book review, Musings, reading lists

2020 in Books

This is the fourth consecutive year I’ve written a “year in books” blog post, and 2020 is the weirdest of them all. This year (ugh, this year) has been wild, devastating, excruciating, depressing, anxiety-inducing, heartbreaking…

We’ve all lost so much.

Where I live, the library was closed–CLOSED–for a long period of time. So if I wanted to read something (and I always do) I had to turn to my own bookshelf. This was fine: I am comforted by books I’ve already read. There was a very crucial sense of stability there, too: in a world that had ceased to be predictable in any sense of the word, I knew how the plots of my favorite books would go. I knew what would happen next.

But my minimalist tendencies had kept the number of books I own relatively low. During those days when a trip to the library was an impossible luxury, I sorely regretted that decision to keep few books. I don’t have the resources to buy every book I want to read. So, for emotional, logistical, and financial reasons, I re-read a record number of books this year.

I have no regrets.

Apart from not having enough books.

Thanks, 2020, for showing me the importance of owning books, and giving me permission to invest in something so important to me.

As a general caveat, I am not totally sure this reading list is complete. I have the sneaking suspicion that there are books I read that I totally forgot about in the brain fog of global trauma. There are also several books toward the end of the list that are in progress, and will have to be finished in 2021. Something else I have gotten better at in 2020 is: knowing when to concede that I am at the end of my mental, physical, and emotional resources. I didn’t meet the reading goals I set at the beginning of the year. And that’s fine.

F = fiction, SFF = sci-fi/fantasy, YA = young adult, MG = children’s,ย NF = nonfiction, P = poetry

Italicized books are re-reads.

  1. Salvation Day, Kali Wallace (SFF)
  2. Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami (F)
  3. Severance, Ling Ma (SFF)
  4. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami (SFF)
  5. La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1), Philip Pullman (SFF)
  6. Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino (SFF)
  7. City of Hate, Timothy S. Miller (F)
  8. The Spinning Place, Chelsea Wagenaar (P)
  9. Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen (F)
  10. Anthem, Ayn Rand (SFF)
  11. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (SFF)
  12. Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami (SFF)
  13. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (SFF)
  14. Exhalation, Ted Chiang (SFF)
  15. Recursion, Blake Crouch (SFF)
  16. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake (SFF)
  17. Alpha Bots, Ava Lock (SFF)
  18. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami (F)
  19. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodges Burnett (MG)
  20. Refusal: Poems, Jenny Molberg (P)
  21. Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate #1), Megan E. O’Keefe (SFF)
  22. The Big Book of Exit Strategies, Jamaal May (P)
  23. Hum, Jamaal May (P)
  24. Mossflower, Brian Jacques (MG/SFF)
  25. Pearls of Lutra, Brian Jacques (MG/SFF)
  26. When Darkness Falls, A. E. Faulkner (SFF)
  27. Circe, Madeline Miller (SFF)
  28. The Queens of Innis Lear, Tessa Gratton (SFF)
  29. Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1), Tasha Suri (SFF)
  30. Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1), Josiah Bancroft (SFF)
  31. Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales, Jรณn รrnason, May Hallmundsson, Hallberg Hallmundsson (SFF)
  32. What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (F)
  33. Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Japan, edited by Virginia Haviland (SFF/MG)
  34. Basho: The Complete Haiku (P)
  35. The Language of Thorns, Leigh Bardugo (SFF)
  36. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (SFF)
  37. Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch off the East in Russian Fairy Tales, translated by Sibelan E.S. Forrester (SFF)
  38. The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen Murdock (NF)
  39. Fierce Fairytales, Nikita Gill (SFF/P)
  40. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (SFF)
  41. Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You, Jenara Nerenberg (NF)
  42. The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2), Philip Pullman (SFF)
  43. The Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2), Josiah Bancroft (SFF)
  44. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, C. G. Jung (NF)
  45. The Hod King (The Books of Babel #3), Josiah Bancroft (SFF)
  46. The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel (F)
  47. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (SFF)
  48. Tales from the Perilous Realm, J. R. R. Tolkien (SFF/P)

Books in Progress:

  1. A Room Called Earth, Madeleine Ryan (F)
  2. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, Steve Silberman (NF)
  3. The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life, John Daido Loori (NF)

As always, I have strong opinions about all of these titles, so feel free to drop me a comment about any of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s to 2021, and all we hope to gain, and all the reading we’ll do.

9 thoughts on “2020 in Books”

  1. Hey Allison! Very impressive list– perhaps the year of Murakami? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I like the idea of reading the body of work of a single author over the course of the year– hmmmmm– something for me to noodle on. Thank you for sharing! Jen


    1. Yes, lots of Murakami this year… I have a very love-hate relationship with his work (!) and got a little obsessive trying to figure him out. I also love the idea of reading the body of work of a single author. I’ve done that with select other authors (John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, Susanna Clarke, Mervyn Peake, to name a few) and it’s really fun to see what they’re up to across multiple books. ๐Ÿ˜€


  2. you had a great reading year, well done Allison ๐Ÿ™‚ I like especially Murakami and Calvino, but then Iยดm also very into poetry and I used to write haiku (thatยดs how i discovered your amazing blog eheh) ๐Ÿ™‚ hope you have another great selection of readings this year! cheers from Lisbon ๐Ÿ™‚ PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!! And thank you for reading! Calvino is one of my favorite writers: he really pushed the boundaries in fiction, and I love his imagination. I LOVE haiku! One of these days I keep thinking I’m going to quit everything and devote myself to writing haiku, like Matsuo Basho… โค


      1. I think you should do it ๐Ÿ™‚ or, at least, take a sabbatical year and dedicate yourself to the haรฏkus eheh thanks for your feedback, read you soon Allison ๐Ÿ™‚ PedroL

        Liked by 1 person

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