A year in books – 2020

Well, 2020 was a year, wasn’t it? Not one that any of us want to revisit but please join me for a quick final recap of my year’s reading. I also did a similar review last year.

Total books read: 191 (-28)

Re-reads: 53 (28%) (+6%)

The overall number is a bit lower than last year, mostly because in 2019 I read the 20+ volume Fullmetal Alchemist manga, but nothing comparable this year. Re-reads is higher, thanks to lockdown limiting access to libraries, wanting the comfort of something familiar, and there are only so many new books I can afford.

Graphic: 52 (27%)

A decent number of books were either comics, manga, or Bandes dessinées. A lower number (see above), but exactly the same pecentage, as last year.

Languages:

Only 7 different languages represented, down from 10 last year. Not very diverse, I’m afraid.

Nationalities:

Again, fewer (15 down from 21 last year) nationalities represented. Far more American, no Japanese at all, and a disappointingly low number of European and Scottish authors.

Libraries: 48 (25%)

Fewer than half of the 2019 figures, because I wasn’t in a library between mid-March and mid-October, and not since.

***

Awards time:

Writer I’d always meant to read: Peter Straub. I only read Ghost Story, and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t have me clamouring for more.

Writer(s) I’d always meant to read more of: Angela Carter. I finally read The Bloody Chamber and The Magic Toyshop, and re-read Nights at the Circus. Also Terry Pratchett, whose Discworld books my son and I have been chuckling over.

Writer(s) I’m looking forward to reading more of: If volume 2 of Stephen Morris’s autobiography – the New Order years – is as good as the Joy Division-focussed Record Play Pause, I’ll be happy.

Best re-read: I enjoyed my autumnal trek through most of Salman Rushdie’s backlist. Honourable mention also to Mark Morris’s Toady: an excellent piece of late 80s Brit-horror. Think Stranger Things set in a crumbling seaside resort.

Writers I’d never heard of last year and want to read more of next: Matt Ruff, whose Lovecraft Country was one of the outstanding reads of the year. Also Gareth E. Rees, author of the superb Unofficial Britain.

Books I couldn’t finish (and therefore didn’t make the list): Anna Kavan’s Ice. Also gave up on a re-read of Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which I loved in the 90s but found a real trudge this time around.

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