Sunday, January 03, 2021

2020: Year in Review

At the end of 2019, I was hopeful that the new year would bring more balance and less anxiety. That I would be able to shake the feelings of being overwhelmed and drained all the time. I think we all know how that turned out. Two thousand twenty came in and said, "You thought that was bad? Just wait!" 

It really felt like my reading suffered this past year. But if you look at the total number, I read as many books as I did the year before. The difference though is in what I was reading. My personal mystery count was down this year. Cozies seemed to hold my attention more, and I could not stomach the darker themes of thrillers and police procedurals. As has been true for the past several years, half or so of my reading was dedicated to children's books or middle grade novels, most of which I read with my daughter. Mouse tends to be a reluctant reader, but if I suggest we read together, she's usually all in. I have enjoyed introducing her to my childhood favorites as well as discovering new books with her. I topped the year off with Debbie Tung's Book Love, full of humor and truisms for all us booklovers. It seemed a fitting way to end--celebrating my love for books.
page from Book Love, 2019

I think a lot of my reading this year was for escape, but there was also some time made for learning and self-reflection. Books helped me through this past year, and I look forward to seeing where this new year will take me in reading.

Some Fun Meaningless 2020 Reading Statistics:

Number Of Books Read: 101

Genre Read The Most:
(Some of what I read falls under more than one genre. Here, I count them under the genre I most identified with the book. Also of note, my categorization of each book by sub-genre using broad definitions).

Fiction - 41
  • 17 Children’s
  • 17 Middle Grade Contemporary
  • 3 Adult Contemporary
  • 2 Historical Middle Grade
  • 1 YA
  • 1 Short Story Collection
Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror - 24
  • 7 Fantasy
  • 3 Science Fiction (1 Romance, 1 YA, 1 General)
  • 3 Horror (2 Historical, 1 Contemporary)
  • 3 Middle Grade
  • 2 Historical Fantasy
  • 2 Graphic Novel/Middle Grade
  • 2 Children's Fantasy
  • 1 Fantasy YA
  • 1 Graphic Novel/YA
Crime Fiction/Mysteries - 22
  • 10 Middle Grade (10 Paranormal)
  • 8 Cozies (5 paranormal, 3 contemporary) 
  • 2 Historical
  • 1 Thriller
  • 1 Middle Grade (Contemporary)
Romance - 6
  • 4 Contemporary
  • 2 Paranormal/Fantasy
Nonfiction - 6 (4 Adult, 1 Children's, 1 Graphic Novel)

Poetry - 2 

Of the book I read, 60 were print copies (hardcover or paperback), and 41 were e-books.

14 of the 101 books I read in 2020 were written by men.
85 of the 101 books I read were written by women.
2 of the 101 were written by both male and female writers.

54 of the books I read in 2020 were written in 3rd person point of view.
44 of the books I read were written in 1st person.
3 of the books I read were a mixture of both 1st and 3rd person.

Month I Finished the Most Books: January (13)
Month I Finished the Least Books: July (2)


Best In Books

Of the books I read in 2020 a few stood out above the rest. I tend to be led by emotions when choosing a favorite--how a book makes me feel counts for a lot. I also look for good writing, well-developed characters, a memorable setting and/or world building, and an entertaining and thought provoking story. Here is the list of my Top Ten Favorites for 2020

(Click on the titles to be directed to my bookish thoughts; the covers take you to the books' Goodreads pages.)

All Around Top Five

1. Wonder (Wonder #1) by R.J. Palacio



2. Dear Martin by Nic Stone



3. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai 



4.  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 



5. The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic #0.5) by Alice Hoffman  


*                   *                   *

Favorite Romance: Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis



Favorite Mystery: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn



Favorite Fantasy: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine



 Best World Building: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia



Favorite First in a Series: The Library of the Unwritten (Hell's Library #1) by A.J. Hackwith



I would love to know what your favorite reads of 2020 were! Please share a link to your favorite's list below if you posted one--or just tell me in the comments. Did we read any of the same books? 


My Blogging Bookish Life

I published 109 blog posts in 2020. January was my most prolific month with 14 posts, and July and August tied for my slowest with only 3 posts each.

