Top Five Books in 2020 with Megan {Book Club}

Top Five Books in 2020 with Megan

We love book lists! Check out what Megan enjoyed reading this year.

I am so excited to join this year in sharing my top five reads of the year. I have loved reading since I have been little and thankfully that love didn’t end when I got older. I love jumping into stories and going new places with people I wouldn’t get to meet outside of a book.

Since I am a student and working, sometimes sitting down to read can feel like a difficult thing to do. After a few years of minimal reading, I’ve discovered that setting a few reading goals for the year can help me read more and enjoy it more! If you love to read and end up never making time for it, I highly encourage setting some reading goals.

This year I started with two specific goals other than my normal numerical goal. I wanted to read a stack of books I had received for free and then I wanted to read more books written by people of color and by women. In this regard, my reading list for the year came up looking a bit strange at times but I ended up reading a lot of great books over a wide array of genres! I chose books that stuck with me and tried to choose things out of different genres so you didn’t end up with a list of just fantasy fiction.  


Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

This book has been on my to-read list for years, eight years to be exact. When I finally ended up getting my hands on it this fall, it was the perfect time. The story is of Father Gregory working with gang members in LA. It was challenging, convicting and heart-breaking at times.  If you need encouragement for your ministry and conviction to keep going in the hard times then this book will provide that for you. It helps us all to view everyone as loved by God and made in his image to reflect his glory.


Handle with Care by Lore Ferguson Wilbert

I try and read at least one non-fiction Christian book alongside my fiction books. Since they are not books I tend to pick up and read on my own, a chapter a day is how I roll. This book was one that has stuck with me in many helpful ways. It talks about the importance of touch in our daily walk as Christians. I thought it was a helpful way to think about the positive and holy aspects of touch in the Christian life. So often touch gets talked about negatively in the church and this book is a great reminder of the power that we have to minister to each other through touch. This is made even more impactful in a year when we have had to rethink touch in dramatic ways.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This book fits best in what I will call the historical fantasy genre. It is the fictional story of a girl who escapes slavery on a literal underground railroad. On her stops along the way to freedom she has a series of harrowing adventures that are based in many real events (like the Tuskegee Trials). I loved the writing and could not put it down. Though hard to read at points because the violence of the era is not watered down, it is an engaging and heartbreaking story well worth the read.


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I am a big consumer of fantasy books and this one was great. It is a departure from the familiar middle ages or middle eastern fantasy and is set in an African context. It is too rare to have a Black heroine in a fantasy novel and I love the depictions and normalization of things like kinky hair. The magic system of the book is based in traditional African religions so that was also very interesting to read since I have lived in a place where similar concepts are still practiced. It gave me a great appreciation for how often fantasy books give us an insight into the culture they are based in. 

Written in Verse

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

I had no idea what to expect going into this book, but I really enjoyed reading it. It is co-written by one of the Central Park 5 and loosely based on his time in jail while knowing he was innocent. The book vividly makes the reader feel the confinement of prison. The story is well told and really gives light to the idea of freedom, even in a space and body where freedom is not a choice you were given. This reflection on imprisonment and freedom reminded me of the great burden Christ took upon himself in being arrested, tried, and condemned for our sin and the sweet freedom that we have because of his work.

What were your reading goals for 2020? Did you set any intentional categories or genres? Tell us your favorite 2020 reads in the comments!

Join us in January as we start off the year reading The Voice of Melody by Kaylene Powell! Here’s the description from Amazon:

“The account that inspired Melville’s masterpiece and shook an island’s reputation only told one side of Captain Chase’s story. In this tale, his wife and daughter tell their side for the first time.

Nantucket whaleman Owen Chase is not at home for the birth of most of his children, including his firstborn, Phebe Ann. Owen’s wife, Peggy, works to maintain a sense of security while hoping and praying that Owen is safe. But as Peggy is quietly marveling at Phebe’s development, Owen’s ship, half a world away, is rammed and sunk by an angry whale.

Against all odds—and contrary to preliminary reports—Owen returns home, seemingly well, to his stunned relatives and neighbors. But will life ever be the same for him and anyone who knows and loves him?

Experiential narratives of both Peggy and Phebe span decades of the Chase family’s story to illuminate life at the height of the whaling era and grace for dealing with significant hardships in a timeless, moving way.”

