2020 Year in Review and Some Goals for 2021

Last year was…. a year. My reading life was up and down and not at all what I expected it to be, but it was a year we could not have expected, so there’s that. I read 155 books last year, which is very slightly down from 2019, when I read 160, but I’m not bothered by that. Why would I be? It was 155 books. That’s a lot!

I also began using The StoryGraph, which is a book platform like Goodreads, but it actually works, suggests books you’ll actually be interested in, and isn’t affiliated with Amazon. It has a clean layout and provides statistics about things like books and pages read per month, pacing (fast, medium, or slow), length, genre, fiction vs nonfiction, and mood. Ratings down to the quarter-star can be given to provide a more accurate rating, assuming you rate books. It also shows user-generated content and trigger warnings if you need or want them.

I’ll still use Goodreads, but to a lesser degree now that StoryGraph is up and fully running. If you’re looking for a reading app, and you don’t like how error-riddled Goodreads is, or you don’t like that it’s owned by Amazon, give The StoryGraph a try.

And now on to the statistics.

  • Gender: 61% of the books I read were written by women, 34.2% were by men, 3.2% were collaborations by men and women, and the remainder were written by non-binary or by unknown authors.
  • Nationality: 53.6% were written by American authors, 26.8% were written by English authors, 5.9% were Canadian 2% were Icelandic, while 1.3% each were Italian, German, and Welsh authors. One book was written by an American/English pair of authors. I thought I had read more by authors from other countries, but I guess not. I should read more by authors who are not from the US or UK.
  • Format: 51.6% of what I read were physical books, 21.9% were ebooks, and 26.5% were audiobooks. This doesn’t surprise me, as I’m not a big ebook reader. Most of those ebooks were ARCs from NetGalley, and a few were library books I checked out via Overdrive or Hoopla during the months I could not go into the library. I don’t imagine this will change very much in 2021, as I still have a strong preference for physical books.
  • Genre: Fantasy was my primary genre again in 2020 (no surprise). It made up 31% of the books I read, followed by Nonfiction at 14.7%, YA Fantasy at 9.7%, Historical Fiction with 9.7%, Science Fiction with 6.5%, Memoir with 3.2%, Mystery and General Fiction with 2.6% each, Horror at 1.9%, and then Middle-Grade Fantasy and Graphic Novels with 1.3%. I read one photography book.
  • Source: 47.7% of the books I read came from my own shelves. Not surprising, given all the shut-downs we have, even if my state never went into a full lockdown. 37.4% came from the library, and the remaining 14.8% came from NetGalley
  • The oldest book I read was The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson (translated from the Icelandic by Jesse Byock), which was written in or around 1220 CE.
  • According to my Goodreads data (which is a little wonky, given how they input audiobook information), I read 54,297 pages, had an average book length of 350 pages, and an average rating of 3.9 stars. The rating is a little higher than it has been in previous years, in part because I was seeking out books I knew I would enjoy.
Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

I stated in an earlier post that I wanted to take Nike’s advice and ‘Just Do It’ in 2021, which means I’m going to tackle a lot of the books I’ve been putting off for one reason or another. This may lead to my taking on a bunch of books I end up not liking, but at least I’ll have given them a shot. And who knows? I might find a few favorite.

So what this ‘Just Do It’ mantra means for me is that I’m going to try to procrastinate less (so far, so good), and get down to the business of finishing up a slew of “I’ve been meaning to do that” sorts of projects. I have my Reading Big Books challenge going on (I’m finishing up Paradise Lost– so far, so good), and I’m planning to read the full History of Middle-earth series using the beautiful hardbound bind-up set I bought last summer. There are twelve books total, and because I had it in my head that there were thirteen, I tasked myself with reading two of them in January: The Book of Lost Tales, pt. 1 and The Book of Lost Tales, pt. 2. December will be an open month as far as Middle-earth goes, which is fine because that’s normally when I reread The Lord of the Rings.

