2020 Wrap-up

This should have been a year with lots of time for reading, but you know the story...

Regretfully, I fell short of my annual 50 books. 😞 Most of the read-alouds (w/ my kids) are not considered serious reading, although I did include them in my final count.

Do you make a TBR list at the beginning of the year and try to stick to it? 
I do, but I bombed out 💣 a lot this year, especially toward the end of summer. 

However, it was not a total loss because I did experience amazing new reads, several which ended up on my personal canon, while my appreciation for other titles was rejuvenated with a few rereads.

Here is a wrap-up:

💖 = favorite of the month
💣 = bailed
Those in orange are a new add to my personal canon
Those in blue were donated to new homes
[TWEM] = The Well-Educated Mind Histories


The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism (2⭐) Yawn. [TWEM]
💖 Babbitt  (5⭐) Engaging and entertaining! 


How to Read a Book  (5⭐) Re-read
Indian Boyhood  (4⭐) Re-read & read aloud.
Around the World in Eighty Days (3⭐) Re-read & read aloud.
💖Queen Victoria (5⭐) Interesting. [TWEM]
Testament of Friendship (4⭐) Enjoyable.


The Sun Also Rises (4⭐) Strangely enjoyed this one. 
💖 Under the Greenwood Tree (4⭐) Found another Hardy favorite. 
You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie? (4⭐) Read aloud.
Custer's Last Battle (4⭐) Read aloud.
The Road to Wigan Pier (4⭐) Interesting and sorrowful. [TWEM]


Hamlet (4⭐) Completed another Shakespeare with the kids.
Eight Twenty Eight (3⭐) 
Sacred Marriage (3⭐) 
💖 One Hundred Years of Solitude (5⭐) Re-read & read-along. 
The Longest Day (4⭐) Surprisingly good. [TWEM]


Theodore Roosevelt: an American Original (4⭐) Read aloud.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (5⭐) Re-read & read aloud.
💖A Farewell to Arms (4⭐) Sentimentally enjoyed this one. 
On Reading Well (4⭐) 


💖 Thomas Hardy (5⭐) Exceptionally written. 
Crusade for Justice (4⭐) Was a close second. 
Watership Down (3⭐) 


💖 Roots (5⭐) Epic storytelling.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (4⭐) Grievous. 
Gilead 💣 Read 1/4 but couldn't get into it. 
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 💣 Read halfway and still could not enjoy it. 
The Magic Mountain 💣 Read a few pages and realized it wasn't a good time to read this. 


Preparing for Christ's Return (3) Apropos.
The Second Coming of Christ (3⭐) Seeing a pattern with the theological titles. 
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 💣 Read 100 pages and did not get into it. 
These is My Words (5⭐) Absolutely fell for this book. 
💖 Over the Edge of the World (5⭐) Astronomical.


The Great Crash 1929 (3) Pretty good. [TWEM]
The Joy Luck Club 💣 Really wanted to love this one, but nope. 
Pursuing a Deeper Faith (3⭐) More theology. 
Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life and Ideas (3⭐) Read aloud.
💖 The Pianist From Syria (4⭐) Recommendation from Gently Mad


💖The Interesting Narrative (5) Tough to beat. 
Something Wicked This Way Comes 💣 Tried to read this aloud to the kids, but we all bailed. 
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (3⭐) OK for one read. 
First Book on WWI (3⭐) Read aloud.
Children of the Titanic (3⭐) Read aloud.


The Feminine Mystique (3⭐) Interesting, though dated and irrelevant now. [TWEM]
The New England Mind 💣 Read 63 pages and taking a long break. [TWEM]


Romeo & Juliet (4⭐) Read aloud.
Communism: An American View (4⭐) A fair synopsis of Communism for young people. Read aloud.
💖Old Christmas (4⭐) A sweet, joyous, and delightful rendezvous with Christmas past.
Holly & Ivy (5⭐) Reread. This one makes my heart swell every time I read it.
💖A Christmas Carol (5⭐) Reread. Still reading this now, but I already know the outcome.

Other books I intended to read in 2020, but didn't start:

The Innocent's Abroad Going to try again in 2021.
Out of Africa
Mill on the Floss

2020 Bookish Stats:

BOOKS FINISHED in 2020: 44 / 50
Bails 💣: 7 
READ ALOUD with my kids: 11  

Reading Challenges:

Classics Club: 21 / 60 
Unread Books Project completed: 21 / an ungodly number

Top Three Captivating Books of 2020 
Over the Edge of the World
The Interesting Narrative

Top Three Sentimental Reads of 2020 
These is My Words (tie)
A Farewell to Arms
Old Christmas 


  1. Like you, I read few of the books I'd planned to read in 2020, but I think that's understandable. I like to make an evolving list, a big list, and see where it takes me. Sometimes one book will lead me to another. Sometimes it's just not the right time for a book.

    I have Bury My Heart on my list for 2021.

    Happy holidays!

    1. An evolving list is a good idea, too. I hope someday I can just go into a year open to reading whatever comes up. Good luck with Bury My Heart. It's long and it is heart breaking, too.

