Reading Highlights 2020

by | Dec 20, 2020

Since 2012 I’ve kept track of the books I read in Goodreads. I’ve set a reading challenge for myself each year since 2014. Sometimes I reach it, often I don’t. I like the idea of reading a book a week, but after reading 60 books in 2018 & 88 in 2019, I set a 60 book challenge for this year. I’ve read 32.

I simply wasn’t able to sit down and read for most of this year. Since March, I found it incredibly difficult to focus. No surprise there. I’ve missed reading though, and kept returning to read a page or a chapter. I’d try starting something new, I tried audio books, graphic novels, anything to get back into the habit, but it was a slog.

I still don’t feel like I’ve fully recovered my reading mojo, but I did manage to get through a reasonable number of books, one way or another, and I thought it would be good to reflect on some of those here.

Sci-Fi

Network Effect by Martha Wells. Oh Murderbot, you slay me. I ADORE this series. The novellas were so much fun, and this latest full-length novel is incredible. More! More! I just finished this a week or so ago and it was a joy to read. I wanted to pick it up every day and dig in.

Recursion by Blake Crouch. I read this at the beginning of the year, long before COVID hit my radar. I really enjoyed his last book, Dark Matter, and Recursion did not disappoint.

The Expanse novels #4-#8 (plus 2 novellas). I love this series, and after watching the fourth season last winter I knew I had to power through the rest of books this year (the fifth season just dropped)! I spent a lot of time with the crew of the Rocinante in 2020. I read Cibola Burn & Nemesis Games pre-pandemic, but got stuck on Babylon’s Ashes. I ended up switching to the audio book versions to get through it, Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s Wrath this summer.

Audio Books

I’m blurring lines between categories here, and while technically sci-fi, I think The Consuming Fire & The Last Emperox by John Scalzi get their own category for the simple fact that I was delighted to have Wil Wheaton read these two books to me. I read The Collapsing Empire two years ago and enjoyed it, but Wil’s narration really brought the Interdependency series to life for me.

Memoir

Reading High School by Tegan + Sara and Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein early this year really cemented my desire to learn to play guitar. And I did. I now rock. Honestly, playing guitar and singing has helped me immensely this year.

Self/Improvement

Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk is interesting, inspiring, helpful and hilarious. I managed to get through it all, but I know will return to it again.

Adventures in Opting Out by Cait Flanders. A Canadian kindred spirit! This book and its hiking-as-metaphor is delightful, made even better with a 5-week online meeting to discuss the book’s sections this fall. It’s a gift to find the others, people out there with similar ideas, desires and challenges, and I am grateful for this book, this year.

Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton. This book is strange and wonderful, packed with some really incredible and useful information. I received a free copy and now I kind of want to share it with everyone. Permaculture! Rocket Mass Heaters!

Poetry

When I first heard about Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation I knew I had to check it out, and it did not disappoint. I tried the audio book and thought it was awful. No, this one begged to be read aloud. I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time with this lyrical beauty. Absolutely delightful. I might suggest it as a lovely gift for your favourite D&D bard…

Graphic Novels

I actually read more graphic novels than I counted in Goodreads this year, but a lot of them were not worth mentioning. I did enjoy some adaptations from novels: Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Parable of the Sower, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

On a lighter note, I Hope This Helps: Comics and Cures for 21st Century Panic by Tommy Siegel was super funny.

The book that unlocked my focus and got me back into reading again this fall was The Outsider by Stephen King. Those who know me know what a fan I am, and this book got me back into a regular reading habit. Addictive, in a good way. Thank you Mr. King.

Even though I fell behind this year, I still plan to set a reading goal for 2021. I’ll probably stick with 52 and hope for the best. I’ve got a long list of books I want to get to!

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