Arts & Culture

Four Must Reads for 2020

2020 is now in full swing! At the beginning of each new year, I pull out a journal and record a list of all the books I want to read by the time the clock strikes midnight 365 days later.

To begin this year, I decided it would be a delight to help you compose a 2020 reading list by providing four of my favorite books for your list.

 Number One: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes – I know this is a trilogy, but The Lord of the Rings is one complete story filled with adventure, bravery, captivating dialog, breathtaking imagery, friends, and foes. Roughly 1140 pages, this journey is quite tedious but can be accomplished over the summer by reading one chapter a day for three months.

Tolkien knows how to pen a story that draws you in, whether it’s a sinister wood, a cozy hearth, or a raging war. The characters feel as if they are companions with their vivid and deep personalities. Relating with certain characters, the reader becomes a part of the story, learning life lessons along the way.  The Lord of the Rings manages to capture a story of true friendship and resilient bravery, teaching that no matter the obstacle, hope remains in the bonds of brotherly love shared by hobbits and humans alike.

 Number 2: 1984 by George Orwell

We’re fed ideas through social media, news, and conversation. But how much should we believe in the sound waves? How often should we stand alert to the lies and dangers being shared through mainstream channels?

George Orwell answers all those questions and more in his terrifyingly spectacular dystopian masterpiece, 1984. Set in the state of Oceana run by the totalitarian ruler, Big Brother, the story surrounds the life of a man named Winston who questions the mantras proclaimed by the main party. Using simple diction to convey complex thoughts, Orwell forces the reader to question the information before accepting it as true. Orwell uses his disturbingly realistic work to show readers how susceptible they are to social and governmental pressure, advising minds to discern and process before partaking in the deceiving feast of promises offered by broken leaders.

 Number 3: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

It is a given that every homeschooled child has read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe one time or another, but I encourage you to read it again this year. As you read it again and again, Lewis’ biblical symbolism stands out boldly amidst the delicate words. The grace of God shines from the glossy pages. You will be reminded that our God is a good God, a just God, and a companionate God. You will stand in awe of the character of Christ that Lewis so beautifully understood. The Lord used the hand of C.S. Lewis to inscribe a gracious story onto the lives of many, young and old alike. This book has blessed my life, and I have no doubt of the awaiting blessing it will be to you.

 Number 4: Peace Like a River by Lief Enger

It is not often when one reads a book that is sheer beauty. Lief Enger succeeds in telling a heart-wrenchingly gorgeous novel about a young asthmatic boy named Ruben, his runaway fugitive brother Davy, his sweet and spunky younger sister Swede, and his devoutly Christian father Jeremiah. A story filled with sibling love and the Christ-like self-sacrifice of a father for his children, you will witness what love in action looks like in a family, but also how God manifests his love through us. Through the pain and joy, the Land family stands by one another’s side and serves as a reminder that even through the darkest times, the Lord’s love prevails. To conclude the narrative, Enger also offers a breathtaking picture of heaven, emphasizing the ultimate hope of heaven and eternity believers have in Christ. Peace Like a River encapsulates the beauty and hardships of earthly life, offering an uplifting and all-around spectacular work that everyone needs in their lives.

There are dozens of other works that deserve a spot on your reading list for this year, but these happen to be my top four! I would love to hear what your top four books are, so please leave a comment with them below.

May these books bless your heart as you did mine and may your New Year overflow with reminders of our Lord’s goodness and mercy.


Photo Credit: Alessandra Gugliotti





  1. la is SO GLAD that CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien got chosen!!!!!! LOTR FTWWWWW

  2. Ooh, good choices, Alessandra! Top four books that I would recommend to others? Well, you already got two of my (many many) favorites. Hmm…
    1) The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (all four delightful books)
    2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    3) Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
    4) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    but I could go on for hours. xD

  3. Thanks so much for the suggestions! Here are a few of mine:
    1. Jane of Lantern Hill by Lucy Maud Montgomery
    2. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (as well as her other books)
    3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    4. The Alice in Wonderland books by Lewis Carroll
    I love these books because they help you see the world from a different perspective!

  4. Oooof yessssss LOTR and Narnia are the best!!

    My top four recommends? Here we are:
    1) The Penderwicks
    2) The False Prince series
    3) The Keeper of the Lost Cities series
    4) Prophecies of Berinfell series

  5. I love reading too!!!! here’s a few of my favs..
    1. War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.
    2. One Came Home by Amy Timberlake.
    3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.
    4. Narnia!!

  6. I love Lord of the Rings! Also C.S.Lewis too. Anybody read Mysterious Benedict Society (Trenton Lee Stewart)? New book – fifth in the series – just came out. They are awesome. I also really like An Old-Fashioned Girl (Louisa May Alcott) and Hinds’ Feet on High Places (Hannah Hurnard)

  7. Man.. I wish I had time to read all these!! They all sound so interesting!! I’m just too busy with school dance.

  8. LOL The Bible is a given but other than that,
    1. The Lord of the Rings
    2. A Tale of Two Cities
    3. Animal Farm
    4. The Silmarillion

    • Would totally recommend Animal Farm!!!! It’s a great interpretation of communism in a way that people can understand.

  9. Thanks for the suggestions of the books, Alessandra! I have read LOTR already but I’ll read again XD it’s so great!!!!

  10. Lovely work and great list, Alessandra! And kudos, too, to all those suggested in the comments. Enger’s newest, Virgil Wander, is also a good read. Not as breath-taking as Peace, but the author did say he considers it his most evangelical work so far. I know it wasn’t easy to pick such a small number; I’m hoping we have books in heaven!

