Reading | 2020 Review and 2021 Goals

This has been one of my best reading years, between my desire for escapism and the pandemic-induced ‘downtime’. Thanks to many bloggers, blog tours, and other creators in the bookish sphere, I’ve found new favorite authors, kept up with ‘old’ favorites, and got more excited for new releases than I have ever been (I’m primarily a backlist reader).

In 2019 I read 48 books, which I felt (and still feel) great about. I set my sights on a steeper goal for 2020: 72 books minimum (I wanted to read at least six books a month). It was a tremendous goal for my self who was employed in a non-pandemic world; success became more probable when my department at work was cut in February (not pandemic related), then seemingly more so when the pandemic forced a widespread quarantine. That feeling of having unlimited time wavered throughout the year because of pandemic-related anxieties, but even so, I’m elated to say that I read 62 books in 2020.

18 of those books were audiobooks (16 of which were Agatha Christie audiobooks), 9 were rereads, and a handful were ARCS. I also read children’s books, some middle grade fiction, plus a couple of poetry and fairy tale collections. 3 books landed on my DNF list (these are not included in my total book count), and I started many more books that still remain to be finished (this is really my most consistent reading habit). So as I look back at my 2020 reading record and review the books I read, I can happily say it was a great reading year—numerically and due to the fact that I really enjoyed the majority of the books I read.

And out of that majority, there are a few standouts. In addition to the books I reread…

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — Not only is the writing beautiful, the structure (novel written in verse) is spectacular—the narrative pulls the reader in as the story literally takes shape in interesting and thoughtful forms.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai — I love multi-generational novels, and this one has become a new favorite. You can read my full review here.

Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas — I’ve talked about this book frequently, but if you have missed any of my comments on it, you can read my review here.

The Real Mrs. Price by J.D. Mason — This book surprised me with its intensely thrilling, smutty, and familial components. Or more specifically, I was a bit surprised at how well all of these components worked together. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and after turning the final page I ordered the sequel/companion. You can read more of my thoughts here.

Summer by Edith Wharton — This is a beautiful, painful, and necessary story. It may be only 205 pages long, but it is affecting. I discussed my thoughts and the relevant (to the book) details of Edith Wharton’s life here.

The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez — Another poetry collection to add to my favorites.

His Only Wife by Peace Adze Medie — I will read anything Peace Adze Medie writes. Read my review of this debut novel here.

Fires of the Faithful (Eliana’s Song #1) by Naomi Kritzer — This was a wonderful surprise of a book. It was sent to me in a mystery box by a local indie, and if you can find a copy I highly recommend reading it. You can read the synopsis for this fantasy story (and duology) here.

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin — Spectacularly eerie, realistic, and imaginative. Read my full thoughts here.

Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis — When you finish reading this must-read story, the first thing you’ll want to do is reread it. Such a must read.


Additionally, I am including the following graphs from my StoryGraph account, because I think they are interesting and find it fun to see the breakdown of what I read in the past year. First, the moods I was drawn to:

And the genres/subjects I read (I really got into Agatha Christie this year 😆):

My 2021 reading will probably look similar, thanks to Scribd’s selection of Agatha Christie audiobooks and all the unread books on my shelves. Which brings me to…

What’s In Store for 2021

Like I set out to do at the beginning of 2020 (and did not totally follow through with), I want to mainly read the books I own, and keep other books (library books, purchased books) to a minimum. I collected at least a dozen more books over the past year, and so the number of unread books on my shelves has grown even larger. The other part of this goal is to decide which [read] books I want to keep and which ones can be removed from my shelves. I will either donate them, or maybe I will sell them (if I continue to have terrible luck finding employment, I will more likely do the latter).

And once again (like I did in 2018), I am foregoing my Monthly Reading Challenge format for a much more open-ended, non-tbr-focused reading plan. I’m embracing my mood reader self and going with the flow. If you have read my most recent TBR posts, you know that I’ve been into creating monthly lists of books that are “on my radar” – or monthly TBRs that are not strict. This is how I will be starting each month of 2021: with a list of books that I have in mind or would like to read, but may not necessarily end up in my monthly wrap-ups. This is basically how I’ve operated all along, but I’m hoping that by not “restricting” myself to specific books on a TBR, my reading will feel less obligatory and thus more exciting.

And speaking of wrap-ups, I’m bringing back monthly wrap-ups. In 2020 I tried out quarterly versions, which I thought I was going to like more than I actually did. So at the end of each month I’ll be rounding up which books I read, instead of every three months.

I’m also looking forward to participating in a few reading challenges created by other bloggers. The 20 Books of Summer is one I look forward to every year; there’s an Agatha Christie reading challenge on Instagram that I’ve taken on before and will continue to do so in 2021; and I think this will be the year I join The Classics Club. I have been planning some author-specific series of posts as well, so stay tuned for more information on that (this author will be one of them).

What I am keeping the same from my 2020 reading goals is the aim to read six to eight books each month, or 72 to 96 books by the end of the year. I fell short of the minimum of 72 books overall in 2020, but considering the various reading slumps I fell into over the course of last year, I think that goal is attainable (granted I don’t experience as many slumpy periods of time in 2021).

As for which book(s) I’m starting 2021 with—I’ll definitely get to that in my January Preview (not a TBR), but if you’ve been following my reading, especially recently, you know that I am in the middle of many book series that I’d like to finish sooner rather than later.

And one final particular about my 2021 reading plans. After abandoning Goodreads last year (intentionally), I am officially not using it anymore. I developed the habit of writing down the books I read in a notebook, and I’ve really been enjoying The StoryGraph, so you can find me there, check in on Instagram, or stay tuned for my weekly and monthly reading updates here on the blog.


There it is – my 2020 reading year in review and my goals/plans for 2021. If you read through to the end of this post – thank you! And if you have made any reading goals or plans for 2021, share them below, and feel free to leave any book recommendations for me and others – my TBR could always use new additions. 😉

Cheers to another year of reading! 📚
-Kelsey

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