2020 Book Review

I usually try to read about 25-30 books each year. Balancing a full time job, a couple of side projects, projects around the house, and spending time with family, it ends up being a proper challenge for me. Since the pandemic has forced us all to spend way more time than usual indoors, at home, etc I sorta thought I’d have over-achieved in the book reading department. But I didn’t. I hit exactly 25 books again. I think one factor that led to me spending less time reading books this year was all the nonsense around the pandemic — I spent way more time than usual on my phone doom scrolling on Twitter, which became a nasty habit.

But thanks to Bookstack, I don’t have to remember which books I read — I’ve tracked it all in the app. One day, the app will have more functionality that will give me a better way to display and share my lists. Until then, here’s the 2020 reading log in chronological order:

  1. Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
  2. The Secret Speech, by Tom Rob Smith
  3. How the Bible Actually Works, by Pete Enns
  4. Agent 6, by Tom Rob Smith
  5. The Eulogist, by Terry Gamble
  6. The Darwin Affair, by Tim Mason
  7. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
  8. How To Be Here, by Rob Bell
  9. The Farm, by Tom Rob Smith
  10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
  11. Requiem for the American Dream, by Noam Chomsky
  12. Work Like Any Other, by Virginia Reeves
  13. The Watch, by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
  14. Home Front, by Kristin Hannah
  15. Off Course, by Michelle Huneven
  16. Jesus the Son of Man, by Kahlil Gibran
  17. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
  18. Furious Hours, by Casey N. Cep
  19. Brother, by Ania Ahlborn
  20. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
  21. The Convert, by Stefan Hertmans
  22. New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton
  23. Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult
  24. Twenty Bits I Learned About Design, Business & Community, by Dan Cederholm
  25. Allah, by Miroslav Volf

The Top 3

Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith

We picked up this book at a used book sale sponsored by the library where someone else’s garbage is your treasure. And this is exactly that. At first I was wary of it, because it looks like a stereotypical World War II book about Nazis. Its not that at all. A Soviet KGB agent grows a conscience as he investigates a series of missing children. Having grown up during the Cold War, this is a really fresh take on that time period. I enjoyed viewing the Soviet Union from an insider’s perspective. Fascinating! If you notice, I actually read a number of books by this author. Tom Rob Smith is a masterful writer and all the books in this trilogy are highly recommended.

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

After her whole family is massacred in an act of revenge by the kingpin of a drug cartel, Lydia Pérez is forced to flee her home in Acapulco with her son, Luca. Lydia finds out that the kingpin is actually someone she has befriended over the past few months. Now she’s on the run from his network of informants as she desperately tries to get to the U.S. border.  This book was amazing as it brought to life so many similar stories we hear in the news. It also animated the refugee crisis and educates the reader about these real-life scenarios that are much more than a bunch of criminals trying to get into our country and take all of our jobs and benefits.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris

This is the true story of Lale Sokolov, imprisoned in Auschwitz in 1942. What makes this such a compelling story is the positivity Lale maintained throughout his time in the camps and how he used his favorable position as the  Tätowierer to help his fellow prisoners. Lale’s story impacted me and taught me that if someone like him can remain positive and take the time to find hope in those circumstances, I don’t ever have an excuse to not do the same. A very good reminder for dealing with life and all that entails in 2020.

About the author
Bitmoji image of author: Chuck Mallott
Chuck Mallott

I write about design and UX, family, religion, sports, mountain biking, and dumb observations. I'm a web, mobile, UX, and product designer living in Colorado.