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.


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


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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