I have my doubts this space will ever be a proper “book blog” again. Then again, I’m not sure it ever was. Books were what prompted me to start blogging and they’re part of what keeps bringing me back. Even so, they’ve never been all I talked about here.
But I am here to talk about books right now.
For the most part, I’ve been able to keep reading through The Year of Our Coronavirus, 2020. I’m not sure what I read has changed all that much, although I feel that I made more deliberate selections. How I read was different, though.
Almost everything I read in 2020 was an ebook. I have been shifting in that direction anyway; vision issues have led me to need larger fonts. This year, though, I went pretty much all in on reading with my iPad. Meanwhile, due to the near-elimination of my commute, it was a terrible year for audiobooks. I’m trying to find my way back to them via A Promised Land. (Michelle Obama’s memoir was one of the best audiobooks I read in 2019. I thought I’d give her husband’s new book a shot.)
I set a modest reading goal of 20 books for 2020 (but not with that in mind!). If I finish my current read by New Year’s Eve I’ll hit 25 (or 26 if I get through that audiobook too!). In the context of 2020, I’m pretty satisfied with that.
A few observations on this visual rendering of my reading year:
- I thought I read more nonfiction than fiction, but I just did a count and fiction is ahead 2 to 1. Maybe it’s that the nonfiction just takes me longer to read…
- The bulk of what I read was published within the year – I think it’s roughly 75%/25% new/backlist.
- Current events clearly influenced some of my reading choices (and a few book purchases I haven’t gotten to yet): “pandemic fiction,” women and politics, race relations, and social justice.
- And then there were times I went in the opposite direction and just wanted something plotty and diverting–hence, the two John Grisham novels I read back-to-back in the autumn.
- I can’t remember when I last received an ARC, and I don’t miss them all that much. Ebooks are affordable and available to read within a few minutes. (And if I don’t mind waiting, there’s always Libby.)
And a few standouts:
- Best companion reads: Morgan Jerkins’ memoir Wandering in Strange Lands and Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents by Isable Wilkerson reinforced each other.
- Most surprising: The City We Became by N.K. Jemison is urbany fantasy well outside my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I read it and eagerly await the dequel.
- Fastest read: Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year by Michaelangelo Matos has a subtitle that is absolute catnip (booknip?) to a specific set of my interests, and I blew through it in under a week.
- Book of the Year: Brit Bennett’s second novel, The Vanishing Half.
I think I will aim to read 20 books again in 2021. It was one of the few things in 2020 that turned out better than expected.