Rearview Mirror // 2019

Here it is, folks, the post you’ve all been waiting for – the summary of my 2019 book blogging/reading life!

Okay, so maybe you haven’t been waiting, but it’s what you’re getting anyway.  2019 was a year like any other, really – some parts of it were awesome, some parts of it were tragic, and most of it was just pretty solid.  It’s amazing to me how some areas of life can be as awesome as you can imagine, while other parts, simultaneously, are dreadful.  I guess overall life is just weird!

This was the first year that I really was industrious about tracking my personal reading statistics.  I’m a total geek about that kind of thing, and honestly can’t believe it’s taken me this long to create a spreadsheet!  Planning, making lists, and reviewing information is all just about as enjoyable to me as actually reading the books.

2019 Numbers

Last year I completed a total of 295 books, which comes to a stunning 81,770 pages!  I’m starting to worry about what I’m doing with my life!!

Out of those books, 145 were ones that I already owned, while the rest came either from the library or Kindle Unlimited (mostly the library).  So pretty close to 50-50!  While I do love my Kindle, the vast majority of the books I read were in physical format – 215 of them.

For the first time, I also tracked the books I didn’t finish – I averaged almost two books a month that went in the DNF pile – 23 of them throughout the year (not included in the 295 total books read).  Training myself to not finish books is still an uphill battle, but honestly worth it.  There are so many fantastic books out there, I just need to stop wasting my time on books that aren’t working for me, even if it is hard to not finish something.

This year’s longest book came at the very end of the year – Northern Lights by Nora Roberts, at 637 pages.  My shortest book was a short story by Linda Castillo that I read all the way back in January – Long Lost was only 52 pages long.

According to Goodreads, the most popular book I read this year was The Night Circus, while once again my least popular book was one I had to add to the database myself – The Wonderful Tumble of Timothy Smith.  

2019 Highs & Lows

Overall, this was kind of a weird reading year for me.  Most of my highest-ranking books were actually rereads, not new discoveries.  If I had to sum up this year it would be “3.5*” – it felt like almost every book I read could be described with words like “solid,” “decent,” and “readable.”  My brightest discovery this year – Arthur Ransome’s Swallows & Amazons books.  Those have been, so far, a delight.  I still have several more to carry me through 2020 as well!

Here are my favorite books from each month (links to reviews) –

  • January:  Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rendell – honestly, I still think about this book from time to time.
  • February:  Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills – ah, the banter!
  • March:  The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge – I just don’t understand how she can make regular people doing regular things so beautiful and readable.
  • April:  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – was it a reread?  Yes.  Was it still perfect?  YES.
  • May:  Indiscretion by Jude Morgan – another reread?  Yes.  Best dialogue ever?  YES.
  • June:  Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome – I don’t understand how I waited so long to read these!
  • July:  The Eyes of Tamburah by Maria V. Snyder – ridiculous yet delightful romp of a story.
  • August:  Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome – >>I<< want to be a kid who lives in a fun camp built with my siblings and my best friends for the entire summer, wandering about the British countryside having adventures!
  • September:  My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George – a childhood favorite that completely lived up to being reread as an adult.  Still want to run away and live in a tree btw.
  • October:  The Dry by Jane Harper – I love it when the setting of a book is its own character.
  • November:  A Cruel Deception by Charles Todd – this whole series was just brilliant.
  • December:  Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome – haven’t actually written the review yet, but it was SO fun.

The book that earns “Most Disappointing” each month is just that – not necessarily the worst book I read, but the book that let me down the most.  I’ve really tried to increase my rate of not finishing books I’m not getting along with, but sometimes I just have to finish anyway!

Here are the books that left me feeling disappointed from each month (links to reviews) –

  • January:  All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson – engrossing and also gross.
  • February:  Thanksgiving Groom by Brenda Minton – look, I have low expectations concerning plot lines and logical character development for Hallmark-movie-ish reads, but I do have some expectations!
  • March:  Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques – definitely a low point in the Redwall series.
  • April:  Wednesday Riders by Tudor Robins – Sometimes YA books make me feel so, so, SO old.
  • May:  The Trail of the Green Doll by Margaret Sutton – I apparently didn’t even review it – honestly, I think Sutton was taking drugs while she was writing this one.  WHAT was going on!?
  • June:  Dreamology by Lucy Keating – so much potential, so little follow-through.
  • July:  The String by Caleb Breakey – great concept that devolved into chaos.
  • August:  The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck – oh wow, I’d forgotten how much this book depressed me.  So, so depressing.
  • September:  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – I know this is a popular one, but it had so many ??!?!? moments (not in a good way) and I just could not figure out how this was the most efficient way to murder the person he was trying to murder.  Like, what?!
  • October:  The House of a Thousand Lanterns by Victoria Holt – wow, maybe the slowest book ever written.
  • November:  Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill – long on gorgeous artwork and in-your-face conservation message, short on actual story.
  • December:  The Coat-Hanger Christmas Tree by Eleanor Estes – what is WRONG with you, mom who won’t let her kids have a Christmas tree for no good reason?!

TBR Update

So back in the spring I did a GIGANTIC cull on the TBR (eliminated literally around 600 books).  So I’m actually going to base my up/down numbers (let’s be honest, up numbers) from my low point in March…

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  448 (up 24 – that seems reasonable, right??)
  • Nonfiction:  106 (up a mere 20…)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  654 (actually down 13!  I really am trying to read my own books, and I don’t buy as many as one might think)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  237 (down 17 – I’ve read a lot of series this year, started and DNFed a few more, and simply purged several without bothering to read them)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 112 (down 3 – slowly reading!)

2020: The Year of the Reading Challenges!

Thanks to Litsy, for the first time I’m actively participating in a bunch of reading challenges.  One might even say I’m participating in too many reading challenges!  But you’ll have that.  Here’s the link to a post where I summarized some of them.  Since then, the main thing I’ve added is a long-term challenge – #SeparatedbyaPondTour, which I am going to try to complete by the end of 2022.  Basically, the goal is to read a book set in every state/region/county in the countries traditionally considered to be “separated by the pond” – i.e. the US, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.  Yes, I have maps in my reading journal.  :-D

Also, it turns out that I love Book Bingo cards!  Here are a few that I’m trying to fill.  The goal for the January one is a bingo by the end of January; fill the card by the end of the year.  Winter Book Bingo runs for the actual official season of winter.  For the rest, I’ll be working on them all year.

I actually have bingo cards for every month of the year, so I’ll be adding one a month as I go along.  My book journal is SO MUCH FUN right now!

And On To 2020

Well, friends, thanks for sticking with me through 2019.  I know my posting schedule is completely erratic, I read books from all over the place, I rarely review new releases, and I sometimes get super ranty, but through it all you all just keep coming back!  I really appreciate it, and I love it when I hear back from you all, so remember that you are always more than welcome to comment on a post, or send me an email.

I anticipate 2020 being another year full of books – and I’m already a dozen reviews behind!  :-D

Happy New Year!!