    • Alessandra Gugliotti

      Thank you, Mrs. Yagel! I loved Virgil Wander, too. Enger is such a talented artist; the manner in which he arranges his words creates masterpieces.

  11. Hmmm… top four books…
    1. Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt)
    2. The Outlaws of Sherwood (Robin McKinley)
    3. Gregor the Overlander series (Suzanne Collins)
    4. The Map to Everywhere series (Carrie Ryan)

  12. Cool stories!
    My top four would definitely be:
    “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon
    “Dannie of Cedar Cliffs” by Christmas Carol Kauffman
    “The Lost Clue” by O. F. Walton
    “Valley of My Heart” by Judy Yoder

  13. These are great books! I am hoping to read Lord of The Rings this year 🙂
    I would suggest,
    1. Out of the Dust (one of my all-time favorites) by Karen Hesse
    2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
    3. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
    4. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

  14. mine would be
    1.The Hobbit
    2.where the Red fern grows
    4.Percy Jackson

  15. My top four!
    1. Dark Imperium (trilogy), Guy Haley
    2. The Prince(ss) Warriors by Priscilla Shirer (all 4)
    3. C.S. Lewis’ scifi trilogy, Lost planet, Parelandra, and That Hideous Strength
    4. The Art of War, Sun tzu

  16. Naomi Hochstedler

    My top four (not an easy choice)
    1. Anne of Green Gables (all the books)
    2. Lord of the Rings
    3. The Westing Game
    4. The Sherwood Ring

  17. Alessandra Gugliotti

    I love seeing all of y’all’s favorite reads! Keep them coming! 🙂

  18. My four (at the moment) would be:
    – Chronicles of Narnia!!!
    – any book by Jessica Day George, especially Tuesdays at the Castle
    – The Hidden Hand
    – Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery (one of my twin’s favorites too)

  19. Hmmm, I will chime in with a few I loved when I was a teenager.

    1. Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
    This is an excellent spiritual allegory like Pilgrim’s Progress but with a female protagonist.
    2. This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti
    This really opened my eyes to the reality of spiritual warfare and deepened my prayer life.
    3. Any Harriet Tubman biography
    Her life and legacy are an amazing testimony of faith
    4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    If you’ve loved the play or movie, you would love the book.
    Honorable Mention
    Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn
    This is the first in a historical fiction series set during WWII. Very well done!

    So many books, so little time!

    • I also love stories about Harriet Tubman. Her life was incredible! And I’ll have to look up that Historical fiction series. It sounds great!
      “So many books, so little time!” – oh how true a statement…

    • I love Hind’s Feet on High Places. I really like Les Mis too, (musical and book both) but warning to any readers out there – it is really REALLY long. I mean, my copy was like four inches thick, so… But still, really good book.

  20. Yeah!! I really really enjoyed the second War That Saved My Life (The War Finally Won)
    It’s awesome to hear from others that love the books I do!! 🙂 Another Book I like is Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse. The book is about the yellow fever and the struggles of it.

  21. My favorites at the moment:
    A Woman’s Place by Lynn Austin (or anything by her)
    Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar (again, all her books)
    The Green Ember series by SD Smith
    Graceful by Emily P. Freeman

  22. Here are some books I haven’t seen mentioned, but are superb reads!

    1. Yellow Star (True story about the Holocaust)
    2. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel (A magical blend of mythology and imagination)
    3. The One and Only Ivan (A thoughtful tale about a Gorilla named Ivan)
    4. Matilda (Magical. Simply, magical.)
    5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Funny, entertaining, and with cheek, my family listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and adored every minute of it.)
    6. Danny the Champion of the World. (Another fantastic Roald Dahl book, with the touching relationship between boy and father. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are also by him.)
    8. God’s Smuggler (This book personally changed my life forever.)
    9. The Bronze Bow (This, like God’s Smuggler, is one of the only stories from history that left me hanging on to every word.)

    I’ve also heard a lot about Brandon Sanderson though I have yet to read a book by him. 🙂

  23. Alessandra Gugliotti

    Y’all are blowing me away! Thanks so much for sharing your reads and making this clay’s most commented article! It makes my heart so happy that we can come together on here and talk over our love of books! 🙂

    • Maybe next time you can have a list of favorite picture books? There are some amazing ones out there! My personal favorite (I think) is The Giving Tree. I cry every time I read it.

  24. My top recomendations
    No.1 Watership down
    No. 2 Narnia!!
    No. 3 The Cricket of Times Square
    No. 4 Oliver Twist
    Also great post! Good job!

    • The Cricket in Times Square was one of my favorites, and I still love it (my mom recently read it to my younger siblings)

  25. I highly recommend Watership Down, it is one of my favorite books!!!

  26. My top favorite series would be for all you fantasy-lovers:
    1. ‘The Door Within’ Trilogy by Thomas Wayne Batson
    2. ‘The Berinfell Prophecies’ by C. Hopper and T. W. Batson
    3. ‘The Green Ember’ series by S. D. Smith
    4. ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C .S. Lewis (but seriously who hasn’t read this)
    5. ‘The Terrestria Chronicles’ by Ed Dunlop

  27. hmmm mine would be
    1. Lord of the Rings
    2. Moccasin trail
    3. Confessions of St Augustine
    4. Moby Dick ( it was tough reading it but really woth it in the end)

    • Yesss! Moccasin Trail… Have you read any other books by Eloise Jarvis McGraw? I loved Mara Daughter of the Nile and The Golden Goblet.

  28. never heard of peace like a river, seems to be worth a look this year!

  29. Oh yes I have read Golden Goblet, but not not Mara:Daughter of the Nile. I’ll try to read it!