I really fell behind on my review writing this year. I hardly reviewed any of the middle grade novels I read and most of the reviews of books I posted in general came the second half of the year. Many of which I had read a month or two (or more) before. For quite a while there, just the act of getting on my computer for nonwork related stuff was a challenge. To use a phrase a friend and fellow blogger, Mystica, used, I felt like I was "drifting without any focus." Adjusting to working partially from home and helping with distance learning were among the biggest challenges that received most of what focus I had.

I know weekly/monthly memes get flack from some in the blogging community, but I appreciated them even more so this past year. In a time when many of us have been isolated, they gave me the opportunity to feel more connected with others and not feel so cut off from everyone and everything. 


In 2020, I continued to take part in Michelle's My TBR List Meme at Because Reading, enlisting your help in choosing one book each month to read. I really enjoyed having you take an active part in selecting what I would read. It can be difficult to choose on my own with so many choices. You wouldn't believe the amount of time I can waste in deciding. Or maybe you can . . . I am grateful to Michelle for coming up with the idea. I plan to continue to participate in the meme in 2021, and hope you will join me! 


Books Read Because Of You (My TBR List Poll Winners of 2020):

• January: An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1) by Charlaine Harris
• February: Dear Martin by Nic Stone
• March: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
• April: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
• May: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Spellwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
• June: The Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas
• July: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel
• August: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine
• September: The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0.5) by Alice Hoffman
• October: A Deadly Education (Scholomance, #1) by Naomi Novik
• November: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse  (Thorne Chronicles #1) by K. Eason
• December:  Royal Holiday (Wedding Date #4) by Jasmine Guillory


Outcome of My 2020 Reading Challenges & Bookish Goals:

1. Catch up with my NetGalley/Edelweiss reading ~ A continuing work in progress.

2. Read more poetry ~ And feature it on my blog. My dream was to do a monthly poetry feature, or more realistically once a quarter. I even joined the Poetry Reading Challenge hosted by Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit as inspiration. While I did not quite meet my personal goal, I did meet my goal for the challenge: to read one poetry collection during the year. I actually read two: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver and Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen.

3. Keep a reading journal ~ My plan was to get back into keeping an actual reading journal beyond just the spreadsheets I keep with bookish minutia, a place where I jot down my thoughts on a book as I read or, at the very least, right after I finish a book, especially since I do not always get to review writing right away. Alas, it did not happen. Maybe in 2021? 

4. Read more nonfiction ~ I signed up for the 2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge hosted by Shelleyrae of Book'd Out with the goal to read at least three nonfiction books during the year, and I read six. I'm not sure any of them count though because I only reviewed one and another was a children's book and another a graphic novel. So while I may not have officially completed the challenge, I at least met my personal goal. 
  • Well-Read Black Girl by Gloria Edim (ed.)
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer & Christopher Eliopoulos 
  • Book Love by Debbie Tung
5. Goodreads Challenge ~ To read 13 books. I admit I do not always take this one very seriously. I try not to put too much weight on quantity. If I set myself a high goal, I would likely stress myself out trying to reach it. So, I generally set the number to something I know I can meet or aim ridiculously low.  I usually will not adjust the number even when I meet it because I kind of like to see the percentage go over 100%. I reached 421% in 2020!

To see which reading challenges I am taking part in this year, visit here. I also made sure to set my Goodreads Challenge goal as well, of course. 


It has been a difficult and frustrating year. I think most of us are glad to see its backside at last. Many of us have suffered loss and major lifestyle changes. I also realize how lucky I am compared to many others. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have no grand expectation for 2021. I do not expect it to be better or all that different than life is right now--at least not the first part of the year. I certainly do not want it to be worse. But what I do hope is for health and safety. For stability and to find joy wherever I can. To appreciate that which is in front of me. I wish this for all of us as we cautiously step foot into this New Year. 

Thank you to all of you for your visits and comments this past year. It means so much to me. As my blog turns 15 this coming summer, I cannot be more proud to be a part of this wonderful community of book bloggers. I have enjoyed visiting with you and look forward to seeing what this year will bring us, both in books and in life.


How did your past year shape up? Did you accomplish your reading and blogging goals? Have you set any for the new year? 


© 2021, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

40 comments:

  1. You had a great reading year with wonderful books. I like that you ask your readers which book you should read next; that's a fun feature.

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    1. Helen - Thank you! It turned out better than I expected. The monthly TBR poll is one of my favorite memes. Thank you for visiting!

