It did seem at times as if 2020 was never going to end, but I guess it had to one way or another. I haven’t blogged since September and I’m of two minds about blogging regularly (mostly thinking no, but never say never). But it felt weird not to do some kind of year-end post. So here I am again. Hello!
I read 54 books in 2020, which is considerably fewer than in recent years, but not bad considering the circumstances. I read most in literary fiction, then mysteries, then SFF, then finally romance. The romance genre and I have finally broken up for good, or at least for the foreseeable future. It’s been coming, as you’ve no doubt noticed. I’ve enjoyed going back to mysteries, mixing new authors with old favorites. And my classic novel readings have been rewarding.
I’ve basically given up challenges and reading awards lists; I mostly ignored the Booker lists (both international and English-language) and not much on my favorite Goldsmith’s longlist appealed this year. I also just didn’t have the headspace for challenging books unless I knew in advance I wanted to read them. I kept up my focus on translated novels and found some gems in Korean and Japanese fiction. And early in the year (it really was still in 2020) I read the most recent Javier Cercas.
I read a lot from my TBR, with half of the 54 coming from that. I cancelled library holds and/or sent back requested books unread. I have a handful on hold for this winter, but they’re familiar authors. I was one of the few people who seemed to like and value reading the Don Delillo novella, The Silence. Yes, it was a lesser Delillo in some ways but it also speaks so much to our current conditions, or at least it did to me.
Books that stood out this year: Morvern Callar, The Story of a Goat, Lord of All the Dead, The Stranger’s Child, Tokyo Ueno Station, Pond, Red Pill, The Betrothed, Piranesi, Interior Chinatown. Reading all the Murderbots in succession made for a great timepass in the spring. I talked about a few of these on the blog and gave all my 2020 reads star ratings at LibraryThing, but I’m kind of done with reviewing. If I blog regularly I’ll discuss what I’m reading, but the world does not need my reviews. Really.
This year’s plans: more from the TBR. More translated fiction. More mysteries. More 19thC novels. The post-Karla Smiley novels, which I can now read with the previous ones firmly in mind. More Irish women authors who aren’t named Sally Rooney. More experimental fiction from small presses.
I frequently do a productivity post at the beginning of the year, and since I spent a lot of December reading about planner and productivity systems, I even have something to say! I’m sticking with the Hobonichi Techo and Weeks combo that I used last year, but I’m using the Techo slightly differently: I’m adapting it to use as a Bullet Journal. I tried a Bullet Journal a few years ago and couldn’t get my head around it. But a few weeks ago I perused the site, read Ryder Carroll’s book, and watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and I realized that while I don’t journal every day, I want a planner that isn’t just an appointment and to-do list receptacle. I need that setup for work, and the Weeks will serve that purpose, but I want a daily log system and a way to combine notes, appointments, tasks, and random jottings in one place.
I thought about going full BuJo with a blank notebook, but I like the Techo a lot. So I combined the two, with the daily pages in the Techo serving as my Rapid Logging section, the monthly two-page grid serving as one monthly overview, and the monthly lined page serving as the Monthly Log in traditional BuJo style. There’s a year overview that can be the Index and some blank pages for the Future Log and Collections. If all this sounds like gibberish, this video is less than 5 minutes long and explains the terms. And if anyone wants to know more I’m happy to write it up. What I like about the original Bullet Journal (which is quite different from the art-focused community that has developed around it) is that it is simple and prioritizes accountability and reflection. Too many of the Productivity Bros are all about The Superiority of the Quantified and Scheduled Self, which I find repellent. And BuJo can be turned into that. But it wasn’t designed to be that and it doesn’t have to be.
I separated myself more and more from online chatter and social media over the last few months, and I took the end of the year as an opportunity to prune much of what was left. I’m down to about 6 blogs in my feed reader, although I subscribe to more newspapers and magazines than ever. But I try really hard to limit my reading diet to (a) reported news for current events; and (b) thoughtful and/or researched opinion and feature pieces. This means I don’t know what is happening with a lot of online people I used see and talk to regularly, and that is sad. But I have their emails, they have mine, and at this point I think direct, focused communication is the healthiest form for me. It’s hard, especially during a pandemic. But superficial chatting somehow feels worse than no communication, given what is going on around us.
TheHusband and I have been very fortunate this year; we kept our jobs, we were able to adapt, and while not being able to get away or spend time in California is difficult, it is so much less difficult than what too many people are experiencing that I cannot and will not complain.
We did turn our lives upside down in a good way, though. We got a puppy. Another Corgi. Her name is Ziggy Stardust and like David Bowie, she has mismatched eyes. She is a terror and a darling. The elder Corgis have welcomed her into their home with generosity and the occasional chomp.