My relationship with reading and books is usually a series of mountains and valleys. I read alot for a month or two, then go dark for a couple months… But this year I’ve been pretty good at consistently reading books in my free time. It’s a pretty slow process (one book per month is hardly something to celebrate), but at least it’s consistent.
Here are the 6 books I’ve read in 2020, in no particular order, with ratings, reviews and recommendations:
The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
This is probably the 5th time I’ve read this – it is without a doubt my favorite book ever written, and therefore, obviously, my #1 recommendation from this list. It’s an absolute masterpiece.
There are million subplots winding through it and every single one of them more interesting than the last. Multiple times throughout this book I made auditory exclamations because of how shocked, intrigued I was (even though I’ve read it before)… It was not uncommon for me to shout “wait, what?!”
It’s an incredible complicated story. It’s shocking, it’s messy, it’s over the top (in the best possible way), it’s exciting, and it’s unpredictable. I haven’t seen the movie and I never will, because there is absolutely so much happening in this story that a movie couldn’t even begin to unpack it.
Recommendation: READ IT.
Walt Disney: An American Original
by Bob Thomas
An inspiring account of one of the most brilliantly creative minds of our time. My only complaint about this book is that it is too short.
This book has been criticized for “whitewashing’ Walt’s life, leaving out the dark and disturbing parts of his life and his character. It’s true that this book has little negative to say about Disney (Disney is literally the publisher of the book). But I didn’t care. I wasn’t looking for the disturbing side of Disney. I was looking to be inspired. And this did just that.
Once Walt establishes his studio and everything is up and running, much of the story is describing studio life, budgets, etc… The first time I tried to read this, I got bogged down by the detail. But this time I was invested all the way through.
Recommendation: If you want an inspiring read, if you like biographies, or if you are a huge Disney fan, read this. You don’t have to be in the film industry to learn from Walt Disney’s life and career.
The Great Divorce
by C.S. Lewis
A bus ride from Hell to Heaven… What a fascinating novel by C.S. Lewis.
The way Lewis introduces and describes the various characters is fascinating. Their stubbornness in the conversations you overhear is almost unbearable, yet I saw a little bit of myself in every single one of them.
It’s gripping, it’s powerful and it’s convicting.
Recommendation: For Christians – you will be convicted yet entertained.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
One of the best books I’ve ever read. Second time. Just as good.
The story is so crazy, whenever you think “it can’t get worse”… it can and does. If this book was fiction, I would put it down early on for being too unrealistic.
If you watched the movie, you have no idea what you’re in for. The film doesn’t even scratch the surface of the Louis Zamperini’s incredible story. The final part of this book, the story of Zamperini’s redemption, makes me cry. Inspiring is a gross understatement. It’s also conveniently the part of the story the movie leaves out.
Recommendation: READ IT!
The Pilgrim’s Progress
by John Bunyan
A super interesting look at the life of a Christian and the challenges he faces along the way.
The whole book is a metaphor for the Christian life, but of course the metaphor falls apart at some points (all metaphors fall apart at some level – that’s what makes them metaphors).
The story is about a young man named Christian who makes his way along the treacherous path to the “Celestial City”. And while that is technically the story, the vast majority of the book is made up of the conversations Christian has with those he meets along the way. And they usually get into very deep theological conversations. Still very interesting – just don’t go into this one expecting to be on the edge of your seat.
Recommendation: A great read for Christians. It’s 90% dialogue, so if that doesn’t bother you, I say dive in.
Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
by Bob Goff
They say “save the best for last”… I am doing just the opposite.
I’ve known about this book for a while. My friends, people I met in college, all had extremely high praise for Bob Goff and this book. I finally decided to jump in and experience this great thing I was missing out on.
I went in expecting, I guess, to be really challenged in my faith and pushed to love others better. And while I guess that’s technically what the book was about, it didn’t push me in any of the ways I thought it would. In fact, it didn’t push me at all.
It’s not that it wasn’t good. It’s that it was so simple it was almost insulting to read. I guess my expectations were too high?
Recommendation: For very new Christians
My reading has been slowly ramping up – and summer is here which always means more reading – so expect more book reviews coming soon.