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Books I Read in 2020

A year in review



This is an installment of my annual “Books I Read in XXXX” year-in-review series. It follows the previous one.

So, 2020 was horrible. My mental health took a serious blow over the course of the year and I found myself, for the first time in my life, unable to read. I couldn’t focus. And when I could, I couldn’t tolerate the feeling of somebody else’s words in my head.

It felt like a blow to my identity to be honest. I’ve always been an avid and constant reader. I’ve always measured time, and progress, and growth in books. I had to spent a lot of time figuring out who I am when I’m not doing the things that make me who I am.

At the beginning of 2020 I set a goal to read 100 books. Third year in a row making this ambitious goal. Third year failing. But it was my first time failing by such a large margain. In previous years, I read 83, 79, and 97 books.

This year I read about 50. If you count the ones I didn’t finish.

A lot of them were bookclub books that I agreed to commit to in order to try forcing myself back into the habit. I don’t remember most of them. Others are audiobooks that I started and then quit. And a lot of them are RPG rulebooks, which I tend to read a lot of anyway, but this year they provided a weird and very comforting solace of imagination without narrative.

If you’re on goodreads, feel free to follow me. I try to leave a review of everything I read.

Here are some numbers.

How many did I start vs. how many did I finish:

Completion Count
Finished 44
Did not finish 7

I am an unapologetic book putter downer. Life is too short to waste time on something you’re not enjoying1. Last year I abandoned 15 books. Which means that the number of books I start but don’t finish roughly scales with the number of books I do finish. This year I did half of both compared to last year.


Format Count
Audio 13
ebook 32
physical book 6

I’m an ebook purist. I read print ebooks and I read audio ebooks, and that’s about it.

I read a couple physical books this year. Mostly comics, and a couple software books from the library at work.


Pages Count
Smallest value 5
Largest value 849
Sum 11,426
Mean 243.106

Smallest number of pages is fake. Goodreads often counts the number of CDs or “parts” in an audiobook as pages. Don’t really know what to do about that.

The actual smallest number of pages is 16, and that belongs to The Quiet Year a beautiful rpg rulebook about story telling and map drawing and enduring in the face of imminent disaster.

The longest book, at 849 pages, was 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which I really enjoyed, but about which–like most of King’s work–I ultimately have kind of mixed feelings about.



Last year I kind of went through my list of books by hand.

This year I grabbed a csv export and installed the truly awesome csvkit and just had it display and summarize the data for me:

