2020 Reading Re-Cap

 I think I'm going to be super low-tech about this this year, and skip the Amazon Affiliates links and not even add any images.  Just a plain, old, unprofessional blog post. Are these posts still going out via mailchimp to e-mail subscribers? If so, I apologize for that. This is no longer a blog that will tell you how to clean your bathtub with borax. Or how to make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. Or any of the other phases I've been through. ;) Apparently, this is just a once-a-year analysis of what I've been reading.

So. It was a weird year (I'm sure every re-cap anybody ever does of 2020 will contain that phrase.) But all in all, it was also a surprisingly steady reading year for me. Yes, I have reached more for comfort reads, the data shows, but still chugging steadily along.

Some stats:

The goal: 52 -- The actual: 65ish. It's difficult to figure because I counted some DNFs if I could tell I definitely would not be reattempting them at a later date.

Surprisingly, even being stripped of my two hours daily commute back in March, audio books still comprised about 1/4 of what I read. I'm not sure when I fit them all in! But it's definitely a sign of how much I have adopted that medium. Paper books also comprised about 1/4 of my total reading. I think that is a little bit of an increase. E-books via smartphone still generally win the day for me, though. I especially like highlighting passages via the Kindle app, since Goodreads lets you reference them later -- even if your e-book was a library book that is long since returned.

Geographically speaking, I read a TON more books set in Great Britain this year. Yep, definitely an Anglophile when it comes to comfort reads. I still read a couple titles across Africa, Asia, and South America, but they were almost all by white women, actually. So significantly less diverse than the year prior. Also, 75% of my books overall were by female writers which is a heavier skew than usual for me. 2/3 fiction, to 1/3 non -- I think that is about par for the course. 

Genres! Notably, I read absolutely NO poetry this year. That's weird and needs fixing. Nature writing, books about reading/writing, and essay/memoir were my non-fiction preferences as usual -- I didn't get to anything foodie or straight-up history this year, though. Oddly, my classic lit was WAY down. I only read two new classics this year, and they were both 20th century fiction. The other classics were fairly fluffy re-reads, so I could stand to dig a little deeper in the upcoming year. 

So what did I read instead of poetry, diverse books, and classics? Historical fiction and mysteries were WAY up for me this year -- they account for almost a third of my total reading. Yep! More comfort reading! But I do not regret it. And I might also try to call it "research" since I'm writing a historical mystery with a few friends. ;)

Ok, so briefly -- the Best Ofs:

I think my best author discoveries are Elizabeth Peters and Kate Morton -- both from the historical/mystery stack, not surprisingly. The Amelia Peabody series is just plain charming: I downed the first three in a single year, and I'm usually really bad at continuing through series. And Kate Morton's been on my to-read list for awhile. I loved the atmosphere of The Forgotten Garden and can't wait to read more by her. 

Also very happily grabbed the new releases by Yaa Gyasi and Emily St. John Mandel who figured among my favorites from the last two reading recaps. 

Favorite Books of the year (in no particular order -- okay, kind of in an order, because the first one is knock-your-socks-off-good):

- The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri - this was beautiful and terrible. Immersive. Amazing. This book lets you experience how seriously post-apocalyptic it is to be a refugee in this world -- it also brings Syria beautifully and evocatively to life. If you take one title away from this post, let this be the one.

- The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley - I actually just finished this a couple weeks ago. It was a blast. 19th century English explorers/scientists + fantasy and indigenous folklore in Peru. So imaginative and fun, and surprisingly grounded in reality.

- The Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando Flores - Okay, so this is a little weird. It is kind of dystopian. Also kind of mad-cap/hilarious. And also tackles grief and some really tough, touching, and/or horrific things. Straddling the border between Mexico and the U.S., and also the border between reality and the absurd. Also, indigenous folklore. 

Two observations about these favorites -- 1: I am sensing an indigenous folklore trend. Maybe I should dig further into this. and 2: Although I claim Great Britain and historical fiction/mystery as my comfort reads, these favorites actually don't fit into those molds. Bedlam Stacks is probably the closest, but only by merit of when and where the characters were born: most of the story takes a pretty drastic departure from there.... Rather, these favorites seem to be united by having strongly depicted settings completely OUTSIDE of anything I have ever read before. Fun, fun.

So after all that, some running goals for 2021 I guess:

- poetry

- more global reads by authors who are outside my personal demographic

- older classics - maybe some classical lit? Re-read some Jane Austen? A Russian tome I haven't gotten to yet? Victor Hugo who is still a big fat EMPTY spot on my reading list? Oh, and Shakespeare. I should read some more Shakespeare. 

- Oh, and I re-read the first Anne and Emily books (L.M.Montgomery) this year. Maybe for 2021 I should re-read book 2 in each series....

- So many books, so little time.


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