Fifty Books!

Last December 31st, I made the entire family make a list of five goals they wished to accomplish or shoot for in 2020. On January 1st, 2020 I printed out each list and hung it on the wall in our kitchen. And come June, I would throw them all out.

Most of the items on our lists, during a normal year, would have been perfectly reasonable. (Although, Walter becoming a Jedi, maybe not?) But 2020 had different plans for most people. And so out of the five goals I had made for myself, ONE seemed possible to complete. And, by golly, I was going to make that happen.

Here were my goals:

  1. Plan a trip to Japan for 2021 (LOL ::cries::)
  2. Mail something to one person in my life every week
  3. Learn how to play guitar
  4. Lose 25 pounds (Sigh)
  5. Finish 50 books

The first goal was out for obvious reasons. And I worked hard on the second goal until late-March when I saw that many people were bleaching and abusing their mail and I worried my letters and trinkets might unnecessarily scare them. The third one, while still doable, would require online learning and I was sick of screens as early as May. Losing weight, again, doable, but for (at least) the first four months of the pandemic, I did nothing but eat and wait for life to start (or end). I lived somewhat existentially. I embraced the “Drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die” mentality. And even though I had a breast reduction, weight-loss was NOT something I achieved this year.

So be it.

But, number five? I had control over that. And even though I found it damn near impossible to pick up a book for several weeks following the beginning of The Event, I was going to finish fifty books come Hell or high water.

Below is a list of the books I read in 2020 in order of completion. I rated them at the time of completion as well. The only one I changed was The Midnight Library. I had it ranked as a 4 and changed it to a 5 because I keep thinking about it, and not always about the actual story; instead, I keep thinking about the overall concept and while this very well could have do with the timing of it and how it relates to my life, I felt it deserved a 5 because it just won’t stop resurfacing. Sometimes a book does that and sometimes that book deserves a second look.

2020 Books

1. Wanderers …. 4

2. Talking to Strangers …. 2

3. Girl Walks Out Of a Bar …. 2

4. Born A Crime …. 5

5. Evvie Drake Starts Over …. 4

6. Hillbilly Ellegy …. 1

7. Recursion .… 3

8. If You Tell …. 4

9. Where The Crawdads Sing …. 4

10. A Man Called Ove …. 5

11. Earth Abides …. 2.5

12. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine …. 4

13. The Silent Patient …. 2

14. The Giver Of Stars …. 4

15. The Dutch House …. 5

16. Becoming …. 4

17. Unspeakable Things …. 4

18. The Things We Cannot Say …. 4

19. The Fisherman …. 3

20. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic …. 5

21. Dear Edward …. 5

22. In Five Years …. 2

23. Nine Perfect Strangers …. 4

24. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words .… 4

25. Then She Was Gone ….. 4

26. Glass Hotel ….. 3

27. The World That We Knew …. 4

28. Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park …. 3

29. Take Me Apart …. 3

30. Writers And Lovers… 4

31. The Guest List... 4

32. The Overstory... 5

33. Why Fish Don’t Exist… 4

34. Olive, Again.. 5

35. The Chain.. 4

36. Greenlights.. 3

37. The Vanishing Half.. 4

38. The Searcher…3

39. The Power…2

40. Memorial...5

41. Long Bright River...3

42. I Liked My Life…2

43. Anything Is Possible...4

44. The Silence...2

45. Good Morning, midnight…3

46. The Children’s Bible… 5

47. The Midnight Library…5

48. Leave The World Behind…5

49. We Are The Same In The Dark...2

50. Mexican Gothic...3

51. Untamed*...0

(*Fact: I had returned exactly ZERO books to Audible until Untamed. I made it 3/4s of the way through and after discussing bad books with a friend who suggested life was too short to finish a bad book, I gave up. It was awful. I have no clue why and how it became a best seller. One word kept running through my head while listening to it: Insufferable. I actually said it out loud on several occasions. “This book is insufferable.” So, I returned it and got my credit back to use on a more deserving book, which was American Dirt and so far, so good!)

My Top Reads (in no particular order):

  1. Leave The World Behind
  2. Born A Crime
  3. Memorial
  4. A Man Called Ove
  5. Olive, Again
  6. The Dutch House
  7. Spillover*
  8. The Children’s Bible
  9. The Overstory
  10. The Midnight Library

(*Spillover [written in 2012] became increasingly more important to me because I finished it two weeks before March 15th when America shut down due to the pandemic. Life became super weird after that, and I often sit back in awe over the timing of it all. The book is about the spillover of animal diseases into humans and when and how the next big pandemic will hit. [Spoiler Alert: it’s not this one!] I found myself going back to this book for obvious reasons. Spillover had a lot to do with how I, personally, handled (and continue to handle) the pandemic. I only just started to put that together this past week, however. The timing was perfect. And I am grateful for that. I feel as though I approached this much more rationally than I would have because of that book. It’s difficult to explain, but the book, while terrifying in many ways, also lends itself to the whole “knowledge is power” mentality. I reckon this is a post in that of itself. I have a lot to say on the subject especially given the timing. Life is weird. I’ll copout and leave it at that.)

I listened to about half of the books above via bluetooth and my hearing aids and had hard copies of the rest. I would say it was about 50/50. (Though, now I’m curious and may go back and add a note for each one.)

I could write about each one in great detail, why I enjoyed some over others. But I sometimes enjoy going into a book without knowing much about the plot. I am, however, more than willing (eager!) to discuss any of them. I would love to, as a matter of fact. I would also greatly appreciate any suggestions for 2021. I just started American Dirt and World Of Wonders.

Happy New Year, friends and family!

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