What I Read in 2020

book opened on top of white table beside closed red book and run blue foliage ceramic cup on top of saucer In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 2019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Over half of the books I read in the average year are for a review site that I volunteer for under a pseudonym. I always omit those titles from this post for obvious privacy reasons.

2020 was a below average reading year for me, even more so than 2019. This was particularly noticeable when it came to the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I started so many books that I never ended up finishing due to *gestures tiredly at the countless emotionally draining moments of this year that all of us are already keenly aware of.* 

For some reason, nonfiction was an easier read for me this year in general. I’ve included links below to the few SFF novels I not only finished but blogged about.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Tombstone that reads "born" and "died"“Mrs. Beaton’s Question: My Nine Years at the Halifax School for the Blind” by Robert Mercer

“Republic of Shame: How Ireland Punished ‘Fallen Women’ and Their Children” by Caelainn Hogan

“Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son” by Richie Jackson

“Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” by Kate Clifford Larson

 

Fiction

“The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue

 

A fountain pen lying next to old black and white photographs and a bundle of documents wrapped in brown paper and tied up with black stringHistory

“A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future” by Perri Klass

“How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York” by Jacob Riis

“Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present” by Frank M. Snowden

“Nobody’s Child: A Tragedy, A Trial, and a History of the Insanity Defence” by Susan Vinocour

 

woman wearing a white nightie holding a lantern as she walks through a wormhole. There is a space ship flying through from the other side of the worm hole.Science Fiction and Fantasy

“Greenwood” by Michael Christie

“The Ghost Child” by Sonya Hartnett

Everfair” by Nisi Shawl

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

“The Emissary” by Yoko Tawada

“Silver in the Wood” by Emily Tesh

 

Science, Health, and Medicine 

“Zombies Run!: Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency” by Naomi Alderman

Photo of human skeleton in a teaching lab“The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behaviour, Health, and Happiness” by Emily Anthes

“The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – Or Being Denied – an Abortion” by Diana Green Foster, Ph.D.

“High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected” by Chavi Eve Karkowsky

“Natural: How Faith in Nature’s Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science” by Alan Levinovitz

“Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” by Maryn McKenna

“Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes too Far” by Paul A. Offit

“Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods” by Danna Staaf

“Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art” by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

 

Sociology and Psychology 

“The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America” by David Faris

Black and white sign that says "polling station"“The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free” by Julie L. Hall

“Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May

“The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival” by Kathy Labriola

“Librarian Tales: Funny, Strange, and Inspiring Dispatches from the Stacks” by William Ottens

“Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity” by Helen Pluckrose

“Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey into the Science of Attachment” by Bethany Saltman

“Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression“ by Dan Tomasulo

How were your reading habits affected in and by 2020? Have we read any of the same books this year?

12 Responses to What I Read in 2020

  1. My reading suffered in 2020 as well. For a while, I lost the ability to concentrate at all, but it’s better now. I hope you’re finding the same thing. Happy New Year.

  2. And I doubled the amount of books I read due to resting/recovering for the second half of the year. I read exactly 100 books. Some were short, but then a few were almost 1000 pages. 2020 changed us all.

  3. Lydia,

    I just printed out your post. There were too many intriguing books there to jot them all down; I love the breadth of genres. “Zombies Run!: Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency” has to be my favourite title, even though I have absolutely no intention of running. Someday, I hope to be able to take walks again, though. Maybe Ms. Alderman will write a book for Zombie Walkers by then.

    Are there any books on your list you recommend particularly? Any you would suggest are better left unopened?

    Like you, my focus has suffered for all the same reasons at which you so eloquently gestured.

    The biggest effects last year had on my reading habits are that I read a hellacious lot of news and often ended up reading lighter book-fare or books that I had read before. I wonder how many books’ worth of newspaper and magazine articles I read? I hope this year, or maybe the one after, I’ll feel I can read a little less news and a few more books.

    If you COULD count all the books you’ve read in your life, how would you count books you’ve re-read? Would you count each book or each reading? (I think one should count each reading.)

    A slight tangent: your blog with your good sense and calm passion for books and beauty, your consideration for others and your kind humour has helped me get through this last year and I thank you for it heartily.

    • I look forward to your comments, Ruth! They’re wonderful. Thank you for your kind words about my posts and personality. They mean the world to me.

      The Zombies Run! book covers a lot of different types of exercise. I’m hoping some of them are things you can do. The author really stresses the importance of knowing your limits and not doing things that will cause injuries. Could you swim? Lift weights (even very light ones)? Do some yoga? I believe that book mentioned all of those things if I’m remembering correctly.

      I’d estimate I’ve read 2500-3000 books in my lifetime so far (if you include rereads). When I was a kid, I’d spend hours each day reading during the summer and on breaks from school, and I’ve always been a fast reader! How many books do you think you might have read so far?

      Here are the books from my list I adored and would highly recommend:

      “The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue

      “A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future” by Perri Klass

      “The Deep by Rivers Solomon

      “Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art” by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

      The ones I thought weren’t that good (or at least not for my tastes) were:

      “Mrs. Beaton’s Question: My Nine Years at the Halifax School for the Blind” by Robert Mercer

      “The Emissary” by Yoko Tawada

      “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May

      “Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression“ by Dan Tomasulo

      I hope you enjoy whichever books from my list you decide to read.

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