It’s December, which means it’s that time of the year again: Let’s take a look at how my year has been. First off is the A Book A Month project1.

A Book A Month is something I started back in 2016 when I realized I was hardly reading books anymore. I set out to read at least one book each month - 12 per year - and I’ve managed to pull it off every year since 2016. But then came 2020, which turned out to be a weird year for everyone. I’ve been working from home since March, and because my daily commute was when I got most of my reading done, I’ve fallen short of my mark this year.

That I spent the two first months of 2020 finishing a book I started reading last year - A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin - probably didn’t help either, but the lack of a commute is the main reason why I only managed to read 8 books in 2020. I’m also using the term “read” quite liberally here: 4 of the books where audio books I listened to during one of my many solitary walks in the spring during the first round of lock-downs and social distancing.

But let’s not dwell on the books I didn’t read. Instead, let’s have a quick look at the books I did read.

Fiction

In 2019, I spent the majority of my reading time with George R. R. Martin, and his A Song Of Ice And Fire high fantasy series. The most recent book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, is a 1000+ pages behemoth that took me almost three months to finish. Even if the book stole two months of 2020’s reading time, it was definitely worth it. A Dance With Dragons is, as the entire series, a masterpiece. With a little luck, Martin will publish the two remaining volumes before he eventually buys the infamous farm.

In 2020, I decided to focus less on series, and more on individual books. I still spent the first half of March reading Dennis E. Taylor’s For We Are Many, the second book in his Bobiverse series. It’s slightly above average science fiction, but noting spectacular. That said, the third book in the series is on my reading list, and there’s a fourth book coming out early 2021 that I will probably get around to read one day.

When the New Normal™, with lock-downs, social distancing and home offices kicked in, I made the move to audio books. I’m not much of an audio book person, and prefer to hear my own voice in my head instead of a stranger’s. But I still plowed through a couple of classic crime novels narrated by Phoebe Judge from the Criminal podcast. The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stalker’s Dracula accompanied me on my many solo walks between March and August.

I also listened to the bulk of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. The novel was pretty entertaining until about half-way through the second narrator’s story. Then I completely lost interest, and decided I could use my time for something else.

In the end of August, I left audio books, and started reading Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon. But progress was painfully slow, and while I only spent around twelve hours actually reading it, I didn’t finish Altered Carbon until November 29, well over 90 days after I started.

Non-fiction

During 2020, I also took a short detour into non-fiction, and read two Norwegian books. The first was Ytringsfrihet Annotert by Bjørn Stærk, which is Strærk’s own analysis of how his views on freedom of speech have gradually change over the years. I think it’s a good overview of freedom of speech, but I suspect it’s mainly because our political views and morals align well, making this a serious case of confirmation bias.

The other non-fiction book I read was Hva Er Retorikk by Jens E. Kjeldsen. It’s basic introduction to rhetoric, a subject I realized I wanted to understand better after I finished Stærk’s Ytringsfriet Annotert. After finishing Hva Er Retorikk?, I’m not sure if I’m a better rhetorician than I was before I read it, but at least my understand of rhetoric is slightly better than it was.

Summa Summarum

Although I didn’t read as many books as I wanted in 2020, I’m pleased with the ones I did read (and listen to). Next on my reading list is Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, which I’d hoped to read this October, but that never happened. As the world looks now, I doubt that I will return to my regular commute schedule any earlier than half way through 2021. Because of that, my reading next year will probably suffer as well. It’s also possible I’ll spend more time working from home even when the country is back to normal.

I think it’s time to sit down and revise the whole project. Maybe it’s more “A Book Every Other Month” than “A Book A Month”?


  1. I began writing this post in the beginning of December. Since I’m still getting to the Ergodox Planck EZ, I might be able to finish it before New Year’s Eve. Fingers crossed! ↩︎