Its that time of year again when I reflect on the books I have read, and whether I will be setting myself a reading challenge for the year to come.  In 2019 I read 109 books, this year so far I have only read 65…

The last book I read in 2019 was The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller.  Apart from thinking that I could have written this book myself (although perhaps I wouldn’t have been so erudite or amusing), it reminded me that in 2010 I had my own year of reading all those classics that feature in top 100 lists and that I had never actually got round to.  I really should have kept a journal in 2010 to capture all my thoughts about those books, but I didn’t.  I had a list of 40 classics, and although I didn’t quite complete it (there are still a couple of stragglers) I read most of it.  From War and Peace to Huckleberry Finn, from Lolita to Jude the Obscure, via The Heart of Darkness and Gone with the Wind.  I had a lot of fun (apart from Moby Dick which I loathed).  2020 seemed like a good time to revisit the list challenge idea.

So, I set myself another 40 books, this time half were non-fiction because I find it difficult getting round to reading non-fiction.  Even though I have many books that pique my interest I invariably turn to fiction first.  Half of these were biographies/memoirs.  Out of the 20 fiction, half were ‘classics’ and included the stragglers that got left behind in 2010.  The other half were books that friends had gifted me.

I called my 2020 list The Year of Reading Books I Already Have!

I read precisely 6 from my list.

I started off ok and read a couple of the biographies and the other non-fiction titles, and then in March we went into lockdown.  I ended up getting stuck into several of the Diana Gabaldon ‘Outlander’ books – all of which are pretty fat books.  They were the perfect escapism at a time when many, including myself, needed distracting from the outside world.

Working from home I no longer read on the train on the way back from work, and in the last month reading at lunch time has been replaced by some comfort tv (binge watching Desperate Housewives at the moment – we’ve had a stressful time recently, and sometimes ridiculous escapism on the screen is what is needed).

I had a Jasper Fforde phase in the summer – catching up with some of his books I hadn’t read and rereading a few others.  I managed a few of the work bookclub reads (we now meet by zoom), which gave me the perfect excuse to finally read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I had planned to read the bunch of Alice Walker novels I have, but after reading Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart I derailed myself after watching The Kite Runner in our virtual film-club.  I’d read the book years ago but the film made me want to read other books by Khaled Hosseni. I was convinced I had his second book (A Thousand Splendid Suns) lying around the house somewhere, but I searched in vain, I guess I must have given it to a friend as a present.  I’ve seen it so many times in charity shops, but convinced I had it I never bought it!  Kicking myself now, and looking forward to when I next lay my eyes on it, and can snap it up (hmmm miss charity shop shopping…).  However, I did have his third novel And The Mountains Echoed and that was a great read, and that propelled me into reading some other novels I had that were set in Afghanistan.  Don’t you just love it when one book leads to another and another.

During the last few months I took a 10 week class on Writing for Children and that lead me to reading some more Children’s and Young Adult books.  This year I also attended a couple of online book festivals (Hay Festival and Wigtown Book Festival) which led me to new authors, mainly of non-fiction, which means I now have half a shelf of new non-fiction books reminding me of my promise at the start of the year to read more outside of fiction!

Any recommendations for 2021…