In seven months I read an entire year, but the fun is not over yet. I will continue with 2020 Reading Challenge – A Little Bit More (see below).
The Original Challenge
November last year I made a somewhat shocking discovery: if I were to finish my 2019 Reading Challenge (208 books = what I read in 2018+1) I had to read more books than there were days left in the year. Since 2012 I had reached my goal every year, so the stakes were high. I wasn’t giving up this winning streak. But for multiple reasons, I was not too thrilled about this because the odds seemed against me, busy at work and most importantly I was behind in the first place because I was in a rather long reading slump (still finishing some books of course much less compared to normal – for me a reading slump is when I only read six books a month). I managed to get through, by for example strategically choosing books that were not too big and actually finished December 28 – so I had loads of time left and ended on 213 in the end. But my main conclusion was: This not again.
So, I rearrangement my challenge for 2020. Not too much books, not too much pressure and we will see where I end up. Busy year with papers was coming, so how much time would I have for the challenge? Three books per week seemed like fair enough, still something I would work towards, but certainly doable. 156 books it was. Of course, I could not have foreseen how different from other years 2020 has turned out.
It feels kind of weird to look back at a year which is only about half way, but I will try to give some impressions. The reading year started quite well. 26 books in January (some carry over from December last year as well), but I usually have a strong start. February then was only 18, but a short month of course and my total for the first two months was still 44. Then Covid19 happened and about halfway into March we went into lockdown, at first everything came to a standstill (for two weeks they said – but it was clear from the start that it would not be over in two weeks). I expected this would do wonders for my reading (especially when it was still rather short term), since all my evening plans were canceled (no zumba/dinners/movies/theaters/meeting with friends). I read 30 books that month – but actually I had expected it to be more. By then, I was almost halfway my challenge.
But next I hit a bit of a hard time. The full effects of lockdown and the drastically diminished social contacts (I live alone and at some point I realized I had not spoken to a person face-to-face for two weeks – not counting the store people). Besides, I was working full-time from home, and that meant computer work all the time, while I normally mix practical lab work with computer stuff so I seldom spend an entire day at my desk. The last thing I wanted in the evening was a) more screen in the evening; b) something I actually had to focus on. I wouldn’t call it a reading slump, I still finished 20 books each in April and May, but it was diminished concentration and will to read.
Since June I have felt I am on the mend, what with the easing of some of the measures (I can go back to work for example and talk face-to-face to the people there; and to some extend meet with friends). I also embarked on a project of just reading what I want to read most on any given moment. If I don’t have it, buy it. I can not go on holiday this year so I have given myself carte blanche (okay maybe not completely that) to get the books I would have bought in London and some compensation for missing out all the great London theater this year. When I found out I was close to finishing the challenge, of course I put in a little extra effort to finish July 31 and not August 2. While the number might not reflect it immediately, with 19 and 23 for June and July, respectively, I have been enjoying the reading much more again.
And that is the most important thing.
2020 Reading Challenge – A Little Bit More
Even before I finished the challenge I started thinking: what will I do for the rest of the year? The most simple solution would be to just increase the number to 4 or maybe 5 books a week and keep on the same path. I wanted to do things a little differently, and I really hope this will work out because it is something I have never successfully done before.
I started wondering, what books would I like to have finished before the year is out? Immediately dozens of books spoke out; series I still have to finish, books I bought recently, or maybe a little less recently. From those I have compiled a list of 52 (yes, that number is everywhere) books that I want to see finished by December 31, divided into three categories: series, tree books, and ebooks.
I have a much better track record starting series than rounding them up, so I want to set that straight by finishing some series I started this year or long ago. Additionally, I wanted to add a lot of the Tree books I have been buying this year, read them before they get the chance to become a ROOT. Finally, same goes for ebooks that I bought on Amazon. I try to immediately read these, but some I bought during sales have slipped through.
I hear you think ‘There is five months left and it is only 52 books’ – and I would have to agree. But I will be spicing these books still with whatever holds my fancy at that time. I am not good at set reading, my mind wanders quickly to all the books that didn’t make it on the list so there is a lot of space for free reading still.
Personally, I don’t think it will be particularly easy to finish this list – but as we like to say in my online book club ‘There is no challenge if it isn’t a challenge.’, and I really want to complete it. Also, by sharing it with you it will be much more difficult for me to come back on this challenge.
Without further ado:
- The Emperor of Nihon-Ja (Ranger’s Apprentice #10) – John Flanagan
- The Lost Stories (Ranger’s Apprentice #11) – John Flanagan
- The Royal Ranger: A New Beginning (Ranger’s Apprentice #12) – John Flanagan
- Hidden Bodies (You #2) – Caroline Kepnes
- Last of the Wilds (Age of the Five #2) – Trudi Canavan
- Voice of the Gods (Age of the Five #3) – Trudi Canavan
- The Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress #3) – Rachel Aaron
- The Spirit War (The Legend of Eli Monpress #4) – Rachel Aaron
- Spirit’s End (The Legend of Eli Monpress #5) – Rachel Aaron
- The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2) – M.R. Carey
- The Survival of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne #2) – Tade Thompson
- Dark Age (Red Rising #5) – Pierce Brown
- Dead Wicked (Calladine & Bayliss #10) – Helen H. Durrant
- Low Action (Vinyl Detective #5) – Andrew Cartmel
- The Fey and The Furious (Rivers of London Graphic Novels #8) – Ben Aaronovitch
- False Value (Rivers of London #8) – Ben Aaronovitch
- Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) – Martha Wells
- Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) – Martha Wells
- Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5) – Martha Wells
- The Time of Contempt (The Witcher #2) – Andrejz Sapkowski
- Switchback (Nightshades #2) – Melissa F. Olson
- Outbreak (Nightshades #3) – Melissa F. Olson
- The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently #2) – Douglas Adams
- The Salmon of Doubt (Dirk Gently #3) – Douglas Adams
- As Black as Ebony (Lumikki Andersson #3) – Salla Simukka
- Call Me By Your Name (Call Me By Your Name #1) – André Aciman
- My Year of Rest and Relexation – Ottessa Moshfegh
- The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
- The Five – Hally Rubenhold
- The Future of Another Timeline – Annalee Newitz
- Woman on the Edge of Time – Marge Piercy
- Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
- The Birds and Other Plays – Aristophanes
- Lysistrata and Other Plays – Aristophanes
- Afterparty – Daryl Gregory
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell
- Djinn City – Saad Z. Hossain
- Doing Time (The Time Police #1) – Jodi Taylor
- Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1) – Veronica Roth
- Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) – Emily Tesh
- The Fist Girl Child – Amy Harmon
- Prosper’s Demon – K.J. Parker
- The Border Keeper – Kerstin Hall
- Desdemona and the Deep (Dark Breakers #3) – C.S.E. Cooney
- Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) – Fonda Lee
- Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate #1) – Megan E. O’Keefe
- Miracle Creek – Angie Kim
- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North
- The Sudden Appearance of Hope – Claire North
- Inspector Hobbs and the Blood (Unhuman #1) – Wilkie Martin
- Inspector Hobbs and the Curse (Unhuman #2) – Wilkie Martin
- Inspector Hobbs and the Gold Diggers (Unhuman #3) – Wilkie Martin
I will be posting regular updates on this challenge, to see if I am still going strong. This page will also be updated to include links to the reviews of these books.
One fun little nugget at the end. The book covers on this pages represent the books I read for the 2020 Reading Challenge: Part 1. I read a Little Black Classic every weekend – so you can see what I finished in one week by looking at the books between them.