I have never been so happy to reach the end of a year. This is officially the worst year of my life, in part because of COVID but also for several personal reasons. But even though it was an awful year, I did read some amazing books. So here are my reading stats according to Goodreads, the first and last books I read, and my top 6 new (to me) reads and top 6 rereads of 2020!
I set my goal at 75 and ended up reading 100. That’s up from last year when I set a goal of 60 and read 77 books.
My shortest and longest books were both for school. I read “Deer Woman: A Vignette” for my final paper in the graphic narrative course I took this semester. The Mysteries of Udolpho was the first book for my Gothic course last semester. Interestingly, the average book length is slightly down from the last few years. It generally lands somewhere in the 300s. But I did read a lot of graphic novels this year, which tend to be shorter, along with a lot of novella length classics.
The most and least popular books I read are absolutely no surprise to me. Although I am a little surprised the Twilight has been shelved more than other books that have been the most popular I read in past years. 6,168,109 compared to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘s 3,803,539 (in 2015)! As for Milton’s An Apology of Smectymnuus with The Reason of Church Government…I don’t know why anyone would read it if they weren’t forced.
My average rating for the year is down considerably. It’s ranged anywhere from 4.0 to 4.4 in past years, and this year it’s at 3.8. I don’t think I’m necessarily reading less books that I like. Rather, I think that I’m becoming a bit more picky about what deserves 4 and 5 star ratings.
This is unbelievable to me. I did not like All the Good Little Girls Keep Quiet, so I don’t see how it’s the highest rated out of everything I’ve read this year. I just didn’t think it was good. But it only has 42 ratings and most of them are high, so I guess that’s why. Full Review
First and Last Reads
First Read of 2020: Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
I read this at the beginning of January, and it feels like forever ago. It is a fairly straightforward retelling of the fairy tale “Snow White and Rose Red,” and I enjoyed it. Fairy Tale Friday
Last Read of 2020: Among Others by Jo Walton
I’m kind of surprised this is my last book of the year. I read it mid-December, and usually I would read way more books after that. But I just haven’t been in the mood. Anyway, Among Others is a fantastic book to end the year on. I adored it. Full Review
My Top 6 New (to me) Reads of 2020
For these two lists, series count as one and I’m limiting myself to one book per author. This is particularly difficult because I have to pick my favorite out of the three Jo Walton books I read this year. We’re starting with my sixth favorite and ending with my most favorite.
6. Paying the Land by Joe Sacco
I am so glad I took the graphic narrative course offered this semester because it has brought so many amazing books into my life. Paying the Land is a piece of graphic nonfiction focused on the Dene people in Canada. It’s thorough, informative, emotional, and Sacco’s artwork is stunning. I learned so much from it, and it resulted in two excellent classroom discussions.
5. Doll Bones by Holly Black
I picked up this audiobook on a whim, and it ended up being one of my favorites of the year and my all-time favorite Holly Black book ever. It’s a lovely coming-of-age story about friendship and stories. And it has a bit of a spooky twist added in. I loved it. Full Review
4. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
Another amazing book from my graphic narrative course! This memoir follows Bui’s family through the Vietnam War and their immigration to the United States. I didn’t know much about the Vietnam War, so this book taught me a lot. And the art is simply gorgeous! Full Review
3. All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller
All the Ever Afters is a historical retelling of “Cinderella,” and it has become one of my favorite retellings of the tale. It tells the story of Agnes, Cinderella’s stepmother. Teller’s characters are wonderfully complex, and I loved the twists she put on the story. Fairy Tale Friday
2. Among Others by Jo Walton
Picking which Jo Walton book to put here was extremely difficult. But Among Others won out because it has so many things I love all in one book. It’s definitely one I’ll want to reread (although I can say that for the other Walton books too).
1. The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone. I’ve been screaming about how wonderful The Girls at 17 Swann Street is since I finished it back in March. It’s a gorgeous and realistic account of a woman’s struggle with anorexia. It’s one of my favorite books ever, and I’m planning to reread it soon.
My Top 6 Rereads of 2020
6. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
I reread Agnes Grey thinking I was going to write a conference paper on for Anne’s bicentennial conference. Well, that didn’t happen. But I did enjoy rereading this. Anne Brontë is so underrated and deserves more love and attention.
5. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This isn’t the first time I’ve reread The Hound of the Baskervilles, but I always enjoy it when I pick it up. This time it was for my 19th-century Gothic course, and I wrote a paper on it. It’s inarguably the best of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and it’s always fun to revisit.
4. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
I knew I wanted to reread Hate List as soon as I finished it for the first time in 2018, and I found some time to do that this year. It deals with a school shooting, so it’s emotional and upsetting. But I think Brown handles it really well, and it’s ultimately an important book. Full Review
3. The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
This is not the first time The Foxhole Court has been on my top rereads list, but it is the first time it’s been on without the rest of the series. All for the Game is one of my favorite series ever. Is it realistic? No. Is it slightly ridiculous? Yes. But it’s fun! It’s one of my ultimate comfort reads, which was definitely needed this year.
2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wintergirls is one of the most important books in my life, and I haven’t properly reread it since high school. It’s a difficult read since it deals with a teenage girl’s struggle with anorexia, but it’s both realistic and beautifully written. It caused me to realize I needed help with my eating disorder back in high school, and this year it helped encourage me to continue with recovery. Full Review
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This is also probably not a surprise to anyone, nor is this the first time Jane Eyre has appeared on my top rereads list. Jane Eyre has been one of my favorite books since I first read it at fifteen, and I’ve reread it tons of times. This time it was for my 19th-century Gothic course, and I wrote a great paper on it that I’m hoping to turn into an article.
Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to hoping 2021 is better than 2020!