If you’re like me, you filled some of the unexpected “free time” that 2020 delivered with your nose between the pages of a book…or 30.
Yes, reading is my jam. From professional development, faith formation and self-help books to chic lit, psychological thrillers and bodice rippers, I read them all. I’m not fussy. In fact, I appreciate a variety of genres, themes and topics.
What genres do you prefer?
Below are some of the titles I read in 2020. Many were recommended by women in my book club. Others were recommended by my speaking colleagues. A couple were written by friends or authors I have met. Some of the books I liked. A lot. Some not-so-much. But regardless of where they fell on that like/dislike spectrum, each one gave me something to think about. Some gave information, others inspiration. Some entertainment, others relaxation.
I have tremendous respect and admiration for the people who shared their time and talents to write these books. As a fellow author, I know the challenges and joys they faced as they put their thoughts and words on paper, and the sheer amount of energy and commitment it takes to get their books into the hands of you—their valued readers.
As we enter 2021, I encourage you to support an independent author (or 30!) and pick up some new books to read in the new year.
Kelly’s 2020 Books
So Now What? by Catherine A. Brennan
A guide for people who feel stuck.
Adamant Faith: Clinging to an Unshakable God in an Ever-Changing World
A 31-day devotional that shares “Adamant Faith” in action. I had the honor of being a contributing author for this book.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
A fictional account of the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians, inspired by a real group of librarians who between 1935 and 1943 delivered books to some of the most remote regions in the Appalachian Mountains.
Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson
A self-help book for women to guide them into a successful second half of life.
Chicken Soup for the Soul – Think Positive, Live Happy
Tom Guetzke, a speaking colleague and friend of mine, is one of the contributing authors to this collection of 101 positive and inspiring short stories.
The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker
A nonfiction self-help book that demonstrates the inherent “gift” of one’s gut instinct.
Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins
A memoir about his life and what inspired his music.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
A memoir about being sexually assaulted in January 2015, as well as the aftermath and subsequent court case.
No Long Goodbyes by Pauline Hayton
Kate leaves Britain to start a new life in Burma, where she marries a widower with two young children. The 1942 Japanese invasion destroys their idyllic life. With her husband away fighting the enemy, Kate and their children embark on a perilous 250-mile journey through monsoon-sodden jungle, swamps and mountains as they flee to the safety of India.
Murder Book by Frank Weber
A chilling crime story set in the remote, cold, small town in central Minnesota. Investigator Jon Frederick, is smart, obsessive, and troubled—and finds himself in the position of having to protect his family and prove his own innocence.
The I-94 Murders by Frank Weber
A thriller based on the profile of a true-life serial murderer.
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
A love story about a U.S. Marine who finds a photograph of a young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq and his journey across the United States to find her.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Lo, a travel journalist, has been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the guests jovial as the ship begins her voyage. But soon frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s attempts to convey that something has gone terribly wrong.
Last Call by Frank F. Weber
Referencing actual Minnesota crime cases, this thriller tests an investigator’s tender compassion and the gritty resilience of a soft spoken young woman.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when violence occurred. Tara aspired to try a new kind of life, and her quest for knowledge transformed her.
The Heights by Jon Ford
A story of murder, corruption and greed in a small Minnesota town and one man’s determination to find the truth.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Based on one of America’s real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class Mexican existence as they make their way north toward the United States, to escape the horrors of the drug cartel.
The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides
A psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.
Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger
During a houseboat vacation on remote Lake of the Woods, a violent gale sweeps through unexpectedly, stranding Cork and his daughter, Jenny, on an island. Amid the wreckage, they discover the body of a teenage girl. Nearby, they also find a baby boy, hungry and dehydrated, but still very much alive. Cork must solve the murder of this young woman and the puzzle of this mysterious child.
Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
A single mother sets out to find the North Carolina man who sent a message meant for someone else . . . and the journey may change her life forever.
Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions by Sheila O’Connor
The story of V, a talented fifteen-year-old nightclub entertainer and her subsequent six-year state school sentence for an unplanned pregnancy. As V struggles to survive, she endures injustices that will change the course of her life and the lives of her descendants.
The Cowboy’s Lady by Debbie Macomber
Opposites attract in this novel about two people—a chauvinistic Montana rancher and a heartbroken, new-to-town school teacher—who discover romance against all odds.
Light On Snow by Anita Shreve
Twelve-year-old Nicky Dillon and her widowed father discover an abandoned baby in the snow-filled woods near their home. The Dillons and an unexpected visitor who soon turns up at their door face a thicket of decisions, each carrying possibilities of heartbreak and redemption.
The Thank You Project by Nancy Davis Kho
Practical advice on how to organize a gratitude letter project (and cultivate happiness), using the author’s experiences as a springboard for readers to start writing thank you letters of their own.
Small-Town Nanny by Lee Tobin McClain
Susan is everything Sam Hinton is not looking for. She’s energetic, outspoken and spontaneous—the exact opposite of what he would want in a wife. Yet the wealthy widower can’t deny that the young teacher is great with his daughter, Mindy. In desperate need of a summer nanny, the small-town CEO hires Susan.
Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
A memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant.
The Bad Boy of Redemption Ranch by Maisey Yates
Bad boy West Caldwell moves to Gold Valley in search of a fresh start and meets Police officer Pansy Daniels, the poster girl for responsible behavior.
Love Does by Bob Goff
A collection of lessons from Bob’s life—how to discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.
Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen
A faith-based, self-help book (and study guide) on how to submit our minds to Christ because how we think shapes how we live.
Looking for reading inspiration for 2021?
Here’s what’s on my nightstand, waiting to be read…
Code Girls: The Untold Story of American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy
Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King
Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Beach Read by Emily Henry
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett