2020 gave me a lot of heartbreak and left us all a lot to be desired. However, five books I read this year helped keep me going in spite of it all. I hope these books give you some entertainment in the New Year! And, if you need another recommendation, my second book will be released on January 21st, 2021. You can preorder the Kindle edition now and order the paperback on its release date.
5. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Dannie Kohan is finally engaged and certain she’s getting a job at one of the city’s top law firms when she falls asleep one night and wakes up five years in the future in a different apartment, next to a different man, and with a different lifestyle. One hour later, she returns to the present, unsure what her next steps should be. Serle’s latest novel is an engrossing and unexpected love story that forces us to question the meaning of destiny and the limits of friendship.
4. Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms by Matthias Roberts
Psychotherapist and theologian Matthias Roberts tackles the shame-inducing legacy of purity culture perpetuated by American evangelicalism. Through psychology, theology, and biology, Roberts encourages readers to develop their own values of sexuality. Roberts also works with readers to untangle their own shame and encourages them to have better, healthier sex. For teens, young adults, and those who work with them, this is a must-read.
3. Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Amanda and Clay escape the busy city for a retreat at an Airbnb-style cabin in the rural upstate. When a couple claiming to be the owners return claiming disaster in the city, truth becomes blurred and unease settles in. In the vein of Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Alam delivers a atmospheric, compelling disaster novel that asks us to be uncomfortable in our hope and purposeless in our calling.
2. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Jesus of Nazareth finds a wife in the wealthy and rebellious Ana, fictional sister of Judas. Kidd was inspired by the cultural tradition of Jesus that would have dictated he marry before his ministry began in his middle age. Her novel is a reverent homage to Jesus’ humanity, and a stunning novel that explores womanhood at a time of suffocating patriarchy. This was easily one of the best books of the year. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring, Ana is one of the most compelling protagonists in recent memory.
1. Educated by Dr. Tara Westover
Published in 2018, Educated is the true story of growing up in a religious extremist home. Tara Westover stepped into a classroom for the first time when she was 17, having never been enrolled in public school and rarely seeing a doctor. Wrestling between her past and her future, Westover has the single most compelling narrative I’ve read. Examining family, the education system, abuse, and the resilience of survival, Westover gives us all a little more reason to hope.
Bryce Van Vleet is the author of Tired Pages which can be purchased here. His second book will released this upcoming January. You can support him by clicking through blog posts or donating (scroll to the bottom of the page). Like him on Facebook or follow him on Goodreads.
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