Books of 2020

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In 2019, I read 12 books. My 2020 goal was 24 books. I’m ending the year with 72 books read, according to my Goodreads. That’s accidentally three times my goal and six times what I read last year. Oops?

One of my favorite parts of using Goodreads to track my reading is the stats that come with it. This year according to my Goodreads, I’ve read 18,443 pages over 72 books. (I’d be willing to argue that the page count is probably higher because Goodreads isn’t the best at measuring pages in audiobooks or e-books which made up a decent portion of the books I read this year. But because some of what I read is debatably not really a “book”, I’m not gonna fight it. Plus I don’t wanna do the math myself.) The books span publishing dates from the 1930s to the 1960s to 2020. Of the books that I read, 12 were audiobooks, 11 were physical books, and 27 were e-books read through my library. (The rest were read through another source like Kindle or as Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs]). My average rating in 2020 was a 3.2 out of 5 stars. I gave 4 books a 5 star rating , 21 were rated 4 stars, 32 were rated 3 stars, and the rest were given 1 or 2 stars. I also allowed myself to stop reading a book if it wasn’t my cup of tea with no pressure; in fact, some of the books that I eventually ended up giving 4 or 5 stars to were books that I had put aside at some point and picked back up at a better time. Because there’s more than last year, I won’t list them out, but I wanted to reflect beyond just my statistics.

At the end of last year, I wanted to read from a more diverse set of authors. I think (mostly as a ramification of reading more and reading fewer series than last year) I managed to fulfill that goal. It’s always at the back of my mind that I want to read a variety of stories from a variety of storytellers. I read authors from the US, the UK, Brazil, Canada, France, Algeria, Nigeria, and Sweden; I read from Black authors (both academic and fiction writers), I read from Asian-American authors, from queer authors, and plenty of female authors. There’s always room for more diversity.

In 2020, I reread some old favorites including And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (both of whom are on my list of authors I want to read more from in the new year). I’ll also count The Martian by Andy Weir and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness as bests of the year (one made me laugh and one made me sob).

I enjoyed a good number of audiobooks this year. My favorites were The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Bailey, and An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten. I read a few books on recommendations from family and/or friends this year which included Normal People by Sally Rooney, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Many more of the books were picked up because a YouTuber mentioned them or because Goodreads suggested them. I tried really hard (and mostly failed) to read a lot of the unread books that I’ve bought over the years. That goal will be continuing into the new year.

Speaking of goals for 2021: I’ve set my Goodreads challenge for 24 books again. I figure I have no idea what this year might bring and I’d rather have an achievable goal to beat than feel defeated in December. I’d like to continue reading diversely, both in terms of author and subjects and in terms of how I read. And lastly, I want to knock some of the books off my physical shelf – books accumulated over Christmases and shopping trips to bookstores and birthdays and stealing from my parents’ bookshelves. But who knows what 2021 will bring?

Recent Reads

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I’ve had a bit more time on my hands recently and have filled it with plenty of new stories. I wrote last year about what I read in 2019 and though I read a lot of stories written by female authors, I challenged myself to not only read more this year (my Goodreads challenge for 2020 was to read 24 books) but to read from more diverse sources. At the beginning of June 2020, I had read 32 books.

While I did branch out slightly, in terms of the types of books I’m reading (online serials, audiobooks, graphic novels, physical and e-books), I could definitely continue to do better at diversifying what I’m reading and who I’m reading. The same challenge remains from last year.

Since I’ve reached the half-way point of the year, I have been doing some reflection on what I’ve enjoyed reading so far.

I’ve done some rereads: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (a classic), The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (one of my favorite authors), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (a humorous break from more serious reads), and The Stranger by Albert Camus (what I wouldn’t give to be fluent enough to read this in French). I am reminded of my belief that certain books should be read at certain times in your life for them to be powerful and others can be read at any time for them to be impactful beyond words.

I read some books that are highly praised by friends and reviewers: Normal People by Sally Rooney (a worthwhile, yet highly uncomfortably real read), The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (a bit outdated, but still interesting), and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (an author I am very excited to read more from). I’ve also added just as many recommendations to my list as I have read this year.

My most recent reads have been a bit all over the place: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (a murder mystery in a magical school), We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (a timely read and very accessible), and Spring Girls by Karen Katchur (a bit meh).

And then finally, the books I’m currently reading: Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom (a collection that reminds me of my sociology roots) and The Martian by Andy Weir (genuinely making me laugh out loud). As I “flip” back and forth between a story about a man with gallows humor stuck on Mars and a collection of essays about what it means to be a Black woman in America, I find myself enjoying the ability to seek out stories from different perspectives.

So as I continue to borrow books electronically from my local library and continue to support local bookshops, I have a feeling these next six months will be filled with even more stories – who knows? maybe I’ll read twice my goal for the year!