2020 Reading Recap

As we turn the page on 2020 hopefully this is the last recap post you read. This is my 2020 in books.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I finally reached my annual goal to read 50 books. As happy as I am to have done it, the actual books were a mixed bag.

Best – 5 stars

The Forgotten Man – Robert Crais
PS I Still Love You – Jenny Han
Chasing Darkness – Robert Crais
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
Flash Boys – Michael Lewis
Suspect – Robert Crais
The Sentry – Robert Crais
Taken – Robert Crais
The Last Olympian – Rick Riordan
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

Good – 4 stars

The Late Show – Michael Connelly
Let it Burn – Steve Hamilton
Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly
Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Demolition Angel – Robert Crais
The Titan’s Curse – Rick Riordan
The First Rule – Robert Crais
The Fall – Guillermo del Toro
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Average – 3 stars

The Watchman – Robert Crais
Die a Stranger – Steve Hamilton
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
Anthem – Ayn Rand
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling
World War Z – Max Brooks
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
A Long Way Gone – Ishmael Beah
The Room of White Fire – T. Jefferson Parker
The Battle of the Labyrinth – Rick Riordan
American Sniper – Chris Kyle

Meh – 2 stars

The Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan
G is for Gumshoe – Sue Grafton
The Border Lords – T. Jefferson Parker
Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Dead Man Running – Steve Hamilton
Killing the Blues – Michael Brandman
H is for Homicide – Sue Grafton
The Jaguar – T. Jefferson Parker
Trinkets – Kirsten Smith
You – Caroline Kepnes
The Last Straw – Jeff Kinney
The Night Fire – Michael Connelly
The Promise – Robert Crais
Cop Town – Karin Slaughter
Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Bad – 1 star

The Girls – Emma Cline
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Cross Country – James Patterson
I is for Innocent – Sue Grafton
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

Look at all those 2 star ratings! Just a little surprising. It’s hard to explain the difference between a 1 star rating and a 2 star. Typically there is no aspect of a 1 star book I enjoyed. Those are usually close to becoming a DNF. I only had one this year.

Though I did read 26 mysteries, I’m happy with the different genres and authors I read. I read 15 authors for the first time. On the other hand I read Robert Crais a whopping 9 times. The beauty of that trade off is now Robert Crais only has 2 books I haven’t read, so I’ll be looking for new authors to read in 2021.

2020 was rough for so many people. But I managed to accomplish a reading goal I’ve had for more than a decade, reach new financial goals I set months ago, and put myself in a great position to start 2021.

Now let’s get back to some semblance of normalcy sometime this year.

Number 50 – Mexican Gothic

I did it! 50 books in a single calendar year for the first time! I know I’ve been mentioning this quite a bit, but it really makes me happy to have finally accomplished an annual goal I’ve been setting for over a decade. I decided I’m going to start posting every review I write on Goodreads on here too. Tomorrow I’ll have a thorough reflection on 2020 and thoughts on what’s to come in 2021, but today I leave you with my review of one of the most talked about books of the year. Hope you reached your goal!

Noemí Taboada receives a strange letter from her cousin, Catalina and sets off to see she’s okay. What she finds is right out of a horror novel.

This was the first time I’ve ever read a book during it’s original publication year. I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge I bought this because of the hype. I am not familiar with the author or any of her previous work. But this book seemed to be everywhere after its release.

What I wanted when starting this book was to read a Mexican story for the first time. Immediately Noemí leaves Mexico City and where does she go? To an English family. It doesn’t come across as any different than a story set in NY.

While reading there were two stories I found myself comparing this to. Dracula and The Strain, but much more heavily toward The Strain. Howard Doyle is a copy of The Master. The major difference is he isn’t building an army to take over the world.

The most enjoyable part of the story is no doubt Noemí. She takes no shit. She stands up for herself and her cousin, and even Francis for some reason.

The author has an enjoyable writing style with vivid descriptions that create stunning images as you read. But the story is incredibly slow to start. If it could have moved along at a quicker pace, it could have been a great book. 2 stars.

Reading Routines

Recently has been the first time I’ve had a real reading routine since my college days. During my first semester twice a week I had a nearly two hour break between classes. Some people studied. Some got food. I usually bought a smoothie and sat down in a study area and pulled out my current book. Every Tuesday and Thursday. Like clockwork.

I’ve been out of school for 7 years. The last 4 I’ve had a set schedule. The last 2 I’ve had a set M-F schedule. But it was difficult to come up with a reading routine. Mostly because I’d read in starts and stops and could never stick to anything.

