My 2020 Reading

I love reading. The older I get, the more it’s true. Last year was an especially important time for reading in my life and I gather I’m no exception. It was a tough year that called for lots of mental engagement with the world (as well as dis-engagement from it). I read more books this year than last. Sixty-four to be exact. I’m happy with that, but it wasn’t the goal of seventy-five that I had set myself. Thankfully, the clock reset a few days ago, so I have another shot at that milestone, d.v.

This year I decided to list my reading in categories. They are somewhat flimsy and there are books that could go in more than one. I don’t think it’s much surprise to me that Fiction and History are the two most well-read genres from last year. The full list is below if you’re interested (presented with no commentary), but here are some faux awards:

  • Favorite Overall: Schama’s first volume of his History of the Jews was really terrific. Narrative history writing at its best.
  • Most Surprisingly Interesting: Kiraz’s little treatise on this history of the Syriac dot really caught me off guard. Fascinating stuff and well-presented.
  • Most Surprisingly Terrible: Without a doubt, Cline’s Ready Player Two, which was so chock full of disappointing rubbish that I don’t want to talk about it.
  • Most Likely to Raise Eyebrows: I have developed an unexpected taste for Stephen King. Yes, it’s dark and weird. But his craft for plain old storytelling is hard to match among contemporaries. If I had to pick one, it would be Pet Sematary.
  • Most Likely to Be Mistaken for Fiction: Sabar’s Veritas. Still absorbing the absurdity of what real life can look like within my own discipline.

Biblical Languages

  1. George A. Kiraz, The Syriac Dot: A Short History
  2. George A. Kiraz, The New Syriac Primer: An Introduction to the Syriac Language
  3. Sebastian P. Brock, An Introduction to Syriac Studies
  4. Takamitsu Muraoka, Classical Syriac for Hebraists
  5. Benjamin J. Noonan, Advances in the Study of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic: New Insights for Reading the Old Testament

Old Testament

  1. Marty E. Stevens, Leadership Roles of the Old Testament: King, Prophet, Priest, and Sage
  2. Tremper Longman III, Immanuel in Our Place: Seeing Christ in Israel’s Worship
  3. Weston W. Fields, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Short History
  4. Alan S. Bandy, Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach

General Biblical Studies

  1. Fred Lapham, An Introduction to the New Testament Apocrypha
  2. Richard Brash, Christian’s Pocket Guide to How God Preserved the Bible
  3. John Barton, A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths
  4. Michael P. Theophilos, Numismatics: Greek Lexicography and the New Testament
  5. Brent Nongbri, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts
  6. Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, The Talmud: A Biography


  1. Roger Scruton, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition
  2. Ben Shapiro, The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great
  3. Jemar Tisby, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
  4. Mark A. Noll, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History
  5. Mark A. Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis
  6. Shelby Steele, Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country
  7. Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents
  8. Roger Scruton, How to Be a Conservative


  1. C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy, #3)
  2. Gregg Hurwitz, Into the Fire (Orphan X, #5)
  3. Gregg Hurwitz, Trust No One
  4. Pierce Brown, Red Rising (Red Rising Saga, #1)
  5. Pierce Brown, Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2)
  6. Pierce Brown, Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3)
  7. Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
  8. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
  9. David Walton, Three Laws Lethal
  10. Stephen King, The Stand
  11. Stephen King, Pet Sematary
  12. Stephen King, The Shining
  13. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
  14. Ernest Cline, Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2)
  15. Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)
  16. John Grisham, A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance, #1)
  17. Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)


  1. Matti Friedman, The Aleppo Codex: The True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
  2. Ariel Sabar, Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife
  3. Géza Vermès, The Story of the Scrolls: The Miraculous Discovery and True Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
  4. Mark Kurlansky, Paper: Paging Through History
  5. Eric H. Cline, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed
  6. Eric H. Cline, Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon
  7. Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire
  8. Tom Standage, A History of the World in 6 Glasses
  9. Simon Schama, The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BC-1492 AD
  10. Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
  11. Dirk van Miert, The Emancipation of Biblical Philology in the Dutch Republic, 1590-1670
  12. Norman Lebrecht, Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947
  13. James Eglinton, Bavinck: A Critical Biography
  14. Judith Flanders, A Place For Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order
  15. Christopher B. Krebs, A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich


  1. Titania McGrath, Woke: A Guide to Social Justice
  2. Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches
  3. Douglas Wilson, Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants
  4. Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life
  5. Jocko Willink, Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual
  6. Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  7. Dane C. Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
  8. J. I. Packer, Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength
  9. Diane Langberg, Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church

On to 2021!

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