December 2020 in Books

According to Goodreads, this year I read 84 books (28,000 pages). Of them, 41 were written by authors of color, and 20 of them were published this year. There were 9 that I didn’t finish, which I think is more than past years, though I haven’t checked.

This is actually fewer books than I read last year (92) and I think it points to my reading habits prior to the pandemic. On a day to day basis, I was only only reading in bed, before going to sleep. I did a lot of reading while traveling: at the airport, on the plane, over a solo meal on a work trip, by the pool, on the beach, at my in-laws’ house, etc. I traveled a lot, so that added up.

In the spring, I realized I was spending a lot of time doomscrolling. At the same time, I was buying more print books to support my local bookstore. (If I counted correctly, I read 15 books in print this year. That’s a lot compared to the last few years.) Since I very much prefer reading on my kindle when I’m in bed, I primarily read print books during the day. If I caught myself doomscrolling, I would trade my phone for a book, or at least switch into the kindle app. I’m certainly not perfect at actually doing this, but I’ve gotten better at it, as this month’s list will attest.

December 2020:

  • The Arrest, Jonathan Lethem: For me, this suffered for not quite being as surreal or strange as it could have been.
  • The Winter of the Witch, Katherine Arden: Third in a trilogy. Needed more to help the reader remember what had already happened.
  • Gods of Jade and Shade, Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Very cinematic, but a little slow going.
  • Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad: I started this in the summer, slowly working my way through it and doing the reflective journaling. I learned a lot about myself and encourage you to read this if you haven’t, and to take your time with it.
  • Version Control, Dexter Palmer: A time travel story that’s not really a time travel story. Very engaging.
  • Interior Chinatown, Charles Yu: Holds you away while also pulling you in. Really great read and absolutely deserving of the National Book Award.
  • The Silence, Don DeLillo: I read some reviews afterward and folks weren’t really talking about whether or not they enjoyed the book. They discussed what DeLillo had accomplished with it. Which to me is a very academic way of saying “I’m supposed to like this, but I didn’t.” Yup.
  • The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson: Really great multiverse story – highly recommend.
  • Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield: A delightful time-travel novel that spends sometime in the 1780s.
  • The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee Newitz: Women waging a time war against a bunch of misogynist creeps. What’s not to like about that?
  • When No One Is Watching, Alyssa Cole: Fast-paced and very creepy. Excellent thriller in which gentrification and white supremacy play a big, unsettling, part.
  • Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir: Over-the-top complex, and for me the complexity didn’t add anything. A. month after finishing it I can’t even give you a five-word summary of the plot beyond “Space necromancers . . . did things? Maybe?”

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