Here’s a quick summary of what I read this year:
- All books: 122
- Reviewed: 37
- ARC/Review Requests: 9
- 2019 releases: 30
- Author of color: 51
- Nonfiction: 19
- Graphic novel/memoir: 3
- Part of series: 34
- New series: 13
- New to me author: 81
- Set primarily in another country (not US or UK): 24
- Audiobooks: 23
My reading habits didn’t change a lot this year, although I read more and reviewed fewer books. Last year I read slightly more new releases, which is probably because I accepted a lot more review requests. Last year I also started more new series, while this year I read more new-to-me authors. This year I read more authors of color and books set primarily outside the U.S. and U.K.
The most noteworthy thing about my year in reading is that I started listening to audiobooks. I never thought I’d enjoy listening to books, because I find it much harder to absorb details that are spoken instead of visual. I was wrong. Not only have I greatly enjoyed listening to books, but in the hands of the right narrator, I find them even more meaningful. But I am pretty selective about the audiobooks I listen to. I prefer audiobooks that take place in other countries because I enjoy hearing the accents. I prefer fiction or memoir to fact-heavy nonfiction. I also prefer audiobooks in the 12-hour or less range, which rules out a lot of books. Also sometimes I have to listen in little time chunks, so I need something I can pick up and put down and not be too disoriented. This means I need books that are a little less complex, so I’m not juggling a lot of different speakers or plotlines.
Including audiobooks really increased the number of books I was able to read this year — 122 books compared to last year’s 102. I spend a lot of time walking to and from home, the bus, the grocery store, etc. — audiobooks not only made my walks more enjoyable, they made me want to walk MORE.
When I love an audiobook, I find it hard to distinguish how much of that love is because of the writer and how much is because of the narrator. Ultimately I suppose it doesn’t matter. Some of my favorite audiobooks this year were:
- Ghost Wall by Sara Moss (read by Christine Hewitt)
- Asking for It by Louise O’Neill (read by Aoife MacMahon)
- If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (read by Bahni Turpin)
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (read by Tom Hanks)
- The Things She’s Seen by Amberlin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina (read by Miranda Tapsell)
I also really enjoyed listening to memoirs narrated by authors Ruth Reichl, Ali Wong, Abby Wambach, and Sandra Uwuringiyama. Two books that I thought were really elevated by their narrator were Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller (read by Marisa Calin) and The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (read by Imogen Church). Now that I know I have some favorite narrators, I may look some of them up and see what else they’ve narrated. But for me, these narrators embodied the book so perfectly, I’m not sure I want to hear them read something else.
Where My Books Came From:
I got most of my e-books from the library, and my audiobooks came from Scribd and the library. I continue to struggle a bit with feeling overloaded. Since most of my books come from library wait lists, I have little control over when to read them. On the flip side, it does make the decision-making process a lot easier! I simply read what comes to me. Ironically, since I have to prioritize books that are on wait lists, I’m NOT reading the books that are actually available. So next year I’m going to challenge myself to read more of the books that aren’t wait-listed.
Challenges and What I Read:
This year I spent a lot of time on two challenges, Reading Women and Read Harder, and happily I completed both of them. It was my second year with Read Harder and first year with Reading Women. Trying to do both may have been a bit of overkill, but I really found these challenges stretched my reading. I read things like manga, humor, poetry, a play, an epistolary novel, indigenous authors, and my most challenging, a book written in prison.
I read quite a bit of nonfiction this year, mostly memoir but also books about immigration, a particular interest of mine. In fact I would say quite a bit of my fiction reading focused on immigration issues as well. I even joined a book club that focuses on reading about women from other countries. I feel good about the diversity of my reading, which included authors of color, LGBTQ authors, neurodiverse authors, and authors from other countries.
Reviewing and Blogging:
I spent less time writing reviews this year, although I tried to post about 3-4 reviews a month, and I continue to feel that writing reviews is what this blog is about. I was more selective about which books I reviewed, prioritizing review requests and books I really wanted to share. I didn’t spend any time this year on blog improvement, and I probably should have. I was very much on auto-pilot this year – much more about reading than blogging. So probably for next year I want to spend more time on improving the blog and learning more about blogging. Which is fitting, since next year will be The Book Stop’s 10th anniversary.
Looking to 2020:
I’m not sure what I want out of the blog going forward. I’m still enjoying it, and thankfully my work and private life haven’t been stressful lately. I know that could change, of course. I want to make sure I keep enjoying what I read and how I blog, so I think 2020 will be a good year to reflect and learn, and not impose a lot of requirements on myself.
Thanks to all my readers and blogging friends – I do think of you as friends! Thank you for the connection you bring to blogging and all the things I learn from you throughout the year. My reading life – and therefore my life in general – would not be as rich without you.
Happy New Year and my very best wishes. Here’s to a more sane, positive 2020! I can hope.