My 2020 Best Books

When I write these sorts of posts, I always look back to the same post from last year. In My 2019 Best Books post, I was surprised how few books there were in my ‘best books’ selection. For 2020, there are only two five-star books (I didn’t count Harry Potter re-reads) but there are also a few four-star books I think also make the grade.

I have been intentionally reading more widely this year which means I wasn’t only picking books whose blurbs I liked the sound of. I would never have read Middlemarch if I wasn’t doing my ‘Reading Oxford’ project. I’ll give a report on that in another post soon.

So here are my favourite books in 2020 and the reasons why I love them. The two five-star books are Sophie’s World and Middlemarch. They are followed by a few four-stars books in no particular order:

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

I liked the excellent education in history of philosophy but what I really loved was Sophie’s life played out as thought experiments according to the schools of philosophy discussed. It also gives a wider view on world’s religions because, after all, many philosophical topics focus on ‘where do people come from?’ ‘what is the meaning of life?’ which are also the foundational questions to religions. I don’t know if the author is a Christian but I’m thankful for how much this book teaches me about Christianity. Utterly brilliant. See my full review of the book here.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

What strikes me most is the breadth and depth of the characters’ thoughts and feelings. They are incredibly subtle and fine and are expanded in details over pages and pages. It amazes me how words can express and present such complicated and subtle feelings. It’s probably more a characteristic of the author rather than of the time period. But I do wonder if people in the 21st century are still capable of writing such fine lines about feelings, even if they are still capable of feeling the same range of emotions.

Is This It? by Rachel Jones

A book on Christian living specifically speaking to those who are experiencing a quarter-life crisis. I loved how it read like chatting to a nice older sister. I especially loved the chapter on ‘Nostalgia & Regret’. I changed the title of my blog to ‘A Day of Small Things’ as a result of reading that chapter. You can read the full story on my ‘About’ page. See my full review of the book here.

P.S Is there a way to add it on Goodreads? It really bugs me that it’s not available there.

Unleash the Word by Karen Soole

The chapter on group members’ understanding of Bible passages and the illustration of a spiral are immensely helpful and the chapter on application gives a fresh new perspective to Bible study groups. See my full review of the book here.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I was really intrigued by the perspective of the American South on slavery, the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. The film might have made it more accessible and popular (because of the excellent casting of Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable) but the film does magnify the stereotypes of the American North and South, unfortunately. I especially enjoy the conversations between Scarlett and Rhett before they get married and the development of the relationship between Scarlett and Melly. See my full review of the book here.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Many people in the reading community recommended it as the perfect ‘lockdown’ book because the book is about the life of a Russian man under the sentence of lifelong house arrest. It sounds perfectly miserable but it’s full of friendship, love and life with all sorts of twists and turns. I loved the warmth and goodness in it. One person’s life might look insignificant in the midst of the upheavals in history but it can still be meaningful and beautiful. See my full review of the book here.

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

It’s a book that made me laugh so much but also opened my eyes to the brutal reality of junior doctors’ work and life. I read this at the beginning of the pandemic and I respect our doctors and nurses with a better understanding and a fuller heart. Thank you! See my full review of the book here.

The Complete List

Here are all the books I read in 2020, for reference for any future blog posts.

Christian Non-Fiction (17):

Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash

Growth Groups: A Training Course in How to Lead Small Groups by Colin Marshall

Revelation Unwrapped: Commentary on Revelation by John Richardson

Unleash the Word by Karen Soole

Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction by Sam Allberry

The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12 by Dale Ralph Davis

A New Day: Moving On from Hunger, Anxiety, Control, Shame, Anger and Despair by Emma Scrivener – highly recommend

Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle by Alistair Begg

In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin

Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13-24 by Dale Ralph Davis

Enjoying God: Experience the Power and Love of God in Everyday Life by Tim Chester

The Art of Rest by Adam Mabry

Deeper Still by Linda Allock

Down, Not Out by Chris Cipollone

Searching for Christmas by J. D. Greear

Time for Every Thing? by Matt Fuller

Where is God in a Coronavirus World? by John Lennox

Non-Fiction (6):

Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey by Simon Armitage

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

A Shepherd’s Life by Henry William Hudson

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

English Literature: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Bate

Fictions (39):

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Rainbow Garden by Patricia St John

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Weather by Jenny Offill

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Among Others by Jo Walton

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Lanny by Max Porter

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

King Henry VI, part 2 by William Shakespeare

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier


Feature photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash.

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