I started 2020 with a goal to read 50 books. I hadn’t read much the year before, so I wanted to up my game. I managed to read more: in 2019 I read 9,102 pages in 22 books, and in 2020 I read 21,512 pages across 53 books.
I’m starting this year with a goal to make my own blog/website, so what better way to start than reviewing/recording the books I read last year?
I’ve grouped the books by genre (in some cases more roughly than others). They’re also sometimes in the order that I read them.
The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon [5/5]
I remember enjoying this one a whole lot, but I didn’t write a review on GoodReads, so I don’t remember why I liked it. 😣 Write reviews!
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin [4/5]
This was interesting, but I couldn’t get into the second one. Maybe I should give it a second chance?
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman [4/5]
Lots of funny parts, but I wasn’t used to audiobooks when I listened to this one and I think I missed out on a lot of stuff.
Awesome series. I once again failed to review it after reading it, but I seem to remember some surprisingly dark parts with torture… I liked it a lot.
Middlegame (Middlegame, #1) by Seanan McGuire [5/5]
This one was super fun. It has a great sibling relationship and some unusual time-traveling bits that I was absolutely hooked on. Oh, and it had dark evil alchemy with the severed hands of murder victims.
The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky [3/5]
This was written from the second perspective, I think. The book is basically all the conversations that the main character has with others, but you don’t get the main character’s side of the conversations; you only get the other sides. It was fun and interesting as an experience, but as a book with a story, characters, and plot it just okay. But hey, it’s super short.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson [5/5]
Fun characters, fun magic system, great bad guy, fun plot. Also, the libraries and books were awesome.
Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4) by Brandon Sanderson [5/5]
Ohmygoodness. Brandon Sanderson is my favorite. And the Stormlight Archive is intense. I cried happy tears at least three times while reading this book (well, listening to the audiobook). And so much stuff is coming together here!
Sanderson has an over-arching “universe” that many of his series take place in. So while this is only the fourth book in the “Stormlight Archive” series, it also has 24 other novels/short stories/novellas preceding it by publication order in the wider Cosmere “universe.” He’s kept it so you can mostly read his series in pretty much any order, but by reading them in publication order you can make a lot of connections and some things just make more sense.
- The Vine Witch (Vine Witch, #1) by Luanne G. Smith [3/5]
- Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card [4/5]
- Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (Mystery) [4/5]
These were okay, but nothing very remarkable.
I listened to the last several hours of The Outsider in a tent from 3 am to about 7 am in the middle of nowhere. I was terrified. It was awesome.
I think these were my first Stephen King reads, and I really enjoyed them. I don’t mind that his endings always leave the reader with questions; I like not being any more privileged than the poor victims in his books. 😈
The Dark Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, Vol 1 by H.P. Lovecraft [4/5]
Wow, this guy was racist. But, his books were kind of fun.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough [5/5]
Fun mystery/thriller with satisfying twists. Avoid spoilers. I want to compare it to stuff, but that would spoil stuff.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia [4/5]
Fun book, but the audiobook’s narrator bugged me.
- The Girl With All the Gifts (The Girl With All the Gifts, #1) by M.R. Carey [4/5]
- World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks [3/5]
- The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones [3/5]
I had a zombie thing, okay?
Children of Ruin (Children of Time, #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky [5/5]
I love the friendly spiders! 🕷
Semiosis (Semiosis Duology, #1) by Sue Burke [4/5]
Friendly plants! 🍃
Has interesting ideas, but I couldn’t connect with the characters in the second series. Also, it’s not very Sci-Fi; it’s more of an idea book.
The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1) by Cixin Liu [5/5]
The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2) by Cixin Liu [5/5]
Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3) by Cixin Liu [5/5]
Well that was awesome. It was hard for me to connect with some of the characters sometimes, but the setting and premise hooked me hard.
Foundation (Foundation, #1) by Isaac Asimov [4/5]
Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2) by Isaac Asimov [3/5]
Second Foundation (Foundation, #3) by Isaac Asimov [4/5]
Foundation’s Edge (Foundation, #4) by Isaac Asimov [5/5]
Foundation and Earth (Foundation, #5) by Isaac Asimov [4/5]
I couldn’t stop reading the fourth book! The others were good too, just… not as good. I don’t think I’ll read the prequels.
