Sunday, December 13, 2020

My Favorite Books of 2020


Hey Friends, Merry Christmas!

Who doesn't love indulging in a great big end-of-the-year bookfest?  I hope you'll find this final 2020 edition of The Bookbag to be the perfect escape from shopping online, talking about covid, binge watching, carol singing, baking treats, gift wrapping ... and making the oh so difficult decision about how you'll celebrate Christmas.

Be sure to join me in the comment section for some in-depth bookish dialogue afterwards.  Our time conversing together is always the icing on the cake, for sure.  Email readers, simply click the title of the post in your inbox, and come on over to the website!

Grab a snack, a mug of something warm, curl up in a comfy chair with your favorite quilt, and let's settle in together ...


MY FAVORITE 2020 READS
as an Amazon affiliate, 
I may receive a small financial benefit 
if you buy through one of these links

Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life
Anne Bogel
Anne offers a bounty of common-sensical thoughts on freeing ourselves from that 'analysis paralysis' that holds us hostage from making decisions and moving forward.  She talks about information overload and perfectionism and gives concrete steps on 'what to do when your brain gets stuck on the bad stuff.'

Decision fatigue is a real and present danger for all of us and her common sense strategies to limiting your options so to ease your decision making process is brilliant and leaves you wondering why you never thought of these steps before.

Each chapter closes with a few simple questions to clarify your challenges and responses to what you're discovering about yourself.

* BONUS - this is our next Book Club selection.  What a way to kick off 2021!
Buy Kindle - $9.60
Buy Paperback - $11.59


You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters
Kate Murphy
If you've been around here for any length of time, you know that one of my favorite books {and our second Book Club pick!} is Adam McHugh's The Listening Life.  A game changer, a wake up call, a soul-stirrer.  

Kate Murphy's writing picks up right where The Listening Life left off.  Carefully researched, this highly compelling work is not a faith based volume, but there's plenty of practical truths to be found in its pages.  

Of particular interest is the chapter 'Listening to Opposing Views.'  In this season of political unrest, it's must reading no matter what your political persuasion.  And the chapter on supporting others when they share their stories instead of constantly shifting the conversation to ourselves contains much-needed lessons for us all.
Buy Kindle - $13.99
Buy Hardcover - $16.99


A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What
Gordon MacDonald
I pulled this book off my office bookshelf for one reason only.  I was turning 65 and I was not a happy camper.  This timely re-read was a powerful attitude adjuster, reorienting me toward future possibilities instead of wasting time brooding over a birthday.  

MacDonald writes, 'In the great race of life, there are some Christ-followers who stand out from all the rest ... They seem to possess these spiritual qualities –
  • They are committed to finishing strong
  • They are inspired by a big-picture view of life
  • They run free of the weight of the past
  • They run confidently, trained to go the distance
  • They run in the company of a 'happy few'
If you're feeling kind of aimless and without a clear purpose, grab this little volume.  Good stuff if you're yearning for a pastoral coach to speak truth into your life.  
Buy Kindle - $5.99
Buy Hardcover - $10.80


The Preacher's Wife: The Precarious Power of Women of Evangelical Women
Kate Bowler
This Duke Divinity School associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America has authored a meticulously researched volume on evangelical women who become leaders.  She writes, 'It follows the rise of celebrity Christian women in American evangelicalism. Whether they stand alone or beside their husbands, they are leading women who play many parts: faithful wife, spiritual authority, and Hollywood celebrity.'

No matter what your view is on the topic, you'll find Kate's excellent book to be fascinating, exquisitely written, and certainly thought-provoking.

Kate's newsletter is one that I not only read from beginning to end, but keep in my inbox to refer to again and again.  Wise, empathetic, and tender, Kate was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer when she was 35.  Her story, Everything Happens For a Reason: And Other Lies I Loved  is one of my all time favorites ... my review is right here.  
Buy Kindle - $9.99
Buy Paperback - $18.95


A Time For Mercy
John Grisham
I burned the midnight oil with this beloved author's latest blockbuster.  This is vintage Grisham at his finest.  If you're a fan, I promise that you won't be able to put his latest novel down.  If you've never savored his timeless drama, sense of humor and heart for the marginalized, along with all the 'courthouse scheming, small-town intrigue, and stunning plot twists' that are his hallmarks, this is your golden opportunity to get to know one of my favorite writers.

'Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy ... Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line.'
Buy Kindle - $14.99
Buy Hardcover - $16.79


The Dutch House: A Novel
Ann Patchett
This splendid three generation novel was such good company during a long spell at home earlier this year.  Ann Patchett has penned a thoughtful, beautifully written tale of what happens when roots of bitterness and unforgiveness take hold of two siblings and come to define who they are as the years pass by.  