Here’s the schedule for the book:

January 5th: Chapters 1-4

January 12th: Chapters 5-8

January 19th: Chapters 9-12

January 26th: Chapters 13-15 and Postlude

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


  1. Sarah Hilkemann December 29, 2020

    Such a great list, Megan! Thank you for sharing. 🙂 I am right in the midst of “Children of Blood and Bone”. It had popped up a few times as one people enjoyed this year, and then when I saw it on your list I decided I better go for it. It has been the perfect Christmas break read!

    Here are a few of my favorites from 2020:
    The Powerful Purpose of Introverts by Holley Gerth- I was afraid this one might feel cheesy and shallow, but it was so good! It was a great mix of psychology, mental and emotional health tips and encouragement from a Christian perspective.

    Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell- This was my favorite audio book of the year as it included a whole bunch of interviews and news sound bites that added so much. It was fascinating and timely.

    Educated by Tara Westover- I was late to the game reading this one but it was so good.

    The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You by Shannon Martin- I just loved Shannon’s words and perspective! Her writing is beautiful.

    1. Megan Smith January 4, 2021

      Thanks Sarah I am glad you enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone. I highly recommend the audiobook for the next one, it is fun to hear all the names and places pronounced well 🙂

      I read and loved Educated, such an interesting insight into a different culture and very engaging. I am going to have to put the power of Introverts on my list. I love learning about different types of people and what makes them tick!


      1. Sarah Hilkemann January 7, 2021

        Good call on the audio book! I’m sure the way I pronounced things in my head was quite off. 😉

  2. Rachel Kahindi December 29, 2020

    Great list! Underground Railroad has been on my TBR for several years now. Maybe this year I’ll finally get to it…

    I love Tomi Adeyemi’s books – I read the second one this year (Children of Virtue and Vengeance). And there must be a third one coming, but not yet…

    I also set a goal a couple of years ago to find books to read by authors who are not ethnically like me, when I realized most of the authors I read were either white Americans or Brits. Maybe it’s not so much a goal as a habit to cultivate.

    My very vague goal was to make progress on my TBR. So many books have been sitting on my list, and I keep adding to it (and buying books) but then reading other things. I did make progress! I started the year with a list of 33 books, and I read 23 of them. And then I added 17 books and 2 authors to the bottom of the list…

    1. Megan Smith January 4, 2021

      I have that same struggle of making progress on my TBR list and then adding too many on!


  3. Bayta Schwarz December 30, 2020

    I’ve never set reading goals but am starting to think maybe I should do that for non-fiction books. It is incredibly rare for me to feel drawn to read anything non-fiction and maybe it would do me good to read a bit more of that. Sounds a bit like taking medicine…
    I just read chapter one of “The Voice of Melody” and am already hooked! So good!

    1. Megan Smith January 4, 2021

      I tend to take the medicine of non-fiction nooks as a chapter a day. It is rare that I stay engaged for longer than that but a chapter a day makes quick work of them most of the time!

      I am also so excited to start reading The Voice of the Melody!


  4. Michele January 1, 2021

    I love book lists! I also made it a goal to read more books by people of color. I didn’t do awesome with that, but I think I increased slightly from previous years with 7 out of 36 books I read. I would like to increase that a bit this next year. I think I had more fiction on my list of favorites last year. I read some fiction that was enjoyable, but I realized going over all the books I read that none of them were good enough to make my top five. Here are the ones I picked:
    1. The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis.- I did this for a book club for enneagram fives and loved it. It’s one I’ve read quotes from, but never the whole book, which is a set of addresses he gave in the forties.
    2. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp- deep look at the meaning of communion and a life of vulnerability and self-denial- so good!
    3. The Emancipation of Robert Sadler- a memoir of a man who was sold into slavery at age 5 in 1917!
    4. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown- helpful for those of us trying to have a better understanding of the reality of racism in America.
    5. Raquela: A Woman of Israel by Ruth Gerber- Excellent biography of a 9th generation Jewish woman born in Jerusalem who lives through WWII and the formation of the State of Israel.

    1. Megan Smith January 4, 2021

      I read the Weight of Glory for a class last year and loved it, Lewis just has such a way with word. I am excited to read more of his work.

      Thanks for a recommendation of “I’m still here.” I have been trying to read widely about racism and I am working my way through “The New Jim Crow,” it is a heavy book but worth taking in and processing how many Black people experience life in America.


What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.