2020: My Reading Year (and My 2020 Top 10!)

That’s it! 2020 is practically over! I’m not so foolish as to say that this year ending means an end to all the troublesome things 2020 presented, but I will say that it feels nice to head into a new year with a fresh start. And a new reading challenge, to boot!

Let’s talk about 2020 for a minute, though, first. I’m not quite ready to banish it yet.

My Reading Year

When this year started, I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be able to set my reading goals as high as I had in years past. In addition to the general chaos of being a toddler’s mother, I started a new full-time job this year and fully expected my evenings to fill up with dinners to cook and laundry to fold and little boy to pick up after.

Despite all that, though, I was able to read 90 books and then some: I finished the year at 132 books (and I’m pretty sure I could have made it to 133 if I would’ve just read into the wee hours of the night this week)! I’m pretty proud, and I won’t hide that.

I think I have to credit this year with a few things. I love being home; it’s genuinely my very favorite place to be. I like the comforts of it, and the specific joy I have from spending a morning drinking coffee while looking out the same window as I did the day before. Being around too many people has always made me feel anxious; I’m my worst self when I’m in a crowd. It’s necessary for me to spend time on my own. That’s when I’m able to think and process and just RELAX. I’m grateful that 2020 gave us an excuse to spend the majority of the time within our own walls, that I was able to spend moments of absolute quality with my husband and my son and our pup. It’s rare that we have time that belongs fully to us, and I don’t take even a bit of that for granted. I got outside more and paid attention to my immediate surroundings. I was forced to think of my fellow man, and I hope that’s made me a better person. If anything, 2020 has made me try.

My Instagram (Bookstagram) Top 9 for 2020! It’s always fun to see what other people enjoyed seeing.

And lastly, of course, I’m thankful for the books I was able to read this year. I discovered so many new authors that I now love dearly (Elizabeth Acevedo, Sophie Kinsella, Austin Channing Brown, Sarah J. Maas, and more) and returned to authors that hold my heart (Fredrik Backman, Jenny Colgan, Yaa Gyasi, Brit Bennett, Bianca Marais). I stayed up late into the night reading about love and war and fantasy (I see you, ACOMAF) and cried over lost characters (thanks a lot, The Knife of Never Letting Go). I laughed at hysterically funny commentary (yep, that’s Knox McCoy) and listened to prose so beautiful and narration that I didn’t want it to end (Lisa Gungor with The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen). I felt seen as a sister (Transcendent Kingdom and The Dutch House) and a mother (What Kind of Woman) and a reader (the darling audiobook of 84, Charing Cross Road can be credited with this). When things got too hard or too scary or too unpredictable, I could turn to my books and know that most of them featured things that were scary and hard and unpredictable, for which I loved the process of reading them. And if I can face it on the page, I can face it in reality. Yes?

So thanks, 2020, for the good things you gave me and also, curse you for the hard things you made us all work through. As most real things in life, you were a bit of a mixed bag.

2020 Reading Statistics

I can almost entirely thank Goodreads for their My Year in Books feature for this section. I’ll link to that here.

I made this on Canva! It’s a nifty little site.

This year I read 132 books. Of those 132, the average rating I gave was 4.0. The star ratings break down in this way:

  • ✪✪✪✪✪ : 26
  • ✪✪✪✪: 82
  • ✪✪✪: 19
  • ✪✪: 4
  • ✪: 1

As you can see, I read many more books that I enjoyed than books I didn’t! I mostly attribute that to the fact that I’ve been reading so long that I really know myself now; it’s fairly easy to tell if I will like a book before I start reading it, whether that’s based on a cover or a synopsis or just the person who wrote it.

This year, 106 books I read were written by women (80.3%) and 26 (19.6%) were written by men.

I made a goal this summer to dedicate more of my reading time to diverse authors. I was able to do so, and while my year percentage of books written by BIPOC authors is lower than it should be, I can see progress from my previous reading years. This year, 27% of the books I read were written by BIPOC authors; in 2019 this percentage was closer to 10%. Like I said, it’s not enough, but I’m working toward a more diverse reading future. My goal for 2021 is to add more diverse reads to my “Keep Shelf,” which is what I call the bookshelf of books I love enough to own forever. I think it’s important that I make space for BIPOC authors there, and I hope to support these authors by purchasing copies of the books I’ve loved that fit this category.

Another interesting part of my reading life this year was the amount of audiobooks I read. I’ve listened to audiobooks for the past few years, but I’m pretty sure I read more audiobooks this year than ever before. I started walking everyday when everything shut down in March, and this gave me a lot of time to read; also, I was spending more time around the house doing general domestic work, which is GREAT for audiobooks. This year I read 34 audiobooks overall.

The vast majority of my books were fiction (93), but I did read several nonfiction books (29) and a few poetry collections (11) in 2020. This was also apparently the year of contemporary romance for me; I read 18 books that would fit in that category. Based on my chart, it would appear that my reading tastes are skewing more toward contemporary than any other genre.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020:

Without further ado…the best books I read this year in reverse order. If you want to read more expansive thoughts on these books, I’m linking to their Goodreads page. Also, they are all featured in Monthly Reading Wrap-Ups from the past year on this site if you really feel like digging.

10. The Girl with the Louding Voice, Abi Daré

9. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson

8. Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi

7. Testimony, Anita Shreve

6. Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo

5. Anxious People, Fredrik Backman

4. The Dutch House, Ann Patchett

3. Before the Ever After, Jacqueline Woodson

2. ACOMAF and ACOWAR, Sarah J. Maas

AND…

MY FAVORITE READ OF 2020 WAS…

1.If You Want to Make God Laugh, Bianca Marais

Honorable Mentions:

  • I’m Still Here, Austin Channing Brown
  • All Things Reconsidered, Knox McCoy
  • Southern Lady Code, Helen Ellis
  • Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson
  • Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  • The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

What were the best books you read this year? Drop a comment or a share a link to your yearly reading wrap-up in the comments!

So, that’s 2020. The books I read, the things I felt, the tv show binges and Elton John dance parties. My best wishes are with you as we head into this brave new year!

And, as always, happy reading.

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