That is solemn we have ended,

Hi, folks!

Thankfully, 2020 has come to an end. So, my loves, let’s look back over the books we’ve read this year and pick our favourites, shall we?

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But first, some stats

(If you prefer, you can skip the stats and jump to my retrospective of the reading events in 2020, or to my best reads of 2020.

About my reading

This year, I’ve read 130 books, comprising a total of 30.239 pages. Although I read 5 books more than in 2019, I read 845 pages less. A similar thing happened last year, which may indicate that I am on a trend to read shorter books. And, once again, I experienced a sharp reading drop between september and october (which I tendo to blame on the end of summer):

Number of books Average of Pages Min of Pages Max of Pages Sum of Pages Percentage
2020 130 232,6 19 528 30239 100,00%
jan 13 242,1 72 528 3147 10,00%
feb 11 190,9 38 306 2100 8,46%
mar 10 187,9 19 304 1879 7,69%
apr 10 258,1 122 432 2581 7,69%
may 13 269,6 114 480 3505 10,00%
jun 10 241,0 120 432 2410 7,69%
jul 12 241,2 123 430 2894 9,23%
aug 16 199,6 91 291 3193 12,31%
sep 12 233,2 64 382 2798 9,23%
oct 3 413,0 330 461 1239 2,31%
nov 8 241,8 120 408 1934 6,15%
dec 12 213,3 96 320 2559 9,23%

 

63,8% of the books were four-star, and 16,9% were five-star reads, whereas in 2019 I had 26,4% five-stars. 16,9% of my reads were just ok (three stars), compared to 20% in 2019; and  2,3% rather bad (one and two stars), compared to 2,4% in 2019.


About the books

As I look back on the books I read in 2020, I noticed that four topics kept coming back throughout the year: new women; passing; cross-dressing; and gender identity. This makes for a better picture than last year, where my most read topics were women struggling; bad marriages; mental health issues/ suicide attempts; and infidelity

17,7% of the books I read this year were published in the 2010’s (to 25,6% last year), and 13,1% in the 19th century (to 12,8% last year). By publication date, the oldest book I finished this year was very recent, compared to other of my reading years: The Jews’ Beech Tree: A Moral Portrait from Mountainous Westphalia, by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (Die Judenbuche, 1842).

Year of publication Number of books Percentage
<1900 17 13,08%
1900-1909 4 3,08%
1910-1919 2 1,54%
1920-1929 8 6,15%
1930-1939 8 6,15%
1940-1949 10 7,69%
1950-1959 7 5,38%
1960-1969 3 2,31%
1970-1979 8 6,15%
1980-1989 5 3,85%
1990-1999 15 11,54%
2000-2009 12 9,23%
2010-2019 23 17,69%
2020-2029 8 6,15%

48,5% of the books I read were novels (to 36% in 2019). 29,3% were nonfiction books (to 32% in 2019). 4,6% were poetry books (to 14% last year):

Genre Number of books Percentage
Non-fiction 38 29,23%
Novel 63 48,46%
Play 2 1,54%
Poetry 6 4,62%
Short-stories 6 4,62%
Novella 15 11,54%

Once again, I tended to read shorter books this year, and 31,5% of the books I read were between 100-199 pages long, and 40% between 200-299 pages long. The longest book was Kate Chopin’s biography by Emily Toth, published in 1990.

Number of pages Number of books Percentage
<100 8 6,15%
100-199 41 31,54%
200-299 52 40,00%
300-399 19 14,62%
400-499 9 6,92%
500-599 1 0,77%

30% of the books I read were paperbacks (to 47% in 2019). The percentage of ebooks increased: 46% ebooks (to 24% in 2019); and the percentage of audiobooks stayed the same: 12% audiobooks (to 12% in 2019).

Number of books Percentage
Audio 16 12%
Ebook 60 46%
Hardback 15 12%
Paperback 39 30%

60,8% of the books I read came from my TBR, to 80% last year. 36,9% came from the library (to 16,8% in 2019). Lockdown made me love my local library even more.

Source Number of books Percentage
Library 48 36,92%
Review copy 3 2,31%
TBR 79 60,77%

About the Authors

I read books written by authors from 23 different countries (the same amount as in 2019). 57,7% of them were European (to 52% last year). 13,8% were from South America (to 14,4 % last year).

90% of the books I read were written by women, and this percentage has remained stable for the past five years.


About the blog

According to WordPress, I published 138 posts in 2020 (to 108 in 2019), and a total of 167,251 words (to 100,493 last year). You should blame lockdown for that – but maybe also the fact that I am no longer writing posts on Instagram (I don’t agree with their lack of transparency, nor with the type of behaviour they induce and encourage, so I see no point in contributing with my words to their existence). I also deleted all my data on Goodreads, and only left behind the list of read books about which I had written here. I am still on Twitter, and will never leave, as long as Book Twitter continues to be this cool, intelligent place that it is. The best community ever. Thank you all book-twitter-folks out there. ❤

Back to the blog. The most viewed post in 2020 was my scarlet letter on Aurora Leigh (1856), followed by my letter on Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). The countries that visited my blog the most were the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, India, Italy, Spain, France, The Netherlands, and Brazil. Thank you, folks, whoever you are out there ❤

A curious fact: the most used search term that led to my blog was “last night i dreamt i went to manderley again.” ❤ ❤

This year, I reviewed 46,9% of the books I read (to 29,6% in 2019, and 54,7% in 2018). You may also blame lockdown for that, my loves.

