December 31, 2020

2020: My Year in Reading

I wrapped up reading my final book of 2020 today with Michael Crichton's 'Prey' (2002) which put me at 19 books for the year.

A few stats, courtesy of Goodreads:

  • I read 8,180 pages across 19 books. This was the lowest amount of books I've read per year in the past nine years, but hey, pandemic, had a baby, yadda yadda... (Technically, two of these books were three-book collections, so if I were to have read those in their original individual form, it'd put me at 25, which was my goal for the year.) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • The most popular book I read was Jon Krakauer's 'Into the Wild' (1996). This was the second book I've read by Krakauer, with the other being 'Into Thin Air' (1997) which is one of my all-time favorites and inspired me to read several other books about extreme mountaineering (and deep-sea diving). I didn't like 'Into the Wild' as much, but that's more because I didn't find the subject matter as interesting.
  • I think my favorites this year were from a rabbit hole I went down in nonfiction medical memoirs. I read Atul Gawande's 'Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science' (2002) followed by Henry Marsh's 'Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery' (2015) which both kept me on the edge of my seat and I'm definitely going to read more books like this in the future.
  • The book(s) I liked the least this year were Jeff VanderMeer's 'Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy' (2015) which is a collection of 3 novels that starts with 'Annihilation' (2014) which was also made into a pretty good movie. The first book in the series was ostensibly the best, but I thought the other two were progressively hotter and hotter garbage and I'm honestly surprised I finished them in hindsight.
  • John M. Barry's 'The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History' (2004) was super helpful in giving me context and perspective for what's been happening with COVID-19. Overall, I didn't love the book - I felt it was long-winded and too exhaustive about some of the more mundane political contexts of the time - but I learned a lot about the 1918 influenza pandemic that was still relevant over 100 years later.
  • I laughed the most reading Colin Jost's 'A Very Punchable Face' (2020), which was written by the SNL's head writer and current co-host of Weekend Update. I'm a big fan of SNL, but even without that, Colin is a pretty darn funny individual. (I listened to this one on Audible, which was narrated by the author, making it especially good.)
  • I read several books about pregnancy and raising infants, which were super helpful as we went through the birth of our first child in September. I thought the books from Emily Oster (Expecting Better, Cribsheet) and Harvey Karp (The Happiest Baby on the Block) were especially useful from a practical perspective. I've since become a subscriber of Emily Oster's newsletter which has been both a wonderful resource for both parenting as well as navigating COVID.

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