2020 Book Year in Review

After last year’s experience, I lowered my reading goal for 2020. Though I slightly exceeded last year’s numbers, it wasn’t by much. Goodreads says I’ve read eighty books, but I don’t actually record every book I read there nor do I include re-reads.

All that to say, I met my reading goal for the year, which I am happy about. This year being what it was, I didn’t attempt any non-fiction. I needed the escape a good novel provides, not to mention the mental focus I need for non-fiction just wasn’t there. As much as I dislike to, I also DNF’d a few books (which shall remain nameless). Quite unintentionally, I read multiple books by a couple of authors. I read three each by Mimi Matthews and Becky Wade and two each by new to me authors Jaimie Admans, Melanie Summers and Jessica Kate.

CLASSICS

This year I continued in my attempt to read more classics. I’ve never been a big fan of them over all but, I think I’ve found a few fail-safes when it comes to choosing ones I might enjoy.

  1. Pick books written by women.
  2. Choose stories with film adaptations I liked
  3. If all else fails, try the audio book.

With that said, I only read three classics this year. But that is three more than most years. I listened to Christy and Daddy Long Legs on audio. Daddy Long Legs was one of my favorite book experiences of the year and I plan on going back and actually reading it myself. I was inspired to finally tackle Gone With the Wind after finishing the audiobook Rhett Butler’s People. Having seen the movie a thousand times and hearing the story from Rhett’s perspective, I felt it was high time, I actually read Margaret Mitchell’s masterpiece. Although I feel the film did a pretty good job staying true to the book, reading it gave me a deeper character analysis than I received from the movie. I was also surprised how easily it transported me back to the Civil War and Reconstruction era to help me understand the culture and mindset.

NEW AUTHOR DISCOVERIES

Almost half of the books I read this year are by authors I’ve never read before, which is an increase from last year’s 33 percent. As a reader who is VERY author loyal, I feel that this a great accomplishment. It means that I am willing to try someone new, even  though my limited reading time often sways me to pick books by authors I already know I love. Here are a few of the authors who I really enjoyed discovering, some of whom I read more than one of their titles.

 

FAVORITE READS

Although I enjoyed many of the books I read this year, I only count them as a favorite if I  want or plan on re-reading them.  Some books make for a great experience, but the time investment prohibits me from reading them again. I know I’ve really loved a book and/or its’ characters when I’m willing to take the time to visit them again.

  • Daddy Long Legs – As I mentioned earlier, this is my favorite book experience this year. The combination of the book with the narrator was perfection. Not to mention it is written in that hard to master format, the epistolary novel. The character’s voice is so clear, so honest and so self-deprecating and charming.
  • Dear Sully – This is the third and final novel in The Bridge series by Jill Cox. This is another epistolary novel. What I loved about it, is that it gave a glimpse into the mind and emotions of a main character and answered some questions I had.
  • Chasing Cassandra – All of Lisa Kleypas novels are automatic buys and re-reads for me. I was thrilled to finally learn more about Cassandra and Tom Severin who both stayed in the background in all the prior books of the series.
  • Lions and Lace – While I didn’t like the romance, because the main male character was a brute, it was set during the Gilded Age, which is one of my favorite times in American history and one which isn’t featured often in books. I’ve already re-read this one this year.
  • Widow of Rose House – I like a good ( but not too scary) gothic tale and they can be hard to find. This one qualifies and even has a bit of the supernatural thrown in. It’s a unique story and the repartee between the two main characters really sold me.
  • You Deserve Each Other – I expected this to be a cute rom-com, but was surprised by how much depth it actually showed. In this story about an engaged couple who wanted to break up, I liked the subtle message about choosing to love again.
  • Beach Read – Some reviewers didn’t love it, but a story about two formal rivals who are now authors in different genres working together to overcome writer’s block was my personal catnip.
  • Lu & Louisa – This duology was an unexpected delight which follows a young woman’s personal journey and transformation after her conversion. Her perspective of the “Christian culture” is so fresh and honest.
  • Loving a Lady – I’m a longtime fan of Nichole Van’s and am loving this new series featuring Scottish characters. But I particularly like how she subverts the romance cliches in this one with her working class hero falling for a titled lady.
  • Gentleman Jim – Mimi Matthews is one whose books I devour upon release and always re-read. This one which was partially inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo is a little bolder than her previous stories and one I wanted to start again as soon as I finished.
  • Christmas in Three Quarter Time – There is something very special about Rachel MacMillan’s Three Quarter series. This Christmas offering was a holiday surprise and a perfect offering, since Vienna at Christmastime equals magic. It definitely captured the joy and wonder of the season.

That’s it for 2020. (Thank goodness!) I’m looking forward to more bookish pleasure in 2021.

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