As I reflect on 2020, I thought it would be fun to share the best books I read! If you’ve listened to many episodes, you know reading is my favorite hobby. And this year I read over 100 books! So narrowing down my favorites was tough but fun! In this episode I’ll share my 12 favorite books, my favorite cookbook, and four I’m excited about that will release in 2021!

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Hi friends, this is Self-Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver, and I’m your host Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. We need to take better care of ourselves so we can care for those God has entrusted to us. You’re listening to episode 52!

I took an unintentional break because our family got covid a couple weeks before Christmas! All four of us had symptoms and my husband Lee did test positive (the rest of us didn’t get tested and assumed we were positive). We’re better now and very thankful. But it does feel like Christmas break has already been 3 weeks long, which isn’t easy for our son James who has autism! I had to focus on making sure we all got the rest we needed to heal and focus on only what had to be done.

If you’re a weekly listener, thanks for your patience during the break! I’m super excited to be back in the podcast routine now, especially because the last week of the year is always one of my favorite weeks! I love resetting the house after I take down the Christmas decorations. I love dreaming about the new year and setting goals. I also love the practice of remembering and telling—remembering what God has done this year and talking about it, especially as a family.

As I reflect on 2020, I thought it would be fun to share the best books I read! If you’ve listened to many episodes, you know reading is my favorite hobby. And this year I read over 100 books! So narrowing down my favorites was tough but fun! In this episode I’ll share my 12 favorite books, my favorite cookbook, and four I’m excited about that will release in 2021!

Before we jump in, this episode’s sponsor is the One Word for 2021 conference! It actually kicks off today if you’re listening in real time on Dec. 28th! You can visit for shownotes for this episode and find the link to the conference. 20 friends and I are sharing our “one word” for 2021 and why God led us to those words! I hope you’ll check it out!

Ok, now let’s talk books! Let me start with the kind of books I like! Getting to know my book type will help you know if my favorite books are books you would like too! I actually learned more about myself as a reader this year. I had more time to read than usual, but I didn’t want to waste time on books I wouldn’t like. I for sure will quit reading a book I don’t like and not feel guilty about it. Most of the books I read are library books, so I don’t even feel guilty about spending money on books I don’t read!

My favorite fiction books include young adult, dystopian, and fantasy stories. I like character and dialogue-driven stories. I’ve figured out that if a book is described as “beautifully written,” I’m probably not going to love it. As a former English major, maybe I had to read too many of those when I was in school! Or maybe I just like some escapism from the real world when I have time to read.

For non-fiction books, I mostly read theology and Christian living, especially books by women. I also like some self-help type books, or maybe life management is a better description, and books on marketing. You’ll see all these types represented on my list!

Even though I know my favorite types, I don’t only read those categories! I’m in a book club with a few friends, and we take turns picking books. They are often not books I would have picked on my own! And since I’m homeschooling my son David for his freshman year, we’re reading a few novels for English and apologetics books for our Bible class.

This is the 11th year I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read on my blog. You can find the list linked in the shownotes. Even though I read over 100 books, I don’t have all the books listed on my website. Like, if I reread a book that I’ve read in a previous year, I don’t list it. This year I did a lot of that since I needed some “comfort reading” as I call it!

Ok, now that we’ve categories and analyzed my list, let’s talk about my favorites! I’ll go through the list and share why I liked each book as quickly as I can so this episode doesn’t go too long!

  1. Side by Side by Ed Welch – I read this one early in the year along with about 15 women from my church. It’s such a good one to help you get better at loving others well. I plan to review it again in 2021 as church life gets back to normal!
  2. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. Mandel – I really loved Emily’s book Station Eleven, so I was excited about this one as well! It’s a little bit of a mystery, but it’s very character-driven. It kept me guessing!
  3. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins This is a prequel to the Hunger Games books and focuses on President Snow when he’s an 18-year-old. I read it as soon as it came out and again with my book club. I really liked this in-depth look at the future bad guy!
  4. Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge – You’ve heard me talk about this one before! Episode 42 was all about a concept I learned about in the book called benevolent detachment. I enjoyed the entire book, but that chapter was for sure my favorite.
  5. The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi – Kendra is the host of the Lazy Genius podcast. We have similar personalities and even similar podcast content, so I knew I would love her book. She shares principles to help you be a genius about things that matter to you, and lazy about things that don’t. If you like my podcast, you will especially love this book!
  6. Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer – Ah, the highly anticipated version of Twilight from Edward’s perspective. I’ve talked before about comfort reading, and the Twilight books fall into that category for sure, especially the first one. So of course I enjoyed this book. It felt familiar and new at the same time.
  7. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – These books are the perfect representation of my favorite type of fiction. It’s a fantasy world with supernatural characters and story lines. There’s good guys and bad guys and not-sure-if-they-are-good-or-bad guys. I liked that the series was wrapped up in just two books. Sometimes series like this draw out the story for too long! But this length was perfect.
  8. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig falls into the categories of post-apocolyptic, dystopian, and time travel. But don’t let that scare you! It’s very relatable! It’s about a character who gets to pick different versions of her life to see which one is truly a match. I enjoyed reading about her decisions and all the reasons why!
  9. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland I’ve spent the last 90 days reading through the Gospels, so this book about Jesus was a perfect accompaniment. It was a reminder of how gentle He is with us; how much He empathizes with our weaknesses and care for our concerns. If you’re feeling a little fragile as we head into the new year, this would be the perfect book to read.
  10. Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie – I always love Nancy Guthrie’s writing. This book looks at the lives of people from the story of Jesus. Her chapter on John the Baptist was probably my favorite, but I enjoyed the entire book!
  11. The Practice by Seth Godin – Seth Godin is one of my favorite writers on marketing. At the end of the year, I was feeling a little discouraged and lacked motivation to keep creating content and sharing it with people. But it was just the encouragement I needed to keep going!
  12. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I’ve listed these books in the order I read them through the year, and I read this one just a couple weeks ago. I was on the library waiting list for it for a long time! It’s about a man who lives in a house that is his whole world. He knows of only one other person in the house who he sees a couple times a week. But of course, the house isn’t exactly how it seems. It was fun to figure out with him exactly what was going on.

Favorite cookbook: I check out a new cookbook almost every time to go to the library, and that’s my favorite way to find new recipes (I just take pics on my phone of the ones I want to try). But when I checked this one out, I knew I wanted to get my own copy. Half Baked Harvest Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard

Excited to read in 2021:

Alright friends, that was a lot of books we talked through! Links to all the books are in the shownotes at, so if you’re interested in checking them out, just head over!

Let’s wrap up with a prayer like we do at the end of each episode.

God, thank You for the gift of words. You spoke our world into existence with a word, and words have had power ever since. You have given so many people the gift of teaching us more about Your Word as Bible teachers and theologians. You have given others the gift of creating their own characters and worlds on the pages of books we love. Thank You for favorite books, favorite authors, and the gift of time to read. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Thanks again for listening! I’m really excited about the episodes I have planned for 2021, and this would be a great time to hit the 5-star rating in your podcast app so more caregivers (and book lovers!) like us will know this is a podcast for them!  I’m praying for you this week as you fulfill your calling as an abiding caregiver!

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