I know that I am late to the party on posting my 2020 stats, it hadn’t occurred to me that creating one of these might be fun until this past weekend and I wanted to share my reading year. 2020 was a tumultuous year both in my personal and professional life; I finished my master’s degree, I was promoted up near the beginning of the year and then again laterally in December, I faced the deepest suicidal depression that I had experienced in years, and I was able to kick my reading slump that has lasted from 2018 all the way until May 2020. So to keep myself motivated to keep reading and reviewing, I wanted to share some of the interesting book related stats as well as share my overall top 5 favorites for this year.
Average Length: 167 pages
Shortest Read: 21 pages (Graceful Burdens by Roxane Gay)
Longest Read: 426 pages (The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry)
Top Genre: Horror
I ended the year with more overall “books” than I have read ever, though that number is fluffed greatly by stand alone manga and manhwa volumes. I fell in love with manga all over again and read more manga in the last few months than I had read in several years. How or why I couldn’t tell you really, I wanted to explore some new manga artists and was interested in jumping into some new genres, like yuri. How fluffed up exactly? In all I read 63 volumes worth of manga across 23 series, and 4 volumes of manhwa comprising of only 1 series.
As for books, my top genre this year was unsurprisingly horror, it IS my favorite genre, but this is the first year that it took the crown. The last few years have been a hodge podge of different genres, and being a lover of all things horror I really wanted to dive head first into all the horror I could.
I think it’s safe to say that I prefer female authors over male authors, especially when it comes to books. For graphic novels, manga, and manhwa the number was a little more even with a slight leaning toward female authors. For both charts I only counted authors once, and for graphic novels I included both authors and illustrators if it was an original work, and only the illustrator if the work was adapted from a book.
Now as far as whether or not an author or artist was new to me, there is a clear bias toward new works this year. Again for this chart, I only included authors on here once, though honestly besides manga I only read one book series anyway, and it was by an author that was totally new to me.
I’ve begun to notice on my reviews list that I tend to only have 1-2 books by any given author. I tend to prefer standalones versus series when it comes to books, and though there are plenty of authors that I end up loving and I end up searching out their books and adding them to my TBR, it seems my chances of repeats is low.
I think part of this stems from the fact that I tend to read review copies of books, which are easier to acquire for new and upcoming authors. I also read a lot of Amazon’s collections as a way of sampling works by different authors to decide whether or not I want to read more of their work and also because I like short fiction in general, so that likely contributes to this as well.
Seeing this chart almost makes me want to challenge myself to spent a good portion of this year in 2021 picking up books by authors I have already enjoyed previously. It will be a bit hard, because I also have a large number of ARCs I want to catch up on and I got a handful of really exciting ones, so we’ll have to see next year?
Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica: This was without a doubt one of my top two favorite books of the year, I was blown away by the sheer existential horror of this little book. The story is about a state sanctioned cannibalism, and the most shocking part of all is how normalized it is. This book pulls no punches and will either enthrall or disgust readers.
Goth by Otsuichi: Goth was the second contender for my top spot this year and when I finished I wanted immediately to re-read it. It’s a light novel so the plot and characters almost feel like they belong in an anime, but it is very much grounded in brutal, cruel reality. Goth is a collection of short stories about two teenagers that are dangerously obsessed with serial killers, it is unabashedly dark and just plain fun.
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez: I had the joy of reading an ARC copy of Enríquez’s Things We Lost in the Fire and I was impressed by her writing, I had been keen to read more of her work. I was so excited that I was granted an ARC of The Dangers of Smoking in Bed and this collection far surpassed the first in terms of the quality of the stories and sheer style. It is an incredible collection of horror short fiction that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I finished it.
Looking for Alaska by John Green: I almost didn’t add this book to my list and even now, I am still struggling to put all of my thoughts and feelings together on this book to write a review. I bought it as a gift for my husband because Green was inspired by my husband’s favorite book, As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway. We read it together and both loved the book, and we promptly watched the Hulu adaptation after. It’s a great book and it is clear to see why it catapaulted Green’s career in YA. It reminded me of my teen years in the early 2000s, where I attended a private Christian school, so I feel that also added to my appreciation for the book.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: I had been admiring this book series’ covers for years and missed all of the hype when it was still being published. I don’t normally read contemporary romance and especially not YA romance, but I got the boxed set on wholesale so I thought, why not? This was the book series that broke my reading slump and I fell head over heels in love with it, I binged all three volumes in a week. It was my guilty pleasure last year and when I finished, I immediately picked up all of Jenny Han’s other book series. I watched Cindy’s videos where she watched the movies and I was less than impressed, so I’m glad that I read the books first.
Favorite Graphic Novels
Killing Stalking by Koogi: This one was a bit unexpected and I can’t pinpoint what drove me to pick it up in the first place but Killing Stalking quickly made it onto my list of all-time favorite comics. I had seen the series floating around for years and had stayed clear due to the warnings about rape and the abusive relationship between the protagonists. However, Killing Stalking exceeded my expectations as a cat and mouse crime thriller that veers straight into horror.
Venus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito: Finding Junji Ito on my best-of list is never any surprise, but I have to say that Venus in the Blind Spot is among one of his best short story collections that I can easily recommend to a new reader as a first pick. This is a new collection for western audiences that collects some of Ito’s most famous or previously uncollected one-shots into one volume.
Bloom Into You by Nio Nakatani: So I had wanted to try giving the Yuri genre a read and actually started with Citrus. Bloom Into You was one of the series that was recommended to me on Goodreads because I was reading Citrus and I am so thankful for that recommendation. Besides being one of the best yuri manga series I had ever read, I feel that it is one of the best romance mangas I have ever read period. There is some good aromantic and demiromantic representation here, and I found myself relating heavily to the main character, Yuu.
Remina by Junji Ito: This one barely made it onto the list, Remina came in as a 4 star read for me. While there are other manga that I rated higher, I found this one to be more memorable and a better quality piece overall. It is one of Ito’s underappreciated gems and is one of his works that is gloriously Lovecraftian. While it is not my favorite of his works, I 100% understand why some folks list this one as their favorite.
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët: I found this book on a list of horror graphic novels and was incredibly curious. The little fae creatures don’t immediately appear to be characters in a horror piece until the reader sees the decaying corpse that they sprang to life from. This little graphic novel was a complete surprise and was one of the most unique pieces of horror literature that I’ve ever read.