2020 in Books!

It’s only been 3 posts since the last summary post, but…I figured I’d do another, even if we all want to forget 2020 and hope for better from 2021 (despite how unimpressive the 7-day free trial’s been).

  1. How many books did you read this year?  34 – but don’t tell GoodReads; I technically missed my goal of 35 but accidentally marked The Girl Who Drank the Moon twice and couldn’t figure out how to correct that.  It’s enough that I got the “Completed!” ribbon instead of being taunted with my failure (like when I aimed for 65 in 2017 and whiffed it).
  2. Did you reread anything? What?  Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril, as I started a Dresden Files reread.  Unfortunately I have something of a feud with another AADL user, who keeps checking out the next book I want.  I also reread The Little Prince, The Four Loves, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and Out of the Silent Planet.
  3. What were your top five books of the year?  Spinning Silver, Anna and the Swallow Man, Plum Rains, The Girl who Drank the Moon, and…well, one of those I reread, I guess.  Or perhaps one of the mysteries – When in Rome or A Shilling for Candles.
  4. Did you discover any new authors that you love this year? Naomi Novik (wrote Spinning Silver) and Gavriel Savit (wrote Anna and the Swallow Man).  Also, while I’d heard of Ngaio Marsh earlier than 2020, I guess that was the first year I’d actually read any of her work (and she’s got about 3 dozen books to look into)!  Additionally, I’m not certain whether I love Kelly Barnhill and Adromeda Romano-Lax, but I’m willing to read their other books to make that call.
  5. What genre did you read the most of? Fantasy – at least 13 of them.  Must be down to Book Group Thing.  Other genres included sci-fi, teen, magical realism, and whatever Notes from a Public Typewriter might be.
  6. Was there anything you meant to read, but never got to? Always and forever.  I meant to reread all the Dresden Files, I meant to finish all the books friends lent me, etc. etc.  At least I got Anna and the Swallow Man back to the friend who lent it to me.
  7. What was your average Goodreads rating? Does it seem accurate?  3.4. That’s down from 3.7 in 2019 – perhaps I’m more critical than I used to be.  I definitely recall a lot of books where I wished for a 10-point scale instead of a 5-point scale, so as to distinguish between middling-fair and middling-poor books.
  8. Did you meet any of your reading goals? Which ones? I got close enough to 35 to content myself, and I mostly finished my Book Group Thing books early enough to discuss them with others.   
  9. Did you get into any new genres? Not really.
  10. What was your favorite new release of the year? The closest I got to a new release were Another Kingdom (May 2019) and The Starless Sea (November 2019).  Neither of them were great.
  11. What was your favorite book that has been out for a while, but you just now read?   A Shilling for Candles is from 1936, and When in Rome is from 1970.   
  12. Any books that disappointed you? The Starless Sea (too many motifs, trying too hard to be CurrentTM, soggy); The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (too depressing without a narrative payoff); Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (so much potential! So many threads left hanging).
  13. What were your least favorite books of the year?   The Starless Sea wasn’t great.  The Shadow of the Torturer went on and on forever, using obscure words for kicks, without giving me any characters I cared about.  Another Kingdom was so ridiculous in several ways.
  14. What books do you want to finish before the year is over? Well, it’s a bit late to ask that.  I managed to squeeze in that Out of the Silent Planet reread but did not quite finish rereading Perelandra before it was January. 
  15. Did you read any books that were nominated for or won awards this year (Booker, Women’s Prize, National Book Award, Pulitzer, Hugo, etc.)? What did you think of them?  Okay, so, I don’t think any of them got awards this year, but The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a Newberry winner.  I thought it was a lovely story with an interesting twist on witch tropes, city elders tropes, etc.
  16. What is the most over-hyped book you read this year? Starless Sea (you’re not as cool as The Night Circus!  You’re just not!); The Sunlit Night (you don’t deserve to be made into a movie); The Illustrated Man (I am very fond of Bradbury!  But it got to a point of just feeling like the same story told different ways). 
  17. Did any books surprise you with how good they were?   Spinning Silver.  It was SO tidy.  I appreciate stories that tie up so neatly and recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tales or fantasy.
  18. How many books did you buy? …let’s see.  I bought my boyfriend a book in February, my friend a book in December (which I still need to give her), and I was tempted to buy Huxley’s Music at Night in September before coming to my senses and going “You can just get that from MelCat once it’s up and running again!”  Which I did.  I should finish reading that.
  19. Did you use your library? Definitely.  The pandemic meant that 1-month checkouts turned into 3- or 5-month checkouts, which meant that I finished….like…3 additional books.  Maybe.  I basically didn’t finish anything in March, May, or July, which is why I had trouble meeting my yearly goal.
  20. What was your most anticipated release? Did it meet your expectations?  
    I’d anticipated Starless Sea, Particular Sadness, and Sunlit Night.  …seems I was most let down by the ones I anticipated most.
  21. Did you participate in or watch any booklr, booktube, or book twitter drama?  Nope.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  22. What’s the longest book you read? The Starless Sea: 498 pages.  Maybe part of what I disliked about it was how long reading it took.  Also, though Bitter Seeds, Shadow of the Torturer, and Titus Groan were shorter books, I think they all felt like they took as long.
  23. What’s the fastest time it took you to read a book?  An hour or two for a shorter book, especially since I had so many rereads (Best Christmas Pageant Ever is only 80 pages, which I’d forgotten, and The Little Prince has never been that long).
  24. Did you DNF anything? Why? I didn’t finish On the Map because someone else requested it from the library; ditto Outwitting Squirrels and Possum Living.  There were several sequels to Book Group Thing reads (Tombs of Atuan, Farthest Shore, Desert Spear) which I requested but never actually had enough interest to crack open.   
  25. What reading goals do you have for next year?   Some are the same as before – 33 books, get closer to keeping up with my library checkouts, read all the Shakespeare I haven’t yet, finish and returned borrowed books to friends.  But I also vacillate wildly: I should read more doctrinal books!  I should read more history and/or critical theory!  I should read all my cheap paperbacks and cull the ones I don’t love!  The list goes ever on and on, down from my pen where it began. 

    Tell me about your 2020 reading, or what you look forward to reading in 2021!
    If you’ve got a particular item for my TBR, I’d love to hear about it!