2020 Reading Challenge - books in a bookshelf

2020 Reading Challenge: 30 books and a lot of escapism

This is my eighth year completing the Goodread’s Reading Challenge! Otherwise known as the 2020 reading challenge.

It’s also February, so, you know. I’m a bit late getting around to things as my website experienced a whole slew of issues back in January which took me awhile to fix. But, anyway, onward? 

This year I hit 30 books, although I had hoped to read 35. It’s a pretty varied list, and I feel like by the end of the year, pandemic fatigue forced me to pick up some lighter reading. 

As always, thanks to Perpetual Page Turner for this survey!

My 2020 Reading List

1. Best Book You Read In 2020?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Cliche? Everyone loves this book. Its Amazon ratings are out of control. But it really was magic, and feel-good, and beautiful. 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is tied. This was Mom’s favourite book ever, so I picked up her copy when I was home and devoured it. Mom had great taste! 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

We Need to Talk About Kevin. The subject matter is HEAAAVY. Basically, it’s told from the POV of a mother whose son shoots up a school. It’s really shocking, all of it. But the mother’s prose is really, really tedious. And unbelievable. 

Granted, the last 100 pages or so were a whirlwind that I actually enjoyed. The ending was quite a shock.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Help Me! By Marianne Power. It’s about a mess of a woman (whom I strongly, STRONGLY identify with) who decides to read a self-help book per month for one year. She really takes the books to heart, and it starts a domino effect of both rewarding decisions and awful outcomes. Power is an incredibly endearing author. I never felt like she was self-pitying, or overly navel-gazing. It was an excellent read. 

4. Book You Pushed The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Landslide, by Bruce Stagg, which is definitely something I’d never push. The older I get, the more compelled I feel to read Newfoundland and Labrador literature? This is the story of Jack Hickey, a hardworking Newfoundlander who grew up in Harbour Breton (near my hometown). 

A horrific landslide wiped out half the town, but although most people survived, four of Jack Hickey’s children did not. This is his account of the tragedy and its aftermath (with a love story woven in for good measure). Why do I recommend it? I sincerely adore Jack Hickey. He’s passed on now, but he’s the kind of salt of the earth Newfoundlander that I love to celebrate.

5. Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel of 2020? Best Series Ender of 2020?

I didn’t start any new series this year, but I finished the V.E. Schwab books. They were delightful.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?

Marianne Power, for reasons listed above.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson. I don’t really do thrillers, but the director of my department is married to a man who loves Scandinavian thrillers, so she passed along a few used copies to me. ‘Lo and behold, I loved it! 

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis or The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I really enjoyed both!

9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Definitely Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I’m on a total Regency and Victorian era kick at the moment. It’s like the best form of escapism for me. (Hello, have you watched Bridgerton yet?)

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. An excellent book to boot!

11. Most memorable character of 2020?

Definitely the heroine of Rebecca. (Btw, I don’t think the Netflix series did her justice. She was a force of nature.)

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?

Where the Crawdads Sing.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2020?

The Adult Orphan Club by Flora Baker. Flora’s one of my grief people, and coincidentally we met not long after Mom passed away. Flora writes about grief so beautifully, which seems like such an impossible task after losing both of her parents. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read? 

The Alice Network. I feel like it’s been on my to-read list forever!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.” – Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2020?

Shortest – Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. A friend in Germany sent this to me. Did I mention how much I love Roald Dahl? 

Longest – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (720 pages). This was 720 pages of misery porn. I did not love it, but I didn’t hate it. It was a difficult slog at the height of the pandemic. 

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis. That book was one hell of a rollercoaster, and definitely not an easy read. The last few chapters are a doozy. It’s a great read.

I Hear She’s a Real Bitch by Jen Agg. This wasn’t a shocking read by any means, but it’s the first book I’ve ever read about working inside the restaurant industry. A very insightful, behind-the-scenes look! 

18. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Definitely Ove and his sweet neighbour in A Man Called Ove. This was one of the sweetest stories I read all year.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I read Jamaica Inn last year, and absolutely loved it. 

20. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.

I think all of the books I read were recommended by someone else! Ha. A lot of these were recommendations from my friend Renee, including Love Water Memory and Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows.  

21. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2020?

It still stands that I’m attracted to Kell in the Shades of Magic series. So broody. 

22. Best 2020 debut you read?

Where the Crawdads Sing. Can you believe that’s her first book?!

23. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Where the Crawdads Sing. I want that swamp life. 

24. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Gosh, everything I read this year was so heavy, other than the short books by Roald Dahl. You can’t help but laugh out loud at his lyrical genius. 

25. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020?

Pretty well all of them? A Man Called Ove made me ugly cry, with We Need to Talk About Kevin being a close second. Help Me! Made me cry because it was so relatable. And pretty sure I shed some tears over Where the Crawdads Sing, naturally. 

26. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Landslide by Bruce Stagg. But it’s definitely a personal thing for me, and other people might not relate. 

27. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

A Little Life simply because it was so long and consistently just MISERABLE. 

28. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?

Melissa Bank’s The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing. I haven’t really talked about this book at all but I absolutely loved it. It’s a series of short stories but they’re all intertwined, vaguely. It’s a beautiful read.

29. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Hunger by Roxane Gay. This is Roxane Gay’s autobiography about dealing with obesity and some deep-rooted trauma from her childhood. The injustices in this book will make your blood absolutely boil. 

30. Book You’re Most Excited About For 2020?

Basically anything at my bedside! 

Tell me! What did you read in 2020? What was your absolute favourite book? 

  • February 08 2021

    Glad you out out your annual re-cap. I also love Rebecca and The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing. I have just started the Netflix version of Rebecca and so far it isn’t wowing me.

    • February 11 2021

      Oh yay! Someone else who has read The Good Girls Guide!! Weirdly, I’m currently reading Delicate Edible Birds. It’s another collection of short stories (not by the same author, but with many of the same themes of American life). Kinda a cool way to kick off the new year.

  • February 10 2021

    I love your annual recap! Am currently reading A Little Life. Loved Hunger, Little Fires Everywhere and We Need to Talk About Kevin. Will have to add the rest to my list of next must-reads! And may I also recommend a few books I loved in 2020: The Island of Sea Women, How to be an Anti-Racist and the Vanishing Half.

    • February 11 2021

      YESS I will happily add those to my to-read list! Thank you!! What do you think of A Little Life?

      • February 16 2021
        Tharani Balachandran

        Both very good, and impossible to read, if that makes sense.

  • February 13 2021

    I LOVED the VE Schwab series. It was so engrossing. Also low key in love with Kell but also with Lila haha

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