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 ...

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

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

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.


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.

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