She surprisingly did not have as much influence on my reading life, as I expected. I spent a lot of time reading ebooks while nursing and holding a sleeping baby. I blew right through my modest reading goal, which I set intentionally low because I knew I’d be releasing a book and birthing a baby in the same year!
Out of the 79 books I read, below are some of my favorite, five-star reads from the year (categorized by topic).
I’d love to hear about yours in a comment below!
Devotions for a Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
I have read almost all of Gary Thomas’ books and have been influenced by every single one. He is a talented author, but I especially love his works on relationships. Devin and I actually read his book Cherish together (and reviewed it together here) and declared it our favorite of his titles, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Sacred Marriage. So we simply had to read the accompanying devotional! We greatly enjoyed the 52 weekly devotionals, although it definitely took us more than a year to read since our daughter was born during that time!
Now we are reading Devotions for Sacred Parenting together! (More in just a moment about the main book from which that devotional stems.)
A Love Letter Life by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff
I listened to this audiobook and was super impressed by the quality of narration and the content within! Honestly? I wasn’t expecting much (even though it’s a New York Times Bestseller) since I know little of the Roloffs besides their connection with the reality show Little People, Big World. I was blown away by the intentionality with which they pursued their relationship and the depth of the encouragement to modern couples (or singles!) who want to live out a “love letter life.”
I can’t wait to read their next book, Creative Love!
Grumpy Mom Takes A Holiday by Valerie Woerner
I read this book twice. I can’t remember the last time I reread a book, but I needed Valerie’s gentle encouragement!
I first read this book for free via my library app, but by the time I finished the first chapter I knew I wanted it in print so I could reread and underline. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found it at my favorite used bookstore soon thereafter!
If you need a perspective shift (that sounds better than attitude adjustment, right?) as a mom, this is the book for you.
Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas
No one can be a perfect parent, but what if it’s never been about perfection at all (or even doing the “best we can” with our children)?
I so needed to hear the author’s stories from his experiences raising his then-teenagers and how he pairs them with biblical truths. I’ll warn you, though, don’t read the last chapter without a tissue handy!
Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman
I remember holding my daughter as I rocked her in the nursery one night, both overjoyed and overwhelmed by the great privilege it will be to shepherd her soul throughout her growing-up years. Missional Motherhood serves as both a primer and a graduate course in the grand plan of God and how motherhood not only fits in but fulfills a high calling.
I have slowly made my way through Gloria Furman’s titles and there’s not a one I didn’t love. Want to know what the gospel has to do with dishes and diapers? Read her books.
Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler
I cannot wait to begin a young mom’s book study on this title. Have you ever listened to the Risen Motherhood podcast? With biblical truth as the foundation for their entire ministry, these two sisters-in-law breathe fresh inspiration into the often-toxic mommy culture.
This beautiful book was gifted to me for Christmas and has a treasured place on my shelf.
The Connected Parent by Karyn Purvis & Lisa Qualls
From the amazing author of The Connected Child comes this new classic in the adoptive family’s must-read canon. Co-written by the late Dr. Purvis and seasoned adoptive mom Lisa Qualls, this book made me laugh and cry and take notes.
I actually listened to it on audiobook, but I know have it on my wishlist to get a real copy before we resume our adoption journey. I learned so much.
The Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey
Okay, again, I don’t often reread books, but I have never ever re-listened to one, until this book by Dave Ramsey.
This is actually the first book by Ramsey that I’ve ever read (er, listened to), and it changed the way I see his perspective. I’ve always written off Ramsey because I’m a huge credit card reward fan, but when my pastor began planning a financial freedom series, I knew I needed to do my research. I’m glad I did. I especially love the chapter about training our children to be good money managers.
The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement by Angela Hunt
Recommended by a good friend of mine who I trust with all my budgeting questions, this book approached planning for retirement (such a daunting subject, right?) with easy-to-read, short chapters that cover everything from budgeting to what-if-I-don’t-want-to-retire (and I relate to that because I love my work!). I really respect how researched this book is, although it is a little outdated a decade later.
Go Teen Writers: Write Your Novel by Stephanie Morill, Jill Williamson, & Shannon Dittemore
If you read no other writing book, read this one. Designed to be read by teens, I think the writing tools in this book are excellent for any age. I know I learned some things, and I’ve been following the writing site co-led by these amazing authors almost since its inception.
Their work equipping young writers with the tools they need to succeed have had a gargantuan impact on my own writing career, and I can’t speak highly enough of this book!
It’s Not Supposed to be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst
I had heard about this book for months before I finally picked it up, but God’s timing is perfect. I needed this message in 2020, the year we all went through disappointment after disappointment.
Although I still mourn what the pandemic stole, I am encouraged by Lysa’s message that this life between two Gardens is still governed by a sovereign God we can trust with all and everything. This book should be in everyone’s 2020 Survival Kit.
When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas
I know, I know, another Gary Thomas book.
And if you read no other book of his, start with this one. With startling clarity, he makes the case for how toxic people do not have to derail you from the mission God has given you. In this age of social media and so many broken relationships, I can’t recommend this book enough. He walks through the process of identifying toxicity, addressing it lovingly but firmly and biblically, and even deals with the difficulty of acknowledging toxicity in family members. I cried, I underlined, I loan this book out to whomever will take it.
Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel
One of the things that surprised me most about motherhood was the relentless decision fatigue! (“The baby’s crying. What kind of crying is it?” “The baby woke early from her nap! Should I help her sleep longer or is she hungry?”)
In this unique book, Anne Bogel offers down-to-earth advice I started applying on day one. I enjoy all of Anne’s books, but this one is my new favorite.
Now and Then and Always & Some Bright Someday by Melissa Tagg
If you’ve never read a book by Melissa Tagg, you have my permission to abandon this blog post and start. right. now. I have to be honest, I was not a big fan of contemporary romance before I read any of Melissa’s books (notice how all of the titles below are historical!). She is so skillful at weaving a storyline around a spiritual truth that knocks you off your feet.
I highly recommend her books (and here is the reading order so you don’t get lost in her series that could be read alone but fit together so very well).
Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green
If you’re a fan of epistolary novels, you need to talk to my friend Gretchen and then you need to get this book. I could hardly put down this story of a WWII POW camp translator (I know, I had no idea that was a thing either!). Told entirely in letters, newspaper articles, notes, clippings, etc., I was skeptical it would hold my attention and then soon spellbound by the author’s skill.
This debut author is one to watch (and auto-pre-order).
The Codebreakers Series by Roseanna M White
Roseanna M. White remains one of my favorite historical authors, and her latest series did not disappoint! Delving deep into Room 40, the secret room where enemy messages were decoded, this series takes place in London during WWI. If you’re at all a fan of history, England, WWI, you will love this fascinating look into a little-known facet of the war (the interruption of the Spanish Flu epidemic in the last book hit all too close to home, too!).