It is also interesting to compare the stats about the books I read & the books I end up talking about on my blog:

  • The countries I read the most were England (34 books), United States (31), Germany (16), Brazil (12), Argentina (5), and Austria (4).
  • The countries I reviewed the most were United States (13), England (12), Brazil (10), Germany (8), Argentina (4), and Austria (2).

Finally, the authors I read the most in 2020 were Virginia Woolf ❤(4 books), Irmgard Keun ❤ (3), and Gertrud Kolmar ❤ (3). My heart belongs to all of them.


My Reading Spreadsheet

If you are curious about how my reading spreadsheet works, I made a video about it. You can download the spreadsheet here, and read the corresponding blog notes here.


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A restrospective of the reading and blogging events in 2020

2020 reading events have saved my soul. The reading year started in a high note with our beloved Japanese Literature Challenge 13, hosted by Meredith. Still in January, we had the Persephone Readathon, hosted by Jessie (January 24th-26th). In February, we had the first Fitzcarraldo Editions Fortnight, hosted by Karen and Lizzy (February, 16 – 29), for which I read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk (2018, tr.  Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Original: Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych, 2009). Still in February, we had our traditional ReadSoulLit. hosted by Didi, for which I read & loved Passing, by Nella Larsen (1929).

In March, Cathy hosted our beloved Reading Ireland Month, and I read & loved A Struggle for Fame, by Charlotte Riddell (1883). Also in March, we had the Wales Readathonhosted by Paula, for which I read & loved The Handyman, by Penelope Mortimer (1983).

In April, Simon and Karen hosted The #1920 Club, and I read Chéri, by Colette (1920). In May, we had the amazing SpringAThon, hosted by Natalie @curiousreaderr and Emma @emmawright174, and I read a great selection of books for the event: Spring, by Ali Smith (2019), The Persimmon Tree and Other Stories, by Marjorie Barnard (1943); The Living Mountain, by Nan Shepherd (1977); To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface, by Olivia Laing (2011); and Life in the Garden, by Penelope Lively (2017).

In June, we had the first Seagull Books Fortnight, hosted by Lizzie (June 1st – 14th), and the #JazzAgeJune, hosted by Laurie and Fanda. Also in June, I had the pleasure to read Gayl Jone’s Eva’s Man together with Jennifer. From June 3rd to September 3rd, Cathy hosted one of my favourite reading events, 20 Books of Summer, during which I read: Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter; Die, My Love, by Ariana Harwicz (2017, tr. Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff. Original: Matate, Amor, 2012); Tentacle, by Rita Indiana, tr. Achy Obejas; People in the Room, by Norah Lange (2018, tr. Charlotte Whittle. Original: Personas en la sala, 1950); Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller; and Marriage, by Susan Ferrier. In June and July, I had the pleasure to read Harwicz’s Die, My Love and Alharti’s Celestial Bodies together with Michelle from the blog Michelle das 5 às 7., as well as Emília FreitasA Rainha do Ignoto together with Nádia and Márcia.

In July and August, we had the beloved Spanish Lit Month, hosted by Stu and Richard, and, in August, our beloved Virago All Augusthosted by the Virago Modern Classics Group. Still in August, Meytal hosted our traditional Women in Translation Month, for which I  wrote a profile & posted a handful of poems by Pakistani poet Sara Shagufta, as well as a scarlet letter on the short story The Path through the Grassland, by Chinese author Ru Zhijuan (tr. Yu Fanqin. Original: 草原上的小路, 1979). Here you can read my Mid-year Check-In.

In September, we had our Classics Spin #24 (30th September, 2020), and my spin was Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller (1969). Then, Summer was over, and it was time for RIP Challengehosted by Carl, for which I read A Phantom Lover by Vernon Lee (1886) and Our Lady of Hate, by Catherine Lord (2020).

In October, we also had The #1956Club, hosted by Karen and Simon, and I read Every Eye, by Isobel English (1956). October was also time for my beloved Victoberhosted by KateKatieAnge, and Lucy. I read the folowing books: Cassandra, by Florence Nightingale (1852); Her Father’s Name, by Florence Marryat (1876); A Phantom Lover by Vernon Lee (1886); The Romance of a Shop (1888), by Amy Levy; The Half-Sisters, by Geraldine Jewsbury (1848); Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang: Fifty Makers, Shakers and Heartbreakers from the Victorian Era, by Kirsty Stonell Walker (2020); Further Letters by Mrs. Gaskell, ed. lizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, J. A. V. Chapple (2000); Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters, ed. Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard (1989); and Our Lady of Hate, by Catherine Lord (2020).

