A Different Sort of Reading Year

My 2020 Year in Books

The most consistent reading theme for 2020 that I heard was an inability to “get into” a book, which was incredibly frustrating – especially during those weeks and months of “sheltering in place.” For many readers, they readily apply this feeling to that now cliche term of “unprecedented.” I suffered from this reading theme in 2020 as well, but that was only one way in which my normal reading pattern was disrupted. Here are a few themes as I reflect on my 2020 reading life.

2020 Year in Books

I read fewer books. Typically, I read 75 – 85 books a year without really trying. This year it was a stretch to get over the 50 book mark. This was, in part, due to not having a commute. If you look at past years’ of reading (header menu, reading list by year), nearly all of those audio books are consumed on my drive into and home from work. In addition, my primary reading time is in the morning. The disruption in my normal work pattern had an adverse effect on this habit. Finally, my career is in healthcare communications (yeah – exciting year!), so given what we were going through, I began reading our state’s leading newspaper every morning, which meant that while I was reading, it wasn’t books.

I relied on rereads. One of the things that helped me get out of my slump of not being able to “get into” a book was going back to some books that I loved. Something about reading a book I was familiar with helped if my mind wandered a bit (no issue getting back into it) and motivated me to get to parts I knew were coming up. This was especially true for this one and this one and this one. Ten of my 2020 books were rereads – that’s a lot for me.

I read outside my normal zone. The racial inequality issues we saw boiling over in society challenged me to seek out African American voices in what I was reading. So I picked up some familiar ones – Alice Walker and Richard Wright – as well as some new ones – Esau McCaulley and LaTasha Morrison.

I read more non-fiction. In part, this was spurred on by a late in the year renewed interest in making sure we have all our financial affairs in order for retirement, but I read five of these and another seven non-fiction in last six months of 2020.

So while my 2020 reading life was different, I’m not going to say it was a wash. In fact, I can say that I picked up a couple of practices that I plan to continue.


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