Okay, okay… so technically these books are a series. But they are about the most disconnected series I’ve ever read, meaning it totally doesn’t matter which order you read them in. The second one is technically a prequel, but it doesn’t have any major spoilers for the first one.
Remember the friendly spiders above? 🕷 We get more of them in the second book here! And in the first book we get hive-minded dogs! 🐕
Binti! Ah, my heart ached for sweet Binti. This was a fun, short read. Binti is the first from her tribe to leave her planet and go to a prestigious multi-species university. But in her travels she loses her humanity several times over. Or I guess she gains something else.
This series tugged my heartstrings.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar [3/5]
Meh. Sounded cool. Too vague and hand-wavy. I couldn’t connect to the characters. Neat settings, though.
Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) by Frank Herbert [5/5]
Had to re-read it when I heard they were making a new movie. I liked it a lot more on this re-read then I did on my first read. I think that’s because Herbert just throws you into a world with Gom Jabbars and Bene Gesserit without any explanation of what the crap you’re reading.
The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) by Ursula K. Le Guin [5/5]
Interesting. It’s a classic Sci-Fi, so I’d wanted to read it for a while. I think this would be another one that might benefit from a re-read. It took a while, but the characters grew on me.
I love time travel, and all these books specifically have time loops, so they get their own category.
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Mystery) [5/5]
Weird mystery. It’s kind of like Source Code: a crime has happened, and the person who’s meant to solve it is just thrown into the situation. However, unlike Source Control, the “detective” has to inhabit the body of one of the characters in the situation, and each time they lose consciousness they switch to a different body.
Because of the body-hopping, the detective ends up interacting with himself on different time lines, and it gets pretty confusing. I could re-read this one.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (Fiction) [5/5]
This was one of the earlier “time-looping” books I read this year and I thought it was awesome. It is great, but it’s not as great as the ones I read after.
Replay by Ken Grimwood (Fiction) [5/5]
In this one, the main character time loops, and they happen to find one or two other people who also time loop. However, they realize that their loops are shrinking! They start each loop later in their life, but their respective deaths don’t get any later. Supportive relationships (and a great ending) ensue.
Recursion by Blake Crouch (Science Fiction) [5/5]
This is the only time-looping book here where the time loop has a solid explanation. It also has some pretty freakin’ stressful stuff going on, where everyone alive suddenly has alternative memories of a past that never was, which creates some great supportive relationships. I’d totally re-read this.
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson [4/5]
Stephenson is weird. There’s a scene where a WWII crypto genius talks about how important it is for him to have sex at regular intervals so that his mind doesn’t get off track. And a scene about the perfect way to eat Captain Crunch. And a scene about a guy hacking his own office from the parking lot to wipe his drives before the fuzz gets them. Fun stuff. I think I liked Anathem better, though
It seems I like Emily St. John Mandel. A lot.
In Station Eleven the characters are real, and the setting is devastatingly beautiful, and the stories feel so close. Also, reading it in 2020 just felt completely appropriate, since it’s about a worldwide pandemic.
The Glass Hotel didn’t pull at me quite as hard, but it still had similarly great characters.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin [4/5]
Good characters and setting, but there wasn’t much of a plot. Interesting themes. I kinda felt depressed after reading it, though. (Though not as depressed as I felt after reading The Handmaid’s Tale.)
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis [4/5]
I listened to this one on a long car drive from Utah to Texas. I remember enjoying it, but I didn’t write a review. Curses.
1984 by George Orwell [5/5]
I felt like an election year was a good time to re-read this classic.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy [5/5]
I came to this one prepared to understand next to nothing since it’s a fancy Russian classic “acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel.” (So fancy and snooty.)
I was wrong. It’s old so they talk funny, and characters have multiple nicknames, but it was super easy to connect with the characters. And they are such wonderful characters! From the depth of depravity and depression to the simple search for an understanding of life’s purpose, Tolstoy captured some wonderfully real moments. To top it off, the story is engaging and emotionally satisfying!