2020 Reading List Part 1

2020 sure has been an interesting year! We are halfway through and it has looked a lot different than I think anyone expected. One pleasant surprise has been the time I have been able to spend reading! From books on Christian growth to children’s books to fiction, it has been a wonderful half year of growing my mind through insight and adventure. Below are some brief thoughts on each book.

A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23 

By: W. Phillip Keller

I was given this book as a gift when I left Fort Campbell PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel- US Army Chaplain’s women’s ministry). It is signed by friends from that Army post and reminds me of a special time of growing into Army life and deepening my desire for studying the Word of God. This book is form the unique perspective of a trade shepherd. It opens up this well known Psalm to explain some of the references and how that applies to a caretaker of sheep and how the herding audience in the Old Testament would understand these terms. It is such a comfort to know the love, care, and protection of our Good Shepherd, Jesus.

Foundations: 12 Biblical Truths to Shape a Family

By: Ruth Chou Simons and Troy Simons

I have anticipated the release of this book for a long time and it did not disappoint. I have appreciated the truths Ruth and Troy share on Instagram and have enjoyed following the pieces of their family life they choose to share. This book can be read individually, as a family, or as a church group. These truths grounded in Scripture are useful for growth in Christ in a family unit and in the family of God. There are discussion questions and verses for memory that direct each family back to God. It is filled with the beautiful, neutral artwork by Ruth.

Garden of Truth & Fields of Joy

By: Ruth Chou Simons

Both of these books are great for short, daily refreshment. I would read a page each morning to turn my heart and mind to Christ first thing. Ruth paired her beautiful watercolor art with a verse for the day and a short message of application. These will be on regular rotation on my night stand.

To Train Up a Child

By: Michael and Debi Pearl

Full disclosure, I only skimmed this book. A friend offered to let me borrow it as we discussed discipline methods in our families. She also said to take the authors’ methods with a grain of salt (and even marked out some chapters). I think this book could have been much shorter and less wordy. Some of the discipline points I agree with and some I don’t. I wish more general parenting books had more chapters on Biblical discipline. I think that is why this book explains in detail the authors’ intent- because it is lacking in other literature. Takeaways from this book: parents are not their children’s slaves, discipline is to be instructive and not destructive, consistency is of utmost importance, do not take your children’s sin personally, and unemotional spanking (when done correctly) is more effective in training children than emotional lectures/conversations/yelling.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family
By: Paul David Tripp

Conversely, after having this book recommended over and over, I finally read PDT’s parenting book. Instead of how to’s and how not to’s, Tripp directs parents to remember the eternal importance of their parenting practices. The goal for parents is not to create children who obey our rules and conform to our desires, but to show our children their need for a Savior and to point them to Jesus, the only Savior who can save their souls. This book shares biblical principles and practical ways to apply this to parenting. The recurring reminder is that parenting is very repetitive and each opportunity to correct and train our children (again) are opportunities to share the grace and love of Christ with them. Very highly recommend. 

War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles

By: Paul David Tripp

As I struggle with anger and taming my tongue, I picked up this book hopeful for help. Tripp calls for conviction through means of understanding The Word, which is the origin of all speech. He provides practical ways to alter speech habits and how to change our thinking to mirror The Word, Christ. Tripp is quickly becoming one of my favorite teachers. His gospel centered words and his gentle approach to retraining our mindsets makes change seem possible and attainable. While I remain a work in progress, I now consider my words more carefully and am working on taming my tongue to be a useful tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (And Why That’s A Good Thing)

By: Jen Wilkin

I was invited to join an online Bible study group to work through this book. I have read it before but these truths are worth reading and discussing again and again. As we study these truths it becomes so evident how much we as humans lack. As we learn about who God is we recognize our need for Him and we praise Him for calling us to Himself. In every way we say, “I am not;” God is there to remind us that, “I AM.” 

Beautifully Distinct: Conversations With Friends On Faith, Life, And Culture

Edited By: Trillia Newbell

In modern society we have so many voices screaming in our faces telling us what to be, who to look like, and what we should be thinking. However, as Christian women we are not designed to blend into the worldly crowd, but we were created to reflect Christ, His Character, and His love to the world. This book is a compilation of entries from various Christian authors and speakers. Each chapter tackles an area where Christian women are called to stand out in Christlikeness. We know who we are and to Whom we belong by remained grounded in Scripture, with several excerpts provided in each chapter to apply to our lives.

