“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.”
-Roald Dahl, Matilda
Reading in 2020.
Wow! 2020 sure was full of unexpected twists and turns! What started off as a “full speed ahead” year for me quickly become a year of “slowing down.”
Who would have thought that when I celebrated the four year anniversary of Bedlam & Daisies and shared my word of the year for 2020, PRUNE, that the Universe would come along and force me to pay attention to what needed pruning?!
By the way, if you’d like to read that post you can find it here: Four Years of Blogging. And when my five year anniversary rolls around on January 9, 2021, I’ll share my thoughts on the 2020 blog journey as well as my word of the year for 2021.
If you are new here, one of my goals for 2020 (pre-pandemic) was to read 100 books. I set off on target, got slightly derailed by a world in chaos, and then once again found my way into new worlds through stories.
Since this is a running list for the year, each month will start with the number that follows where the prior month ended.
If you missed any of the past “What I’ve Been Reading” posts, you can find the Jan/Feb reads in this post. When we became housebound, I changed the original format of bimonthly sharing to monthly sharing. You can find the March reads in this post, the April reads in this one, and the May reads in this post. Looking for more? Here are the June reads. Next up, July reads are found here, and then the August reads in this post. Also, as mentioned in August, I returned to the bimonthly format for the Sep/Oct reads. However, given its length, I decided to finish out the year in the monthly format. You can find November reads in this post.
Now let’s move on to my final reading list of the year.
98. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another.”
This one has been sitting in my pile for quite a while. I pushed it down the list when I got worried about whether or not I’d achieve my goal. It was longer than some of the other novels. It is also the first book in The Broken Earth trilogy and I wanted to be able to read them all around the same time. Hitting book number 98 gave me the confidence that I’d be able to achieve my 100 book goal! 🙂 This book was a Hugo Award winner in 2016. It is a science fantasy novel. It is about the way the world ends…for the last time. That’s just a little glimpse into the tale. You can find many other sites that will tell you more should you want to know. This is one of my favorite genres so I really enjoyed it.
99. Love Story – Erich Segal
“How she loved the simple things in life.”
There are still a few short novels spread throughout this final reading list since I had already checked them out from the library. This is a tale of love and loss. Apparently, in 1970 it was made into a movie and starred Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Have you seen it?
100. Happiness, as Such – Natalia Ginzburg
“He seems to have real secrets, secrets he’ll never tell anyone, complicated and strange secrets.”
Translated from Italian, this book is written mostly as a series of letters back and forth between and estranged son and his friends and family. This was another short novel still in my to be read stack.
101. The Obelisk Gate – N.K. Jemisin (audiobook)
“No, I’m telling this wrong. After all a person is herself and others. Relationships chisel the final shape of one’s being. I am me and you.”
I prefer the written word to audiobooks. Sometimes I need to reread a passage or linger awhile and I don’t feel like I get that out of an audiobook. Plus, sometimes I find that my attention has wandered and I’ve missed a bit. However, due to timing, The Obelisk Gate (the second book in the Broken Earth Trilogy) was consumed via an audiobook. This book also won the Hugo Award. It continues the tale started in The Fifth Season.
102. Light Changes Everything – Nancy E. Turner
“I meant to live my life taking hold of the reins, not drifting in a breeze like a seed.”
Given that I had already surpassed my goal of 100 books, I was able to add in books that I’d seen recommended in various places. This novel starts in 1907 out in the Arizona Territory. It is a coming of age story about a young woman named Mary Pearl Prine. I’ve recently learned that there are books preceding this about her aunt, Sarah Prine. I suppose there may have been contextual information that may have been helpful, but I found it to be a wonderful tale that was complete as a standalone book.
103. The Gate of Angels – Penelope Fitzgerald
“The raised lettering read The Rectory, and below that, Welcome, Enter, Have no Fear, Simplicity and Quiet Dwell Here.”
Penelope Fitzgerald’s novels are short. At least the ones that I’ve read. That is why she is on my list three or so times. This book is set in Cambridge, 1912 and a bike crash involving Fred and Daisy. Now this is where I tell you, I don’t like the endings to her stories. Not one of the ones I read had an ending that I made me happy. So I made the executive decision not to read the final one that I had in my stack. If you like her style, The Blue Flower is the name of the one I chose not to read.
104. The Archer – Paulo Coelho
“If you never take a risk, you will never know what changes you need to make.”
I love the wisdom of Paulo Coelho and so I slipped this one into my reading pile. It is a story about a young man seeking wisdom from an elder, and the practical lessons imparted along the way.
105. The Days of Abandonment – Elena Ferrante
“I wanted to write stories full of breezes, of filtered rays where dust motes danced.”
Since I had met my goal, I almost didn’t read this book. I put it in the return pile, pulled it out, put it in again, and finally chose to read it. Why? Because it’s been an exhausting year. It was described as shocking and captivating to its Italian public when it was first published. It is the story of a woman’s descent into devastating emptiness after being abandoned by her husband with two young children to care for. I just didn’t know if I wanted to delve into her mind. I was sure it wasn’t a fun place to spend time. However, the reviews made me want to go ahead and give it a try. Sometimes it’s good to be uncomfortable.
106. The Stone Sky – N.K. Jemisin
“It’s just that you need to know where you’ve come from to know where you’re going.”
The finale of The Broken Earth trilogy. I really enjoyed this tale.
107. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life – Jen Sincero
“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”
After the first part of the year, I didn’t read much nonfiction. I wanted to get lost in other worlds. This book came onto my radar screen because she has a new book coming out. I’d seen this one in the past, but never read it. I took a few tidbits of wisdom out of it. But, honestly, I’ve read so many similar books that I didn’t feel like there were many new groundbreaking ideas. So if you are new to self-help it’s probably great, but if you’ve been reading them for a while, you might want to save your time. You already know all this…you just need to start applying it. Okay, I’m talking to myself…but I might be talking to some of you too.
108. Stillhouse Lake – Rachel Caine
“I put no stock in past lives, but it felt like recognition. Acceptance. Destiny.”
This was my final book for the year. I’m still reading, but I won’t finish any others. Plus 108 was a good stopping point. If you know me, you know I love some symbolism. 108 is considered a sacred number and is seen as the number as the wholeness of existence.
But back to the book. The genre for this book is listed as suspense, thriller, psychological fiction. It is not usually my “go-to” genre. However, Big Mr. (my 20 year old son) read this in less than two days, requested the next one in the four part series and devoured that one. He’s not an avid reader so this told me that it was probably a good book. He kept telling me to start it, but I needed to achieve my goal before committing to a four book series. The back cover tells this about the story: Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor.
My take? I devoured it as well and have started on the next in the series. If you like this genre, you will not want to put this book down.
And that wraps up my 2020 reading challenge.
Now Over to You.
Have you read any of these? Read any other good stuff?
Next year I will not be aiming quite so high on the reading front. I want to keep more open space for others things. BUT! I will still be doing a lot of reading.
I plan to continue tracking my reading and while I don’t plan to do monthly reading lists, I can still share some of my favorite reads.
Is this something you’d be interested in hearing about?
Let’s chat below!
Stay safe and healthy out there! Sending you all love and light! xx
Let your light shine!