In the spring of 2020, I set a goal to read 20 books over the course of the year. While this might not be many for some, it is an increase for me. I love to read, but am a “slow” reader, typically reading only a few pages at night before bed. This year, I set out to change that!
Since this post will be long enough, I’ll get right to it and tell you that I met my goal and even went beyond it a little bit! Today, I’ll recount the books I’ve read, tell you those which I would recommend (and, why) and which were favorites. I’ve tried to group the books together in some self-determined categories to shorten the review. While each book will be listed, not every one will be reviewed. In addition, during the course of the year, I wrote reviews on several of the books already, which I will link to in my previous posts.
In the the words of a coach, let’s get to it!
Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)
Educated (Tara Westover)
This Tender Land (William Kent Krueger)
The Lying Game (Ruth Ware)
The Fix (David Baldacci)
The Broker (John Grisham)
This list includes both the first book I read in 2020 and the last. They are in order of how much I liked them. Where the Crawdads Sing was an exceptionally well written story that had vivid descriptions of the southern landscape setting and outstanding character development. It also has a twist at the end. I loved this book (as did millions of others)! While Educated was well written and based on the author’s life, I found parts of it unbelievable. There were also a few parts that smacked of self-impressedness. I was glad I read it but won’t read it again. This Tender Land was interesting enough and well written, for sure. But, it was not as captivating as the other two novels, until the very end! The author throws some historical facts in, and it feels forced – like a statement is trying to be made that was the point of the book and the story evolved around those facts. I don’t think the author’s intent was to write historical fiction, and that’s good because it does not come off as that genre. However, being from the upper mid-west, it was cool to recognize the places in which the novel is set. Ruth Ware writes another compelling mystery in The Lying Game. If you were a fan of The Woman in Cabin 10, then you’ll like this novel as well. I will read more of Ruth Ware’s novels. In fact, I have one on hold at the library now. The last two, by famous and popular authors, were just okay. I would not recommend them unless you are such a fan of either author than you cannot let them pass.
Books already Reviewed on my Blog this year
Several books, including The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and The Rope by Nevada Barr, I read last April and reviewed in previous posts. Molokai’s Daughter by Alan Brennert, was one of my favorites for this year. I would suggest that one read Molokai by the same author first, however. The Women of Copper Country really stands out as a great read. This novel is written by arguably the ultimate historical fiction novelist, Mary Doria Russell. It is a fitting story for today’s world, even though it takes place a very long time ago. My review of the novel can be found here.
Over the course of 2020, I’ve written a fair amount of poetry and consumed a lot as well. I read Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook and reviewed it for a Slice of Life Post. I also read The Poet’s Companion as an e-book and found that much more instructive and readable than Oliver’s book. I plan to continue reading about the craft of poetry as well as writing more in 2021. You can search my blog for Poetry Friday posts if you are interested in ready some of the poems I’ve written and shared.
As an environmental educator, I read several books on Forest Bathing this year. It is a Japanese practice I was introduced to when I was the Outreach and Education Program Manager at Mississippi Valley Conservancy in 2019. I was even able to attend two Forest Bathing events. One was hosted by our local university and led by a Korean gentleman who was an expert in the practice. The whole process intrigues me so I decided to read more about it. I chose Your Guide to Forest Bathing, as a introductory book on how to let groups in this activity. It was interesting and I enjoyed it I also read Tree Spirited Woman which was a story about how time in the forest can help to heal one’s soul. Both were welcome and well received reads.
Talented and Gifted Education (TAG)
I’ve long been a student advocate for the subset of students designated as gifted and talented. I regularly seek out books and articles on this sector of educational pedagogy. Two books I read on TAG eduction this year were Your Rainforest Mind by Paula Prober and the e-book by the late Sir Ken Robinson called The Element. Both were worthwhile for me, personally and professionally. If you need an introduction to Robinson’s work, you can check out my post from August 22nd of this year. Sadly, this advocate for creativity and educational reform passed away this summer. He leaves a void. Hopefully, his wisdom will persist.
Self Help Books
My list is winding down. I hope you have found something you might want to read, either from this post or reading one of my past reviews. I believe we all continue to grow throughout our lifespan. Therefore, I try to squeeze in some self help books when possible. Early this year, I read Stop People Pleasing! It was a free e-book and I enjoyed it.
Science fiction is not my preferred genre, so I only read one such novel this year. It was called Pathfinder and is by Orson Scott Card (author of the famed Ender’s Game series). It is a long, involved space travel – time travel novel. Despite the genre and the length of this book, I finished it and considered reading its sequel. So far, I haven’t done so. It is somewhat of a weird story in all honesty. I’m not sure I want to spend the money on the next novel. You can read my review here. Be forewarned, it is 650 pages long, and meanders quite a bit.
I love a good mystery so I read three in a series by Mary Stone called the Winter Black Series. The first is Winter’s Mourn. They were quick but well written reads. I would read more from this author. I also read The Windmills of War by Diane Moody. This is a historical fiction novel. I enjoyed it, as it takes place partially in the Netherlands and I have traveled there. I bought the second in this series of three books but have not read it yet. It is a well written book that has a love story woven through the events of war. And, lastly, I read and previously reviewed The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley. A friend suggested this series of books and I did enjoy reading it.
So there you have it, twenty-plus books I read in 2020! I was excited to reach my reading goal! I look forward to more great reads in 2021 and intend to set my goal a little higher this year – perhaps at 25 books. I hope you find a good read and have a very safe and happy new year!