2020 Book Stats

Total books read: 122

Fiction: 71
Non-Fiction: 46
fiction breakdown:
YA- 7
Juvenile Fiction- 41
Fantasy/Sci-Fi- 34
Animal stories- 42
Historical Fiction- 3
Westerns- 4
Classics- 2
nonfiction breakdown:
Gardening/Food- 5
Memoirs- 10
Nature- 10
Animals- 28
Medical- 5
Travel/Aventure- 3
other formats:
Short Stories- 4
Graphic Novels- 5
E-Books- 25
Owned- 98
Borrowed from public library- 20
Borrowed from a relative- 3
re-reads- 8
abandoned books- 3
Places visited in the pages: Cambodia, France, England, China, North Devon, North and South Korea, Lamu Island, Tuin Island, the Comoros Islands, Mars, several fantasy worlds, outer space (in sci-fi) and one unnamed Balkan country.
It was such a different year- reading has definitely been my escape with more juvenile fiction, fantasy and sci-fi than usual. Needed some light stuff. There was also an entire month when I couldn’t focus well and just read magazine articles. Finishing the Animorph books felt like an accomplishment- I started that series in 2018! Reading so many more books off my own shelves should feel like an accomplishment- but really it means I got tired of the stress going out to places and just stayed home. I did use my library’s curbside pickup a few times and even went in the building once after they re-opened but it felt so strangely still and quiet- normally I’d like to be in a library that’s so silent, but this felt eerie. Fewer people working at the desks, nobody using the computer stations, nobody else in the stacks . . . Definitely spent a lot of time with my own library at home. Re-read eight books, which isn’t a lot but most years it’s zero, maybe one or two so that’s quite a difference! It was satisfying, too.
Just a note that, like usual, my stat numbers are a bit off- the total count and fiction / nonfiction numbers are accurate, but breaking it down into genres and other categories I get a lot of crossover and never bother sorting that out. For example, many of the books I tagged as Animals Fiction are the same as Fantasy / Sci-Fi and Juvenile Fic this year due to all the Animorphs titles!
Favorites? This is the hard part, although I’m surprised to say I only gave one book five stars this year: The Silent Miaow, and that one was a re-read so it doesn’t seem fair. Am I getting more and more stingy with my stars? or was the year so glum I just never felt any full joy in a book? Well, there are plenty that were great regardless:
The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins- On evolution and genetics. This one was dense, and amazing. Made me think so hard.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal- Exactly what the title says. No, it turns out, we’re probably not!
Argen the Gull by Franklin Russell- Immerses you in the natural world- very much a book about environment, you really feel surrounded by the weather. Harsh survival from gull’s-eye view.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande- Sobering book, about tough end-of-life choices and how different aspects of care for the elderly became a thing and why they are maybe problematic.
Castaway by Lucy Irvine- This couple who hardly knew each other decided to live alone on a remote island in the early 80’s. At some points they barely survived. It’s hard to put down.
Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn- I was just enthralled with the unique idea of an alien/dragon creature that bonds with a boy who’s a reformed thief on the run. Couldn’t put this one down either.

Encyclopedia of the Cat by Bruce Fogle- If you want to just dive into a ton of details about your favorite animal, and look at some gorgeous photos, this is it. (Your favorite animal isn’t a cat? what??)

Grip: A Dog Story by Helen Griffiths- Sometimes I like J Fiction that’s gritty. This one is about a lonely morose boy with a pet bull terrier dog. His father wants to train the dog to fight, the boy doesn’t. Very good.

Gull Number 737 by Jean Craighead George- Great juvenile fiction showing what scientific field work is actually like. About seagulls, but a lot is also about the family dynamics and how the son wants the research to follow a different direction than his father’s goal.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot- One to make you angry and astonished. Really opens your eyes to how poorly black people have been treated by medical professionals in history (and still are disadvantaged today).

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren- This wasn’t so much about plants as I assumed from the cover, it’s more about the author’s personal journey as a scientist. Also hard to put down.

Saving Jemimah by Julie Zickefoose- Lovely book about the author’s rehabilitation work with one particular blue jay, raising it from a young abandoned chick and later some extensive care when it was injured. Fascinating details.
Secret Go the Wolves by R.D Lawrence- A very well-told story about an unwise venture: raising baby wolves in the home. (He had a house in a remote area of Canada). Vivid read. (I must qualify that: it turned out well. But I don’t think anybody would recommend raising orphaned wolves in this manner nowadays).
Spineless by Julie Berwald- There is so much I don’t know about jellyfish – they are so strange and beautiful in an alien way. This book was kind of mind-boggling.
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson- Another book that makes you sink into nature in a specific place- this time through the life of an otter roaming around the riverside and moors of North Devon.

The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton- Novel about a cattleman in Texas during a six year drought. Got me into reading a few westerns, which in turn made me create a genre tag for them.

The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson- All kinds of fascinating stuff about seeds.

Honorable mentions: The Cats of Lamu by Jack Couffer, Village Horse Doctor by Ben K. Green, Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Yeah it’s more than ten. Who says I have to only pick ten. There’s more, feel free to browse all my 4/5 book posts! Well, I hope you all had a good reading year, in spite of what’s going on in the world. Books will keep us sane especially if we need to hunker down more. I don’t know about you, but I’m expecting four, five, six more months or longer before I can feel at-ease going on just normal errands again. It sure would be nice to see some friends in person too, but at least there is this wonderful thing called the internet that keeps us in touch.

6 Responses

  1. I struggle with categorizing some books in my stats when they cross-genres too. It really did feel like a different reading year with everything going on. I only rated one book 5 stars as well, although several came close. I enjoyed reading your favorites list. I hope to get to Being Mortal (finally!) this year. If I could squeeze The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in there too even better. I hope you have a Happy New Year!

  2. Despite all the obstacles, especially that month-long slump so many of us seem to have gone through, you had a great reading year. I can't even imagine reading 98 books from my own shelves in one year; that is a staggering number. I rely on my library a lot because I have confidence in the way they are handling curbside pick-ups and check-ins. They don't even touch books that haven't been sitting around for at least a week.Here's to another great year ahead of us. I hope things return to normal, but I'd say that most of us are coping fairly well so far. Good luck in 2021.

  3. Curious that you only had one five-star book, too. I guess it's been rather hard to enjoy even the things we love most, this year. (I can't imagine that I just haven't read more than one stellar book this year! I think it must be my mood overall).

  4. Our library has a pretty good system, too- they have rotating bins to collect returns outside, and the books aren't touched for four days. It's not that I'm nervous about picking up germs from the library books, just that I feel uneasy going out in general. One less errand is better for my peace of mind, and it's easy enough to avoid if I look on it as a plus spurring me to clear more of my own shelves!

  5. So many of those were the final Animorphs books! What do you bet in 2021 I'm back down to 75-90 books, with not so many J fic ones at just around 100 pgs.

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