End of Year Thoughts (January 2020)
It’s 2020! That’s a new year and a new decade. This is the decade I really hope to hone in on my passion of reading, but that is only possible because I’ve had such a fantastic year in reading. I read 80 books this year. To put that in context, I’ve read ~250 books my entire life (save my very young reads, e.g. Magic Tree House). I was a decent reader in my teens, and I’ve always tried to keep that up every year with 10-15 books a year.
Fast forward to this year when I went from struggling to get fifteen, to an uptick in reading in July and even more in September when I came across Booktube for the first time. Booktube has proven to be a both an inspiration and a guide. It has pushed me to try new books, but it has also given me new challenges to spice up how I read. Most of them were audiobooks (see below), and it was because of Books and Lala that I decided to try listening to a book at double speed, revolutionizing my reading.
What’s more, I’ve read several physical books (maybe a tenth the number of audiobooks), and I haven’t read a physical book in years. The result is me reading one third of my total life time of books in a single year. I am so excited moving forward, and I hope you join me in discussing the different reading stats.
Stats are key to setting goals. I don’t just want to read more; I want a wider range of diversity and viewpoints to better myself for the better. There are a lot of stats, so I am going to create a Table of Contents so you can jump ahead if you prefer.
Table of Contents
- Monthly Updates
- Yearly Stats
- DNFed Books
- Complete List of Read Books
Introduction (January 2019)
I saw a friend of mine share a post of all the books he read in 2018. He did it to encourage himself to read more, and I thought it was a great idea! I’ve decided to do it now. Of course, all of my casual reading will be via audiobooks. I’m sure there are some of you who may not consider that actually reading. I really don’t care. I’ll save the reading for my research.
I will try to post monthly updates. Below these, I will post ongoing reviews and commentary about the books I am reading, but I won’t post these until I finish the book. You can see the complete list below. I’ve got a couple large short story collections I am in the process of reading, but you can find those ongoing reviews on their own posts. These are books I am not reading consistently. Some of them I am reading but holding off posting until I make it through more stories.
Click on the month in question to see the update at the start of that month including the TBR (may not be there for the first part of the year). You can jump to the January 2020 update and TBR here.
Monthly Book Count, Book Ratings and Book Pages
I finished 80 books this year. I started the year with an ambitious goal of 15 books this year, but I lost interest in March as I begun to read something I wasn’t loving. I also had a period of short stories/essays that I read without completing the entire collections. Fast forward to July, and I found myself reading so much more. It was September when I came across Booktube for the first time, and that changed everything. Once I saw I had read nearly 10 books both in August and September, I began to think I could read a lot more than I thought. It really was all about the routine. I stopped listening to as many podcasts and watching as many TV shows. By October, I started experimenting with 1.8 to 2.0 times speed. Naturally, that begets twice the reading. This year, shows a clear growth for the better, and it makes me so excited for next year.
This is interesting. My average count was in the mid 300s. I always thought I read a lot of long books, but clearly it is more balanced. I actually read a lot more novellas this year than I normally do (by %). I had been concerned about counting them towards my books read list, but my average length shows that it’s evened out by the longer books I read.
This is a disappointing stat. My average rating was, I think, 4 stars, and that seems a little too generous. I think I am giving too many 4+ stars. I heard one person say 4 stars are good books, but 5 stars really should be absolute favorites, books you want to reread. I think that is a good standard. I intent to be more harsh in my ratings moving forward. The struggle is, if it is less than 3 stars, why finish it. Perhaps, my 2 star should be more “fine” categorically than “actively dislike.”
Types of Books (Genre, Audience, etc.)
Clearly, I have a bias for Horror, Scifi, and Fantasy. In fact, many of the scifi and fantasy overlap. I started reading more contemporary, mystery and historical fiction largely at the behest of Booktube. I think historical is the most difficult to read because there are a lot of that I am particular about. I love family drama, but I don’t like war or the Victorian. That said, I’ve made a point to vary my reading. I have my TBR shelf split by genre, and I make myself pick at least one book from each genre before I double up on another.
I find it very important to keep my reading varied to keep me interested. Some people might think this is me reading things I don’t want to read, but that isn’t the case. I am excited about everything on my shelf. Granted, there are those that I consider more experimental than others, but I still want to read them. This is to keep me from pushing through my most excited stack and lose stem when or if I got stuck on a bunch of duds. I want to make sure I always have a very highly anticipated book ahead of me.
I don’t read a lot of YA, but I am experimenting more with it. It it still hit and miss, but I think there is YA out there for me. I have definitely found some I love. I intent to experiment more this next year in hopes of finding more.
I started reading more graphic novels (comics) this year, and I hope to read more this next year. I’m not sure what more to do with this. I would like to read more anthologies. I actually read my first one this year with Ellen Datlow. Overall, I’d like this to be more varied just so I can get a better variety of experiences.
Books by Gender
It was 2015 when I realized I had a bias for men authors (85%), and that became the year of the women. In the sense that I chose to read only women. Since then, I have tried to increase that number. Part of it is my obsession with Stephen King and King rereads. My new favorites of the year would be Mary Robinette Kowal, A.S. King, Seanan McGuire, and Tananarive Due. Among men, my new favorites would be Stephen Graham Jones and maybe Jeff Vandermeer. My old favorites would of course be Octavia Butler, Stephen King, and Maya Angelou.
Books by Race
I read a lot of amazing fiction by POC. I clearly have room for improvement, and that is a goal of mine this next year. However, there are a lot of writers worth mentioning. Stephen Graham Jones writes amazing horror and is a native american author. Maya Angelou and Octavia Butler still stand out as favorites, but Tananarive Due was a new find of mine. She writes fantastic horror, and I look forward to reading more by her. Shobha Rao is an Indian aurthor who wrote one of my top ten books of the year. The last person who really stood out to me (that I can recall at the moment) is Celeste Ng who writes the best domestic dramas. I cannot wait to read more of her books; I’ll probably reread her existing ones.
