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A Selected List of The Best Books I Read in 2020

by Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.

December 31, 2020


I love to read. My goal each year is to read at least 30 books. This year I read 36 books. I am pleased.

When I read, I read. I don’t do audio books. I also don’t read off a kindle or any device. I’m old school. When I read a book, I actually read the actual book.

My reading tastes are somewhat eclectic. The subjects I tend to focus to most on are baseball, history, leadership/motivation, and spirituality. I also usually read a few novels along the way.

What follows are the books that I most enjoyed in 2020. (Not all are about baseball.) These are presented in the order in which I read them.

I wish that I had had the chance to read even more…

My Best Books of 2020:

Babe Ruth’s Called Shot (by Ed Sherman) – An excellent book that thoroughly researches and discusses the Babe’s called shot in the 1932 World Series. I enjoyed reading all of the contemporary reports of this event including the firsthand interviews from many of the players and the newspaper articles from that moment.

Talking To Strangers (by Malcolm Gladwell) – I always read Gladwell’s books as I love his prose and the way he approaches topics. Gladwell is an original thinker who makes me think. I find a lot of what he says relates to my professional work. I have never been disappointed with any of Gladwell’s books.

Man’s Search For Meaning (by Victor E. Frankl ) – A thoroughly engrossing book that strikes at one’s very core. In the midst of the most horrendous of situations, Frankl is able to find hope.

The Body (by Bill Bryson) – I also read everything Bryson writes. This is a long one, but it’s excellent. Bryson has a way of writing about serious stuff and still making me laugh.

The Green Mile (by Steven King) – I love the movie and had to read the book. I don’t read a lot of Steven King, but what I have read, I have enjoyed. (I don’t read any of the horror stuff.)

Pitch By Pitch (by Bob Gibson & Lonnie Wheeler) – Gibson tells the story of his big strikeout game in the 1968 World Series, batter-by-batter.

The Bronx Zoo (by Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock) – Sometimes I just need to re-read books about the great Yankees teams of my youth. This isn’t quite Ball Four, but it’s an enjoyable read.

When Pride Still Mattered (by David Maraniss) – The story of Vince Lombardi. I don’t read much about football, but I was compelled to read this thoroughly engaging book. I learned a lot about the Packers and leadership.

Valiant Ambition (by Nathaniel Philbrick) – A compelling story of Benedict Arnold, John Andre, and George Washington (among others, of course).

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (by J.K. Rowling) – I read this book to all of the fourth graders in my school every year. They love it…and so do I. I love to read in many voices as I try to bring the characters to life.

Ali: A Life (by Jonathan Eig) – The definitive biography of Muhammad Ali. This 539 page book read like a novel. Eig is also one of my favorite authors. His biography of Lou Gehrig (Luckiest Man) is on the short list of the best baseball books I have ever read.

Rumor in Town (by Matt Dahlgren) – An excellent book, by a grandson about his grandfather who was the player who replaced Lou Gehrig.

Lafayette (by Harlow Giles Unger) – I always love reading and learning about Lafayette, an amazing, and often forgotten, person in history. This was the best biography of Lafayette I have ever read. It also reads like a novel.

Intangibles (by Joan Ryan) – Is there such a thing as character that can help a team or organization win (or succeed)? This book helps answer that question. Thoroughly engrossing and thought-provoking.

The Last Ride of the Iron Horse (by Dan Joseph) – The story of Lou Gehrig’s last season told extremely well. Outstanding.

Moby-Dick (by Herman Melville) – This one took me forever to get through, and much of it was challenging to read, but I like to dive into the classics and I am glad I read all 825 pages, even if I got a bit frustrated waiting for that great white whale to finally appear.

Is This Anything? (by Jerry Seinfeld) – The perfect book to read after Moby-Dick. There were no whales, no ships, just laughs… and tons of them.

Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original (by Mitchell Nathanson) – The first biography written about Jim Bouton. A great read about one of my favorite baseball personalities. I love that Bouton considered himself the first fan to play Major League Baseball. I’ll be 53-years-old this summer, but I still plan to be the second.

The Bible – Selected passages… It is never far from my side, but I should spend much more time reading this.


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