2019 Reading Review and 2020 Goals/Challenges

Happy New Year!

We made it to the Twenties! What an exciting time for our world; as we leave 2019, we leave behind some amazing new releases and surprising disappointments as well. 2019 was, by far, my best reading year in a long while. I read some new favorites, continued in series I had already become immersed in, and found a few new and exciting authors that I cannot wait to read more from in the coming years. As the year draws to a close, I thought I would take a moment to complete the 2019 Reading Survey to give you guys an idea of some of the hits and misses for me this year. Remember, this list is my own opinion :)

-How many books did you read? Did you meet your goal? 
105 books (27, 981 pgs)- definitely met my goal of 100 books

-Most read genre? 
Fantasy, Classics and Mystery

-The longest and shortest books you read.
Longest book- The Four Swans by Winston Graham (581 pgs); Shortest book- Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini (48 pgs)

-Favorite book published in 2019?
If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

-Favorite debut book in 2019? 
Wilder Girls by Rory Power

-Favorite book not published this year? 
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

-A book that lived up to the hype. 
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch- a great sci-fi book!

-A book that did NOT live up to the hype. 
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton- the twist on the mystery genre did not work for me at all

-Book that felt like the biggest accomplishment? 
American Gods by Neil Gaiman, because it took me so long to finish it and I did not enjoy reading it.

-Favorite character. 
Hercule Poirot from The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.

-Least favorite character. 
Daisy Jones from Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

-Most shocking book/moment. 
-Vicious by V.E. Schwab- all the twists and turns from chapter to chapter!

-Favorite couple/OTP. 
Jude and Cardan from the Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black

-The best written book you read this year. 
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

-Book that you pushed the most people to read in 2019. J
urassic Park by Michael Crichton

-Favorite book cover of the year. 
Wilder Girls by Rory Power

-Favorite book adaptation. 
The Four Swans by Winston Graham, adapted into a part of the Poldark Series for PBS.

-What book made you cry the most? 
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

-What book made you laugh the most? 
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

-A new favorite author you discovered this year. 
Seanan McGuire

-Guilty pleasure read of the year. 
The Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black

-Favorite book you re-read this year. 
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

-What is the best non-fiction book you read this year? 
Radium Girls by Kate Moore

A simple breakdown of 2019 by quarter:

Quarter 1 (January-March): The year started strong with some of my favorite reads of the year: Silent Patient, Tell No One, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Final Girls got the mystery genre started off right in the new year; Radium Girls, Becoming, and Robin set the tone for nonfiction; and I had a huge bump in my classics reading, with The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Red Pony and Jaws. There were also a couple of hyped books that I completed and certainly did not understand the hype- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Where the Crawdads Sing. Overall, this first quarter I read 27 books and got the reading year started off right.

Quarter 2 (April-June): Second quarter went much like the first, as I completed 27 books again in three months. Some highlights of this quarter included: When All is Said (a great debut from a new Irish author), The Hot Zone (some scary nonfiction- outbreak books always freak me out), The Pearl (a reread from high school), and The Outsiders (a reread from middle school). I did not have as many 5-star books during this quarter, but the few that were were amazing rereads from my childhood. Another huge disappointment as far as hyped books goes was Circe- I know Kyle absolutely loved this book, but I was not so enamored with it. This quarter also saw a bump in the reading of graphic novels, some of which I thoroughly enjoyed while others were simply a break from the heavier fiction I was reading during the spring.

Quarter 3 (July-September): A little bit of a slower quarter; with switching jobs and starting a new career path, it was a necessary slowdown. But these three months saw some of the best and worst books of my reading year. I discovered I actually like science fiction and it was Blake Crouch who helped me find this new genre; his novels Dark Matter and Recursion were two of my favorite reads of the year. This month also saw me subscribing to Book of the Month and receiving and reading my first novel- If Only I Could Tell You. I loved this book and have been a BotM subscriber ever since, loving the ability to get new adult fiction releases early. This quarter also saw me reading Daisy Jones and the Six (my second and last Taylor Jenkins Reid novel), and Crisis in the Red Zone (my second Richard Preston book of 2019), both of which highly disappointed me; Daisy Jones had very unlikable characters and a boring narrative thread, while Crisis seemed all over the place and poorly edited with a story that was not as nearly as compelling as The Hot Zone.  This quarter saw the most diversity in my reading and helped to set up a great fall/winter reading season.

Quarter 4 (October-December): The final stretch of 2019 felt more like a sprint; I was terrified I would not reach my reading goal and was trying everything I could to complete it. It was also my most prolific reading month, with a total of 32 books read. Over these three months, I read a lot of shorter novels, hoping to read my goal. I also inundated myself with young adult literature, trying to immerse myself in the literature of those around me. I found some good YA books that I can say I enjoyed- The Folk of the Air series, Wilder Girls, Shadow and Bone- and I also discovered two new authors that I will definitely read more from: Seanan McGuire and V.E. Schwab. McGuire's Wayward Children series is my new binge series, while Schwab's Villains series opener had me flipping the pages to find out what happens next. The sequel, Vengeful, will definitely be a 2020 read. The year ended on a high note, and I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store. 
This year I am setting my reading goal much lower than in 2019. Reading 100 books was A LOT to do in one year; I had so much fun challenging myself to reading that many books, but by the end of the year I was stressing about making my goal. I am happy to know I can read 100 books in a year if I want to, but this year I want to slow down and savor the books I am reading. I am not pressuring myself and instead setting my reading goal to 52 books- one per week. This goal seems easier to accomplish without the pressure to feel like I have to read a bunch of books I may not get to fully enjoy. 

A few other goals I have for myself this coming year:

1. Read bigger books- 2019 saw me reading lots of shorter books in order to read my goal. This year I have a list of books that are over 500 pages that I plan to take my time in reading.

2. Keep DNFing books- I have absolutely no qualms about DNFing a book. If it does not hook me within the first few chapters, I usually set it aside and pick up something else. There is nothing wrong with putting a book down that does not interest or captivate you.

3. Read more Stephen King- Stephen King is one of, if not my favorite, authors and I have neglected reading some of his most recent releases. I plan to change that in 2020.

4. Read more classics- I made some progress with classics this past year, but there are still some prominent classic novels that I have not yet read. My shelves are full of them, and I cannot wait to start pulling them down and diving into them in the new year.

5. Read my ARCs- I have received quite a few advanced reader copies of books in the past year, both from NetGalley and also from our trip to Yallfest in November. These books need to be priority so that I can tell others about the amazing new books that are coming out in the coming year. 

I hope that this year's reading is just as exciting, fruitful, and memorable as 2019. I hope everyone has a safe and fantastic New Year filled with lots of books and reading!