Reading My Way Through A Year Like No Other

Well, what can I say about 2020 that hasn’t been said already? If ever there was a need to read for escapism it was this year. So, you’d think that my annual reading total would’ve rocketed. You’d be wrong. In fact, this year I read 53 books, only two down on last year’s number and like previous years, roughly one a week.

Lockdown earlier in the year was when we probably had the best weather which is ideal for reading in the sunshine but also great for gardening and going local walks which is why I think my reading habits didn’t change dramatically. My taste in writers and genres was much the same too.

I read several great memoirs – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney, Hungry by Grace Dent, My Heart’s Content by Angela Hughes and If You Don’t Know Me by Now by Sathnam Sangerha (as recommended by the excellent The Big Scottish Book Club superbly hosted by Damian Barr – catch up with it over the festive season on BBC iPlayer if you missed it).

Fiction favourites? It’s an eclectic mix and it’s always hard to pick only a handful but the ones that will stick with me are Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, Boy Parts by Eliza Clark, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong, When All Is Said by Anne Griffin, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan and Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes.

Special mention must be made to Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. A worthy winner of the Booker Prize with characters I cared about, especially wee Shuggie and his memorable mammy, Agnes.

I hope books have helped you cope with the strangest of times too. Any recommendations for me to look forward to reading in the new year?


6 thoughts on “Reading My Way Through A Year Like No Other

  1. Shuggie Bain is the first Booker Prize winner I’ve been unreservedly enthusiastic about for years.

    Books aside, I’ve so enjoyed the photos taken on your daily walks you’ve posted on Twitter this year, Helen. Happy 2021! Let’s hope for better times.

    • Yes, I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know. Glad you’ve enjoyed my pics – I’m trying to avoid cabin fever and get outdoors as much as possible. All the best for 2021 too and here’s hoping we can both travel further again.

  2. I loved Girl, Woman, Other. Also Crawdads was good, but Queenie I found disappointing. I just wanted to shake her! Have also read Young Team and Shuggie Bain and while I appreciated them I wouldn’t rush to read them again. Too depressing. Outwith your list – I’m a big Ann Patchett fan and enjoyed her latest, The Dutch House. I hardly read anything for the first few months, I couldn’t concentrate, so have only read 23 titles.

    • I loved Crawdads too – very interesting setting and I didn’t see the twist coming. I agree about Queenie – started strong for me then I lost interest. I never reread anything – too many new books to read but I would keep Shuggie Bain and The Young Team in my bookcases to pass on to someone. I read The Dutch House too this year (loved the cover but found it a bit far fetched at times) and it’s the first time I’ve read any of her novels and I’d definitely read another. I totally understand why you’d struggle to focus this year! Here’s hoping 2021 will be a better year for us all.

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