It is time to wrap up the year that was 2020 and I’m really pleased by that fact! Last year I said I was pulling these questions from a bunch of sources, but I neglected to actually list where they were coming from, so I know Books and Lala was definitely one of the sources, but aside from that… No idea. This year I’ve also decided to add a few things that I find interesting that I haven’t included before. So let’s jump in to some statistics and fun questions!
How many books did you read in 2020?
I read a total of 310 books if my math is correct. Here is the monthly breakdown:
I read a lot of novellas this year, which especially accounts for how I read so many books in December, but honestly, I just read a lot this year. There were some months where reading was hard for me (see June and September) and there were definitely times I didn’t think I would ever read again, but as you can see, I mostly got over that and read SO much. My goal of reading less in 2020 just really flew right out the window when I was left with few other options.
Let’s Talk Genre!
I read several different genres this year, though obviously romance is my most read. This chart of the different genres I read from is mildly overwhelming, but we’ll break it down.
I read many more mystery/thriller books that normal this year and!!! I finally achieved my nonfiction goal! In fact, I read 13 nonfiction titles this year!!!! Is this number still low? Yes. Absolutely. But honestly, it’s taken me years to achieve it so I’m just going to focus on being happy. And I’m aiming for 15 in 2021. I would like to read more romantic suspense in 2021 and more fantasy romance, but we’ll see how that goes. I don’t mind that most of my reading is contemporary romance because it is 100% the genre I love. I really want to explore more paranormal romance outside of my beloved Nalini Singh to see if I can find more comfort reads, but in the meantime, I’m quite content to just re-read her forever.
And once again, I didn’t bother to make a chart for adult vs. YA because it would be even more sad than usual. I read five YA titles this year total. I have so many that are on my TBR and that I’m very interested in, but I just was not picking up YA this year at all. I think in part that’s because I wasn’t picking up much fantasy, but I definitely would like to see myself actually get to a few of the YA books on my list. Everyone loved You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson and I want to read it!
Now, let’s talk diversity statistics.
I mentioned in last year’s post that I don’t talk about these to give myself a pat on the back or even to shame myself for what the numbers are. It’s important to me to be conscious of who and what I’m reading so that my reading, my spending money, aligns with my values. That said, I had sort of been hoping that my numbers this year would be closer to 50% BIPOC authors and instead they came in at 44.8%. I find this number acceptable, but really want to keep pushing toward about 50%. I also am still doing dreadful at reading from Native/Indigenous authors and want to do better about that as well.
The other diversity statistic I try to track is how many LGBTQIA+ books I’m reading and I tried to distinguish between the representation being present in the characters and whether or not it’s own voices. I find it difficult to determine what counts as own voices with this representation because (a) I’m not always sure and (b) do you count someone who is on the spectrum as own voices even if they’re writing representation outside of their alignment? So, I think that’s why I still struggle with the tracking. But regardless, I read 30 books with LGBTQIA+ characters, which is abysmal, if we’re being honest. It comes out to 9.6% of my overall reading. I know I need to do better about this aspect of my reading!
As for things I do a terrible job tracking but tried to keep track of, I think I managed to read 14 books with mental health representation. This is a number that I’m sure is actually higher than what I’ve counted, but I can’t be sure so we’ll go with 14. I read books with named non-Christian characters a total of five times (terrible). I read nine books with characters with some physical limitation and five books with characters with some cognitive limitation (dyslexia, autism, etc.). While I feel relatively certain I probably read a few more in each of these categories than what I remembered to color in on my bullet journal, I’m really dissatisfied with these numbers and want to improve upon them in the future. As someone with anxiety, I love seeing mental health representation in my books and so I’m really not sure why that number in particular is so low!
What format did I read my books in?
My audiobook reading is down by nearly 10%, which is entirely attributable to the fact that I have no commute! I moved last January and now I live about 10 minutes from my office, which doesn’t give me much audio listening time in the car. I do still manage to listen to audiobooks, just not quite as many as I have in the past. My digital reading is up this year because I’ve become less and less interested in holding a physical book. Oops.
Let’s talk authors!
