2020: A Year in Books

On January 1st, 2020, I wrote an Instagram post about beginnings and endings. I had just moved cities, finished my bachelor’s degree, and finished the last of 36 books for my 2019 goal. More than ever, I wanted to continue the momentum I had gained. I’ll quote what I wrote as my aspirations for 2020:

            “This is the year I finished writing a book, the year I read over 50 books, and the year I begin my Bachelor of Education (if they let me in).”

I wanted these things so badly. So, I’ll start with the direct response based on what’s happened this year. I wrote 48,163 words in my novel, nearly completing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I have read 67 out of my goal of 50 books. The Bachelor of Education program accepted me, and I started it. I withdrew after six weeks when I realized that I did not want to be a teacher. I’m going to dedicate a whole post to that, so I won’t get into it here.

I believe that I have completed all three of the goals I set out to accomplish on January 1st 2020, despite everything that has happened this year. My goals aligned very well with the world going into lockdown, which was lucky for me.

When I wrote my Instagram post for this year, I kept last year’s quote in mind. I wrote:

“In 2021, I plan to continue what I’ve started. I would like to surpass 75 books in 2021, finished both my novel and a number of short stories, and continue promoting and writing for Lit&Leta.”

This blog is bringing me so much more happiness and joy than I thought. That’s a sign that it needs to be a huge part of my life going forwards. It will keep you all updated, keep me accountable for my reading and writing, and keep me writing. It brings me to tears to realize that I might make writing my full-time endeavour one day.

            Alright, now I want to talk about what I’ve read this year. From January until about August, I didn’t keep very good track of when I read books. But I can still go back through my year of books on Goodreads and tell you about my top five favourites and overall experience.

            I read so many amazing books this year and it’s so hard to choose. But after scrolling up and down my list, my top five books of 2020 would have to be:

–        Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

–        Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

–        Cinder by Marissa Meyer

–        Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

–        Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

My copy of Cinderella is Dead was an eBook ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) that I got from NetGalley in the beginning of the year. It’s now published and being sold all over the place. I loved most everything about this book: the twist on the classic tale; the world built completely around interpreting Cinderella as a character, and the representation. I loved that it wasn’t the blonde, “classic beauty” cast as the Cinderella character, but a young black girl who doesn’t fall in love with the prince.

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood was a book I was so excited to read. In fact, I was so excited that I put off reading it. It’s a strange habit, and I do it mostly with Maas’s books. I think it’s because I really want to be ready for that first time reading it. Even though the beginning of this book is slow and full of almost too much exposition, it gets brilliant by the end. I was in tears. I ugly cried at this book. All that exposition was super necessary to the plot and the ending. I highly recommend it.

Cinder is a straightforward decision for me to put on this list. Meyer built the world in a complex, but easy-to-understand way that makes it feel very real. It felt strange reading a book about a plague at the beginning of a real pandemic, but it made me curious about how Cinder’s world would deal with such a similar situation. This book, and the series that comes with it, are truly unique ways of twisting the tales of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and others. Instead of the blank and underwhelming princesses that we grew up reading about, Meyer delivers strong heroines who take charge and build themselves as characters in a world trying to take them down. I also have written a review of this book previously on the blog, so you can check it out for more information.

I bought Bone Crier’s Moon on a whim without knowing what it was about, only that it was new and had good recommendations from others in the bookish communities. Once I started it, I couldn’t stop. It was non-stop action of the best kind, following two girls who must prove themselves to their family of Bone Criers by going through the most important ceremony of their lives in which they must kill their soul mate. I have heard that some readers aren’t a fan of the non-stop action, but I found it to be refreshing after reading memoirs and a few slow burn books earlier in the year.

So many people have been raving about Anxious People. I bought it in early September but didn’t read it until late December. As someone with anxiety and someone who is a fan of examining how and why people do what they do, I knew that this was a must-read for me. It was the most bizarre book I read this year, but that was the best part about it. It’s a book about random people who slowly find out about one another in the strangest hostage situation conducted by a not-bank robber. I will write a review on this book in January, so stay tuned!

My overall book experience in 2020 felt like returning home. I have always been an avid reader, but high school followed by four and a half years of university means I have had very little time to read in the last seven or eight years. It felt amazing to check off books from my list, keep track of how many I read, and begin talking about them. In 2019 I read 36 books and was proud of myself. I read 67 books in 2020 and am proud of myself. I hope to read at least 75 books in 2021 and will be proud of myself regardless of whether I hit that goal. To me, the point is that I am reading, ingesting literature. I hope that this inspires some of you to do the same. Reading is so important to being human. I cannot wait to see what kind of year 2021 turns out to be.


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