I’m about a week late in wrapping up my year — and what a week it’s been! It hardly matters what or how I read in 2020 at this point, but 2020 was such an unusual year it seems worth thinking about.
Things I missed in 2020: seeing family and friends, traveling and exploring new places. Things I didn’t miss in 2020: commuting, wearing makeup, office drama. Things I appreciated in 2020: slowing down, taking more time for myself and loved ones, taking long walks, learning new things, and tackling long-standing projects. One important thing about 2020, for me at least, was realizing you could connect with people in new ways, even if you weren’t in the same room.
My reading life in 2020:
In 2020, I read 128 books. Here’s a breakdown of the major categories of books I read:
For the most part, I was surprised to find that my reading life in 2020 was pretty similar to the year before, despite all the changes that affected how I read: no travel, no commuting, no long reading lunches in my secret spot outside of work. Instead I read while walking, or baking, or cleaning the house. Sure, I read more romance novels and fewer classics, and maybe I had less concentration, but I still read things about topics that mattered.
My major change in 2020 was that I structured my reading life less. I threw out TBR lists, for the most part. I stacked my library hold lists and read whatever came through, and if I didn’t feel like reading it, I sent it back. I felt that took some pressure off and helped me enjoy reading more — and at the same time it didn’t keep me from reading books that challenged me.
I thought I read more by authors of color, since I read so many books about race this year, and even my romance reading was fairly diverse. In fact I read a smaller percentage by authors of color, so that’s something to keep working on.
I read more new releases in 2020 than the previous year, which is not too surprising given my approach to reading this year. If I heard about something that looked good, I put it on hold. But in 2021, I think I want to read more “backlist” books and fewer books that are “of the moment.”
My blogging life in 2020:
2020 was a year for holding steady on the blog. In most ways, my readership stats resembled the last few years. My approach to blogging this year was to maintain, to not to be stressed by it, and to approach issues honestly. That meant I often didn’t feel like writing, so I didn’t. It also meant that politics and family and health mattered more than reading (it always does, I just reflected it more on the blog this year).
I actually celebrated two key milestones in 2020. One was my 10-year blogiversary in May, and then recently I reached 1,000 posts. According to WordPress I have 1,808 followers, which I greatly appreciate. Of those,1458 are WordPress followers and 62 follow by email (the others might be Twitter followers, I’m not sure).
In the first half of the year, I had more time to blog, since I wasn’t spending two hours commuting each day. But I often lacked the concentration to blog, and I didn’t try to push that. In August I took a new job with significantly more responsibility. I expect to be working much harder in 2021, and that will certainly impact the blog.
I spent less time in 2020 on group activities like challenges and read-alongs. I missed those things, but simplifying life seemed more important. I focused more on keeping up with a small group of blogs that matter to me. Hearing how you all were coping this year felt more important than participating in structured events.
I was more organized about tracking my books in 2020. Instead of waiting until the end of the year, I kept a running spreadsheet and updated it each month. I was surprised to discover that using an excel spreadsheet was a lot simpler and more effective for me than using Goodreads to track how I read. Plus, spreadsheets are comforting for me, so I’m not surprised I spent more time tracking my books than usual.
I didn’t review most of what I read, and I spent less time planning out my posts each month. I reviewed ARCs, as a rule, but otherwise I only reviewed something if I felt I had a lot to say about it. I spent more time on topical posts like discussing new-to-me authors or favorite reads.
I didn’t accept any personal review requests in 2020. I requestsed advanced copies on NetGalley, but I was terrible about responding to requests by email. That’s mainly due to trying to simplify and read what I want to read, but also some disorganization and losing track of emails. Accepting review requests is an obligation, especially when it’s a personal request. It can be a lot harder to write a review when you know someone’s feelings will be impacted. Still, I’ve discovered some amazing authors through review requests in past years, like Rebecca Burns and Karen Odden, and I don’t want to give that up entirely. That’s something I want to think about more in 2021.
In 2021 I’ll be turning 50, and since we’ll be home for at least the first half of the year, that means plenty of time for reflection. I have a number of personal, reading, and blogging resolutions that I’ll write about in my next post.
Thanks for reading, and wishing you a happy and healthy 2021.