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  2. Yay to a 100 books!! Good job.

    I'm really curious about Mexican Gothic.

    Hopefully 2021 will be a good year for you, personally and book-wise!

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    1. Esther - Thank you! I hope you get a chance to read Mexican Gothic. It's very atmospheric and I loved it.

      I hope you have a great New Year in reading and life as well. Thank you for stopping by!

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  3. Looks like you did some great reading Wendy. Even if it felt like you read less this year. Although I used to read thrillers and detectives a lot, this past year I mostly read romance novels. Simply because I just needed something cheerful and not to difficult to occupy my mind.
    Let's hope this year things will get better again. ;)
    Have a great week and happy reading.

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    1. Maureen - Thank you. I was surprised I read as much as I did frankly. I thought I would have read more romance this past year given my mood. I couldn't handle anything too dark last year. The dark ones I did read took me awhile to get through. I hope you have a great week too! Thank you for visiting.

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  4. I was frustrated during the early days of shutdown because I had all the time to read but could not focus. At. All. I kept pushing myself to try because reading is usually such an escape for me but then I just gave up. I don't think I actually read successfully until May. Oddly enough, my totals are about a dozen more books than last year. Go figure.

    2021 is starting off slow for reading but now that my husband is back at work it should pick up. :)

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    1. Ti - I think that was a common problem for many. For me it was less time to read since I was suddenly juggling working full-time with distance learning, but even then those times I could read, I just wasn't feeling it. I am hoping this year will be better--now that I have more of a rhythm going in terms of juggling it all. I'm hoping the reading challenges will give me some much needed structure which will help some.

      I know about slow starts. Haha. Wishing us all a better 2021. Thank you for stopping by!

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  5. I am glad that 2020 is over, and like you, I have zero expectations for 2021. I'm taking this one day at a time. I was happy to see you did read some poetry last year. That was a solace for me and reading with my "reluctant" reader -- we have similar methods on that...getting them to read. I am happy to host Poetry Reading Challenge again for 2021 and glad you joined. Back at work for me this week, which means less reading time.

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    1. Serena - At this point, I think one day a time is the best I can manage too. I read more individual poetry last year as well, but didn't really talk about it. I am looking forward to reading more this year.

      Yes, anything to get my daughter reading. This entire school year has been such a big challenge in more ways than one.

      Here's to a better 2021 all around! Thank you for visiting.

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  6. I know I definitely read to escape life in 2020! :D

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    1. Lark - We needed all the escape we could get, didn't we? Thank you for stopping by!

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  7. I think I am an oddity. I know a lot of people couldn't focus or read during the pandemic, but I was the opposite. I read a ton last year. It kept me from going crazy. I might try that monthly meme of what should I read next. I will have to start in February if I do it. You did very well with your reading, Wendy. I hope you enjoy whatever your decide to read next.

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    1. Carla - I am glad you were able to read a lot this past year. I know others who were able to as well. I hope you do give the TBR meme a try. It's fun to see what our blog readers pick for us.:-) Thank you for visiting!

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  8. I had a similar change in 2020 in terms of what I read. I'm sure it was the pandemic and the doom and gloom of U.S. politics but I craved nothing but rom coms for most of the year. I think I read more of them in 2020 than in all previous years combined, lol.

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    1. Suzanne - It was definitely a year for escape or light reading! Thank you for stopping by!

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  9. Wow, its rare that I meet a blogger who's been blogging longer than me๐Ÿ˜ (my 10 year is coming up this summer) Its nice that you continued to read last year, even with all its challenges. I'm going to take 2021 day by day and hopefully it will end up being a good year๐Ÿ˜

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    1. Tammy - It doesn't feel like I've been blogging that long. :-) I think taking 2021 day by day is a good idea. I think that's all we can do. Thank you for visiting!

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  10. What a lovely way to sum up the year! I love that you encourage Mouse with her reading by reading right along with her. I sure hope that this year will be a lot better for all of us and for us to be able to get ahead of the pandemic. And, yay for reading challenges. More than anything I find them a way to get inspired to read outside my comfort zone. Enjoy and again, Happy New Year!

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    1. Iliana - Thank you! I wish you the best with your reading challenges this year. And may this year be infinitely better than the last. Thank you for stopping by!

