2020 = 40?

I’m not sure if the fond posture of Auld Lang Syne is the appropriate selection to drop kick 2020 out the door this evening, but there were undoubtedly silver linings somewhere in the dark clouds of the past year. Personally, I made a break from an unhealthy Facebook/Instagram obsession and like myself better this way. I also broke a positive weekly blogging habit but am excited to now be silently scheming to write short stories. And for the first time ever I followed through on my perpetual intention to read as much fiction as I read nonfiction. In fact, my 20/20 for 2020 was reading 40 books this year — 20 fiction, and 20 nonfiction (I typically read 25 books largely tilted toward nonfiction).

If I had to pick a personal book of the year, I would go with The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, although the little Parker Palmer book might end up having the most enduring influence on my life. Regardless, here is my list for 2020 — many I loved, many were interesting, and a few were endured — and I will keep that categorization to myself (but full disclosure: the few that were written by friends were truly outstanding!).


  1. The Scotch-Irish: A Social History by James G. Leyburn (history) – 334 pages
  2. Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman (theology) – 112 pages
  3. Crying in the Wilderness: The Life & Influence of David Lipscomb by Robert E. Hooper (biography) – 280 pages
  4. Jesus Next Door by Dave Clayton (religion) – 133 pages
  5. Why Churches Need to Talk about Sexuality by Mark Wingfield (theology) – 176 pages
  6. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud (leadership) – 230 pages
  7. Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians by Lee Camp (theology) – 177 pages
  8. Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell (biography, true crime) – 386 pages
  9. Heaven is a Playground by Rick Telander (sports) – 220 pages
  10. The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky (psychology) – 311 pages
  11. Centennial Celebration: A Century of Memories: David Lipscomb University, 1891-1991 by Robert Hooper & David England (history) – 195 pages
  12. 7 Men by Eric Metaxas (biography) – 191 pages
  13. The Games: A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt (history/sports) – 446 pages
  14. The Motive by Patrick Lencioni (leadership/business) – 174 pages
  15. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer (leadership) – 116 pages
  16. Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession by Susan R. Komives; Dudley B. Woodard, Jr. & Associates (education) – 684 pages  
  17. Things That Make White People Uncomfortable by Michael Bennett (social science) – 250 pages
  18. Hood’s Tennessee Campaign by James Knight (history) – 142 pages
  19. The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam (sports) – 283 pages
  20. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (social science) – 395 pages


  1. The Call of the Wild by Jack London – 122 pages
  2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery – 113 pages
  3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – 205 pages
  4. Haven by Jeff Baker – 146 pages
  5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – 307 pages
  6. The Glad River by Will D. Campbell – 310 pages
  7. Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon – 192 pages
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – 206 pages
  9. Nashville 1864 by Madison Jones – 129 pages
  10. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines – 259 pages
  11. The Dog of the South by Charles Portis – 266 pages
  12. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 214 pages
  13. Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid: A Novel by Giuseppe Catozzella – 250 pages
  14. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – 256 pages
  15. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros – 110 pages
  16. If I Had Two Wings: Stories by Randall Kenan – 211 pages
  17. A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines – 213 pages
  18. Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes – 231 pages
  19. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse – 128 pages
  20. 50 Great Short Stories, edited by Milton Crane – 560 pages

6 responses to “2020 = 40?

  1. Greetings from Bogota, Colombia!!


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite an eclectic and impressive list, sir! I’m honored to have made the cut.

    Wishing you and all the other members of the blog a safe, healthy and happy 2021.
    Jim Knight

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Though a writer probably couldn’t get away with some of the substance of the story in 2020, the structure of For Esme—with Love and Squalor is so good. As an aside it’s so fittingly contrarian of Salinger (Holden) to proclaim his appreciation for a cappella church music (“without any interference”)!

    The dialogue is great, and the ending is p-e-r-f-e-c-t. It may inspire some of your own stories.

    I need to get to reading after seeing your list.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s