  2. A good many thoughtful books....some of which I want to try myself, like These is my Words, and some I'm only happy to let other tackle. Do you re-read Adler every year or just often enough to keep him fresh?

    1. Are you familiar w/ Nancy Turner? Or just the title?

      I've only read How to Read a Book twice; so no, not every year. I think I took really good notes on it to comprehend the premise. It's mostly for non-fiction; I wish it were for fiction. Who knows....maybe 5 years from now I will crave re-reading it.

    2. I'm not familiar with her at all, I just remember your review of the book from a few months back. Thanks for the clarification on Adler -- I wondered if maybe re-reading was part of the discipline that the Well Educated Mind book advocates for.

    3. Probably so. But it is written in such a way that you can grab thorough notes and just look back at them for reference. Maybe every 5-10 years re-read it again.

  3. I love this synopsis! So many comments flew through my mind as I read it but here are a few:

    Your adult reading did decrease but it's great when you can add some children's books to bolster it. I have to try that, as I'm sure it will make me feel better at the end of the year. 🤔 My year was terrible; only about 16 books read.

    I've read another Lytton Strachey book on Queen Elizabeth and it was excellent as well. I'd like to read more by him. Your July books don't sound exactly like summer reading books so I wouldn't feel too bad about not finishing some. Wow!

    I've read The Magic Mountain and would like to read it again. It was sort of a 3.5 stars for me but I know it would increase with a re-read as I'm sure I missed tons.

    As Stephen mentioned above, I think it would be a great idea to read Adler each year if one had the time. Do you have his How To Speak and How To Listen? That's excellent as well.

    A list or schedule is a great idea. I'm going to write out a schedule and post it for at least the first half of the year to try to keep me on track. Here's hoping!

    Happy (increased) reading in 2021, Ruth!

    1. Technically, I only read 33 books for myself. That's a good way to look at it. I bailed from more books than ever before, but that's because this year I had very little patience. And yes, children's books and even favorites are probably a better bet when you aren't doing well with your reading plans. All year I kept wanting to just read The Little House series.

      I'm open to reading another Strachey book, including Queen Elizabeth. Magic Mountain was too huge a commitment and not very intriguing to keep my attention. I put it aside for later.

      I do not have How to Speak and How to Listen, but you can bet I'll add that to my wishlist.

      A six-month plan is a good idea, too. So good luck!! And Merry Christmas!

  4. Wait... you b-bailed on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? :(

    1. Yes, I know!!! It's terrible of me!!! I wasn't connecting with the characters, not even after 100 pages. I struggled with patience this year, and if a story did not resonate with me, I couldn't go on. Maybe one day I'll revisit it.

  5. Great year! I love your super condensed summary.
    Claire Tomalin is indeed an amazing biographer

    1. Thanks, Emma. Yes, an excellent biography, and I already researched other biographies to read in the future, like Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft. I do like Tomalin's style.

  6. This is a great way to summarise your year's reading. In spite of feeling you haven't done well this year, I think finding ten five star books is great achievement. I have read 69 books so far, (my best year ever) but only three of the new ones would be 5 star. I think like many of us, I have been comfort reading old favourites.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. I guess I feel like I spent MORE time in anxiety and paralyzation than actual reading. I recognize I could have probably devoured more books, even more than 50 since so much of our routine was spent at home. But I did not make good use of my time. I also agree that reading our comfort reads, our favorites, probably would have been more productive.

  7. I too had a difficult reading year -- probably we all did! So no shame whatsoever in not being able to fulfill all our ambitions. But make sure to pick up the Tenant of Wildfell Hall again sometime!

    1. I will keep it mind. I think Gilbert got on my nerves too quickly and it was hard to shake him. I wonder if anyone else had that problem. It just wasn't the year to deal with irritating people, even in literature. LOL!!

  8. Merry Christmas, Ruth! :) It's so wonderful you read aloud to your family, they will remember it forever. I'm also inspired by the range of categories and genres. Good for you for DNF'ing the ones that didn't click. (I used to be a completist, now a firm proponent of "life's too short.")

    1. Hi, Marian! Hope you had a good Christmas. Yes, life is too short and my TBR unread book list is way too long. Plus, I struggled with impatience, and knew if a book wasn't sitting right with me, I could not give it the time and effort it needed.

  9. What a great collection of books! I personally cannot stand Sinclair Lewis, but Babbit was a great book. Good insight into self seeking individuals. I'm so glad you read and enjoyed The Pianist from Syria. I wish more "snowflakes" in our country would read books like that (NOT calling you a snowflake).

    I couldn't get into 100 Years of Solitude. Maybe to surreal for me. Of course I was also reading it in Spanish...

    Have a blessed new year, Ruth!

    1. Hi, Sharon. That Sinclair Lewis may be the only one I read. I wasn't interested in Main Street. There seem to be a string of books like the Pianist coming out now that many refugees from this region are finding their new freedom elsewhere, and they are writing about their stories. Definitely gives those of us who take freedom for granted, new eyes to see what other people must go through.

      As for 100 Years, I would have never enjoyed it had I had to translate it. In English alone, it sometimes needs interpretation.

      Thank you!! Happy New Year!!