I feel like everyone’s “favorite books of 2020” list is just a list of the books that person read in 2020. So I’ll spare you the word “favorite” and go right to the list. Here are the books I finished in 2020, as well as the ones I am still reading. Please don’t be alarmed by the second list. There’s nothing I love more than reading many different books at the same time.
Books I Read In 2020
Awareness by Anthony de Mello – A short book of many two- or three-page chapters, all exploring the importance of accepting every moment of your life, just as it is. I know I’ll return to this book later in life because of the questions it raises. I’ve journaled more about this book than any other I’ve ever read. One memorable quote: “If you have inner peace, you act, but you act as a surgeon and skilled teacher would. But if you swing into action with your own hatred, you’ve compounded the error.”
Loving What Is by Byron Katie – An impactful book to unpack the thought patterns that inhibit us. The book is largely a series of interviews with the author, as she helps people work through her four questions for debilitating thoughts: 1) Is it true, 2) Can you absolutely know it’s true? 3) How do you react and what happens when you believe that thought? and 4) Who would you be without that thought? This book is the reason why my relationships with family and friends have improved in 2020. One memorable quote: “I realized that I could be right, or I could be free.”
Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holliday – Written simply and crisply, each chapter is a perfect prescription for a more centered and fulfilled mind, body, and soul. One memorable quote: “It’s human being, not human doing for a reason.”
The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind by Justin Driver – A thorough historical and legal account of constitutional law in public education. Professor Driver’s course The Constitution Goes to School was excellent, and I used this book for a course I co-taught on the subject of teaching constitutional law in high schools. The history of public education is a history of America.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – A must-read to understand the cognitive biases that plague human reasoning. A core takeaway is that what we see is all we know. Recognize this bias, catch your impulsive brain in action, and slow down. Deliberate thinking and statistical reasoning are unnatural for a reason, and this book brilliantly explains why and what we should do in response.
Books I’m Reading Now
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Heart Breath Mind by Leah Lagos
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy by Philip Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden
Solitary by Albert Woodfox
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (translation by Stephen Mitchell)
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When To Stick) by Seth Godin
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
The Path by Michael Puett
The Path To Power by Robert Caro
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Practice by Seth Godin
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke