RS (rainbowstevie) wrote,

The Books of 2020: Final Wrap

Back to the usual book survey -- or maybe the book survey as it looked before I and/or others began to tweak and modify it -- which apparently began here! So I am linking up this year.

Quick Preview Links
1)  The original reading list, which includes links to my Goodreads reviews of each book.
2) The Quilt Of Many Covers (clicking the book photos will enlarge them)
3) I posted some library checkout data on Tumblr this year too!

Now, survey readers, ONWARDS!

Total Books Read: 100
Rereads: 5

1. Best Book You Read In 2020?
Well, since I picked a top ten last week and had to pick a top 5 for a Listopia list I voted on, after whirling about in place I'm just going to semi-randomly say it was Littler Women by Laura Schaefer (excluding rereads because they're all 5 stars and all the best).

Also I'm already adding a category, because the surveys I fill out usually have it --

1b. Worst Book You Read In 2020?
I didn't have any 1-stars, but after careful consideration I'm going with The O.C.: Spring Break, because the first 3 books in the collection (two novelizations and one tie-in novel) were actually really enjoyable to read, but this is bland as hell.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
You'd Be Mine (I straight up wanted to murder Clay Coolidge for most of the book)

Or maybe Confessions Of A High School Disaster (WHY. SO MUCH. INAPPROPRIATE SEX TALK)

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Sorry Not Sorry by Naya Rivera. I expected a trashy read from a trashy person, but I came away with a much better impression of her (and her work ethic) than I'd ever had before. To put it another way, I would not have been nearly as sad about her passing if I hadn't read her memoir first.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read?
I don't really push books on people -- I have such a small TTT readership that I don't really consider the books I list there -- but I DO eagerly recommend books to my mom, the one person I know whose reading tastes most often overlap mine, and I suggested Val McDermid's Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series, Lion Boy's White Brother, and Empty Mansions. She'd already read the last one, but enjoyed them all.

5. Best series you started in 2020?
Val McDermid's aforementioned series, starting w/ The Mermaids Singing

Runner-up: The Mother-Daughter Book Club (this is objectively better, but it's not the one that made me read to the end)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?
We're gonna have a post about this later in January, but it's probably Jo Sykes (60s/70s author of horse/dog/other adventure books for teens) or K.A. Tucker.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Good Omens

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Val McDermid's The Retribution

9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read?
Maybe one of the hiking books -- Nature Girl, The Distance From Me To You, or The Other Side Of Lost

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?
echo mountain(Echo Mountain, in case the photo ever fails)

Better cover than story, tbh. I want sticker sheets of it.

11. Most memorable character of 2020?
Let's go wild and just pick Jo Herne from Where Have All The Tigers Gone?

But also Annie Mathers (You'd Be Mine - yes, the disappointing book; I contain multitudes) and Mari Turner (The Other Side Of Lost)

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?
Taken literally, in terms of how much I like the way words are put together...possibly Horse by Talley English? It's not a great book, but great chunks of it read like prose poetry, and more than any other book I've read it really captures the feeling of living on rural acreage that isn't properly a farm, but happens to include your own horse(s) on it that you ride just for fun.

But gosh, the scenery was beautifully described in The Other Side Of Lost.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2020?
The Red Leather Diary got me (to at least TRY) writing my own 5-year diary, so...

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read?
A Little Princess; The Secret Garden; The Haunting Of Hill House; Runt (mainly cause it's short and I've owned it for like 10 years)

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?
Unsure if favorite, but it's one that stood out enough for me to remember -- "The trees wore gowns of starlight" from Echo Mountain.

Also, from I'd Rather Be Reading: “You accept that it’s time to cull your personal library. You lovingly handle each book, determining if it brings you joy. It does. They all do. You are full of bookish joy, but still woefully short on shelf space.”

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2020?
Shortest -- Lady and the Tramp, 140 pages
^ At least, that I counted. Technically I also read Strange Planet (compact comic book) and Once Upon A Dark November by Carol Beach York (98 pages)

Longest -- Little Women (562)
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls gets bats**t, yo. I can't even describe.

Also, there was a Sudden Twist of a death I was not expecting in Bobby's Watching, i.e. the perspective switches mid-chapter because the person whose POV we'd been following is suddenly dead.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
-JESSE/ALEX (Burying Water)

-Jo/Laurie from my Little Women reread. I went full fandom for them -- gimme fanfic. Meta. Everything ya got.
(also Jo/Bhaer, only slightly less fervently)

-Bridget/Eric from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and now, apparently, Lena/Kostos too (even though this is a reread, I'm only up to book 2 and I completely forgot how they end up; don't tell me!)

-Ben/Mia (Love At First Bark)
-Anne/Carter (A Glitter of Gold)
-Peter/Elena (Everyone Is Beautiful)
-Lara/Mr. J (Me & Mr. J., even if I forgot his first name already)
-Sam/McKenna (The Distance From Me To You)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
-Laurie + all the March women; all the March sisters with each other
-The Sisterhood friend group
-The actual sisters in For Real
-Ben and Ollie (godson) in Love At First Bark
-Mara and her dad Trip in The Possibility of Now

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Littler Women, closely seconded by The Other Side Of Lost (Jessi Kirby)

21. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:
Toss-up between A Glitter of Gold and The Last Woman in the Forest (also my first two reads of the year, haha)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2020?
Other than Jesse, probably Ethan in The Princesses of Iowa; what a sweetheart. Creative writing enthusiast whose post-graduation plans include working as much as he can at Starbucks while attending college in hopes that they will give him his own store afterwards, so he obtain custody and provide a home for his two younger half-siblings. Current plans include giving Paige Sheridan endless chances to be a better person even as she repeatedly turns him down to stay with her tool of a football jock boyfriend because dating the latter guy is what's Expected Of Her.

23. Best 2020 debut you read?
I only read two books published in 2020 and neither was outstanding OR a debut* (The Guest List and Echo Mountain). But as far as actual author debuts I read in 2020, either Learning To Breathe or The Princesses of Iowa or Behind The Attic Wall (THAT'S an 80s throwback, but I checked; it was her debut).

*I'm not sure if "2020 debut" means "published in" or "first-time author."

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Let's see, who haven't I awarded yet...ah, The Swiss Affair was set in Lausanne and wow did it sound pretty. Speaking of that region, Madeline L'Engle's And Both Were Young really rocketed me back in time and across the ocean to a super-strict but nonetheless picturesque Swiss boarding school.

On the opposite end of the temperature spectrum, no one has never made Hawaii sound so appealing as Kaui Hart Hemmings in Juniors. *I* want to go stay at the fabulously rich family's huge house there!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
I'm Your Biggest Fan had me cracking up, while Cats In The Belfry was just adorable.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020?
Quite a few, but the one that made me cry hardest by far was Me & Mr. J. I WAS Lara in all her misery. I absorbed every inch of her hurt like it was happening to me and I didn't just cry, I SOBBED.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
For Real by Alison Cherry. (Fictional Amazing Race, y'all!)
Learning To Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
Kentucky Daughter by Carol J. Scott, a long forgotten only-novel-ever-written-by-her teen gem
Dandy's Mountain - Thomas Fall
Where Have All The Tigers Gone? - Lynn Hall
Nature Girl - Jane Kelley
Saddle A Thunderbolt - Jo Sykes

OK, I think I can cut myself off there; the rest that I feel comfortable calling a "gem" should be well known enough.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
It didn't crush my soul because I can't feel too sorry for people in mourning when they are gigantic horndogs, but History Is All You Left Me was definitely the overall saddest book I read.

Actually, no, wait, there WAS a part in the beginning of Living Large In Our Little House that crushed my soul, when the author told the story of how her parents had scrimped and saved and finally bought her mother's dream Victorian, only to be forced to sell it a few years later after her mother became a widow and couldn't keep up with the financial demands. Her mother could never even bear to drive past it after that.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?
The Jigsaw Jungle. Pity that the answer to the mystery was possibly my least favorite trope in the world, but the formatting (structured as a dossier of emails, notes, transcribed conversations or home videos, etc., that the MC has collected to organize her detective work) was unbeatable.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad?
Technical Answer: The Fix by Natasha Seinel, which was full of so much Stupid Trash Teenager nonsense I couldn't finish it.

Actual answer from books I finished: You'd Be Mine and Becoming Rain made me roll my eyes a lot. The latter book had an FBI agent deciding that her crush/person she was in charge of investigating couldn't possibly have been responsible for a criminal's death, because she would have seen it in his eyes if he had been. DIRECT QUOTE: "People like me can tell." WHAT IS THAT??
**Bonus Stats**
Most Read Author: Val McDermid (11 - a series will really do that for ya!)
Runner-up: Katherine Center (3)

Oldest Book: Little Women (19th century repreSENT!)
Newest Book: Echo Mountain (April 2020)

Some Random Charts!
Age Group
Books Read 2020
TTT is definitely doing its job! Look at all that influence. But the library is still -- just barely, now that I'm not browsing in person -- hanging on to its #1 influencer slot, since 9 of the "author's back catalogue" percentage is from one series.

(P.S. "Googling keywords," a phrase which here means I type random phrases describing what I'd like to see in a book summary or review in hopes of finding a book that matches the plot or character personality I'd like to read about, such as "best friends since childhood," as opposed to seeing them in my Goodreads feed, etc)

(Note: non-library sources refer to where the books originally came from; most were not purchased this year. But it does mean that I read 29 books I own this year; woohoo!)

Total number of books bought (or otherwise received) this year (not necessarily ones I also read): 30 @ a total cost of $16.91 + 4 ebooks @ a total cost of $6.07 = $22.98 spent on books this year. Not having regular used book sales to go to really does keep me in check.

Ooh -- on second thought, I also donated $5.41 to OpenLibrary ($5 for them, 41 cents for the transaction fees) to keep their fantastic mission going, because I figure that's what I would have ended up spending on at least 1 out of print book that I was desperate to read and would have otherwise had to buy, until I found it on their site.
(Little Free Library books are only counted in this tally if I kept them permanently/traded another book for them; I definitely borrowed more but ended up putting them back, some read and some not, some too short to count among my 100)

Additional Questions From Surveys Past
Books you are most looking forward to reading in 2020:
I think this year -- if I remember by fall -- is gonna be the year I appreciate The Geography Of Lost Things. Will maybe get to Jo & Laurie this time, too.

How does 2020 represent you in books?
I read SO many more 20th century books than usual. I mean, I always read some, but a year or two ago something like 75% of the books I read were published in the 2010s, and this year, books from that decade (including 2020) only comprised 55%. BEHOLD:
Books Publication

Part of it was because I finally joined the Mount TBR challenge and read a lot of the cheap kids books I buy at used book sales, but part of it is also that I fell in love with Open Library and browsing books about 20th century teen & children's books to further my hobby of solving requests on (and the similar community on Goodreads), and get new TBR ideas at the same time.

I started out heavy on adult fiction -- in the first 3.5 months, I read only one YA novel -- and then totally flipped that by the end of the year. I just kept running across more and more YA fiction that I was suddenly in the mood to read again. And nonfiction was pretty varied, but some recurring themes were pop culture, books, animals, houses, and non-political investigative journalism/news stories. Plus a read a lot more of it than usual -- normally I max out at 10% of my total book count.

OK. I think that may finally be enough words.
If the can of beans (or other canned goods) was the only food in the house that didn't have to be cooked, sure.

But making your 9-year-old kid (note: not helpless toddler) decide between figuring out how to use a tool and eating other food is not, by any stretch of the imagination, child abuse any more than saying "nope, you can't have beans, pick something else" is.

Note: For anyone coming from the linkup, anonymous comments and/or those with URLs are screened and will be unscreened at my earliest opportunity (though sometimes they take a bit to show up). You can also create a free LJ account for ease of commenting.
Tags: year in review

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