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been

By: Jackie Hill Perry

I have followed Jackie on social media and knew the major points of her testimony from her posts. But I have put off reading her book (biography) because my to read stack was already piled up. As mentioned in the title, Jackie loved a lesbian lifestyle but realized that is not was defined her. What defined her was her sin and how that made her an enemy of God. Jackie is open and honest about her faith journey and was beautiful to read how the Lord sought her out, redeemed her from her sinful past, and continued to work on her as she learned to walk in His ways. He always has been, remains today, and will continue to be a Good God.

How Great is Our God devotional

By: Louie Giglio

This is the second family devotional we have completed by Louie Giglio. Each entry focuses on an area of science and how that showcases how great is our God. These interesting facts teach children at a young age that God is in total control over science, as He created all the elements in the universe. The real world examples are interesting to children and teach them to see God all around them.

The Biggest Story (and The Biggest Story ABCs)

By: Kevin DeYoung

We read these books together as part of our Lenten study. There are 10 chapters in this book, so we read one (short) chapter each day the week and half prior to Easter. This book pairs beautiful illustrations with the story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. We read how Jesus was the answer to the problem of sin and it opened up discussions with our boys (ages 3, 6, and 8 at the time) about the overall meta-narrative of Scripture and how Jesus is seen throughout the entire story of the Bible. The ABC’s board book is crafted together beautifully to tie together the story of the Bible in a fun to read ABC format. 

***Last year I decided to incorporate fiction back into my reading list. I have always enjoyed fiction and the worlds created in my imagination with the help of talented authors. The first half of this year I enjoyed many volumes of fiction, some children’s and some adult.***

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian

By: Rick Riordan

This series was recommended by several friends for my advanced reader, age 8. I wanted to read the content before passing them along, as I was unfamiliar with the story. This series in about demi-gods and Greek mythology within the modern world. As young adult fiction, these books were quick reads and filled with adventure. The characters say “Oh my gods” and in one of the later books the word d*mn is used. My child is aware of these words, their meaning, and why we do not use them; but I am still uncomfortable with him reading them quite yet. Having just completed second grade, there are plenty of options for him to read without profanity. The characters are middle school/high school age- so no need to rush into reading for young readers. Probably within the next year (age 9-10) I will allow him to choose if he wants to begin this series.

A Series of Unfortunate Events:

A Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, The Austere Academy

By: Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)

I also received recommendations for this series. If you are looking for “happily ever after” then this is not the series for you, as the title states. They are interesting and fast reads with very animated characters. There was also some language in these books (g*d, d*mn, h*ll), so parents must be aware if these words are not acceptable in their homes. Even as an advanced reader, I do not think my rising 3rd grader will be quite interested in these yet.

Career of Evil 

By: Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

Book three of the Cormoran Strike novels. Each time I try to figure out whodunit, but there are added twists I do not expect! I thought I had figured it out and was so relieved… when I realized I was not even 1/3 of the way through the book! In the end, I did figure out who, but the how stumped me. I appreciated the character development in our two leads.


By: Brian Jacques

Both my husband and I enjoy the Redwall series. This series features animals warriors battling enemy creatures that want to destroy their peaceful lifestyle. This story focused on a badger who had a difficult journey of discovery and destiny. I quickly remembered the unique way of speaking the moles have and the excitable antics of the squirrels. I was eager to fight alongside the courageous otters and shrews as they defended their home.

The First Formic War Series:

Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, Earth Awakens

By: Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

I devoured these books. If you are a fan of sci fi, the Ender’s Game series (and subsequent series) are the books for you! These three books are a prequel series that explain how humans and earth discovered the alien species, the Formics (Buggers), and their interactions with each other. The events unfold very realistically to how world governments and organizations would react to alien life. The books hold true to the fictional world in the original series and adequately explain how we arrived at the events in Ender’s Game. Alien invasion and warfare are not for every reader, but if fantasy worlds appeal to you then definitely check out the works of Orson Scott Card. 

The Cricket In Times Square

By: George Selden

The boys and I read this aloud together. It was recommended by a friend and we so enjoyed it! I try to use read aloud family time as an opportunity to expose the boys to books they probably will never pick up on their own (older children’s literature). The adventures of Chester Cricket and his friends, Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse, kept my boys entertained and interested in what happened next. Reading aloud helps the boys hear how to pronounce new words and within their context. Older children’s literature also opens up the opportunity for discussion on outdated habits, like the newsstand in this book. The next time we see a newsstand I will remind the boys of this story and how Chester lived inside one.

There may have been a couple more books that I have forgotten to include in this list, but this is the most fruitful reading half year since I entered motherhood. As a lover of literature, it has refilled my emotional tank unexpectedly. I have a pile of books for the second half of the year, but I also anticipate re-reading some favorites. Some books definitely warrant a re-read and I am excited to re-visit some of my favorites fantasy worlds or engaging stories.

Drop any book recommendations you have for me or my boys!

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