Monday 18 January 2021

2020: My year in review

It's not exactly a good sign for my coming year that my year in review is posted more than halfway through January, because I've either been too buried in work to figure out what my best of 2020 looked like, or too tired from the many nearly sleepless nights required to get the end of semester grades in once I went back to work. Better late than never and all that.

I think we can all agree that 2020 sucked more than anyone ever suspected it would. Because of the world-spanning Covid-19 epidemic, much of this year was spent trying to socially distance from people and staying far away from anyone not in your immediate family. Now, for some people, that might have meant more time and energy to read, for me, sadly it mainly translated into my already worsening depression and anxiety culminating in a severe panic attack, which left me unable to return to work for three weeks (this was just as schools were gradually opening back up here). There's been far too much doom scrolling and not enough reading.

Still, there were good things about 2020, as well. I started therapy and had to admit to myself that the expectations I had of myself were massively unrealistic, so I've had to step back and take some time to get better. I've discovered that I have a generous, kind, sympathetic, and supportive network around myself, which includes my co-workers, husband, family members, and friends both near and far (most of whom I've had to connect with via the internet since March). As well as the Cannonball Read community, I've made some nice acquaintances in my local fantasy/sci-fi book club and for some of the year, we were able to meet up in person to discuss books, which was lovely. My son is nearly three years old, and a constant delight, even as he sometimes drives me up the wall. He's getting better at entertaining himself while playing and makes up little stories of his own. He likes being read to and reading "self", which naturally warms my heart.

Despite the craziness and tons of depressing news throughout the year, being unable to see family (thankfully my husband's parents came and visited us in February, the same weekend the very first Covid patients were confirmed in Norway - if the trip had been scheduled a few weeks later, it's unlikely they'd have been able to come here) and travel anywhere at all, and still finding it hard both to motivate myself to read and review, I managed to complete my goal of a double Cannonball (in the nick of time on New Year's Eve) and my reading total was slightly higher than in 2019.

I got 333 new books in 2020. 301 were e-books, 19 were audio books, 13 were dead tree. 16 were gifts and 31 others were free.

I took part in 25 reading challenges over the course of the year, and completed 24 of them. So not bad going there. 

Total pages read in 2020: 37 328
Total books started: 111
New books read: 95
Audio books: 31
Comic books/graphic novels: 5
Novellas: 14
Re-reads: 12
DNFs: 4

Of the books I read in the last year, 83% were written by women, 13% were written by men, while 4% were by a husband and wife writing team. 25% of the books were by authors who could be described as BIPOC (black, indigenous or people of colour ) which is higher than last year, but still lower than I would have liked. I don't know enough about which of the many authors I read qualify as queer, otherwise I would probably have done a count of how many LGBTQIA-authors I've read. I shall try to figure that out for next year. 

Genre breakdown for 2020:
Contemporary romance: 32%
Paranormal/urban fantasy: 20%
Historical romance: 14%
Young adult: 9%
Sci-fi: 8%
Fantasy: 7%
Contemporary fiction: 4%
Non-fiction: 2%
Mystery: 2%
Children's: 2%

My best of 2020 - not rating them because it's too hard

Excellent world building, amazing supporting cast, charismatic and very compatible romantic leads and an over-arching mystery that I hope gets a satisfying ending in the next book in the series

A short, beautifully illustrated companion novel to the Folk of the Air series, which gives Cardan the narrative voice for a change, and made me want to revisit the whole trilogy once more.

This was funny, sad, heart-warming and deeply romantic and made me laugh way more than I was expecting. I hope Netflix options it as a romantic comedy.

Probably my absolute favourite book of the year, if I had to pick just one. Poor Dani is so sure she's unlovable and Saf is just the ultimate cinnamon roll hero - who reads romance!

Such a wonderful book with a truly eclectic cast of characters focus on belonging and family, with a couple of sweet queer romances thrown in as a bonus.
Courtney Milan surprised everyone with this unexpected release, featuring a half-Chinese Duke and the woman he's loved for years. Now he wants to propose to her, but he's afraid to tell her who he really is. This book is almost annoyingly angst-free and has one of the best twists on the "just one bed" I've ever read.

A very different kind of magical boarding school, where there are no teachers or actual staff, but pretty much everything else in the school tries to kill the students. Alliances have to be made to make it out alive at graduation, and El, prophecied to become an evil sorceress, is having trouble making friends.

Nick and Charlie and all their friends go on a school trip to Paris. More people couple up, adorably.

I reviewed an ARC of this back in 2019 and revisited it in audio this year. I like that Parker writes romances between actual adults, this time former TV anchor rivals turned reluctant co-workers.

Arabella Larke might be a heroine that takes a while to warm up to, but she's "difficult" for a number of reasons, and when her viscount finally gets over himself and his prejudices and takes the time to actually see her, the romance is all the more glorious for it.

Best of before 2020 (some of the books were re-reads, and hence didn't get included again)
Very much did NOT expect a book about a zombie apocalypse to be on my best of the year list. The full-cast audio was excellent.

This was a really difficult book to listen to because Queenie is a very damaged young woman and she puts herself through a lot of bad stuff before she starts healing. The book has stayed with me throughout the year, though, so deserves a spot on this list.

Heists and deception and double-crossings galore. Excellent historical romance

One of my favourite historical romances of all time, now in audiobook. I loved it when it came out, it's still flawless

A gorgeous illustrated children's book telling the semi-autobiographical story of a little girl growing up and wanting to lighten her skin. She learns that she's beautiful just the way she is.

Nick and Charlie meet, become friends, fall in love, and have to navigate how to openly become a couple. Absolutely adorable.

Short and steamy novella which really gave me cravings for Indian food.

The first Mia Vincy I read, early in the year, such an unusual historical romance

A lovely fairy tale-like story about friendship, love, chasing your dreams, and being accepted for who you really are.

Oh, Murderbot, I finally caught up with all of your shorter adventures and now need to read your novel-length story as well. 

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