Otherwise, I’m going to push myself to branch out and read books by more diverse authors, from more countries, and in genres I don’t normally reach for. I also want to read more nonfiction than I usually do, as I enjoy learning new things and I don’t often reach for those books.

As of this writing, I have finished seven books in 2021- a few novellas I’d been meaning to get to, a poetry book by a Black poet, and a curious little literary fiction title by an Icelandic author. So far, so good for the ‘Just Do It’ mantra. We’ll see what the rest of 2021 brings. Hopefully more peace and quiet. I’m tired of living in interesting times.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

About That Writing Thing:

At the end of 2019, I picked back up with a fanfiction series I’d put down a few years earlier. I dusted off my notes, adjusted some of the plot and character points I wasn’t happy with (which were the things that led to my initially abandoning the project, unbeknownst to me at the time), and got to work writing it. Since then, I’ve written three short stories, one novella, and a novelette in the series and received a lot of positive feedback from readers of the series, new and old. I’m about 40,000 words into the next installment of the story, which will probably end up being novel length (I’m estimating around 100,000 words, but it may go a little longer).

After that, the series will have another long story (probably another 100,000-120,000 words), and then a much shorter story to finalize everything. I’m hoping to finish it all up by next winter, but we’ll see how the writing goes. There are days when I can put down 1,000 words in no time, and days where I struggle to get two paragraphs. But I’ll keep working on it because I know that once I finally finish it, it will feel fantastic to write “The End”.

So those are my bookish goals for 2021. To read and write the things I’ve been meaning to read and write for a long time. Carpe diem, and all that.

What are your plans for 2021?

12 thoughts on “2020 Year in Review and Some Goals for 2021

  1. You can download your Goodreads data and upload it to StoryGraph. It’s a pretty straightforward process and took, maybe 15 minutes, processing time included. It brought over all my reviews and ratings, too. There were a few things it didn’t catch, namely books I read in 2018/2019 that I reread in 2020. It didn’t get them into 2020, for some reason so I had to go through and add additional reading dates. But overall, I have no complaints about the transfer.

    Plus, they’re constantly adding new features and the tech support is quick. I don’t know if there are ads, as I got in on the paid service at the end of the year. But it was founded by a Black woman who obviously reads and knows software, and it’s been a great experience so far.

  2. I haven’t done much in the way of goal setting so far this year, other than slightly upping the number of books I want to read. I’m attempting to create lists of categories of books roughly sorted by how much I want to read each book, but we’ll see. I’ll have to look into StoryGraph. I was a latecomer to goodreads and though I enjoy it I suspect I don’t use a fraction of what it offers, but I do have a lot of books in it. With StoryGraph being able to import those it wouldn’t be as big a deal to try it out. Thanks for recommending it.

  3. StoryGraph is great! Definitely check it out. I’ll probably write a post talking it up. It’s set up the way that Goodreads always should have been. And the founder is always making changes and adding features and is super open about it.

  4. I’m really liking using the “Just do it” mantra as your motivator… I might copy that, actually. I’m already heading a little off course regarding my goals.
    I keep hearing about StoryGraph but have yet to try it. I’ll check it out. I do prefer a cleaner layout, although I’ve been trying to avoid having to sign up for one more thing, lol.
    I dig the stats. All the best on your goals this year.

  5. Thanks! It’s been a helpful mantra so far this year. Not great today, on my day off, but that’s what days off are for, right? For lazing about and not stressing about doing All The Things?

    I get that about not wanting to sign up for yet another thing. I really am enjoying StoryGraph, though. The layout and stats are great, and the recommendations are spot-on. Plus, I recently discovered that you can’t review a book you don’t have marked as ‘read’, so it’s less likely that a bunch of stats-happy people are going to down-vote a book that’s gotten pre-release flak for something or other, the way they tend to do on Goodreads. I appreciate that.

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