I’ve had an interesting year of reading. There have been a few lows and some definite highs. I’ve read blissful and entertaining books, as well as downright depressing ones. The full year has been a whirlwind, but I did manage to get in some solid reading. Let’s take a closer look at my stats as of Dec. 26, 2020:
Read 10,230 pages from 30 books — Goodreads for the win again — compared with 10,904 pages across 31 books the year before (though I’m trying to finish one more before Jan. 1, which would put me at my goal for the year).
The above stats do include one book that I’ve finished but haven’t yet reviewed (coming January 2021). Once, I include that one, my average flameworthiness for the year will be 3.9 flames, just higher than 2019. Now let’s take a look at the individual rankings:
Flipped through one two-flame book, which is a huge improvement from 2019’s five.
Finished six three-flame books, which matches last year’s total.
Enjoyed 14 four-flame books, which is more than 2019’s 11.
Indulged in seven five-flame amazing reads, which is two less than last year.
Anybody else love stats and data and totally nerding out on it, especially when it’s related to books? Nope? Just me? Well OK then. In that case, it’s time for the most important part of my 2020 bibliophile review: assessing my resolutions that I set for myself back in January. Did I hold myself accountable and obtain my goals?
Resolutions definitely guided my reading choices in 2019. Even if I didn’t fully succeed, I was at least conscious of them while picking out some of the books I read. I’d like to keep on this resolution road because it’s changed my mind about memoirs, forced me to think about diversity when choosing authors, and influenced me to dabble in other genres. (I’d also be remiss if I didn’t give resolution-making the credit for five straight years of flossing every day.)
This year, though, rather than thinking about the types of books I want to read, I’m focusing my resolutions on my baby, Big Little Literature. My greatest joy is sharing my thoughts and feelings about books with you all, so for 2020, I want to think of new ways (and revisit some old ones) on how to grow our community and improve the BLL experience. Check out my 2020 resolutions below.
Fortunately, I have friends who give great book recs. That’s exactly what my friend Jen did this summer when she recommended How Not to Die Alone. I had heard this title before and thought it was a self-help book. Lord, that would be a depressing read. She assured me that was the furthest thing from the truth.
Jen was right.
After I finished this funny, quirky, and delightful fictional book, I knew I wanted to speak to its author, Richard Roper. He came through and answered some burning questions I had about his literary favorites; the main character, Andrew; and some new projects on the horizon.
My Dear Hamiltonwas no joke. This beautiful and insightful novel about one of the most influential men in American history — from his wife’s perspective — ranks in the top three of books I’ve read this year, mainly because of the emotions it dug out of me.
“I actually think my body and mind morphed into Eliza Hamilton’s,” I wrote in my review.
Such an impactful book had me dying to know the authors who brought this creation to life. Thankfully Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie provided us with details about their writing process in the back of their book, including all of the research that went into writing this masterpiece. Plus, their love for Fraunces Tavern instilled an instant connection. (Stephanie and Laura, let’s get a drink sometime!)
I was lucky enough to learn more about these inspiring women after exchanging a few emails with Dray. Check out our conversation below.
The Futures made all of the lists last year. Readers (including myself) were falling for the story of Evan and Julia, who move to New York City at 22 only to find they don’t have the answers to being adults amidst the Financial Crisis and that they don’t know how to make it work together.
The author of The Futures, Anna Pitoniak, is an editor at Random House where she has worked since graduating from Yale with an English degree in 2008. She began writing her debut novel a few years after graduation, and it was released in January 2017. Although it’s still a challenge to balance being an editor and writer, Pitoniak uses this to her advantage. “[Writing and editing] feed into each other,” she said. “Being an editor has definitely made me a better writer. And I think having written my own book and having it published probably makes me a more empathetic editor in certain ways because I can relate to a lot of things my writers are going through.”
After soaring into the lit scene in 2017, Pitoniak was kind enough to chat with me about the challenges of writing her first novel, one of my favorite TV shows, and about this beautiful yet stressful place we both love: New York City.