men. Check out the book Refresh written by his wife if you’re looking for the female version.
And now, back for round 4 in 2020, Kristen Kedersha! Kristen loves to listen to books. We’ve found Scribd to be a great alternate to Audible—think of it like Netflix for audio books!
The Most Spiritually Practical Book I Read This Year. Every week I get to pray for a different attribute in my sons. In Powerful Prayers for My Sons, Ron & Joanna Teigen help the reader start (or continue) a lifelong habit of praying specifically for your sons. (Note from Scott—I am so grateful I’m married to a woman who regularly prays for our sons. Such a gift to me and to them!).
The Most Encouraging Book I Read This Year. In their second book, Suffer Strong, Jay & Katherine Wolf share their powerful story as a couple. With deep authenticity they share all they went through and how they allow God to use Catherine’s disability for the good of others and God’s glory. In 2020 we can all stand to hear more stories of others who walk through major trials with their faith intact (and even strengthened).
My Favorite Medical Story I Read This Year. I have a medical background, so I typically enjoy books and stories about medicine (for instance, ER is still my favorite TV show!). Left Neglected by Lisa Genova tells the story of a career driven mom who suffers a traumatic injury in a car accident.
- Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets by Andy Stanley. I trusted in Christ while I attended North Point Community Church. I love Andy’s teaching, and this practical guide will be a very helpful read for me moving forward as I process decisions. He provides 5 helpful questions to ask whenever making decisions.
- I really enjoyed reading the story of Pixar and learned some great principles about innovation and creativity from Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. It’s been on my list for years and I finally read it this year.
- Another one I’ve wanted to read for years and am finally reading – The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. This four-book fiction series is a fun read! It’s not quite Chronicles of Narnia, but it’s definitely a fun read for the family.
- So grateful I get to work with and learn from my friend and pastor Jonathan “JP” Pokluda. My friends JP and Luke Friesen wrote the book Welcoming the Future Church to help leaders learn how to engage and lead the future leaders of the church. Real, honest, and practical. JP practices what he writes (and preaches).
- I really liked the short read Searching for Christmas by J.D. Greear. Greear does a short overview of Isaiah 9:6, a passage we often quote during the Christmas season. He briefly unpacks how Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace.
I have several of these books to give away. If you leave your name and your favorite book you read in 2020 in the comments below, I’ll enter your name into a drawing for the following books (7 different winners!).
- Welcome to Adulting, by JP
- Becoming Us, by Beth & Jeff McCord
- Single, Dating, Engaged, and Married, by Ben Stuart
- Get Out of Your Head, by Jennie Allen.
- Reset, by David Murray.
- When to Walk Away, by Gary Thomas (from my 2019 list)
- Ready or Knot?, by Scott Kedersha (signed if you want it signed…).
Note: I will choose winners next Monday (December 7th).
Last, a link to my lists from prior years.
- 2019 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2019
- 2018 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2018
- 2017 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2017
- 2016 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2016
- 2015 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2015
- What was your favorite book you read in 2020? What should I read? Comment below to enter into a drawing to win one of the books listed above!
- As you think about books and reading, what makes a book stand out to you?
Note to readers: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a very small kickback on any purchases you make through these links (at no extra cost to you). I need some way to recoup a small percentage of the money I spend on this blog every year and any purchases you make help keep this writing ministry going.