This is something I don’t think I’ve ever talked about before, but I’m really excited to talk about how many authors I’ve read and some other things I find interesting. So of the 310 books I read, those were written by 166 different authors. Of those 166 authors, 81 were new to me authors. 68 of the 166 were authors of color. And my top five most read authors were, to no one’s surprise, Nalini Singh with 23, Ilona Andrews with 18, Christine Feehan and Laura Florand with 8, and Alisha Rai with 7. I did a lot of re-reading this year, which is why both Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews have such high numbers. I did also re-read three of my favorite books from Alisha Rai, so for her too.
Spotlight on Re-reading
I would definitely say December was my best/favorite reading month of the year because it was full of joy, which was, actually, in large part due to the fact that I re-read Guild Hunters and the Forbidden Hearts series. Another thing I found interesting is that I reread Hidden Legacy for the first time in March, which makes sense because it’s one of my comfort reads. There were re-reads throughout the year from authors aside from Nalini, Ilona, and Alisha, but not many. Overall, I reread 42 books this year (not unique titles).
What was your favorite book of 2020?
I really don’t know how to answer this question aside from separating things into genre, but in an effort to name just one book, I think I’m going with Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall because of how utterly brilliant and life-changing it was.
What was your least favorite book of 2020?
My arch-nemesis book this year was In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, which has earned itself that honor by continuously popping up on lists associated with romances when IT IS NOT A ROMANCE. Thank you.
What was the most surprising book of 2020?
I’ve said this a dozen times at this point, but Open Book by Jessica Simpson blew me away. I didn’t really have high expectations going in, but oh my goodness, this book was so well written and emotional. I loved it a lot.
What was the saddest book you read in 2020?
I think I actually did cry the most reading Open Book, but if you set that aside, How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones is also a top contender. Jones gets really vulnerable as he shares the story of his life, from growing up as a gay Black kid in the Southern United States to going to college in rural Kentucky to losing his mom. Jones didn’t always have a safe life and many of the stories he shared were really heart wrenching, emphasizing, to me, the importance of unconditional love and acceptance for kids on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. And the racism he experienced on top of all of this? Maddening. This memoir didn’t make it to any of my top ten lists, but honestly, it probably should have.
What was the happiest book you read in 2020?
I’ve got to say Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert for this. The joy of romance. This book absolutely shines. It was laugh out loud funny, squeeze to chest with giddiness, and text everyone you know to read it style joy. It was exactly what I needed in 2020 and I’m so grateful for it.
What book did you read that you thought was overhyped in 2020?
I finally picked up Her Halloween Treat and Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz in 2020 thanks to the hype and they were just okay for me, which was disappointing. I didn’t really have an experience of picking up something I thought would be 5 stars and it was a 1 star, so those books are the closest I can come to feeling like I just didn’t understand the popularity. That said, they’re not bad books at all, I just didn’t love them the way so many other people seem to.
What book did you read in 2020 that you consider underhyped?
I have so many answers to this based purely on the amount of ratings on Goodreads. So, Cara Bastone, as many of you may know, is amazing. She has a dedicated group of fans on Twitter and we are loud and vocal. But on Goodreads, her books have fewer than 200 ratings!! Y’all!! Read her! And then there’s Birthday Sex by Rilzy Adams, which is spicy af and glorious and also doesn’t have nearly enough ratings! Holiday Honey by Chencia C. Higgins is a holiday short story that was utterly delightful and has so few ratings! The Hitman by Katrina Jackson is actual perfection but it has less than 500 ratings!! I need to stop before I just have a million exclamation points in this paragraph. But for real, if you’ve not read these books, change that ASAP.
Authors Who Defined 2020 For Me
Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews were even more important to me than normal in pandemic times. It was overwhelming and awful and I was always grateful to return to their worlds. Laura Florand was such a blessing (shout out to Aarya) in December and I had so much fun reading from her. My fangirling over Cara Bastone led to my first ever email directly to a publisher (Audible) requesting an ARC of Call Me Maybe and they blessed me with one. It was a milestone moment, that is, again, attributable to Aarya.
Special 2020 Things/Memories
I am so grateful for all the people that 2020 brought to my life and especially for how welcomed #FallIntoRomBingo and #SnowInLoveBingo have been. I had so much fun working with Dani, Aarya, and my sister to create the bingo boards and it went from something Dani and I thought would be just for us to something so many people decided to participate in. I’m so grateful for the discord group, The Reader Room, and all of the members. This year was pretty wild when it comes to author antics and this safe space has been utterly glorious. I’m very appreciative.
Thank you for sticking with me for this obnoxiously long post! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did making it. Please tell me the book you think is underhyped!