i wasn’t initially planning to do a separate reading roundup for 2020, but since i wound up reading so much i figured it was worth it. i’m making this up as i go, so this post is going to be a bit of a ramble. don’t say i didn’t warn you.
first, some statistics.
- of the 67 total books i read in 2020,
- 55 were by authors who identify as women,
- 37 were by authors of color,
- 29 were nonfiction,
- 3 were translations,
- 12 were re-reads, and
- 5 were by authors who identify as lgbtq+ and / or included characters who were lgbtq+
i read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, young adult and contemporary, graphic novels and poetry and essays. the oldest one was roll of thunder, hear my cry, published in 1976, and the most recent was hrh: so many thoughts on royal style, which released in november 2020.
i re-read my beloved harry potter series and finished my goal of reading maya angelou’s entire autobiographical collection. i discovered new favorite authors, like brit bennett and samantha irby and priya parker, and was able to read new-to-me works by some of my previous favorites, like mira jacob, zadie smith, and mohsin hamid.
when 2020 began my goal was to read 35 books, which would have been my highest total in a number of years, and i wound up blowing that out of the water. when covid hit in march and we were relegated to our homes, i was often so sick of screens by the end of the work day that i couldn’t imagine watching tv or being on my computer another moment and so i read instead. and read. and read some more. and before i knew it, i had crossed my original goal halfway through the year. i found a good rhythm of balancing more serious reads with ones that were more fun so i never got bored, and when i needed a break i gave myself a break.
and now, my favorites.
fiction. of the 38 fiction books i read last year, my favorite was brit bennett’s the vanishing half*. it was a fascinating read, and bennett is my new favorite writer. a close second was akwaeke emezi’s the death of vivek oji, which ripped me apart and built me back up.
- honorable mentions:
- the thirteenth tale by diane setterfield — this was a re-read and is still a great book
- an american marriage by tayari jones
- the girl with the louding voice* by abi dare
- the dutch house by ann patchett
- such a fun age by kiley reid
- normal people* by sally rooney — another re-read, and also my favorite book-to-screen adaption
- a ladder to the sky* by john boyne — one of the most talented authors i’ve ever read
- roll of thunder, hear my cry by mildred taylor
- get a life, chloe brown by talia hibbert — my favorite rom-com of the year
- the shadow of the wind by carlos ruiz zafon — always and forever
nonfiction. of my 29 nonfiction reads, there was a clear favorite: priya parker’s the art of gathering: how we meet and why it matters. i learned so much from this about the intentionality of our gatherings, and i have recommended it non stop ever since. in the months since i have listened to parker’s interviews on various podcasts – including brené brown’s! – and with each new talk or article i love her work more and more. i think we should be friends.
- honorable mentions:
- rising strong by brené brown
- born a crime by trevor noah
- march: books 1-3 by john lewis
- good talk by mira jacob — my second favorite
- i’m still here by austin channing brown
- heart talk: poetic wisdom for a better world by cleo wade
- big friendship* by aminatou sow & ann friedman
- wow, no thank you by samantha irby
- hrh: so many thoughts on royal style by elizabeth holmes
- stamped: racism, antiracism, and you by jason reynolds and ibram x. kendi
there are definitely some i will re-read in the future, so don’t be surprised if you see them pop up again from time to time. there are some that can’t be fully taken in with only one reading [or 2 or 5 or however many times i’ve read harry potter at this point]. and there are some that i have already passed along to others so i can have someone with whom to discuss them.
two quick shout-outs.
my reading last year would not have been possible without two great platforms: book of the month and libby.
i have been a book of the month member for nearly 4 years, and it continues to be one of the best investments i’ve ever made. for $14.99/month you receive a new hardcover release each month [out of 5 options], and all of the books marked above with an * are all from book of the month. i love being able to read the synopsis of each book and choose which one i want, and i also appreciate that if i decide to skip a month i can roll that credit over to the next month. [ed note: if you join using that link above we both receive an extra credit! yay for free books!]
and 2020 was also the year i finally connected my library card to libby so that i could borrow library books on my kindle. i cut way back on my book purchases last year and borrowed as many as i could digitally. i saved quite a bit of money and also read some books that i would have put off reading because of the cost. i will forever prefer the feel of a physical book, but there is a lot to be said for free books that you don’t have to lug around.
this was a fun look back at how much i read in 2020. i don’t anticipate getting anywhere close to 67 again this year, but you never know. in the meantime, happy reading to you and yours!
what were your favorite reads of 2020?
ps: all of the book links are affiliate links through bookshop. if you use the link to purchase the book i’ll earn a small commission, but more importantly, you’ll be supporting independent booksellers. they need our support more than ever right now!