2020 Reading Challenge: Part 1

At the beginning of 2020 (doesn’t that feel like a lifetime ago?!) I embarked upon the challenge of reading a book a week for the whole year. Well, having just completed book twenty six, I am half way through! I thought I’d share the books I’ve read and my findings across two blogs, one at this point and one when I’ve hopefully finished.

Here are the books I’ve read between January and June this year with a thought or two about each one. I had no plan about the kinds of books I would read. Below you’ll find some books that are fiction, some that are devotional and some the are random.

The Chronicale of Narnia: The Lion, the Whitch and the Wardrobe. C S Lewis. I have been moved by this story ever since I first heard it when I was 6. It was lovely to read it again and for the first time as an adult! It still speaks to me powerfully about all that Jesus has done for us and who God is.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy. C S Lewis. I love how Aslan is presented in this book; as both a cat and a lion! This resonated with me, especially the seemingly angry lion who roared and chased the two main characters to push them together. As somebody whose calling has occasionally felt like a kick up the bum, this made sense to me!

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. C S Lewis. I enjoyed this but not as much as the last one.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. C S Lewis. I really couldn’t guess what would happen next in this one! A great read.

Shameless. Nadia Bolz-Weber. I took quite a bit of time reading this book because there’s so much to think about in every chapter and on every page. Writing in the context of someone who was brought up in the Christian purity movement in America, Nadia proposes a new approach to sexual ethics. Well worth a read.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. C S Lewis. I really enjoyed this book. It spoke to me about what it means to struggle as a Christian in this world.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle. C S Lewis. This book fascinated me! Especially all the stuff with the god Tash, the ape and the fake Aslan! Lots of resonance with the book of Revelation.

Call the Midwife. Jennifer Worth. I’m a huge fan of the TV series so I was excited to read this book. It did not disappoint! It was more graphic in parts than I was expecting, but it made for a wonderful read.

Shadows of the Workhouse. Jennifer Worth. This was hard to read in places, as you might imagine. But these stories, as unpleasant as they may be, are so worth telling and reading.

Farewell to the East End. Jennifer Worth. I found that the stories in this book were worse than the ones found in the BBC television series. I would start a chapter, think ‘oh, I know these characters’ and end up shocked that the stories didn’t have the same happy ending as they show on TV. Reading the closing chapters, I cried a lot. I don’t often cry when I read, but I did this time!

Nine Perfect Strangers. Liane Moriarty. This isn’t my usual kind of book, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the way each chapter was from the point of view of a different character.

Mrs Queen Takes The Train. William Kuhn. I enjoyed this book. It’s a bit daft, really, to imagine the Queen getting the train to Edinburgh all on her own to visit her old boat, but the book is good fun. I loved the insights into what the big events in the Queen’s life might have been like for her and thinking about how it must feel to have that much responsibility.

The Faith of Queen Elizabeth. Dudley Delffs. Through references to Christmas Day speeches and events in her life, Delffs shows how important the Queen’s faith is to her. She is clearly a remarkable person.

How To Pray. Stephen Cottrell. This is such a good book. It would be great for people whose prayer life has got complicated, is brand new or is interrupted by a busy family life!

Hitting the Ground Kneeling. Stephen Cottrell. This has long been one of my favourite books on leadership. I read it before I went to BAP, before I started my curacy and I’m so pleased to be able to read it again now. I once wrote an essay on leadership quoting only this book and The Bible! It is a great read for anybody in any kind of leadership, Christian or not.

Leading the Millenial Way. Simon Barrington & Rachel Luetchford. I didn’t love this one as much as the book above, but overall I enjoyed thinking about my own leadership style and picking up some ideas about how to equip me for whatever challenges are to come.

The Divine Dance. Richard Rohr. It took me a little while to get into the writing style (reading out loud helped) but overall I loved this book. It’s a fresh look at the Trinity and I can definitely recommend it.

The PCC Member’s Essential Guide. Mark Tanner. This is a very handy little book which would be useful to any PCC member, be that a long standing one or a newbie!

A prayer for Owen Meany. John Irving. This is an absolutely cracking book. It takes it’s time, it’s a chunky book (over 700 pages), but it’s worth it! After I’d finished, it kept me awake for ages thinking about it!

Searching for Sunday. Rachel Held Evans. This is without a doubt one of the best Christian books I have ever read. It’s full of faith, doubt, and beautiful words. Absolutely wonderful.

The 24 Hour Cafe. Libby Page. This is a lovely read. It’s set in a 24 hour cafe in London and it’s a story of the lives of people who find themselves there, from the owner, to the staff, to the customers.

A month with Julian of Norwich. Edited by Rima Devereaux. I loved this. So enlightening and profound. I found the bite sized chunks in both morning and evening sessions to be really a useful way to get into Julian’ writing.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Claire North. Recommended by Nathan, an interesting concept and a good read. I was even kept awake at one point getting my head around the basic premise of this book which is; what if some people lived their lives over and over again, starting at the same point? They are born in the same place and time, meet the same people and ultimately know what’s coming in the future.

Lady in Waiting. Anne Glenconner. My Granny leant me this book because she knows I’m a fan of the royal family (not the first book about the royals I’ve read this year, you’ll notice!). I found this to be a really interesting read. My eyes often go straight to the main members of the royal family when they’re in the media, and I spare little thought for the people who accompany them. This offers a whole new perspective.

The Contemplative Priest. Ian Cowley. Nathan was bought this by his parents for his deaconing retreat. I’ve never read it before and I enjoyed it. Throughout the book there is an emphasis on leading a simple life, as well as the need to distinguish the ‘false self’ (our ego, what society tells us to be) and the ‘true self’ (who God has really made us to be).

At this point, I think I can say that I’ve fallen back in love with reading. By the end of my masters I was a bit put off books for a while! But I don’t feel like that any more. Stay tuned for the rest of my #2020ReadingChallenge books, hopefully coming your way some time in December!