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It felt great to get my reading mojo back in 2019. In previous years my reading-for-pleasure really tanked. Busy with work, busy working on a Ph.D., busy writing my own stuff — and doing the requisite reading that all of that required. I know, I know, just excuses. I decided 2019 was the year of no excuses. I had read 25 books in 2018 — an average of two a month — so in 2019 I decided to try for three a month, 36 books.

I finished my 36th book just before Christmas and then read two more, for a grand total of 38.

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I probably haven’t read this much since I was a kid. I found so much joy getting back into reading, something that I have always loved to do. There were many days when I couldn’t wait to get home and finish my tasks as quickly as possible in order to settle in with a book in the evening.

Here’s the breakdown in three different categories:

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As you can see, Audible played a big role in helping me reach my goal. I spend A LOT of time in the car and truly enjoy listening to books while I drive. It makes the trips enjoyable and helps to pass the time. I also like to listen to books while I work out. Purists may argue that listening to books really isn’t “reading,” but I disagree.

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I definitely choose a book based on the topic rather than gender of the author, but I wanted to get a sense of how this broke down. Pretty even as you can see.

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Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised by this. I write nonfiction exclusively and naturally that’s what I gravitate toward. I love to learn about real people and events. I throw in novels just because I feel like I should, but it’s rare that a novel blows me away.

Some standouts from the year:

Best book: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. This book made a lot of top-10 lists this year and it’s no wonder. The story of The Troubles in Northern Ireland was captivating and I learned so much. The book set me off on a journey to learn more about the history of Ireland and what led to the partition.

Least favorite book: History of Wolves and Good in Bed (tie). I just don’t enjoy fiction as much as I enjoy nonfiction. But I know I should read more fiction and give it a chance. I found Good in Bed just so cliche, but it was an easy, digestible read and sometimes I need something like that amid the heaviness. History of Wolves was just weird and I didn’t like anything about the storyline.

Best novel: I guess I saved the best for last. Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions by Sheila O’Connor was the last book I read this year. O’Connor is inventive and poetic as she works to build her grandmother’s story, of which very little is known. It was a great example of creating a beautiful, literary work of art from a family story that has a lot of gaps.

What did you read in 2019? What was your favorite book? What are your 2020 reading goals?