Updated: Jun 26
2020 demanded flexibility, resilience, courage, and energy. In the end, I fell a bit short of my annual reading goal.
Still, the books I worked my way through helped me navigate this roller coaster of a year. And for that, I'm grateful.
These are the best books I read in 2020.
Tyler's Top Five
A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman “A major criterion for judging the anxiety level of any society is the loss of its capacity to be playful.” At a cultural moment when battle lines are drawn, and partisan word-parsing is par for the course, Friedman’s guide to becoming a “non-anxious presence” (a term which he coined) is as relevant and necessary as ever.
The Children of Men by P.D. James Sometimes art really does imitate life. While some might caution against reading James’s imaginative, dystopian tale in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, I disagree. Its peering insights into the human soul, adept chronicling of what bubbles out when humans are pushed to the brink, and gritty optimism make it a perfect companion in unpredictable times. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer Comer is clear: Hurry and love are incompatible. Moving too fast makes us miss too much. And too often makes us miss what’s most important. Living at a relentless pace is the greatest danger to the human soul. As work demands longer hours and digital screens demand more attention, Comer makes a compelling case that the best thing we can do is the hard work of slowing down.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy This small book makes a big impact. Asking simple questions and offering humble observations, Mackesy’s protagonists sift through the complex feelings of friendship, grief, discovery and love. “We have a long way to go,” sighed the boy. “Yes, but look how far we’ve come.”
Doctrine and Race by Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews In this thoroughly well-researched history, Mathews outlines the ways in which Black churches cultivated their own traditionalist, conservative evangelicalism as a result of their conscious exclusion from the emerging white fundamentalist movement. The consequences of this history documented here reverberate through our world today.
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer