Sunday, January 10, 2021

2020 Book Facts

 2020 was my year of discovery! I discovered several new writers, and raced through their work.

Harriette Ashbrook. Who has heard of her? Yeah, I thought not. Well, she writes a terrific series starring the younger brother of the Manhattan District Attorney. As is the case with so many fictional second sons, this man lives a very different life from his successful sibling. Spike Tracy is a bon vivant, a boulevardier as Bertie Wooster is. He is also a brilliant detective, who sometimes sits unnoticed while noticing everything and everyone. I really like him. She wrote seven books starring Spike and I loved each one. She has another series as Susannah Shane with Christopher Saxe as the detective, but just one of the books is available. She lived to be only 47, and it is very hard to find much information about her. I did find a blog piece here

E.C.R Lorac, whose real name was Edith Caroline Rivett, is much more famous, yet was unknown to me. I began reading her work last year, and am still going strong. Not all is available, but I read what I can. You may read more about her here

A more modern writer I discovered only to find out she had died in April 2020 is Sheila Connolly. It made me so sad for her, and for her myriad readers. There is a very nice tribute here, in which the series I read, one right after the other, is featured.

I only have two posts about the 1920s here and here, but I've had quite a great year reading. I read seven books published then, and one about Hadley Richardson. You will read in the first link that we had planned to visit her grave in Tamworth, New Hampshire but that went the way of so many things in the year of the virus. It will be one of the first outings when this thing finally ends! I've also kept on a special shelf all the books I have that were published in or are about the decade and hope to continue each year reading more. 

I hardly ever write about one book that was my favorite or the best, but for 2020 it is easy. Electric Eden by Rob Young. I have owned this book for a very long time, and decided I would read it with my breakfast every day instead of a magazine, and then I began reading it other times of the day as well, and then there were times I couldn't put it down, though it took me two months and twelve days to read! And I bought four books that were referenced: News From Nowhere by William Morris, A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Houseman, The Celtic Twilight by W.B. Yeats, and The Owl Service by Alan Garner. I also bought a vinyl version of an album I had bought on iTunes years ago, Vashti Bunyan's Diamond Day. There was much stopping and looking up all kinds of music and musicians. You Tube was a tremendous place to find most everything. I felt like I was in college again, really studying and really learning. 

I loved reading some James Herriot books, some of which I had read a long time ago. And Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga was so excellent. I can't praise those books enough.

And I am delighted that I read 17 print books this year. 

I read a few books published in 2020. The 2020s have begun! 

Without further ado, as they say, here are my stats for the past year. And, note to self - this year do these stats each month instead of tallying at the end of a year.

In 2020, I read 70 books. 

3 Children's fiction

11 Fiction

2 Graphic nonfiction

41 Mystery

13 Nonfiction

53 Kindle 

17 Print 

22 by men

48 by women

By the years:

1 - 1900-1909

7 - 1920s

6 - 1930s

5 - 1940s

4 - 1950s

3 - 1970s

4 - 1980s

4 - 1990s

3 - 2000-2009

26 - 2010-2019

7 - 2020s

I'm not bothering to count rereads or library books anymore. I hardly read any of the latter, and the rereads are so few that it doesn't matter to me how many there are.


  1. Lovely cat pic and great stats. I love the Forsyte Saga and have read it a couple of times.

    1. How that pleases me that you loved the FS! It was the first thing we ever saw over here of British television in 1969, I think. And all these years later I can still remember many scenes. The books were sublime. And those little stories that tied one book to another. I'm just thrilled there is someone in "my" blogging world who loves the books.

  2. That's a good reading year, Nan. I love that you got a lot of interest and enjoyment from what you read. I feel like I read far too many last year, hiding from the pandemic I think, this year I feel like I want to read less. I know that sounds mad but I want a more fulfilling reading year. I know I don't do too badly in that respect but I think I could do better. I'm going to read Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries through this year so that will be an exercise in restraint for me because his beautiful writing about cooking and food just makes me want to read on and on. Big fan of E.C.R. Lorac's books, read her Crossed Skis as Carol Carnac last July, and have more to read on the shelves. Think I've about half a dozen so far. I assume you know about the new TV adaptation of James Herriot's books?

    1. I do! It just began over here last evening! I love that the fellow who played the second oldest Durrell son is Tristan, and I am such a fan of Samuel West! I haven't watched yet, but will soon.
      That is so interesting about wanting a more fulfilling reading year. Nothing wrong though with "hiding".

  3. Nan, loved this post even though I'm not familiar with many of the books. Just goes to show that we all want to find our niche and then read, read, read. Great picture of your kitkat! And, like Cath, I'm wanting a more 'peaceful' year for reading - just another way of saying fulfilling in my mind. I have no idea what that will look like or what books I'll read, but I'm hopeful that each will speak to me somehow.

    1. That's the one thing that didn't change for me this year was my reading. And my television watching. Those are my refuges from the outside world, though I do not consciously think of them that way. I've seen so many people reading current events kind of books. Whew, I couldn't bear that. I'm with Theodore Roosevelt in his words that I've quoted here before. He was writing a letter to his son. I did a search and found in on the blog. "There is quite enough sorrow and shame and suffering and baseness in real life and there is no need for meeting it unnecessarily in fiction."

  4. Nan, your photo-headers continue to amaze me. I think you missed your calling in life if you were not at one time a professional photographer. Really do.

    Congratulations on the great reading year you had. I look forward to what's in store for 2021...keeping my fingers crossed. Happy Reading to you, and please stay safe.

    1. The subjects made the photo! But thank you. I have a zillion not that great photos, believe me.
      It really was a great reading year, but then they all are because it is the one place I can do just what I want!

  5. There is so much in your informative post to comment on. I'm intrigued by your description of Harriette Ashbrook's Spike Tracy. This might be one I'd like to explore. I forget I have a Kindle sometimes. I've read one or two of Sheila Connolly's County Cork series. I read that she bought an Irish cottage and thoroughly enjoyed spending much of her last years there. That made me happy. I love the photo of your cats! When I took Children's Literature to get certified to teach, I read The Owl Service and remember that I loved it. Periodically I've looked in bookstores for a copy of it. I'm glad to know it's still available.

    1. I got mine on the Kindle, but it is available at Book Depository -
      I like NYC mysteries, especially old New York, and this one fits the bill, though he does leave town sometimes.

  6. Like almost everyone else here said, I love the cat header photo! It so reminds me of when I still had a cat (or, back home, when we had more than one). One day I will have a cat sharing my flat with me again!

    70 books in one year - I wish I could do that, too. My eyes simply do not allow for much reading anymore, and much of that time is already spent reading work-related stuff that I can not skip.

    Isn't it exciting discovering an author one likes, and then go and find out more about them, and all their books if possible?

    1. I know that a lot of people listen to audio books. Maybe that would be an alternative?
      I do find it exciting!

  7. It's so nice to see a picture of your cats, so far away, yet with the familiar covers of Miss Read's books.

    I also enjoy The Forsyte Saga and am rather pro-Soames.

    1. I feel the same way. He did one really bad thing, but the rest of his life was different for the most part. I do lean toward some of his ways of thinking.

  8. Looks like you had a great reading year. I love that you highlighted books that maybe aren't as well known or not the shiny new books everyone keeps talking about. And, love how you break down by the years too. Here's hoping you have another great reading year!

  9. I wrote down that quote by Theodore Roosevelt, that you posted here in a comment reply. Thus, my reading choices and authors like DES and Wodehouse, etc. You are inspiring me to count the books I read in 2020 and put them in some categories.

    1. Oh, Wodehouse. My desert island man!
      I do find it fun to keep track of the stats.

  10. Happy New Year! I am also a Forsyte fan. I remember when it debuted on PBS my mother and a visiting aunt were watching it and they said I was too young. I was intrigued so sat in the hallway eavesdropping doggedly. By the time Fleur, who was my favorite character, was born, I had made it to the couch! After that Masterpiece Theatre (how silly that they felt impelled to drop the Theatre) was something my mother and I did together. Although we both forgot to watch the 50th Anniversary special on Sunday.

    I read The Owl Service when I was a teen but I think the only one of his books I kept is Elidor. There was one called Red Shift of which I could not follow the plot at all!

    I wanted to go to Tamworth last year or it must have been 2019 because it apparently has a lovely little summer theater. I don't think I could persuade anyone to go with me, but it sounded like a nice spot.

    1. I so love it that you "made it to the couch"! Such a great story!!
      It was wrong they dropped the "theatre".
      Last night I read 115 pages of The Owl Service, half the book! I couldn't stop. Britain is so full of stuff like this. Even their television shows touch on facets of it. The Green Man features in a couple I've seen. The underground London. It all scares me a bit and fascinates me at the same time!
      Here is the theatre in Tamworth!
      And a patron is Susan White Cooper. Do you suppose it is Susan Cooper, the writer? I bet it is since she lives in Cambridge!
      I read The Dark is Rising series to my son ages ago, but I am more interested now that I am so into The Owl Service, and read that the Dark deals with Welsh stories! Whew. The world is all connected sometimes.
      I will look into the other Garner books.

  11. I am almost afraid to count how many books I’ve read this past year. I had no plan and some of them definitely aren’t worth counting or remembering but there were some delights. ...It seems like in Our pandemic year I read all the time. But that can’t quite be true because I blogged, I went for walks .... we ate.... but still. .. I think this is the first time I’ve read one of your tallies where at least one of your books isn’t familiar. These are all new to me!

    1. What a gift it is to be a reader. To love reading, and miss your book when you aren't reading it. So thankful.


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