I read a lot this year: 82 books and counting. I will probably bust out one or two more before the end of the year but I wanted to get this wrap-up completed! (Edit: I read a total of 87 books in 2019. My final few books will be counted numerically on GoodReads but for reviews in 2020.)
This post will include:
- GoodRead stats
- My top ten books
- My least favorite reads of the year
- DNFs, or “Did Not Finish”
- 2020 reading plans
It will be a long one, so brace yourselves. Let’s start off on a positive note…
My shortest book was actually probably any of the Roald Dahl books, but since I selected the audiobook version of The Firm, that ended up being my shortest read of the year. I made a goal to read 35 books and completely blew it out of the water with 82!
Top ten books
You can see reviews for all the books I read this year (and a few from late 2018) in my Book review Index Page. But here are the ones that really stood out:
White Fragility by Robin diAngelo (non-fiction, social justice): this book is written by a white person for white people on race relations and knowing our place.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (fiction, contemporary)
Holes by Louis Sachar (fiction, young adult): this book held up just as well as the movie! The story is absolutely captivating.
Will My Cat Eat my Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty (non-fiction, death): I read all three of her books this year and liked this one the best. The short chapters answer questions about death in her signature whimsical, yet knowledgeable ways.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (non-fiction, death)
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (fiction, contemporary, young adult): maybe not a five-star book, but I was very surprised with how much I liked it!
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (historical fiction)
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (non-fiction, psychology)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (historical fiction): while this is an amazing story, I still grapple with the controversy around a white person writing this book. There’s an extremely detailed explanation in the review.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (historical fiction)
Least favorite reads
These are the books that I completed, but didn’t like:
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James: This is not a BDSM book, this is “relationship” exhibits clear signs of abuse. On top of that, the writing is awful and the characters are boring.
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer: Disclaimer: I didn’t hate this series, but this book was a terrible way to conclude it. And being the last book in the series, it also dug up a lot of other problems I had with the series and just left me bitter.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: I could not tell you a single thing about this book. There was zero plot, the characters were unbearable and, as expected of John Green, the dialogue was completely cringe-worthy.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: Another book with forgettable characters and a plot that seemed to go nowhere. The only reason I didn’t put it down was because I was expecting some kind of pay-off… that never came. The timeline was way too rapid to make anything really matter and I very much care for details. If you’re interested in this book, I recommend picking up Normal People instead; a similar feel but with a better reading connection in my opinion.
God Is Not Great: How Region Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens: Disclaimer: I am not disagreeing with the message, just the delivery. It was very history-heavy and while I understand the need for context, I just felt I was reading a history book with no moral a lot of the time.
Unlike some people, I have almost no problem putting a book down if I’m not enjoying it. I’ll usually wait until the 15-20% mark to decide, but I’m willing to put it down sooner if it’s that bad. I probably won’t try to read these books again unless I state otherwise.
1984 by George Orwell (classic, fiction): I tried to like this book, I really did. I enjoyed Animal Farm, but this one had me falling asleep on the treadmill as I listened to the audiobook. But after 20%, I simply wasn’t captivated and that was enough for me to put it down.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (young adult): I literally couldn’t handle the “cigarette as a metaphor” thing, it is so preposterous. I couldn’t bear to finish the movie after the kissed in the Anne Frank House and everyone clapped. And to think a grown ass man wrote this book.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal (non-fiction): I think this was one of those books that was just going too slow. There was nothing I hated about it, I just wasn’t in love with it and was super busy when I tried reading it. Although it’s a bit dry (I like a pop-science books that also includes a personal narrative), I think I’ll give it another shot.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (non-fiction): Although it was interesting, I thought this book would be more about human evolution, not literal history. I guess I didn’t take the title seriously enough. But I hope to give it another chance now that I know what I’m in for and it seems to be one of the most popular pop-science books in the last couple of years.
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (fiction, thriller): I think I put this down because there wasn’t enough of the mortuary science side as I hoped, it was moving too slow, the main guy was a bit of a twat and I’m not a fan of the insta-like. Less love, more bodies, please.
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean (non-fiction): It was interesting, but the language was a bit dense and the stories were lengthy. It’s impossible to retain 100% of the non-fiction I read, but from a book I usually take a few strong points and ideas from it, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what little I read of this book.
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (short stories): I have been pushing myself to try short stories and horror seemed like a good place to start. However, some of the books went over my head and I wasn’t totally enjoying it. I was speaking to my dad about the book and he said he quite liked a few and after reading one of them and not loving it, I decided to DNF the book.
2020 reading plans
In 2020, I hope to read at least 52 books. I don’t know what kind of free time I will have for the second half of the year, but I think one book a week is realistic regardless of what I’m going.
I really want 2020 to be the year I finally read The Lord of the Rings books and I will probably read another YA series (maybe Mortal Instruments). I also hope to read more books from my 30 Classics Before 30 list (I’ve only read three so far, but think it requires some editing).
What was your favorite book(s) of 2020?
Photo by Sincerely Media.
Just curious, Rachel, how do you pick your books? I usually look for books by my favorite authors (Jodi Picoult, Patricia Cornwell) but sometimes their novels are a little too similar. U. Bob bought me the book, “A Dog’s Purpose”. I haven’t started it yet but I am intrigued to see what the author has to say. Love your posts!
I LOVED seeing your stats! Great job! I am horrible about updating my Goodreads. I highly recommend the Mortal Instruments SO much better then Twilight! <3