But 2020 has flipped everything on its head. Didn’t have a dog. Now I do. Hadn’t set up my home office. Now it is. Didn’t have a reading routine. Now I’m reading every night. Where has this John been all these years!?

I can’t say for sure why my reading has taken on more of a priority this year, but in these last 4 months reading nightly has made a big difference. I think of it the same as those who write every single day, no matter what.

What’s your routine?

A New Record

Since 2010 I’ve set a reading goal every year of 50 books. As of this writing, I’ve still never reached it. But last week I did get one step closer. I finally set a new personal record for the number of books I’ve read in a calendar year. My previous record was 44 from all the way back in 2012. As of now I’m at 47 and still going. I no longer doubt that I’ll also reach my goal this year. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m just about there!

How many books have you read this year?

A Scramble to the Finish

I think just about everyone is ready to turn the page into 2021. Who knows what we have in store after this to tumultuous year?

Tonight I’ll finish my 40th book of the year. Simple math tells me I’ll have this month to read 10 books in order to reach my annual reading goal for the first time ever. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? No idea.

I entered October needing to read 24 books to reach the goal. Yes, I realize I was well behind with nearly half the books remaining. But eight in October and five in November have all led to this final, glorious month of December to finish. The problem won’t be the number of books I have left. The problem is really the books I have on my shelf to be read. As you can imagine, I’ve spent some time these last few months thinking about which books will get me to the finish line. But so many of the books I have are either lengthy, not interesting, or both. Now is not the time for a 550 page brick.

This may cause me to make another trip to my local Half Price Books. I actually went this past weekend, but didn’t want anything. Would it be cheating if I read the next 10 Wimpy Kid books? 😂

Breaking the Rules

For several years I’ve had a rule to not read the same author/series within five books of each other. There isn’t really a reason for it. I just came up with it one day and have largely stayed true.

Not today. I’m running out of time in 2020 and I decided last night to stick with what I know and who I know. I know what to expect when reading Robert Crais. His books usually aren’t too lengthy and never leave me disappointed. So I’m reading three in a row in my dash to the finish line. I still may not reach my goal, but there’s no harm in trying.

Do you have any rules like mine?


I somehow thought in the last five days that I’d be able to finish three books. Not sure what I was thinking. Today is day 16 of the month and I finally finished my first book of November last night. This leaves me 15 books short of my goal. That’s with 45 days left this year. 😳

I was feeling really confident after two straight months of completing eight books each, but the writing is almost on the wall. I’ll keep going and we’ll see where things end up, but this has still been a nice year for me, no matter if I reach my goal or not. Only nine away from my best year ever, so that personal best is still within reach. We’ll see!

Almost There

In my first post back I wrote about lots of things. The most relevant to the blog was my ongoing attempt to read 50 books in a calendar year, which I’ve never done. But I’m getting close!

Last night I finished my 32nd book of 2020. I still have a little bit to go, but this is now the second most books I’ve read in a single year. My best was 44 back in 2012. As the days and weeks tick by I’ve started reading more each night. It’s a race against the calendar, but I’m doing my best.

How are you doing this year with your reading?

Reading During a Pandemic

I will first acknowledge I’ve been one of the lucky ones during these last few months. I never faced the prospect of a furlough or layoff and still don’t. My employer did what many others were forced to do this Spring and sent just about everyone to work from home. Six months in and it’s impossible to know when things may go back to “normal”.

With that said, I’ve been reading quite a bit more these last few months. My eight hour shift is eight hours. No 20 minute drive. No waking up an hour before my shift. That extra time has translated into more pages read and more sleep, if I’m being honest.

Once I finish two more books 2020 will be my second best year of reading and after 15 more would be my best. I’ve settled into a routine recently. Every night after the end of my shift I try to devote 30-60 minutes to reading. Some nights I do it. Some I don’t. But I’ve come up with a two-part plan going forward. I try to read one book during the week and finish another each weekend. I’m about to finish my 5th book this month, so it appears to be working.

Now could I have done this same thing without a pandemic changing daily life? Yes. But I know myself. It wouldn’t have happened.

What have you done differently this year? More reading? Less? DIY projects around the house? Tell me, tell me.

So It Begins

I started reading my first book of the new year last night. I know what it takes to reach my goal. I just have to actually do it.

A few years ago in the midst of my busiest semester in college I came closest to hitting my annual target of 50 books. I read 44 even though I had several calendar months of no reading at all.

I know the simplest way to look at a 50 book goal is essentially to read a book a week for the duration of the year. That’s the easy way, but unrealistic for me. No matter how much I read, I know there are going to be blank periods. It’s just how I am. My focus is to read as much as I can during my active periods because a down one is around the corner.

What’s your reading goal for this year and is it the same every year?