2020 in Facts and Figures

I already posted my main 2020 in Review and Looking Ahead to 2021 posts a while ago — only on my new blog (separate post to come) –, but I held back on my 2020 reading statistics until the year was well and truly over.  And for all my good intentions when posting my mid-year summary back in early July 2020, the second half of the year continued pretty much in the same vein as the first half had begun; i.e., my statistics for the whole year are still a variation on the theme of Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, or, 17 charts showing that 2020 was a year of reading Golden Age mysteries written by women (and following other Anglo-/ UK-centric reading proclivities); i.e. comfort reading galore … it was just that kind of year, I guess.

As a result, my Golden Age Mysteries / Detection Club reading project progressed very nicely.  Luckily, as I said in my main 2020 in Review post, I also managed to add a number of new countries to my Around the World challenge, and the gender balance is solidly in favor of women authors: I read almost 2 1/2 books by women for every book written by a man — in fact, I even reread more books by women than the total number of books by men.  So there was at least some progress in other areas, too.  And I liked or even loved most of the books I read in 2020 — including most of the new-to-me books –, which of course was another huge plus; in a year where reading was my go-to source of comfort, at that: most of my ratings were 4 stars or higher and thus, above the rating that marks “average” in my personal scale (3.5 stars).

Still, in 2021 I’m going to make a fresh attempt to refocus on my Around the World reading project, in furtherance of which I’ve also created a Diversity Bingo that I’ll try to get through in the space of this one year (though if it takes longer, it takes longer); and I’ll also try to include more books from my Freedom and Future Library in my yearly reading again.

And now, without any further ado:

Greatest New Author Discoveries of 2020

Classics and LitFic
Bernardine Evaristo
Olivia Manning

Historical Fiction
Dorothy Dunnett
Jean-François Parot
Paul Doherty

Golden and Silver Age Mysteries
Josephine Bell
Moray Dalton
Molly Thynne
Christianna Brand
Anthony Gilbert
Raymond Postgate
Patricia Moyes

My Life in Book Titles

This is a meme I’ve seen on quite a few blogs towards the end of 2020; it was created by Annabel at Annabookbel.  You’re to answer the prompts, using only books you have read in 2020; without, if possible, repeating a book title.  I thought I’d include it in my yearly roundup — and to up the ante a little bit further, I decided to use only books I read for the first time in 2020.

In high school I was Unspeakable (John Bercow)

People might be surprised by (my incarnation as) Lioness Rampant (Tamora Pierce)

I will never be The Horse You Came in On (Martha Grimes), nor Resorting to Murder (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

My life in lockdown was like (a) Tour de Force (Christianna Brand) and (a) Tragedy at Law (Cyril Hare)

My fantasy job is The Thinking Machine at Work (Jacques Futrelle)

At the end of a long day I need to be Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) (to my) Pilgrim’s Rest (Patricia Wentworth)

I hate being (around) Serpents in Eden (Martin Edwards, ed.; Various Authors)

Wish I had The Lost Tools of Learning (Dorothy L. Sayers)

My family reunions are (often with) Thirteen Guests (J. Jefferson Farjeon)

At a party you’d find me with My Friend Mr. Campion (Margery Allingham), Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (Emmuska Orczy), and other Bodies from the Library (Tony Medawar, ed.; Various Authors)

I’ve never been to Goodwood (Holly Throsby), Cherringham (Matthew Costello, Neil Richards), or At the Villa Rose (A.E.W. Mason)

A happy day includes A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid) (of my own): My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor)

Motto(s) I live by: To Love and Be Wise (Josephine Tey); and We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

On my bucket list is Shakespeare’s Local (Pete Brown)

In my next life, I want to have The Grand Tour (Matthew Pritchard, ed.; Agatha Christie)

The Stats

Number of books started: 273
Number of books finished: 271
DNF: 2
Average Rating (overall): 3.9
Average Rating w/o Favorite Annual Xmas Rereads: 3.8

Note: The above chart includes my 6 annual Christmas rereads, which have a habit of slightly skewing my overall rating figures upwards; without these books, the number of 5-star books is reduced by 5 and the number of 4.5-star books is reduced by 1.

Note: “F / M (mixed)” refers to anthologies with contributions by both male and female authors, as well as to books jointly written by male and female authors. — “N / A” in the protagonist gender chart refers to Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who is deliberately created as gender-neutral.

Note: “Multi-ethnic” either refers to several persons (authors / protagonists) of different genders, or to one person of mixed ethnicity.


14 thoughts on “2020 in Facts and Figures

      • Murder by Death says:

        Ahh, that makes sense. I probably liked it more for having MT next to me as my ‘online’ Aussie-slang translator. Otherwise, I’d have gotten quite jacked at what would have felt like obstructive, opaque prose.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ThemisAthena says:

        I actually liked that bit; it made the book feel very authentic. My issues were more with bits and pieces of the plot construction and with the fact that Throsby seemed intent to take her sweet time in setting the scene. Loved the finish, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Murder by Death says:

        It was a very slow moving story, and you’re right, that finish was brilliant; I remember thinking it went a long way towards paying off my patience with the beginning.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Murder by Death says:

    I’m not only going to snitch your snitch of My Life in Book Titles, but MT has already asked me to print out the prompts, and as we speak, he’s compiling his A-Z lists. 😀 So thanks again, for spurring us on with two mini-projects. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • ThemisAthena says:

      I had‘t, either, before I read Martin Edwards‘s two books about the history of Golden Age mysteries a few years ago. (“The Golden Age of Murder“ and “Classic Crime in 100 Books“.) Both are crammed with references to a host of authors I‘d never heard of before — reading these two books was like a curtain was being opened that suddenly revealed a whole new world that so far had been hidden from me. I instantly decided to check it out, and it‘s been an enormous amount of fun doing just that ever since.

      In case you‘re interested, I highly recommend the British Library Classic Crime series, where many of these books are now being republished (with Martin Edwards being series consultant — in fact, they stand out for their pretty covers alone, e.g. those in my post for the books by Anthony Gilbert and Josephine Bell … aren‘t they gorgeous?). Another publisher to note is Dean Street Press, where (inter alia) the complete back catalogues of Moray Dalton, Molly Thynne, Christopher Bush and Brian Flynn are currently being republished. Yet more “forgotten“ classics (individual books, though, not whole series) are being republished by Arcturus Press. Last but not least, for a series of bite-sized tastes, I highly recommend a series of short story anthologies named Bodies from the Library, edited by Tony Medawar (there are three of them to date) and the short story anthologies included in the British Library Crime Classic series (like the whole series, edited by Martin Edwards).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ola G says:

    You had an amazing year reading-wise, congrats! And I didn’t know you were such an avid audiobook listener – that’s impressive!

    Love those stats!!! So thorough! 😍

    Can’t seem to be able to “like” your posts though – no button?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ThemisAthena says:

      I think you can see the “like“ buttons in the mobile version of the WP Reader, but for this particular template they‘re tied to the sharing button, which I‘ve disabled (at least for the desktop version of the blog; not sure it also works like that in the mobile version, since the “like“ buttons do show there). That‘s one of the things I‘m hoping is going to work better in the new blog — you can “like“ both in the mobile and the desktop version, but you can‘t share in either.

      Re: audiobooks, I discovered them a few years ago, initially as a sort of self-defense measure when I was having a period when I was spending unconscionable amounts of time in my car. Since then, they‘ve really contributed to blowing up my reading stats … I don‘t get through nearly this amount of books just reading print versions! I‘m not great at multi-tasking, though, so I tend to reserve my audiobooks for times when I don‘t need all of my focus for something else.

      Liked by 1 person

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