What you consume is what you become – a powerful truth that inspired my list of books to read in 2020.
Last year was a good year.
A lot of positive things happened in our lives in 2019. We didn’t face quite the lion’s share of challenges that we did in the year prior.
However, as I was reflecting on the year in preparation for setting my goals for 2020, I came to a stunning realization.
I had lost my way, and my priorities were totally out of line. It wasn’t obvious at first, but once my eyes were opened it was impossible to unsee.
Looking back at all of the books I read and the podcasts I listened to, it’s easy to make the connection between what I consumed and how I behaved.
Not to say that these books or podcasts are bad because they all contained extremely valuable information – especially for the person I thought I wanted to be at the time.
If I had to do it all over again, I would not make the same decisions I made, which is a big indicator that something needs to change.
This year, my book list centers around my main priorities – spiritual growth, a strong marriage, motherhood, my home, and my online ministry.
I listed them in that order for a reason. That is the order they need to stay in, and I think this book list is going to help with that.
Books to Read in 2020: My Reading List for the Year
My goal is to read one book per month, so there are only 12 books on this list. I wanted to challenge myself, but also keep it manageable.
You can view the books on my list below in case you want to join me.
1 // Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday – Val Woerner
Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday: Say Goodbye to Stressed, Tired, and Anxious, and Say Hello to Renewed Joy in Motherhood
Synopsis: Most days motherhood often looks like bottomless piles of laundry; a sink full of dishes; sleepless nights; and unshowered, nonstop, endless days.
If that’s all there is, then no wonder “Grumpy Mom” sometimes sneaks into your heart and home.
If you can relate, you’re in good company―Valerie Woerner gets it and has experienced Grumpy Mom more often than she’d care to admit.
In Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Valerie shares what she’s learned so far about sending Grumpy Mom packing and embracing a joyful, intentional motherhood that is so much better than you thought possible.
As you journey with Valerie, you’ll be inspired and equipped to find energy in the most unlikely places, pursue your own dreams, be set free from mom guilt, feel content despite unfinished to-do lists, spend purposeful time with God amid the daily chaos, and discover more joyous moments of motherhood.
So, take a holiday from Grumpy Mom, and enjoy life as the mom God made you to be.
2 // Sacred Marriage – Gary Thomas
Synopsis: What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? What if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?
Starting with the discovery that the goal of marriage goes beyond personal happiness, bestselling author Gary Thomas invites you to see how God can use marriage as a discipline and a motivation to love God more and reflect more of the character of his Son.
In addition to life-changing insights from Scripture, church history, and time-tested wisdom from Christian classics, you’ll find practical tools and techniques to make your marriage happier by becoming holier husbands and wives.
Sacred Marriage reveals how good marriages . . .
- Train us to love God and others well
- Expose sin and makes us more aware of God’s presence
- Foster good prayer
- Cultivate a sexual relationship that feeds the spiritual life
- and more
With provocative discussion questions for couples and small groups, this book will most certainly change you.
Because whether it is delightful or difficult, your marriage can become a doorway to a closer union with God.
3 // Your New Money Mindset – Brad Hewitt + James Moline
Synopsis: Your New Money Mindset is a new way of thinking about the role money plays in our lives. Many of us live with ongoing, and often unexamined, tension related to money.
Few of us have really escaped the credit-card trap or freed ourselves from worries about having enough for the future.
Co-authors Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent Financial, and James Moline, licensed psychologist, believe we haven’t spent enough time examining our fundamental attitudes toward money and aligning those attitudes to our core values.
Before you can remake your money habits, you need to start with your heart.
In Your New Money Mindset, Brad and Jim guide you through the Money Mindset Assessment, which will help pinpoint what attitudes about money you could work on in order to develop an openhearted attitude to life.
The goal is to cultivate a surplus mindset that allows you to enjoy what you already have and be generous toward others.
Discover today how to free yourself from the money trap and create a healthy relationship with money.
4 // Letters to the Church – Francis Chan
Synopsis: If God had it His way, what would your church look like?
The New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Love challenges readers to be the Church as God intends.
- Do you want more from your church experience?
- Does the pure gospel put you in a place of awe?
- Are you ready to rethink church as you know it?
Sit with Pastor Francis Chan and be reminded that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself, something sacred.
In his most powerful book yet, Chan digs deep into biblical truth, reflects on his own failures and dreams, and shares stories of ordinary people God is using to change the world.
Chan says, “We’ve strayed so far from what God calls Church. We all know it.
We know that what we’re experiencing is radically different from the Church in Scripture.
For decades, church leaders like myself have lost sight of the inherent mystery of the Church.
We have trained people sitting in the pews to become addicted to lesser things. It’s time for that to change.”
When Jesus returns, will He find us caring for His Bride—even more than for our own lives?
Letters to the Church reminds us of how powerful, how glorious the Church once was … and calls us to once again be the Church God intended us to be.
5 // The Lifegiving Home – Sally Clarkson + Sarah Clarkson
Synopsis: How to make home your family’s favorite place to be . . . all year long.
Does your home sometimes feel like just a place to eat, sleep, and change clothes on the way to the next activity?
Do you long for “home” to mean more than a place where you stash your stuff?
Wouldn’t you love it to become a haven of warmth, rest, and joy . . . the one place where you and your family can’t wait to be?
There is good news waiting for you in the pages of The Lifegiving Home. Every day of your family’s life can be as special and important to you as it already is to God.