I want to be clear, I don’t mention this authors because they are people of color. I mention them because they are some of the best authors I read last year. I just think its beneficial to make note of those books that are also by authors of color because I am aware of my bias and the bias of others to read what we know. This is a way of drawing attention to books that are just as worthy of your time that may not get the attention it deserves. And, if your like me, maybe you’re looking specifically authors of colors at times to make sure you are reading a more varied list of books.
Book Purchases (Owned vs Bought)
This was a bad year for book buying. I spent more money than I have. I found BookOutlet and BookTube. Now, this is not the complete list of books I bought. These are books I read. I have created a strict monthly book budget, and I am at the point where I should be able to read only books I own (or get from NetGalley). It is a good discipline to have. I hope to spend less money on Amazon this year, but when I do, it is for newer books which makes sense why I gravitated toward reading those if I have them. Thrift books is a site in the states that offers super cheap used books. Usually, I read then buy those, but since I am reading books I own, that won’t happen as much (hopefully).
DNF (Did not finish) Books
I did not DNF a lot of books this year. I quit To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis not because I hated it but because I was in a slump. Still, I find myself finishing most books I start. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so strict with myself. Alas, it is what it is, but maybe I can be more liberal with my DNFs. I just hate not meeting a goal. I also hate not finishing books I already own physically. The only other book I didn’t finish was Essay’s by Christopher Hitchens. I really tried (twice. I read the essay’s that interested me, but too many of them were esoteric and a waste of my time. I decided to give up on it, and still keep it on my shelf.
Another book I technically didn’t finish was The Time Travelers Almanac. I’ve been reviewing it as I go along, but I haven’t finished it. I am going to. I think I’ve set too strict with how I’m trying to review it, but I’m not rushing through it.
- Firestarter, by Stephen King ★★★☆☆
- The Time Travelers Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger ★★★★☆
- The Dry, by Jane Harper ★★☆☆☆
- The Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North ★★★★★
- The Cabin at the End of the World, by Paule Tremblay ★★★★☆
- Redshirts, by John Scalzi ★★★★★
- Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer ★★★★☆
- Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries)*, by Martha Wells ★★★★★
- Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries)*, by Martha Wells ★★★★★
- Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries)*, by Martha Wells ★★★★★
- All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries)*, by Martha Wells ★★★★★
- Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi ★★★☆☆
- Mapping the Interior, by Stephen Graham Jones ★★★★☆
- The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones ★★★☆☆
- The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal ★★★★★
- The Devil and the Deep, edited by Ellen Datlow ★★★★☆
- The House of Dies Drear, by Virginia Hamilton ★★★☆☆
- The Good House, by Tananarive Due ★★★★☆
- A Wizard of Earthsea* by Ursula K. Le Guin ★★★☆☆
- Fledgling, by Octavia Butler ★★★★★
- Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King ★★★★☆
- Finders Keepers, by Stephen King ★★★★☆
- End of Watch, by Stephen King ★★★☆☆
- Dolores Claiborne, by Stephen King ★★★★★
- The Outsider, by Stephen King ★★★★☆
- Gerald’s Game, by Stephen King ★★★☆☆
- Insomnia, by Stephen King ★★★★☆
- Fearful Symmetries, Edited by Ellen Datlow ★★★★☆
- The Dark: New Ghost Stories, Edited by Ellen Datlow ★★★☆☆
- Vicious by V.E. Schwab ★★★★☆
- Mongrels by Stephen Graham ★★★★☆
- Life Among Savages by Shirley Jackson ★★★★☆
- White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi★★★★★
- Summer of Night by Dan Simmons ★★★☆☆
- The Institute by Stephen King ★★★★☆
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury ★★★★☆
- The Ancestors by Brandon Massey. L.A. Banks, and Tananarive Due ★★★☆☆
- Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield ★★★★☆
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★
- Every Heart a Doorway* by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★
- Circe by Madeline Miller ★★★★★
- If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio ★★★★★
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab ★★★☆☆
- Time Reborn by Lee Smolin ★★★☆☆
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng ★★★★★
- Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao ★★★★★
- Down Among the Sticks and Bones* by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★
- The Tombs of Atuan* by Ursula K. Le Guin ★★★★☆
- Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou ★★★★☆
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield ★★★★☆
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel ★★★★☆
- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★☆
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★★
- The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton ★★☆☆☆
- A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes ★★★★☆
- Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi ★★★★★
- Sadie by Courtney Summers ★★★★☆
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware ★★★★★
- From Eternity to Here by Sean Carroll ★★★★★
- Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler and (adapted) Damian Duffy ★★★★★
- The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang ★★★★☆
- The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood ★★★☆☆
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz ★★★★★
- The Farthest Shore* by Ursula K. Le Guin ★★★☆☆
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tart ★★★★☆
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro ★★★★★
- Beneath the Sugar Sky* by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★
- Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King ★★★★☆
- An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim ★★★★☆
- The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand ★★★☆☆
- Mr. Dickens and his Carol by Samantha Silva ★★★☆☆
- A Christmas Carol* by Charles Dickens ★★★★★
- Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy ★★★★☆
- How I Broke Up With My Colon by Nick Seluk ★★★☆☆
- The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly ★★★★☆
- The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker ★★★★☆
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams ★★★★☆
- Gone Girl by Gillian Glynn ★★★★★
- Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi ★★★☆☆
- Kindred by Octavia Butler ★★★★★
Provided by NetGalley and publisher for a fair and honest review.