Then, we had our beloved German Lit Monthhosted by Lizzy and Caroline, and I read Die Vergiftung (‘The Poisoning’, 1920), by Maria Lazar; Die Judenbuche, by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1842); Krambambuli, by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1883); and Circe’s Mountain: Stories, by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990, tr. Lisel Mueller. Stories originally published in the following collections: Das dicke Kind und andere Erzählungen, 1952; Lange Schatten. Erzählungen, 1960; Ferngespräche. Erzählungen, 1966).

Also in November, we had AusReadingMonth, hosted by Brona, for which I read Painted Clay, by Capel Boake (1917); Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy and Rebecca, for which I read Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953); and Nonfiction Novemberhosted by Rennie over at What’s Non-Fiction, Katie at Doing Dewey, Julie at Julz Reads and Leann at Shelf Aware – and, on Booktube, by Olive (November), for which I read Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, by Harriet E. Wilson (1859).

From November 11th to December 9th, the Monacensia im Hildebrandhaus in Munich hosted the Blog parade „Frauen und Erinnerungskultur | #femaleheritage“, and I contributed to the event with a post on Six 19th-century Brazilian Women Writers. Finally, in December, we had #DiverseDecember, hosted by Naomi, and I wrote about Úrsula, by Maria Firmina dos Reis (c.1859).


A glimpse into 2021

As for the year-long challenges I took part in 2020 and my personal reading projects, I wrote a separate post about them here. For fun, you can read about My life in books (meme). And, if you want a glimpse into what I am planning for 2021, you can read all about my reading projects for the coming year here. as well as take a peek at my winter tbr here.

And now, on to my favourite section of this post:


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The good, the bad, and the ugly
Best novels (in no particular order)
  • Patience, by Toby Litt (2019)
  • People in the Room, by Norah Lange (2018, tr. Charlotte Whittle. Original: Personas en la sala, 1950)
  • A Struggle for Fame, by Charlotte Riddell (1883)
  • The Handyman, by Penelope Mortimer (1984)
  • Every Eye, by Isobel English (1956)
  • Eva’s Man, by Gayl Jones (1976)
Favourite short-story collections
  • Circe’s Mountain: Stories, by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990, tr. Lisel Mueller. Stories originally published in the following collections: Das dicke Kind und andere Erzählungen, 1952; Lange Schatten. Erzählungen, 1960; Ferngespräche. Erzählungen, 1966).
  • Infinite Riches, edited by Lynne Knight (1993, Virago short stories)
Favourite novellas
  • Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)
  • A Jewish Mother from Berlin, by Gertrud Kolmar (1997, tr. Brigitte M. Goldstein. Original: Eine MutterDie jüdische Mutter, written in 1930/31, and first published posthumously in 1965)
Favourite poetry collection

  • I Am the Bitter Name, by C.K. Williams (1972)
Best nonfiction books (in no particular order)
  • The Living Mountain, by Nan Shepherd (1977)
  • These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson, by Martha Ackmann (2020)
  • Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars, by Francesca Wade (2020)
  • To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface, by Olivia Laing (2011)
Most surprisingly good books
  • Comemadre, by Roque Larraquy (2018, tr. Heather Cleary. Original: La comemadre, 2010)
  • Die, My Love, by Ariana Harwicz (2017, tr. Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff. Original: Matate, Amor, 2012)
  • Isolde, by Irina Vladimirovna Odoevtseva (2019, tr. Bryan Karetnyk and Irina Steinberg. Original: Изольда, 1929)
New favourite authors that I’ve discovered this year

Gayl Jones & Gamel Woolsey & Norah Lange & Irina Vladimirovna Odoevtseva

Bookish highlights of the year
  • Taking part in the podcast Literatura Viral to talk about Zora Neale Hurston ❤
Disappointments:

 

 

  • Virginia Woolf: And the Women Who Shaped Her World, by Gillian Gill (2019)
  • Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon (2014)
  • The Tree and the Vine, by Dola de Jong (1961, tr. Ilona Kinzer; 2020, tr. Kristen Gehrman. Original: De thuiswacht, 1954)
  • Candy by Mian Mian (2003, tr. Andrea Lingenfelter. Original: 糖, 2000)

THANK YOU

Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. Our blogging community is a source of joy to all of us. May the new year be gentle on us; may we be generous towards one another.

I’ll be signing off now, folks. I wish you all a Happy New Year, and I leave you with a poem by our beloved Emily Dickinson:

That is solemn we have ended,—
Be it but a play,
Or a glee among the garrets,
Or a holiday,

Or a leaving home; or later,
Parting with a world
We have understood, for better
Still it be unfurled.

Yours truly,

J.


A Buttercup with a Butterfly and an Insect – Barbara Regina Dietzsch

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