2020: My Year in Books

2020 is nearing a close, and I am on my last book of the year, Girls’ Club by Sally, Sarah & Joy Clarkson. I must admit, I was a little unsure, going by the title, but it was written by Sally Clarkson, so you can’t go wrong! God has used Sally Clarkson (and her entire family), to show me so much that I don’t even know where to begin, and I won’t, in this post! I first heard about her around the time of her releasing Awaking Wonder, and I decided to read The Life Giving Home, during which I started listening to her podcast, and then on to Book Girl – a Journey through the Treasures & Transforming Power of a Reading Life, written by her daughter, Sarah Clarkson.

Following many inspirations taken from each of these books, I am left with the idea of … intentionality. This glorious word has filled my mind daily, inspired me and has brought and glued together so many of my drifting thoughts and ideals.

Which brings me to the books I read through 2020. I hit many hurdles in my reading this year, for many reasons: getting used to a kindle, not knowing what to read, reading books that were not for me, and with hindsight, I now realise, I had (mostly) no forethought as to what I was reading and how it would impact me. The Clarkson ladies showed me that I was lacking intentionality in my reading life. As we all know “we are what we eat”. The last couple of months of 2020 showed me the impact of my lack of planning and considering what I was putting into my heart and mind. I was often picking a book for the sake of something to read, not considering how it would impact me.

The solution, I am going to be armed and ready with the books I want to read through 2021. Some of you will be reading this, rolling your eyes or even raising one or both eyebrows, fellow Book Girls will have a smile spreading across their face, as they slowly nod. But, I just treasure being able to immerse myself in a good book, be it fiction or non. There are many books that Sarah talks of that I will no doubt never read, but it is the insight and research into the impact that reading has on us, from childhood that absolutely inspired me. Some quotes for you …

“Reading is the road you walk to discover yourself and your world, to see with renewed vision as you encounter the vision of another.” ― Sarah Clarkson, Book Girl
“My contention is that in order for children to cope with evil, they need a bone-deep knowledge of what is good. Like the heroes and heroines in fairy tales, they need stories that begin in a powerful picture of joy. They need minds stocked with the imagery of love, beauty, laughter, and song before they can have the necessary hope to shield them in their battle against sin and evil.” ― Sarah Clarkson, Book Girl

As for the books I read throughout 2020, you can view my full list on GoodReads, but below are some that stood out.

My worst, waste of time, book of the year: The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell.

I cannot think of the last time I quit a book. I got 3/4 through this one and didn’t even know what the point was anymore! People raved about this book; each to their own.

The most inspiring, life changing book I read: The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson

This book made me look at my home, my life, my relationships, my ideals, through a whole new lens. I felt like this book, and my dreams, turned to each other and said, in the words of C.S Lewis “What! You too?”. Not only did this book inspire me with stories of love, faith & friendship, but it made me see God and all He wants for me. It made me ask myself, “what do I want my life to look like, feel like, taste like, be remembered for”, it showed me that life is not perfect, that that’s okay, and mostly made me see that I have choices to make!

“Every day in each inch of space, each rhythm of time, each practice of love, we have the chance to join God in coming home, in living so that we make a home of this broken and beautiful world all over again. Love is enfleshed in the meals we make, the rooms we fill, the spaces in which we live and breathe and have our being.” ― Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home

The loveliest, could not put down, book of the year: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

I bought this book in the gift shop at Jamaica Inn on a special trip to Cornwall in England for a family Christmas in December last year. Absolutely beautifully written and I did not see that plot twist coming …

My laugh out loud, book of the year: All Things Bright & Beautiful by James Herriot

If you know me, you know I adore the British countryside and this novel transported me to a world I miss. Country paths, muddy wellingtons, fields of wildlife, British accents, cups of tea, crackling fires … bliss.

A book that gave me a new lens: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book was heart breaking and heart warming in equal measure. It touched many a nerve and was a reminder, and a comfort, that we all carry a story. I laughed as much as I cried!

A book that made me happy to be alive: Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery

We seldom watch TV, but the series, Anne with an E had me binging on Netflix. I decided to read the books, and I found myself not able to read fast enough yet had to slow down to savour the words. It is a book that made me pause and look out the window, just to take life in.

“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” ― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

A book that grew friendship: The Scars that have Shaped Me by Vaneetha Risnell Render

I read this book with a group of ladies as part of the Whatsapp Come Away book club. But this is also the book that kick started my Prayer Triplet here in Mazabuka. Healing encouragement, perspective and lessons in grief steeped in Godly wisdom and love. You can download it here.

A book that separated feeling from faith: Habits of Grace by David Mathis

That may seem a strange statement, to separate feeling from faith. But I believe we put too much emphasis on feelings. Faith is not a feeling. Faith is choosing to believe, pray, read scripture, serve, walk boldly with God, even when we don’t feel like it, even when it is dry, even when we feel God is so far away. By Gods grace, with Him, we can form habits that will stay with us through the valleys and the peaks. Read this book here.

You can view the rest of the books I read throughout the upside down year that was 2020, on my GoodReads account. I would love to know if you read any of the same books as me and what you thought?

I have started compiling my Book List for 2021, something I have never, intentionally, done. I start to wriggle in my seat and grin as I start to think of the books that are going to inspire and encourage me, that are going to make me laugh out loud and sigh at their beauty! I love being a nerd, I really do!

So I will end off by asking you; if you could recommend one book for me to read in the next year, for whatever reason, what would it be?

With that, I am off to put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and continue with one of my current reads … Girls’ Club or Anne of Avonlea, which will it be?



  1. Hi Colleen Good reading your email. How are you and Erik doing while waiting for your baby? Pray often for you and hope it will be soon.

    The last book I read that really blessed me was; Refiners Fire by Sylvia Bambola. It brought home the fact of Believers persecution and communism and how God works mysteriously!

    Please send me your cell no as I have a new phone and lost some of my contacts coz I didn’t save them as I thought I had🥺

    Lots of love to Erik💝💜

    On Tue, 29 Dec 2020, 15:07 Life Lived Simply – a journey, wrote:

    > Colleen Black posted: ” 2020 is nearing a close, and I am on my last book > of the year, Girls’ Club by Sally, Sarah & Joy Clarkson. I must admit, I > was a little unsure, going by the title, but it was written by Sally > Clarkson, so you can’t go wrong! God has used Sally Clark” >


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