Title Author Date Added Date Read My Rating Exclusive Shelf Bookshelves Number of Pages
11/22/63 Stephen King 2020-01-02 2020-02-23 3 read ebook 849
Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations Nicole Forsgren 2020-01-02 2020-01-12 4 read professional, bookclub, technology, tangible-book 257
We Are Indivisible: A Blueprint for Democracy After Trump Leah Greenberg 2020-01-02 2020-01-07 4 read audio-book, politics
The Shadow/Batman Steve Orlando 2020-01-05 3 read comic-book, tangible-book 160
The Witches Are Coming Lindy West 2020-01-09 2020-01-10 5 read audio-book, feminist, politics, read-by-the-author 260
Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You Bill Burnett 2020-01-13 2020-01-14 5 read audio-book, professional 240
An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management Will Larson 2020-01-18 2020-02-25 3 read tangible-book, professional, bookclub 288
Resilient Management Lara Hogan 2020-01-18 2020-01-18 5 read ebook, professional, bookclub 105
Providence Act 1 Alan Moore 2020-01-19 2020-01-27 2 read tangible-book, comic-book, queer 176
A Philosophy of Software Design John Ousterhout 2020-01-19 2020-01-23 5 read tangible-book, professional 190
When I Arrived at the Castle Emily Carroll 2020-01-19 4 read comic-book, tangible-book 72
How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie 2020-01-22 1 read audio-book
Autonomous Annalee Newitz 2020-01-23 2020-01-27 2 read audio-book, sci-fi
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni 2020-01-27 2020-01-28 1 read 5
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Chip Heath 2020-01-28 2020-01-31 3 read audio-book 294
Fascism: A Warning Madeleine K. Albright 2020-02-02 2020-02-07 4 read politics, audio-book, read-by-the-author 320
Uncanny Valley Anna Wiener 2020-02-21 2020-02-25 3 read audio-book, technology, memoir 9
Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe Gaston Dorren 2020-02-23 2020-02-23 1 abandoned abandoned 304
Tess of the Road (Tess of the Road, #1) Rachel Hartman 2020-02-26 2020-03-15 5 read young-adult, fantasy, ebook 544
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters Richard P. Rumelt 2020-02-26 2020-02-29 3 read audio-book 705
This Is How You Lose The Time War Amal El-Mohtar 2020-03-02 2020-03-04 4 read audio-book, sci-fi 224
Fate Core System Leonard Balsera 2020-03-02 2020-02-15 4 read rpg-rulebook 302
Born Both: An Intersex Life Hida Viloria 2020-03-04 2020-03-10 5 read audio-book, gender, read-by-the-author, memoir 339
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir Samra Habib 2020-03-10 2020-03-14 0 abandoned audio-book, memoir, queer, abandoned 6
Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth Rachel Maddow 2020-03-14 2020-03-27 0 abandoned audio-book, non-fiction, politics, read-by-the-author, abandoned
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language Gretchen McCulloch 2020-03-16 2020-05-04 3 read ebook, non-fiction 335
Storm King’s Thunder (Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition) Wizards of the Coast 2020-03-21 2020-03-21 4 read dnd, rpg-rulebook 256
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones James Clear 2020-03-27 2020-05-04 0 abandoned abandoned 319
We Yevgeny Zamyatin 2020-03-27 2020-05-04 0 abandoned abandoned 224
The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1) Joe Abercrombie 2020-05-04 2020-07-08 5 read fantasy 515
No Cure for the Paladin Blues (The Order of the Stick, #2) Rich Burlew 2020-05-09 0 abandoned comic-book, ebook, dnd, abandoned 244
Dungeon Crawlin’ Fools (The Order of the Stick, #1) Rich Burlew 2020-05-09 2020-05-09 3 read comic-book, ebook 160
Professor Frisby’s Mostly Adequate Guide to Functional Programming Brian Lonsdorf 2020-06-20 2020-06-20 5 read technology, programming 146
Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager Michael Lopp 2020-06-30 2020-07-16 4 read bookclub, non-fiction, professional 209
Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters Ryan Singer 2020-07-14 2020-07-18 3 read professional, ebook 133
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man Mary L. Trump 2020-07-18 2021-01-06 5 read politics 225
This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live Melody Warnick 2020-07-22 2020-08-29 3 read ebook 308
The Quiet Year Avery Alder 2020-07-28 2020-07-28 4 read ebook, rpg-rulebook 16
Microscope Ben Robbins 2020-07-28 2020-07-28 5 read rpg-rulebook, ebook 80
The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) Lev Grossman 2020-07-31 2020-08-29 4 read ebook, fantasy 402
We3 Grant Morrison 2020-07-31 2020-07-31 3 read comic-book, ebook 104
Troika! Daniel Sell 2020-08-02 2020-08-02 4 read ebook, rpg-rulebook 53
The Boys, Volume 1: The Name of the Game Garth Ennis 2020-08-04 2020-08-04 3 read comic-book, ebook 152
The Boys, Volume 2: Get Some Garth Ennis 2020-08-05 2020-08-04 2 read comic-book, ebook 192
How to Read a Book: the classic guide to intelligent reading Mortimer J. Adler 2020-08-29 0 currently-reading currently-reading 425
A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves Ari Weinzweig 2020-09-03 2020-09-04 5 read bookclub, ebook 490
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) Ursula K. Le Guin 2020-10-20 2020-11-04 3 read fantasy, young-adult 183
Such a Fun Age Kiley Reid 2020-11-04 2021-01-04 4 read race 310
Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer Wendell Berry 2020-11-04 2020-11-04 3 read 48
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition) Wizards of the Coast 2020-12-20 5 read rpg-rulebook 192
I’m Sorry Did You Say Street Magic Caro Asercion 2020-12-22 2020-12-22 5 read rpg-rulebook 56
  1. “Title”
Type of data:          Text
Contains null values:  False
Unique values:         51
Longest value:         101 characters
Most common values:    11/22/63 (1x)
                       Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations (1x)
                       We Are Indivisible: A Blueprint for Democracy After Trump (1x)
                       The Shadow/Batman (1x)
                       The Witches Are Coming (1x)
  1. “Date Added”
Type of data:          Date
Contains null values:  False
Unique values:         39
Smallest value:        2020-01-02
Largest value:         2020-12-22
Most common values:    2020-01-02 (3x)
                       2020-01-19 (3x)
                       2020-01-18 (2x)
                       2020-02-26 (2x)
                       2020-03-02 (2x)
  1. “Date Read”
Type of data:          Date
Contains null values:  True (excluded from calculations)
Unique values:         37
Smallest value:        2020-01-07
Largest value:         2021-01-06
Most common values:    None (6x)
                       2020-05-04 (3x)
                       2020-02-23 (2x)
                       2020-02-25 (2x)
                       2020-01-27 (2x)
  1. “My Rating”
Type of data:          Number
Contains null values:  False
Unique values:         6
Smallest value:        0
Largest value:         5
Sum:                   164
Mean:                  3.216
Median:                3
StDev:                 1.616
Most common values:    3 (14x)
                       5 (13x)
                       4 (12x)
                       0 (6x)
                       2 (3x)
  1. “Exclusive Shelf”
Type of data:          Text
Contains null values:  False
Unique values:         3
Longest value:         17 characters
Most common values:    read (44x)
                       abandoned (6x)
                       currently-reading (1x)
  1. “Bookshelves”
Type of data:          Text
Contains null values:  True (excluded from calculations)
Unique values:         37
Longest value:         64 characters
Most common values:    comic-book, ebook (4x)
                       audio-book (3x)
                       abandoned (3x)
                       rpg-rulebook (3x)
                       ebook (2x)
  1. “Number of Pages”
Type of data:          Number
Contains null values:  True (excluded from calculations)
Unique values:         45
Smallest value:        5
Largest value:         849
Sum:                   11,426
Mean:                  243.106
Median:                224
StDev:                 174.425
Most common values:    None (4x)
                       160 (2x)
                       224 (2x)
                       192 (2x)
                       849 (1x)

Row count: 51