Centered around the house of their childhood, the author weaves a captivating story line which will quickly pull you into this rich family saga.  And Tom Hanks narrates the audio book, which is enough for me to definitely re-read {or rather, listen.}
Buy Hardcover - $10.35
Buy Kindle - $14.99
Buy Audiobook - $26.94


GOODIES FOR READERS & WRITERS
Ed Cyzewski

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Christianity Today

Michele Cushatt

Halee Gray Scott


Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Osheta Moore

Modern Mrs. Darcy

The New York Times


THE BOOK CLUB RETURNS!
One of my favorite reads this past year was Anne Bogel's Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life.  You already read my review up top.  And I'm betting this beloved author never dreamed how her brainchild would be published at just the perfect time, its debut intersecting with the pandemic's stressful descent on our daily life rhythms and changing things up in the most unsettling of ways.

Honestly, I can't imagine a better volume to kick off 2021.  Don't Overthink It is our next Book Club selection!

Beginning on January 10th, for 4 - 6 consecutive Sunday evenings, I'll be kicking off each Book Club session by briefly quoting several of Anne's most compelling observations.  

And then the magic happens!  You jump on in with all your wisdom, humor, faith, and life experience and we chat back and forth about what you're discovering.  Join the party any time that's convenient for you that week ... the welcome mat is out 24 / 7.

No need to sign up ... and you don't even need to read the book to participate.  But trust me, you'll benefit greatly if you do. 

Be sure you subscribe to the blog and you'll get all the details in your inbox in a few weeks.  You won't miss a single session along the way.  Meanwhile, grab your copy of the book and your favorite highlighter, put your feet up, and savor each page.

MY FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME


People are like grass;

their beauty is like a flower in the field.

The grass withers and the flower fades.

But the word of the Lord remains forever.

       1 Peter 1:24 - 25

Written words come and go like the mid-winter wind.  Books educate us, give us pleasure, take us to another time and place, expose us to new ideas.  But no earthly best seller will ever, ever come close to The Bible.  When all is said and done, everything else will fade away.  But God's inspired Word will last forever.  

Written from His heart to ours, the Bible informs our lives, invites us into personal relationship with the Trinity, convicts and comforts and guides us forward.  Praise God for the divine sacredness of His love letter to us.

Where would we be without Jesus.
Linda 

Let's talk about your favorite reads this year!  Were they significant, memorable, or life-changing?  If you could pack only one book for a week on a desert island, what would it be?  Bloggers, do share the link to your own end of the year book post ...



*


*

sharing with 
Anne  .  Jeanne  .  Lisa

55 comments:

  1. I have to admit my reading of books has fallen by the wayside the last few years but digging into God's Word has increased, thankfully. A few nights ago I finally pulled Louise Penny's latest book in the Inspector Gamache series off the shelf to read. I have a Children's series I want to read, too, called The Wilderking Trilogy. I have enjoyed several books written for children that are great for adults, too. Hope you have a wonderful week!

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    1. Ellen, hi! Your testimony is one I'm going to tuck inside and savor and attempt to live out more faithfully --> 'I have to admit my reading of books has fallen by the wayside the last few years but digging into God's Word has increased, thankfully.'

      I appreciate the way you've kicked off our conversation, focused on what matters most.

      Bless you ...



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  2. I skip now from book to book,
    never reading to the end
    when my heart already took
    all the writer had to send
    to me in my most dreadful season,
    and I'm grateful, truly so,
    but there often is no reason
    in perusal, to strictly go
    by the mantra, cover-to-cover,
    when I'm done with what I've learned,
    and then I go pick up another,
    knowing the previous author's earned
    the royalties, justly deserved;
    though I didn't finish, my needs were served.

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    1. Yep, I hear you, Andrew. A few years ago I decided that if I wasn't totally 100% into the book after 50 pages, I would close the cover and move on.

      It's worked real well for me ... no shoulds or oughts or guilt trips. Just indulging in what's best.

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  3. So many books ... so little time.

    God bless.

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    1. Yep, you're right, Victor. There's too many unread volumes laying around here and there. Maybe 2021 will be the year to stack them up and start reading.

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  4. No doubt about it, Linda, the Bible is my all-time favorite book and will continue to be so. I am really looking forward to our next book club foray, and have already ordered the book, which I will start reading in January. My especially loved book that I read in 2020 is Dancing Prince by Glynn Young. It is the fifth, and sadly last, of his Dancing Priest series. If you haven't discovered this series yet, I hope you will put it on your wish list. You won't be disappointed!
    Blessings!

