100 Books in 2020

Are we sick of the word unprecedented yet?

At the risk of overusing the word, I have to share this was indeed an unprecedented year of reading for me: it’s my first year to hit triple digits for my book count as an adult! I set the goal of 100 books when I was a naive thing in January of 2020 but quickly felt the pressure of trying to get to that number rather than just enjoying reading. So I adjusted. I moved the goal back down to 80, but over the months as I could better gauge my pace of reading, I readjusted it up to 90 and then back to 100.

I’m already a big mood reader, but the pandemic definitely influenced my reading habits. I delved into far more fiction (my mix is usually 50/50), and some of the stand-out gems were from the YA section. I found I couldn’t move through non-fiction at the pace I normally do; I read some top-notch NF, but I just found I needed to give myself more time to absorb the ideas.

As always, I struggled with how to pick/share my top reads. This year I’m grouping them into a few different categories such as YA finds and books that helped me process grief.

Bolded titles are my top top favorites out of each category.

I did read one pandemic historical fiction (As Bright as Heaven) which is about the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak in Philadelphia. I don’t know how I enjoyed the book as much as I did, because it starts off with a mom grieving the loss of an infant, then you have pandemic overtones (not escapist), and the protagonists are the town’s morticians (triple trigger). But I INHALED this book. Gah, Susan Meissner is amazing!

Of the 100+ books I did read:

  • Audiobooks: 7
  • Re-reads: 10
  • Short stories/plays: 5
  • Physical books: 27
  • Kindle ebooks (mostly checked out through library): everrrrrything else!

In the midst of everything else this year, I also was grieving the loss of my grandmother and the selling of her home, which had been the backdrop of our family’s gatherings for 35+ years. I found a quartet of books strangely cathartic in grieving those losses through reading:

Grief Reads:

  • The Dutch House (audiobook version) by Ann Patchett
  • The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
  • Everything Beautiful In Its Time by Jenna Bush Hager

Non-fiction:

  • Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo
  • Bandersnatch by Diana Glyer
  • Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel
  • Master of One by Jordan Raynor
  • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
  • Sent by Heather and Ashley Holleman
  • Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung

Fiction:

  • Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
  • The Last Train to Key West (read it while in the Florida Keys and it was so fun!)
  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Scythe by Neal Schusterman

YA Reads That Pleasantly Surprised Me:

  • The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
  • Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

Re-reads:

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • Once Upon a Christmas Time by Thyra Ferre Bjorn
  • A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about how reading can or doesn’t fit into their daily schedule. When it comes down to it, you make time for what’s important, and that’s simply going to look different for different people. Reading is important to us individually and as a couple, and our reading totals this year reflect that value, but it definitely has taken a while to get to that point. I’ve been on an eight-year journey of rebuilding my reading habit since graduating from college, and it’s been in the last five years in particular that I’ve pushed myself to set reading goals.

As our cousin Daniel Ligon pointed out, as with anything in life, hopefully, a discipline moves to being a joy. Yes it takes discipline to build a habit, but then those habits can turn into sources of joy. Reading is a joy; I don’t view it as a chore.

Kurtis goes into more detail on his habit formation of reading, which I’ll link here, but here’s a snapshot at how reading works into my life:

Formats (almost always going at the same time). This is the main factor for me in being able to read more in a year!

  • Physical book
  • Kindle ebooks
  • Audiobooks

How My Reading Looks In a Day:

  • AM: Quiet time (spiritual focus book)
  • Afternoon: Could include reading a craft book for work or listening to an audiobook while going on a walk, driving, or doing chores. It’s been delightful listening to some audiobooks while we work on our home projects!
  • PM: Reading after dinner (instead of TV) and/or reading right before bed

I’d love to hear what books meant a lot to you this year!

Bloom Series: Christmas Gifts for Girls

Bible study for girls

The Christmas season is upon us! If you’re looking for a special gift for the young girl in your life, may I humbly offer the Bloom devotional series? Bloom is a three-book series for girls ages 9-14 that follows the spiritual development of a young believer from the inside out. Each book contains 90 devotions that include a short reading, a scripture, and then a prayer or action step. This series is great for girls to do on their own, with a parent, or in a small-group setting.

This year more than ever has shown us more than ever how crucial developing a habit of being in God’s word can anchor us in the craziest of times. But don’t forget about the kids! What a perfect time to help them develop a habit of spending time with God as they learn to deal with the unknowns of every-changing school arrangements, missing family members, and dealing with grief. As you are building and refining your own habits, equip the young girls in your life to build their own relationship with the Lord.

  • Bloom Book 1: Focuses on a girl’s relationship with the Lord and who He is
  • Bloom Book 2: Focuses on building healthy family and friend relationships
  • Bloom Book 3: Focuses on a girl’s impact in her community

If you’d like to check out the content before you buy, click over to the YouVersion app where I’ve shared 7-day plans for all three books!

If you are in the Oklahoma City metro area, you can purchase from me directly! Just send me an email at samantha@mrshanni.com.