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Friday, January 1, 2021

2020: The Year in Review

In 2010 I got this meme, I think from Boston Bibliophile. It was a fun way to summarize the year, so I now do it every year. Last year I added a couple of new categories (how many books for work and how many different publishers). 

How many books read in 2020? 120

How many fiction and non fiction? 53 fiction, 67 nonfiction. I'm usually really even here but I've said before that my book club reading probably pulls my fiction reading up and... I haven't done much book club reading this year! Proving my theory!

Male/Female author ratio? 35 men, 87 women. Whoa! Two years in a row of really unbalanced, in women's favor, without trying!

Favorite book of 2020? Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells

Least favorite? This is really hard to come up with this year. I went through a few periods of near-reading-slump which I fought off by not reading anything that seemed the least bit iffy, by reading the first few pages of a dozen books that I didn't continue with, and by actively going with more sure-things and fewer risks. That said, I do have one and it's not one you'd expect because everyone else loved it but I think the problem for me was the format. I listened to it on audio and I think that just wasn't the right way to go on this book. Nothing against the narrator, but I had no idea that this book consisted of hundreds of super-short chapters and that's something very hard to discern verbally, so it felt very choppy and disjointed when read aloud. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. I didn't hate it, I just didn't at all love it. I think also my expectations were high.

Any that you simply couldn't finish and why? Not every book works in audio for me, so those are ones I sometimes don't finish. Some of these authors I absolutely love so it's no indictment on the book:
Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld
If Then by Jill Lepore
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher (not audio)
Sweet Taste of Liberty by W. Caleb McDaniel
Too Much by Rachel Vorona Cote
Had I Known by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Oldest book read?  The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe 1979
Newest? Two coming out on August 17, 2021: Big Apple Diaries by Alyssa Bermudez and A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next by Tom Standage

Longest and shortest book titles? (not including subtitles)
Longest: Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits by Eiko 42 characters
Shortest: Money by Jacob Goldstein 5 characters

Longest and shortest books?
Longest: One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway -- and Its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad 544 pages
Shortest: History Comics: The Roanoke Colony: America's First Mystery by Chris Schweizer, 128 pages 

How many books from the library? 23. All the audiobooks except one.

How many audiobooks? 24

How many graphic books? 14 plus a few children's too short to count.

Any translated books? Three. One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway -- and Its Aftermath
by Åsne Seierstad (from Norwegian) My Brilliant Life by Kim Ae-ran, translated by Chi-Young Kim (from Korean) and To Hold Up the Sky by Liu Cixin (from Chinese)

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author? Martha Wells, 6 novels/novellas and one short story.

Any re-reads? Nope.

Favorite character of the year? ART from Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? England, Norway, Australia (Tasmania), China, Canada, Syria, Turkey, Russia, Greece, France (Brittany), Korea, Antarctica, Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation? The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor, first recommended by Pete at McIntyre's Fine Books in Pittsboro, NC but then later recommended by a colleague, Sage. Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford, recommended by a former colleague, Patty. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century: Unabridged Selections by Alice Wong was raved about by a friend, Elaine Ruth. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary was pushed on me by Hannah at Doylestown Bookshop in PA. American Hippo by Sarah Gailey was recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC. All Systems Red by Martha Wells and the whole Murderbot Diaries series was recommended by a dozen people but none louder or more often than my friend Jessica. Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller had an amazing review in Quail Ridge Books' newsletter. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley was recommended by Cecilia at East City Books in DC. One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway -- and Its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad was recommended by Mark at Politics & Prose in DC. It's funny how only 3 of these are not Macmillan books (Notes, Disability, and Fish). It's not shocking to have work books recommended by work colleagues, but it's interesting to have them recommended by my buyers (I'm supposed to be pitching Macmillan books to them, not the other way around) or even friends (they generally aren't aware it's a Macmillan book--that's just kind of luck.)

Which author was new to you in 2020 that you now want to read the entire works of? Martha Wells, and I did it! At least all of her Murderbot books.

Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read? None. I have literally hundreds of books I'd like to read one day but I don't feel any anxiety about having to read any of them NOW. I'll get to them or I won't. 

How many books did you read for work? This was a hard number to hit on this year because I read a huge number of Macmillan backlist titles, which I don't normally do. So I read 66 frontlist (pre-pub or reissue books I am currently selling) and 24 backlist (books already out). The grand total is 90 but it's a little misleading as a few of the backlist books are actually going to be helpful for my sales (The Right Stuff) and others are too obscure.

How many different publishers (not imprints) did you read? 8. As usual since I've been a field rep for Macmillan, this number is smallish. 

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read? This question is vague but I take it to mean you've been meaning to read something for more than a year. I'm going to say 6 as the following have either been on my radar or my shelf for that long. A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage; The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez; Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.; When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams; The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein; The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

2020 TOP FOUR Book Events in Carin’s Book Life (this used to be 8 but that was always very difficult to do, and is more so since I have a steady job and am no longer on the WNBA board):
1. Got through 2020!
2. Got through 2020 healthy and employed! 
3. Moved twice and I don't think I lost any books. 
4. I think I'm past my doldrums of almost-reading-slump.
That's all we can expect from 2020 and I consider those really great accomplishments this year!

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