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  11. It sounds like you had a great year! I like how diverse your reading selections were. You read a lot of great books. I really want to read Dear Martin!

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    1. Laura - Thank you! I hope you do get a chance to read Dear Martin. It's worth it. Thank you for visiting!

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  12. I completely felt the same way last year as you mention in your post. I actually read more than before, but a bulk of my reading was children's books. If anything, last year was an indication of how much can change but we can still find solace in books, even if our reading tastes change, but then that's exactly what reading tastes mean. Hopefully, 2021 will continue to anchor us in what we love but also reduce the exhaustion felt in 2020.

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    1. Athira - Yes, I'm so grateful for books. They were often the constant in the storm. I am feeling a little more grounded going into this year than I have been these past few months. As long as the ground doesn't shift too much more under our feet, anyway. Haha. I hope you have a better year too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  13. Looks like you'd a great reading year in 2020, Wendy! I'm glad to see Mexican Gothic is on your best list because that's the book I'm going to read soon. Here's hoping that this year will be another good reading year for us!

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    1. Melody - The reading year wasn't as bad as I expected, so that was a nice surprise. :-) I hope you enjoy Mexican Gothic! It was one of my darker reads of the year, but I really enjoyed it. I hope you have another great reading year as well. Thank you for visiting!

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  14. Wow, you read quite a few books last year, and I'm impressed at how much of a variety you read! I really enjoyed The Library of the Unwritten, too, and I need to read the sequel! Mexican Gothic is also on my TBR, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed that, too!

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    1. Sammie - I hope to get to the sequel of The Library of the Unwritten too! The first one was such a great read. I hope you enjoy Mexican Gothic when you read it. Thank you for stopping by!

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  15. "For quite a while there, just the act of getting on my computer for nonwork related stuff was a challenge. " SO TRUE!! I feel like I am just coming out of that same funk. Love your lists, from books read to TBR to goals. I'm halfway through Me and White Supremacy and also How to Be an Antiracist. So good but I am reading them so slowly to really absorb them!

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    1. Sarah - Thank you. I definitely don't think we are alone in feeling stuck in this funk. Here's hoping for a better year this year!

      How to Be an Antiracist was so good! I took my time with it and White Supremacy also. Both books really got me thinking and reflecting on my own beliefs and behavior.

      Thank you for visiting!

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  16. My reading year was actually pretty good and like you cozies were my go to. I love seeing your reading stats and what books you enjoyed over the year. I hope we have a better 2021 year both in reading and in general!

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    1. Katherine - I hope we both have a better 2021 year as well! Thank you for stopping by!

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  17. I think that you had a great reading year! I can see how the events of this year would have an effect on the books that you would want to read. I hope you have a wonderful 2021!

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    1. Carole - Thank you! It was better than I thought it was when I was in the middle of it, that's for sure. :-) I hope you have a great 2021 as well. Thank you for visiting!

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  18. Mexican Gothic is certainly not my usual read but so many people have enjoyed it so much that I decided to add it to my library hold list. And The Song of Achilles - I have it on my Nook and why I haven't read it yet is a mystery - I loved her book Circe.

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    1. Lisa - I hope you enjoy Mexican Gothic. It wasn't my usual type of read either but I really wanted to give the author a try. I'm glad I did. I hope you enjoy The Song of Achilles when you read it. I look forward to reading Circe! Thank you for stopping by!

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  19. 2020 was full of anxieties and changes for me too. I just hope that 2021 gets better and honestly it won't until later in the year for me for work reasons. I am glad I haven't been sick and I have pushed through hard times. I wish I posted 100 bookish posts on my blog. I am feeling more inspired to do so though and hoping for good things in the new year. 15! Wow. My blog is going to be 10 this year which is crazy to think about. I choose my favorites based on emotion as well. I think most readers do (;
    I'm trying a reading journal this year as well. Let's see how it goes.
    Hope you have a great 2021!

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    1. Adriana - I imagine 2021 will be much like 2020 to start. Hopefully it will get easier for all of us as time goes on. Congratulations on your upcoming 10 years! We're veterans now, I suppose, although it doesn't always feel like it. LOL Good luck with your goals this year! And I hope you have a great 2021 too. Thank you for visiting!

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  20. Just added Library of the Unwritten to my list!

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    1. Stacy - I hope you enjoy The Library of the Unwritten! Thank you for stopping by!

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