Spoilers: it had and doesn’t have anything to do with the pandemic.
A few stats to start, because I love them and I expect a lot of bookish people love them too. I started really reading again and tracking what I read in 2015 when I was finishing up my graduate degree.
2015 – 37 books read out of a goal of 25
2016 – 50 books read out of a goal of 50
2017 – 78 books read out of a goal of 75
2018 – 83 books read out of a goal of 60
2019 – 85 books read out of a goal of 65
2020 – 103 books read out of a goal of 75
Those books amounted to over 38k pages and includes 7 DNF’s. Yes, I include DNFs in my stats, but even if you take those out I still read much, much more than I had previously (previous years also include DNFs but fewer than the 2020 numbers). More books were read in 2020 than my upward trend would predict.
Here’s the thing, I would love to read 100 books a year every year. However, there were several factors that allowed this anomaly to happen and the pandemic was not any of those reasons. Honestly, the pandemic likely didn’t factor into the equation much at all beyond delaying when books on hold came in. I was extremely lucky and fortunate in that with my work, my lifestyle and education** (more on why this is relevant below, if curious) life in the pandemic is and was almost normal for me, with a few small changes that didn’t result in more reading time.
So, what were the reasons I read so much more and why won’t they factor into me reading this amount again?
In 2020 I started a looooong series that was easy to read and kept my attention. This meant after completing a book there was always something else to pick up right after if there wasn’t strong feelings on the next read. This series accounts for 15 books, with 2 more partially read and 2 more in the queue.
Another several books of the 100 where taken up by a new favourite series I read in 2020 and then proceeded to immediately re-read because they were so good. This has only ever happened once before, in 2019. I never re-read immediately after initially reading. This series accounted for 11 reads (if you math, yes one of them was not re-read, but 5 of them were).
Every year about 10-20 percent of my reading is re-reads from previous years. This year I re-read a solid series that has numerous books making for an easy gains to my total. In past years I typically re-read single books, not series.
Audiobooks continued to be my most common method to consume a book, allowing me to do other things while reading. So if I wanted to dick around on my phone I could do so while also reading. I puzzled and read A Lot in 2020 as well. Audiobooks meant I didn’t have to compromise as much on what activity I wanted to do and forfeit reading time. Obviously this will be continued into 2021 and beyond, however, this alone won’t allow me to hit 100 books in a year.
This year was the first full year since I started my job where I wasn’t working 12 hour night shifts, meaning I wasn’t spending long periods of time trying to recover lost sleep. Additionally, I got more vacation time this year and actually forced myself to take it instead of hoarding it for the future times which is a bad habit of mine.
I also, weirdly, didn’t have my usual summer slow-down with reading and was pretty steady throughout the year. Not sure how this happened.
Finally, I really leaned into reading romance books and browsed the currently available audiobooks from my library frequently. This provided a numbers boost, however I really learned that most romances don’t really hit the mark for me. I like that they are easy to get through but most of them have something or other that prevents me from really enjoying the book. In 2021 I want to move away from reading and pushing through romance books for the sake of reading. It’s not fair to me or the authors of those books when I almost inevitably give them 2 or 3 stars.
In 2021 I am aiming for 75, like I did in 2020. Currently I’m on track to hit the goal, but it’s early days and I typically have at least one or two months in the year where my reading tanks.
How did you do in 2020 and what is your outlook for 2021?
** I have a Master’s in Microbiology and Immunology as so knew what was happening and what the ramifications would be, especially the impact on life for society, long before most people and was resigned to a minimum 2 year change of everything from early in March.