A Year in Reading: A Brief Overview of 2020

As the Plague Year wraps up, many of us are looking at our reading lists and shaking our heads. We either didn't read enough, read too much, or read books that typically would not have found their way to our TBR.

I started out in the first group, wandered oh so briefly into the second group, then settled comfortably in the third group. Not all of the books I picked up made it on to my reading list — if I finished less than half, it didn't count. 

The "Don't Mention It List" is short, and just a tad surprising. First of all, I got about 40 pages into the latest Stephanie Plum novel and discovered her antics were just plain annoying. Maybe it was that this was a direct sequel, picking up where the last one left off, or that I didn't need to read about how Morelli was out so Ranger could be, er, in. At any rate, after 27 novels, I am breaking up with Stephanie Plum. I will miss Lula. I may miss Grandma Mazur (but only a little). I will miss Connie's no-nonsense approach to everything (and her donut choices).

But Stephanie should't feel too bad. It's 2020. Everything is under the microscope, and a lot of otherwise worthy books don't pass muster.

I didn't check out any fad nutrition books from the library; I learned my lesson last year with the tomato-hater. Now, I just read short articles to see whether I thought the "science" had merit. For the most part, I've eschewed in-the-moment food books, but I did read a number of cookbooks (and even tried a few of the recipes). (Okay, David tried the recipes.) 

I also skipped "current" political books of any party — if it doesn't marinade well, it's not going to fit my taste.

So, what did I read?

Well, I consumed about 20 percent of my books via audio. I let Anne Hathaway and E. B. White, John Leguizamo and Bryan Stevenson read to me. 

I consumed two of the Fall for the Book tomes via audio, neither of which was narrated by the author. (Honestly, not all writers should read their own work. I keep waiting for someone besides Toni Morrison to narrate Beloved; I literally cannot hear her voice very well.)

I also consumed some good YA and juvenile fiction. I sent my granddaughter a collection of Ivy & Bean books for her first day of school, and figured I needed to get caught up so we could talk. I just finished the second one (sorry to be so slow, Mads!) and I'll start the next one soon.

I was very disappointed by a book I had been waiting more than a year to read: The Starless Sea felt like a LARP game full of dead ends and wild cards. I also was disappointed in the fourth installment of the All Souls Trilogy: there weren't enough witches in this vampire tale for me. I was, however, pleased by the short story collection by FĂ©lix J. Palma, The Heart and Other Visceraand the latest by Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett.

I met a new author I am enjoying greatly: Jo Walton. The first of her books I read was mind-blowing: My Real Children, in which a woman in a memory care unit was trying to remember the path her life took, and whether the people visiting her were her "real children" in her "real" life. Between her and Connie Willis, I got my feminist sci-fi on.

All in all, the reading year was satisfying.

Next week, I'll publish my reading list and my favorite books of the year. Start thinking about what that looks like for your own reading, and we can compare notes.

So, how was your reading year? Was it better or worse than you anticipated? Were there any surprises? Do tell!