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    1. The Dancing Priest sounds intriguing, Martha! I've just jotted it down. And yes, I'm really looking forward to the Book Club ... Anne's book will be a superb conversation starter. I learned so much in the 1st read through.

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  5. Glad you are starting your Book Club again! I look forward to it. I also read the Dutch House - Tom Hanks doing the audio was the best part!!

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    1. Glad you'll be here, Mah! With all your Book Club experience, you bring alot to the table ...

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  6. Wonderful list, Linda! I've read all of two (Murphy and Bowler) and part of one (Bogel), already had a hold on one at the library (Grisham), and now have a hold on the last two, thanks to you. :-) I just finished--and loved--"The Secrets of Paper and Ink" by Lindsay Harrel. I started writing down books as I finish them last fall, and your post makes me want to go through my list and see which ones rank as favorites. :-)

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    1. I'll check out Harrel's book ... made me smile to see how closely our lists resonate.

      Maybe we were separated at birth?!

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  7. Thank you for all these reading goodies, Linda. I especially love the wise advice in the articles about writing our hard stories and bringing our whole selves to our stories. Looking forward to the book club! Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Yes, Trudy ... those were superb, weren't they ...

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  8. I always love reading about people's book picks, and several of these sound good. The problem is the list of books I want to read just keeps growing and growing!
    It's always fun to look back over the year and remember the books we enjoyed - I'm hoping to do that just after Christmas.

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    1. I look forward to savoring your list, Lesley! And yes, the to-read list just keeps getting more lengthy ... sadly, our libraries are operating very slowly this year.

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  9. Linda, thanks for sharing your list of favorites. I see a couple that I need to read. I want to spend more time in God’s Word, my favorite of all time!

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  10. I feel like I've just had a wonderful savor at my favorite bookstore! Thanks for the recommendations - and the other links to see what's out there! Everyone at our house gets a book Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Oh thanks, MaryLeigh! I appreciate your kind words. And your tradition of gifting books on Christmas Eve is simply brilliant.

      I wish I had thought of that way back in the day ... maybe 40 years ago!

      Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  11. I saw Anne's book at Books-a-Million on Sunday afternoon and it made my heart swell. :) I listened to the audio book a few months ago, but I have the Kindle book on hold at my library and it should become available just in time for your book club! I loved "You're Not Listening" as well. Adding other books here to my to-read list because I know your picks are always good, Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I have gleaned many goodies from your book shelves along the way.
      Yet another way we encourage each other!

      ;-}

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  12. I love your bookfest, Linda! I just received my copy of Don't Overthink It and am excited to read it beginning ion January. I have been looking at the Ann Patchett book for years. Thanks for the nudge. I am going to put it on my list.

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    1. I'm thinking you'll love both, Laurie! Be sure to let me know ...

      ;-}

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  13. Great list of keep in mind for the coming year.

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  14. Great list! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Great list. I have been interested in the subject of resiliency lately so that one especially tweaked my interest. Looking forward to your book club in January.

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    1. TJ, hi! Yes, MacDonald's book might just hit the spot for you! I'd love to hear your take on it if you do get to read it.

      And I'm happy you'll be joining in the Book Club ... and grateful for the book you sent my way. It will propel me toward deeper time in the Word which the Spirit has been nudging me on.

      Thank you.

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  16. Linda, this is a great list of books! I will definitely be adding some of these to my TBR pile. One book that really impacted me this year was Sacred Rest, by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. It's a deep-dive into the many facets and impact of rest on our lives.

    I hope you have a wonder-filled Christmas, my friend!

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    1. Jeanne, your post on practical suggestions for embracing rest in our lives was truly comprehensive, peace-filled, and gentle. I felt myself resting more deeply even as I was reading it.

      READERS - https://jeannetakenaka.com/rest-practical-suggestions-for-embracing-rest-in-our-lives/

      Have a wonderful holiday with your family. Enjoy the respite from writing. And thanks for modeling what rest looks like to all of us.

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  17. Hi Linda, thanks for your visit and nice comment on my KeyLime Pie. Here is my recipe for the Raspberry Muffins with white chocolate chips.https://thelmaday.blogspot.com/2017/08/raspberry-white-chocolate-chips-muffins.html
    I haven't read much is the last year. I recently had cataract surgery and hope to get back to my reading one day. My favourite book is The Bible. Thanks for your visit. Thelma.

