I started keeping track of the books I was reading when we were living in Vancouver last January. There might be a couple missing from the first days of the year, and of course I might have forgotten to include one or two. The oldest ones are at the bottom of the list. Right now we have 64 on the list, and I bet I'll finish number 65 before the end of the year.
This was the year of Black Lives Matter, and there are several books on this list that I discovered from articles or library blogs about black authors. I especially enjoyed Nairobi Heat by Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ, about an American cop who follows a lead to Nairobi and teams up with another officer to solve a multinational crime. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead was as stunning as his previous book, The Underground Railroad.
In January we were (blissfully) living in Vancouver, in a retired professor's apartment, so some of the books at the bottom of the list were ones that were lying around. We had no public library card, so relied on his bookshelves and Little Free Libraries. Highlights from this group were My Nepenthe: Bohemian tales of food, family, and Big Sur by Romney Steele, Kaffe Fassett's niece, and Syria's Secret Library: Reading and redemption in a town under siege by Mike Thomson.
I read lots of non-fiction this year, I think because it's nice to have the facts about something, an anchor of reality in this wacky and "unreal" 2020. Recently I got riled up about public toilets and the lack thereof, especially in this pandemic, and read No Place to Go: How public toilets fail our private needs by Lezlie Lowe and then for historical context Dirty Old London: the Victorian fight against filth by Lee Jackson. After reading the first one, which was written by a woman who was first outraged about public toilets when she would go to parks with her young children, I had a book in my pile about Auschwitz. I found that I could handle outrage about toilets but I was not ready to deal with that, so back it went to the library.
A lot of the fiction I read this year was "comfort" reading: a few Harry Potters, a few Ian Rankins, On the Road, Anne Tyler, even Nevil Shute!
I used to volunteer at the local documentary cinema and would see probably 40 or 50 docs a year (I will keep a list when next I am able). I now find that although I have access to many movies online, I don't watch many documentaries, but I'll rewatch the Crown or some British cop show instead. It's just not the same sitting here alone in my living room watching on a laptop.
Did you have a favourite book of the past year?
Books read since Jan. 1, 2020