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2020 Books of the Year

Timely books in a tough season

2020 Books of the Year

(Illustration by David Freeland)

This is our 13th annual Books of the Year issue, and if we were superstitious we might, like some hotels, skip the 13th floor: What good writing is likely to emerge in a year characterized by pandemic, political polarization, and cultural chasms? Happily, God’s still in charge, so all is not lost, and much awaits ­finding: In a year with less travel and more reading, the following pages present 25 books accessible by ­general readers, not just by scholars or specialists. We emphasize books that contribute to understanding big controversies and great divides, including creation-evolution battles in science, racial and religious splits in American society, and times of war and revolution in our past. Here are our 2020 Books of the Year in five categories.

Accessible Theology

  • Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund (Crossway)

Honorable mentions …

  • Mother to Son by Jasmine Holmes (IVP) 
  • A Place To Belong by Megan Hill (Crossway) 
  • Stop Taking Sides by Adam Mabry (The Good Book Company) 
  • Mercy for Today by Jonathan Parnell (B&H Publishing)

Accessible Science

  • The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy by Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Roger Olsen, James Tour, Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells, Guillermo Gonzalez, Brian Miller, and David Klinghoffer (Discovery Institute)

Honorable mentions …

  • False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg (Basic) 
  • Carved in Stone by Timothy Clarey (Institute for Creation Research) 
  • 2084 by John Lennox (Zondervan) 
  • The Miracle of the Cell by Michael Denton (Discovery)

Understanding America

  • Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How To Restore Our Nation by David French (St. Martin’s)

Honorable mentions …

  • The Coming of Neo-Feudalism by Joel Kotkin (Encounter) 
  • Why Didn’t We Riot? by Isaac Bailey (Other Press) 
  • Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher (Sentinel) 
  • God and Mammon by Lance Morrow (Encounter)

Understanding the World

  • After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America by Jessica Goudeau (Viking)

Honorable mentions …

  • Eat the Buddha by Barbara Demick (Random House) 
  • Our Bodies, Their Battlefields by Christina Lamb (Scribner) 
  • Imprisoned With ISIS by Petr Jasek with Rebecca George (Salem Books) 
  • Magdalena: River of Dreams by Wade Davis (Alfred A. Knopf) 

Accessible History

  • The Year of Peril: America in 1942 by Tracy Campbell (Yale University Press)

Honorable mentions …

  • Citizen Reporters by Stephanie Gorton (Ecco) 
  • The Age of Entitlement by Christopher Caldwell (Simon & Schuster) 
  • You Say You Want a Revolution? by Daniel Chirot (Princeton University Press) 
  • Great Society by Amity Shlaes (Harper)
Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism. Marvin resides with his wife, Susan, in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.