My 40 Books of 2020, A Look Back

From the lobby of Penguin Random House, New York.

After Trump was elected, I made it a goal to spend more time reading books, as an escape from the ephemeral headlines that were zapping my brain and frying my soul. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 I read at a pace of a book a week.

This year I signed a deal with Dutton, a division of Penguin Random House, to write my own actual book! But when it came to reading books, I didn’t do much of what I intended.

Non-Fiction Favorites:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Wow, No, Thank you, Samantha Irby

The Masters Tools Will Never Dismantle The Masters House, Audre Lorde

Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems, Danez Smith

Between the World and Me, Tanehisi Coates

Minor Feelings, Cathy Park Hong

Fiction Favorites:

Someone Who Will Love You In All You Damaged Glory, Raphael Bob Waksberg

The First Bad Man, Miranda July

Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

How Much Of These Hills Is Gold?, C. Pam Zhang

Started but Didn’t Finish: Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov. I know, I know, such a classic. I just got too distracted. The Night of the Gun, by David Carr. I am a great admirer of that late journalist, and he signed Stiles’ copy of it, but neither of us had gotten around to reading the book. I made it about halfway through but lost interest. The Sexual Life of Catherine M, which the poet/artist Maggie Smith cited as an inspiration for her work. I don’t know if it was the translation from French or the lack of a structure but I just could not get through it.

Picking ‘Em: I had been prioritizing works by women and people of color, but this year I just read anything I was reviewing for work, books my friends recommended, or art by artists I already like. For example, the end of Bojack Horseman swelled and broke my heart, so I had to read its creator’s short story collection. In the fall I reconnected with Matt Weiner, a hypersmart dude who wrote Mad Men, so a couple of the books at the end of my year were from his recommendations.

Books by Author Gender

Books by Classification

Reading Habits

I still read on my Kindle, and got a second one this year because I misplace my Kindle so much. Recall from my previous years’ posts that I read the most on planes. This year I spent less time on planes than I have since I was maybe 18 years old. So that evaporated my dedicated book reading time. I still love it, though, and just need to be more disciplined about reading at home.

If you’re curious, here’s my full 2020 book list.

Previous Years in Reading

2019 | 2018 | 2017

Credit to Nicole Zhu, a friend and fellow book-lover who inspired me to start the 52/52 challenge a few years ago. And big thanks to Matty, who makes the reading post so pretty every year. The code behind my books visualizations is available, so you can do this with YOUR reading data. too.

2 thoughts on “My 40 Books of 2020, A Look Back

  1. Thanks for sharing Elise 🙂 hope this new year you have fun reading even more books 🙂 and all those bookshelves are beautiful 🙂 cheers from Portugal, PedroL

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