My Top 10 Books Read in 2020

If there is a silver lining to being at home for the vast majority of 2020, it is that I’ve been able to read and listen to more books. Whether to help make sense of the world, reinforce my faith, or just to have an escape from real life for a little while, I’ve read more books from more genres than ever this year.

While it was difficult to narrow down my favorite reads of 2020 to just 10 books, I was able to gauge the level of impact these top 10 had on my life and thinking in 2020.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite reads this year.

10. The Quotable Tozer

The Quotable Tozer

This is the most recent addition to my library, but it’s quick impact lands it at No. 10. I’ve read many of AW Tozer’s works over the years. They have all been impactful at various moments of my life. So when I found this little gem at a discount Christian bookstore, I had to grab it.

Author James L. Snyder compiles many of the most thought-provoking and convicting words of Tozer into one book separated by topics. It is a rich collection that has both challenged and encouraged me.

9. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Writing Tools

With all the time I had at home this year, I decided it was time to recommit to my writing. This decision led to my consuming many hours of Roy Peter Clark. The man is a master of his craft.

I read three of Clark’s books this year, including Writing Tools, How to Write Short and Help for Writers. All three were incredibly helpful, but Writing Tools makes the list because of the actionable, practical help it provided me at the beginning of quarantine.

From instruction on sentence structure to a deep dive on literary devices, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the craft of writing.

8. Stay Positive

Stay Positive

Jon Gordon’s compilation of positive insights helped me refocus when the never ending stream of negativity coming from social media, the national media, and the federal government took a toll throughout the summer.

This is one of those books that you can pick up and quickly shift your mindset from darkness and negativity to one of motivation.

7. Crushing It

Crushing It

I read Gary Vaynerchuk‘s follow-up to Crush It early in 2020, before the world stopped due to Covid. When I’m looking for something to spark creativity and help me think outside the box again, I pop this book open. His insights on Instagram, blogging, podcasting, and more are well-thought and practical.

With updated information on the ever-changing social media landscape, Gary Vee’s enthusiastic outlook makes difficult things like building a brand or starting an online business seem easy.

6. Letters to the Church

Letters to the Church

If I had published a list in 2019, when I initially read this book, it would have been No. 1. Francis Chan‘s masterpiece to the Church is a 2020 re-read and it’s impact is powerful enough to remain on my top 10 for a second consecutive year.

Chan goes out of his way to be respectful of his peers while offering a new way to view the Church. Well, a new-old way to view the church. His vision is thoroughly biblical and sparks a desire within me to get back to the basics of New Testament thinking. This book should be required reading for anyone entering ministry.

5. The War of Art

After hearing reviews on this book from several different content creators, I had to read it for myself. And man, it did not disappoint. Steven Pressfield tells it like it is.

Whether you create content online or preach in a pulpit, The War of Art will give you a glimpse at what’s behind “resistance” in your creative process. It’s another mindset-shifter that will reinvigorate your process.

Highly recommended for anyone who considers themselves a creative.

4. Dream Big

Dream Big

Bob Goff is perhaps one of the greatest encouragers I’ve ever read. He is a helper in every sense of the word. Reading Dream Big in the middle of such a fearful and contentious year took me back to the place of possibility.

Goff is a master storyteller, weaving teaching principles in and out of each story he tells.

You can also check out his podcast for more inspiration after you’ve finished the book.

3. Spirit and Sacrament

Spirit and Sacrament

I’m a lifelong Pentecostal. Prophecy, tongues, healing, shouting, exuberance in worship are all part of my church experience that I thoroughly enjoy. As much as I appreciate all of that, I’ve often felt as if something was missing. In 2020, with much of the Pentecostal experience being painted in a deservedly embarrassing light based on an uncomfortable marriage with politics, that yearning began to grow stronger.

Enter Spirit and Sacrament by Andrew Wilson. The author paints a picture of a spirit-filled expression that includes a deeper liturgy. Wilson points to the possibility of being Eucharismatic–a church distinctly Pentecostal, deep in scripture, and well-developed in theology and practice. Looking to this possibility gives me hope that the Pentecostal faith can once again be more than late-night prosperity gospel hucksters and “prophets” more concerned about their proximity to power than actually hearing from God.

2. The Rewired Brain

The Rewired Brain

This book came along at a time when I was trying to figure out what was going on inside my brain. Granted, that was much of 2020, but I read this book at what was probably the toughest moment of my trial with fear and anxiety. Author Dr. Ski Chilton does great job of explaining a complicated subject in a non-complicated manner.

Fear, religion, sexuality, food, and the impact of experiences from childhood are all discussed at length from the perspective of a scientist who also happens to be a believer. Chilton and Dr. Margaret Rukstalis break this book down into three parts–Reflect, Reframe, and Rewire. The book essentially read my mail.

1. Enter Wild

Enter Wild

Enter Wild was the most impactful book because of it’s timing and the author’s skilled ability to communicate. A fantastic storyteller, author Carlos Whitaker talks about his battle with health anxiety, fear, and unforgiveness.

Part confessional and part invitation to experience the wild nature of God’s presence, Enter Wild will challenge you to leave mundane faith behind for an abundant life with the Holy Spirit.

Carlos Whitaker has quickly become one of my favorite authors. He draws you in with his ability to deftly weave story with powerful spiritual principle. You almost feel like you’ve known the guy for years just by his writing style.

Loswhit’s Instagram account is also a must-follow.

Published by Joel A. Barker

Joel A. Barker is a church planter & blogger from Nashville, Tennessee.

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