A year in books, 2020

In a fitting end to the garbage fire year that is 2020, my browser ate my 75% complete post and I had to start over. Symbolic.

I think I am not alone in feeling Zoomed out, and screen-timed out in general this year, which meant I kept turning to non-screen entertainment. Through no deliberate effort, I clocked 30% more reading in 2020 than 2019, which was already 30% more than 2018. While I suspect circumstances will lead 2021 to be more like 2020 than I would like (in this and many other respects), I eagerly look forward to the days when I will read fewer books, because I have other things to do again.

By the numbers

Books: 122
Pages: 36924
Estimated words, at an estimated average of ~250 words per page: 9.2 million, or about 30 times through the whole Narnia series

Books by female authors: 59%
Books by authors of color: 40% (about 2/3 of them women)
LGBTQ authors: 11%
Books in translation: 3

Mean book length: 302.6, almost exactly the same as last year’s 303.9
Shortest book, which was actually a novelette: Emergency Skin, 32 pages
Longest book, which was actually a webcomic: Stand Still, Stay Silent

Oldest book: The Misanthrope, 1666
Newest book: nearly 1/4 of the total were released in 2020, so it hardly seems fair to slice by which I managed to start on the day of release
Mean publication date: 2004

Most common genre, traditional labeling: fantasy
Most common genre, story element labeling: commentary and specfic
Average rating: 2.62

Novels: 82
Novellas: 9
Nonfiction: 9
Plays: 10 (some volumes include multiple plays)
Short stories: 1
Graphica and comics: 11

And out of those 122 books, these are the…

Best novels (listed in the order read, not ranked): A Gentleman in Moscow, Nothing to See Here, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, Bellweather Rhapsody, Mexican Gothic, Piranesi, Horrorstör

Best series (read two or more books from this year): The Poppy War, Heroine Complex, Well Played (name of series and of first book)

Best series (read one book this year, awaiting further installments): Network Effect (four previous, at least two upcoming), A Deadly Education (first of trilogy), The Relentless Moon (two previous, at least two upcoming), Axiom’s End (first of five)

Best nonfiction: Bad Blood, The Library Book, The Devil in the White City

Best graphica: Stand Still, Stay Silent; Mouse Guard series

And now for the best of the rest…

Best human combustion: Nothing to See Here, The Poppy War
Best Renaissance faire: Well Met/Played, Song Under Water
Best self-isolation role model: A Gentleman in Moscow
Worst self-isolation role model: No Exit
Best quarantine: The Relentless Moon
Best once grand, now decrepit building: Mexican Gothic, Bellweather Rhapsody
Best alternate dimension mounting an attack: This Is How You Lose the Time War, Heroine Complex series
Best killing machine: The Devil in the White City, HH Holmes (figurative), Network Effect, Murderbot (literal)
Best truly alien aliens: Roadside Picnic, Axiom’s End
Best performance art: The Family Fang
Best performing arts: Bellweather Rhapsody
Best murder in polar ecosystem: Whiteout, Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Tastiest cupcakes: Nothing Bundt Trouble (actual), Heroine Complex series (demonic, tasty in their defeat)
Most ethically suspect mining company: Network Effect, Mexican Gothic
Most ethically suspect non-mining company: Bad Blood, Roadside Picnic
Coolest librarians: The Library Book, Upright Women Wanted
Scariest Ikea-based horror: Finna, Horrorstör
Most misleading title: The Boyfriend Project, Mexican Gothic

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