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    1. Dear Thelma ... may your eyes continue to heal so that you'll be able to enjoy your reading again. And may you be at peace in the waiting with portions of God's Word coming to your heart and mind at just the right time.

      Oh and raspberry muffins with white chocolate chips! Thanks for sending the recipe along. My mouth waters just thinking about these. Your photo was gorgeous!

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  18. Gosh, your first three books had me at each one thinking I must order this and read it and now I am running out of time to read the rest of this post but I will return to pick up some more reading tips. Although I confess to having too many books by my bedside table as yet untouched, so maybe I should read those first, but who can resist new books?

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    1. Yep, I hear you about the to-read pile growing by leaps and bounds. And yes, please come back to sit with the other links and stuff. It's a pretty big Bookbag this month.

      And I'm glad you're here to enjoy it with me!

      Welcome ...

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  19. The one book that I couldn’t put down and made me shake my head in awe was Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. Remarkable memoir by Nabeel Qureshi who prayed to Allah for the truth and God led him to Jesus. What a devout, remarkable young man the author was. The way God spoke to Nabeel would set a traditonalist’s teeth on edge. Does God really reveal Himself that way, you may ask?

    We also read The Dutch House and every book clubber loved it! Our discussion was the best but our audio book person never mentioned Tom Hanks. That would make it a desirable re-read.

    Also The Color of Water by James McBride was a must for 2020 black issues. James and his 11 black siblings had a white, Jewish mother and the perspective of both mom and son comes with every other chapter. McBride is a fanatastical writer and he is not sportin a ‘tude in any manner, shape or form. He did fear though for his mother’s life when young cause he learned how black people hated white people. Worth hearing another side of the Black/White Lives Matter story.

    I agree with Victor...too many books, so little time

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    1. Yes, I remember you talking about that book, Carol. Thank God He still does miracles!

      I miss the book club and would have loved to talk about The Dutch House with you all. Great stuff.

      And I'm reading The Color of Water even as we speak. So profound, so moving to hear this man's story ... interwoven with his mother's. An eye-opener, a heart-stirring read for sure.

      Merry Christmas, friend. I miss celebrating with you !
      xo

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    2. Well book club meets on zoom so you are always welcome to join us.

      Wow glad to hear you are reading Color of Water...I am waiting for another McBride book cause I love the way he writes.

      Miss everything we have shared over the years. Merry Christmas friend

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    3. Mmm ... maybe?

      Might be wonderful!

      ;-)

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  20. I love lists of favourite books. I might have to get Don't Overthink. I read The Listening Life that really did challenge me. I am adding Your Not Listening to my want to read list.

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  21. Thank you, Linda, for these recommendations. I have a great start for the new year!

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  22. I did tackle more reading this year and some of those want to read books from my shelf. Love seeing your list. Have a very Merry Christmas, Linda!!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you, too, Jean! Connecting with you has been a lovely gift this year ...

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  23. Always love to receive book recommendations from people I trust. Will be putting A Resilient Life and A Time for Mercy on my wish list. The Preacher's Wife intrigues me also since my husband served as a pastor for 40 years. Thank you, Linda!

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    1. Nancy, so glad there are a few books here that caught your eye. I look forward to getting to know you better in the year ahead.

      Merry Christmas!

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  24. ( People are like grass;

    their beauty is like a flower in the field.

    The grass withers and the flower fades.

    But the word of the Lord remains forever.)

    Loves these lines so much

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  25. I love seeing others' favorite books lists. I agree 100% with the preeminence of God's Word. I'm so looking forward to Don't Overthink It. I need to read Grisham some time--somehow I never have, and I've always heard good things about him.

    I finally got my favorite books posted--I was (am) still reading, so didn't want to make a list too soon: https://barbaraleeharper.com/2020/12/30/my-top-twelve-books-of-2020/.

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    1. Barbara, good morning! I just zipped over to your place to see the 12 you picked. I know you're an AVID reader, so it was fun to see your choices.

      READERS - If you love books, you'll appreciate Barbara's Top 12! Tell her Linda sent you!

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  26. Hi Linda, these all sound fantastic! I enjoyed Everything Happens for a Reason, so I’m very interested in Bowler’s new books! And I loved The Listening Life and have You’re Not Listening on my TBR, so I’m looking forward to reading it this year! Here are my 2020 favorites:
    https://elle-alice.blogspot.com/2021/01/favorite-books-of-2020.html

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    1. Maybe we're kindred spirits from afar, Elena!

      I'm off to check out your favorites ...

      ;-}

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  27. I have just had a wonderful savor at my favorite bookstore! Thanks for the recommendations - and the other links to see what's out there!

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