Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book List: Books Read in 2020

I keep track of the books I read on LibraryThing. Every January, I post a list of the books I read the prior year. It's usually a few over 100. There have been a couple of years when I didn't get to 100, when work was crazy. There haven't been many years when I got over 110. 

Here's the list of the 109 books I read in 2020, in the order I read them. 2020 was such an insane year, it could have gone either way, reading-wise. I know some people read twice as many books as usual, some people read hardly any. I read the same.

Notes about my rating system are below the list.


  • Circe by Madeline Miller ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Egyptologists by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Party Going by Henry Green ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Cheri by Colette ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Gigi by Colette ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Warlight by Michaele Ondaatje ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Calypso by Davis Sedaris ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers (Pulitzer Prize) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Tiger's Wife by Tรฉa Obreht (Women's Prize) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Patrimony by Philip Roth ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Hidden Falls by Kevin Meyers ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (National Book Award) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Likeness by Tana French ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Guest List by Lucy Foley ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Pulitzer Prize) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Country Girl by Edna O'Brien ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild (Wodehouse Award) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (Classics Club) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Nickel Boys by Coleson Whitehead (Pulitzer Prize) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Edgar Award) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus (Classics Club) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • A Venetian Reckoning (aka Death and Judgment) by Donna Leon ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2


My rating system is my own and evolving. Whatever five stars might mean on amazon, goodreads, or Netflix, a five-star rating probably doesn't mean that here. In fact, I'm going to change this year and use roses for my rating system, since this is Rose City Reader. My system is a mix of how a book appeals to me and how I would recommend it to other people. 

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Five roses for books I loved, or would recommend to anyone, or I think are worthy of classic "must read" status." Examples would be Lucky Jim (personal favorite), A Gentleman in Moscow (universal recommendation), and Great Expectations (must read). 

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Four roses for books I really enjoyed and/or would recommend to people who enjoy that type of book. Examples would be The Jewel in the Crown and In the Woods. Most mysteries get four roses from me because I like them a lot but would only recommend them to people who like mysteries. (A few really great mysteries get five roses from me.) Similarly, some of my favorite authors get four roses from me because I wouldn't recommend them to a general audience, like funny books by P.G. Wodehouse or food memoirs by M.F.K. Fisher. 

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Three roses for books I was lukewarm on or maybe liked personally but wouldn't think of recommending. Examples would be Sexing the Cherry (lukewarm) and The Year of the French (liked personally but wouldn't inflict recommend).

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Two roses if I didn't like it. The Neapolitan Quartet is an example, which proves how subjective my system is because lots of people loved those books. 

๐ŸŒน One rose if I really didn't like it. I don't know if I've ever rated a book this low. The Magus might be my only example and I read it before I started keeping my lists. 

I use half roses if a book falls between categories. I can't explain what that half rose might mean, it's just a feeling.

Here is a link to the star rating system I used for years. I include it because the stars I used in years past meant something different than these roses, so if you look at my lists from past years, the ratings won't mean quite the same thing.

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