In general, the less said about the horror show that was 2020, the better, right? Thankfully, there were some great books along the way to help keep me sane. So, as we head into the new year, let’s take stock of how I got on throughout the past 12 months and set some goals for 2021.
Firstly, a look at whether I achieved last year’s goals:
- I wanted to read 100 books. Having read 121, this one gets a tick.
- I wanted to read more poetry. I read 14 poetry books in 2020, up from just 4 in 2019, so that’s a big step in the right direction.
- I wanted to do more buddy reads. I didn’t do many to be fair, so this is a fail. But with everyone (including myself) all over the place mentally and schedule-wise in 2020, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. And in fairness, my next goal kind of tied into this one…
- I wanted to read the whole Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. Though we read them in our own time, so they weren’t technically buddy reads, I did love the experience of reading and discussing the list with a bunch of my favourite bookish people again. I read and reviewed all 16 before the shortlist announcement, so this one gets a big tick.
- I also wanted to keep reading translated lit. I definitely did this, both sporadically throughout the year and by committing fully to Women in Translation Month in August for the second year running.
In general, I certainly wouldn’t describe 2020 as one of my strongest reading years, but there were still lots of great books peppered throughout (the best of which I talked about here in my top reads of the year post). Across the 121 books I read, I gave an average rating of 3.5 stars, the same as in 2019. This seems pretty reflective of a somewhat middling reading year, but it definitely implies there were more good reads than bad ones!
As always, I never do or don’t read a book based on the author’s gender identity, but once the year reaches its end, I like to look back and see which voices I’m being drawn to. As expected, I’m definitely still reaching for female writers far more than I am male ones, and I’m more than okay with that. I’m also pleased to see my intake of non-binary voices increased slightly on the previous year (though it could certainly be higher, and recommendations would be very welcome!).
In terms of diversity of authorship within my reading, the ratio of white authors (78) to authors of colour (43) wasn’t too bad, but it could always be better. Publishing bias isn’t exactly a help on this front, but the closer I can get to a 50/50 split, the happier I’d be.
I then decided to break my reading down based on form. Amusingly, I read exactly the same number of both novels and nonfiction books in 2020 as I did in 2019. At the slight expense of short fiction and graphic novels/memoirs (both of which took a dip in numbers), I did manage to boost my poetry reading significantly, as previously mentioned, which I’m pleased about.
Given that one of my goals for the year was to keep reading translated literature, I wanted to see exactly what the numbers equated to. Though books written in English certainly make up the bulk of my reading, I was reasonably happy with the balance. Ideally, I’d love for translated works to make up at least a quarter of my reading, which seems attainable based on these stats.
As for 2021, in light of how up in the air everything still feels, I’m keeping my goals very simple:
- Read 100 books. I like that this is a round number, and that it feels achievable whilst still making a sizable dent in my ever-growing TBR.
- Read more plays. I don’t reach for plays that often, but I’ve had several end up on my reads of the year lists before. I’m also really missing the experience of live theatre, so reading play scripts may help to ease that particular ache.
- Finish Carrie Fisher’s backlist. This is very specific, I grant you. I love Fisher’s writing, both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve read 5 out of her 7 published works so far, and I’ve been putting off the last 2 because the thought of not having more of her books to look forward to makes me sad. But equally, as a big fan, I want to be able to say I’ve completed her works.
- Pace myself. My reading definitely slowed down throughout the last couple of months in 2020. As a committed reader, this stressed me out at first, but I think we’ve all learned to try and be a little kinder to ourselves recently. I tell everyone else it’s absolutely fine to take breaks from reading when you feel burnt out or in a slump, so I want to take my own advice if/when it happens to me again. It’s also true that a lot of the time I would normally have spent reading in those latter months was spent indulging my newfound love of embroidery, so it’s not like I wasn’t doing something enjoyable and relaxing with my time anyway!
I’ll end this post as I always end my reading year in review; by bringing together every book I read throughout the past 12 months. If any covers or titles catch your eye, feel free to ask about them and we can chat. In the meantime, happy reading, and all the best for 2021! Things can only get better, right?