Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020 Books in Review


Definition: a word that many would use to describe 2020 AD.


2020 was a year of many things. For me, it was a great year for reading. I mean, sure I didn’t reach all my goals, but who did this year? What’s really important is the books I did end up reading.

Right before the shutdown, I had a hunch I should check out a bunch of books, so I grabbed a whopping giant called Words of Radiance. Best choice I made. I got to hold on to it for, like, three months. I still ran out of library books before quarantine lifted, so I reread a bunch of others on my shelves.

Even after the library opened, they extended the check out time and cancelled all library fines. For a while, I had been doing curbside pickup only, so it was October before I went back into a library, which is really sad. But I’ve frequented the bookstore. A. Lot. You should see my shelves. I had to reorganize at least three times.


Goal: 1 Book 700+ pages

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson—1,084 pages. Hey, look, I did it! Picked this one up just in case right before my library closed due to COVID. My impulses were good for once. There were several times I wanted to throw the book across the room, but it was so heavy that never happened. Most of the time, I rested it on my lap or on the arm of the couch. #mywristhurts Such a good book! Kaladin is my son, and nobody can change my mind. (He’s also younger than I am, so asdfghjkl. What is this?!?!)

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson—1,243 pages. Somebody stop me. Just kidding! I love Sanderson’s work. I still haven’t figured out the connections between the Cosmere books, but oh my goodness, I just enjoy all the characters and all the quips. The only problem: I have to wait until November—probably longer—for the sequel.

Goal: 3 Classics

What are classics? I read zero of them. Unless you count The Lord of the Rings and The Once and Future King. Then I technically met this goal? Unless you count each of series as a single book. It’s not quite clear…


Goal: 5 Books from Places I’ve Been

Nothing but Sky by Amy Trueblood—Lincoln, Nebraska; Springfield, Missouri; and Chicago, Illinois. My first book of the year! I feel like I’m not the right person to evaluate it though. On the one hand, I enjoyed the historical research that went into this book, but on the other hand, I just wasn’t a fan of the romance. Or the blurb on the back. It basically gives away the whole plot.

Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk—Nottingham, England and Acre, Israel. My brother would probably be disappointed in this book because it makes Richard the Lionheart look like a jerk, but each character is so well developed. And the writing style is super engaging. But I hate all the characters. Argh! I wouldn’t actually recommend this one.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah—London and Cambridge, England. I don’t know if this one counts because it’s a sort of futuristic dystopian London where the Earth is flooded and everybody lives underwater. So cool! But the locations of the old city (our current London) are so accurate, I must mention it. And it’s such an amazing book! Underwater sci-fi is one of my favorite things.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan—San Francisco, California. Not so much a story about the city but the bookstore within it. The main character also goes to New York City and Nevada at one point. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, especially the tone of voice the narrator uses, giving me a better sense of Clay’s emotions about accidentally working for a book cult.

Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles—El Camino de Santiago, Spain. Technically the Camino is an 800 km walk across Spain, and I’ve only walked 260 km of it. This book is easily one of my new treasured books for the way it includes the perspective of an Army brat and the pilgrimage with all its difficulties and beauties.


Goal: 5 Graphic Novels

Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki—This series is actually a reread, and wow, is it creepy or what? It made a whole lot more sense the second time around though, especially since I was already used to the style and knew about the plot twists. I actually quit around book eight because it was just too dark.

Divinity by Matt Kindt—This one was really good! I need to explore more Valiant comics to get a better feel for who all the characters are. From what I’ve read so far, I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I particularly liked how this series explored not just space but from the perspective of cosmonauts from the USSR instead of astronauts from the US.

Harbinger by Joshua Dysart—Didn’t enjoy these nearly as much as the Divinity books, but they’re by Valiant comics and set in the same universe. So they helped me understand more of the characters who show up in Divinity, though not all of them. They’re just too gory for my taste.

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha—Stunning cross-cultural experience. A stand-alone memoir about a Korean American who moves to Alabama. Though I have a very different background than the author, I found I could really relate with her story.

A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima—My sister watched the Anime and was trying to get me to watch it with her, but I prefer to read books first. My library only had the first three volumes, but we did watch the Anime together. I cried. Twice. That’s high praise coming from me!

Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda—I’d seen this one several times in my library and only added it to my list after it was recommended as a fantasy novel featuring a good mother figure. I thought that was pretty cool, so I gave the book a chance. I ended up really enjoying it! A story about a young mother as she raises her children, I found the mix of fantasy and realism rather enjoyable.


Goal: 5 Novels in Verse

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga—Recommended to me by a dear friend, this one probably wouldn’t have been my first pick. But it’s so, so good! (Thank you, Nicole!)

White Rose by Kip Wilson—I’ve actually read another book with a similar plot, which is listed as a German classic: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. Though they take place in different cities and feature different people, both are based on the true stories of German nationals who didn’t agree with what the Reich was doing, so they secretly distributed pamphlets to stir up the people. I particularly liked the style of White Rose, though the story didn’t resonate with me as much as expected.

Unbound by Ann E. Burg—I listened to this one as an audiobook, so I didn’t get to see the poetry in action, but it was a nice change all the same. Such a beautiful story about what it means to be free, what it means to learn, and what it means to live independently.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle—Heartbreaking yet beautiful. I learned more about the Cold War and Cuba’s relationship with America and the Soviet Union. Based on the author’s experiences as a child.


Goal: 1 Book Published Before 1800



Overall: 15/20 Types of Books


Other Notable Books

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (series, books 1-4)

The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims (reread)

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (reread)

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla (reread)

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (reread)

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)

York trilogy by Laura Ruby

Of Myth and Monster by the Phoenix Fiction Writers

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Return of the Volon by L. Nicodemus Lyons

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

The Naming by Alison Croggon (reread) 


My Goodreads Year in Books put these two next to each other. I'm flattered. :)


Here’s to another book-filled year. Can we get fewer disasters though? Please?!?!




Let’s chat! Did you meet your reading goals for the year? What were some of your favorite books? Do you have enough on your shelves for another shutdown the zombie apocalypse?


Similar posts: 2020 Reading Resolution, 2019 Books in Review, and 2019 Reading Resolution

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