In this unique book designed to help your family enjoy and celebrate every month of the year together, you’ll discover the secrets of a life-giving home from a mother who created one and her daughter who was raised in it: popular authors Sally and Sarah Clarkson.
Together they offer a rich treasure of wise advice, spiritual principles, and practical suggestions.
You’ll embark on a new path to creating special memories for your children; establishing home-building and God-centered traditions; and cultivating an environment in which your family will flourish.
6 // Essentialism – Greg McKeown
Synopsis: There are times when people follow the notion that they have to do everything, but on the contrary, they end up doing nothing.
There is no specific direction to their tasks and neither to their goals.
Essentialism as a concept narrows down this notion into doing the right things which are absolutely necessary, in a right manner and at the right time.
It is about categorizing things as important and unimportant as per one’s personal goals, and doing only the important things.
This is not a time-management strategy, but a systematic discipline you apply every time you are faced with a decision.
By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our choices so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
7 // One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
Synopsis: Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences.
‘How,’ Ann wondered, ‘do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties?
What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long–and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?’
In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts.
It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted…a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others.
We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved–by God.
Let Ann’s beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive.
Come live the best dare of all!
8 // Stop Calling Me Beautiful – Phylicia Masonheimer
Synopsis: “You’re a beautiful daughter of the Most High King.” And it’s true. But it’s not the whole truth.
The beauty of being God’s daughter has a backstory.
If you’re tired of hearing the watered-down Christian teaching and hungry for a deeper spiritual life—one that gives real answers to your hardest questions—Stop Calling Me Beautiful teaches you how.
You will learn:
- how to pursue the truths of who God us and who you are in relationship to Him
- how to study Scripture, and how your view of God determines how you face life’s challenges
- how legalism, shallow theology, and false teaching keep you from living boldly as a woman of the Word
- how to experience God’s presence in painful circumstances
Jesus doesn’t offer a powerless salvation. He makes your brokenness part of His whole redemption story—if you allow Him to.
Don’t settle for a feel-good faith. If you want victory over insecurity, fear, shame, and the circumstances you are facing, it’s time to embrace Jesus. All of Him.
9 // You are the Girl for the Job – Jess Connolly
Synopsis: You believe (or want to believe) God has called you and given you purpose, but where do you start?
How do you get from feeling stuck to making a move?
If this sounds familiar, bestselling author Jess Connolly has a message for you: You Are the Girl for the Job.
But this is not simply a peppy catchphrase.
This is the straight-up truth God has proclaimed over your life from the beginning, and it’s not dependent on what you can do or achieve but based on His power, capacity, and character.
It has taken one million, maybe one zillion (who knows?!), slight moves of His hand to place you in this exact moment.
So forget about fear and second-guessing your gifts, because God has meticulously prepared you to be an ambassador for the Kingdom right where you are, here and now.
Life is too short to get stuck in a holding pattern of shame, self-doubt, and comparison.
So let this book be your very good news: you don’t have to wait for permission when you’ve already been commissioned.
With passion and heart-pumping hope, Jess shows that being the girl for the job doesn’t depend on your capacity.
Rather, it has everything to do with God’s capacity and our willingness.
It has everything to do with believing we are who God says we are, and quieting any inferior word spoken against us. Are you ready?
Let this book be your jumpstart into confident, purposed living, as Jess walks you through the six steps she has used to coach and encourage women for years: set your focus, take stock of the story that has shaped you, face your fear, catch the vision, make a plan, and finally, make your move–all in the bold belief that God has called you to every step of the journey.
10 // Atomic Habits – James Clear
Synopsis: No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving – every day.
James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system.
Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change.
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work.
Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.
Along the way, listeners will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.
Learn how to:
- Make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy)
- Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower
- Design your environment to make success easier
- Get back on track when you fall off course
- And much more
Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits – whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.
11 // Get Out of Your Head – Jennie Allen
Synopsis: Speaker and Bible teacher Jennie Allen hears all the time from women who feel stuck in patterns of frustration and defeat.
In her search for a solution, she’s learned that the greatest spiritual battle of our generation is taking place between our ears. How we think shapes how we live.
So it’s crucial that we learn how to stop our spinning thoughts and refuse to fall prey to toxic thinking patterns like victimhood, anxiety, and distraction.
In this book, Jennie draws on biblical truth and recent discoveries in neuroscience to show exactly how we can fight the enemies of the mind with the truth of who God is and who He calls us to be.
12 // Missional Motherhood – Gloria Furman
Synopsis: There’s no such thing as “just” a mom.
Despite the routine tasks and mundane to-do lists, motherhood is anything but insignificant.
God has designed motherhood as part of his greater plan to draw people to himself―instilling all women, whether called to traditional mothering or not, with an eternal purpose in nurturing others.
In this book, Gloria Furman searches the Scriptures for the mission of God in motherhood.
She opens our eyes to God’s life-giving promises―promises intended to empower each and every woman as she makes disciples in her home, in her neighborhood, and around the world.
Now, it’s your turn
If you are like me, and you’re looking to live life in line with your priorities this year, I invite you to join me by reading one of the following books each month in 2020.
This is the order in which I plan to read them:
- Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday
- Sacred Marriage
- Your New Money Mindset
- Letters to the Church
- The Life-Giving Home
- One Thousand Gifts
- Stop Calling Me Beautiful
- You are the Girl for the Job
- Atomic Habits
- Get Out of Your Head
- Missional Motherhood