Remember last year when I whined about “only” reading 64 books?
Speaking of 2019: the first book I read was The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai, about a new and mysterious virus, and the last one was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. And yet I wasn’t prepared for 2020, not for a pandemic, and not to take it stoically. Which just confirms my stance on reading, that it does not make one a better person nor prepare one for life’s challenges. It’s just entertainment And That’s Okay.
My reading in 2020 was even less prolific (whether or not it’s as portentous remains to be seen). I read 44 books, a low point in my blogging career, not counting years in which I gave birth. Covid is a simiarly life-altering event, I suppose. I’m relatively unscathed, but not much reading was happening in spring and summer. I still managed to read a few gooders though, and I am hopeful for next year. I even have some plans in mind. Planning ahead: what a concept!
Read in 2020 and Best books
I’m still off Goodreads, with no plans to return. I did a Twitter thread of all my completed books, and used Brock Roberts’ Reading Spreadsheet to keep track of acquisitions and other stats. In 2021 I’m going to use a very pared-down spreadsheet – Brock’s is great but there’s a lot there I don’t use, and I fall behind on entering all the info.
Check out the Twitter thread if you want to see everything I read. Here are my top five:
- The Innocents by Michael Crummey – and if I have to pick my book of the year, it’s this!
- Young Skins by Colin Barrett – best short story collection of the decade?
- The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrente – cememted my Ferrente Fever
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner – quiet, unassuming, masterful
- The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore – also quiet, unassuming, and masterful
Events in 2020
I participated in just a few events this year, and hosted none. My focus in 2021 will be to participate in a deeper way in a select few. After (almost) ten years, I know the value in blogging lies in the small-scale, passion-driven events (i.e. not the large-scale readathons or group reads, at least not for me), as much as it lies in the space for personal reflection and journaling.
- International Booker Prize: my reading and reviewing was derailed by the pandemic, but I managed to review one longlister.
- 20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy, and while I read less than previous summers, I’m pretty happy with my reviews of The Known World, Real Life, and The Collected Schizophrenias, and though it came way after the deadline, my comparison of Crossing to Safety and Real Life.
- Crime and Punishment Read-along, a Booktube event, which showed me that live shows can be fun and informative (and that’s down to the care and preparation of the hosts, Dostoyevsky in Space and Spenelli Speaks).
- Novellas in November, which found a home with Cathy and Rebecca. Though I didn’t manage a review, I finally read Wide Sargasso Sea.
Plans for 2021
I hope to get another post up before the end of the year (yes, I know it’s already the 27th) with some projects, but the jist is: I want to read old books. Specifically, books published before the milennium. I swear I had this idea before LitHub did. It’s not really about feeling better though, more about filling in gaps and discovering a world without (adult) me in it. Also getting off the hype train of new releases and seeing what’s stood the test of time.
I will obviously be making some choice exceptions, and might do a Giller Prize project later in the year, but for the most part, I’m going to be reading in the past, and I’m really looking forward to it.
A few stats
I don’t track these things as I go, or aim for anything, so pretty remarkable that these were so steady:
- 29/44 woman writers (same ratio as last year)
- 10/44 in translation (just a little more than last year)
- 9/44 Canadian, if you count Brian Moore, and I do! (same as last year)