2020 in books

January 1, 2021

2020 on Goodreads by Various

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you consider the fact that I usually don’t read books that have an average rating below 4.00 on GoodReads, you’ll find when looking at my year in books that I actually awarded 3.5 stars on average.

That makes a lot of sense to me as 2020 has been a difficult year on many levels for me.

I read the amazing “Herkunft” by Saša Stanišić, though, and that was definitely one of the highlights of my reading year.

Looking things over, I remember how travel-memoir writer Tony James Slater rekindled my interest in science fiction by writing his series “The Ancient Guardians” of which I read the final instalments in 2020, e. g. Warden’s Fate.

Those led me to the unforgettable “Murderbot Diaries” by Martha Wells which I’ve practically devoured!

Encouraged by these reading experiences, I decided to move on to “Leviathan Wakes” of the “The Expanse” series by James S.A. Corey. I was struggling with it as you can read in my review but I came to love the characters, the world and the way Corey injects a tiny ray of hope into the bleakest of situations.


I’ve also re-read “Homo Faber” by Max Frisch after about 30 years. When I first read it at the age of 15/16, I was immediately taken by it. It struck chords I didn’t even know about. This time it were completely different aspects of the book that struck new chords again.
I’m not going to let another 30 years pass but I’ll surely re-read it again.

Another book from last year that keeps haunting me is “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. I hadn’t read anything by Ng before but this book was an instant classic for me.

The last two books of 2020 were Alice Schwarzer’s biography of one of Germany’s most important publicists, Marion Gräfin Dönhoff.
Dönhoff was part of the resistance against Hitler in her “first life” and went on to become a journalist and the head of one of Germany’s most prestigious newspapers, “Die Zeit”.

The second of those two books was by Dönhoff herself: “Um der Ehre willen. Erinnerungen an die Freunde vom 20. Juli”. It expands on her work from 1945 (!) in which she remembers her friends from the resistance – most of all Heinrich “Heini” Graf Lehndorff.


No review of my year in books could ever be complete, though, if I neglected to mention Michael J. Sullivan. Michael and his fantasy series have been recommended to me by Ingmar to whom I remain indebted for that.
Be it Royce and Hadrian from “Riyria” or “The Legends of the First Empire” – whatever Michael writes is so wonderful that it keeps amazing me. It’s probably because – in Michael’s own words:

“The stories I write might be fantasy, but the depiction of the feelings people share for each other is real.”

What more could I ask from a work of fiction than to let me experience their characters’ feelings? Or, in my own words, “I don’t know Michael personally but after having read thousands of pages he wrote, I’ve come to see him as a bright beacon of hope, empathy and love.”

Speaking of personal heroes: The greatest literary surprise of 2020 was Allie Brosh resurfacing and getting her unforgettable, hauntingly beautiful and breathtakingly sad “Solutions and Other Problems” published.
Reading its “serious part” made me cry over a comic for the first time ever.

There were lots of let-downs as well but if you really want, discover them yourselves!

Reflecting on all this and realising that I’m a wet-eyed snivelling mess again, the year 2020 wasn’t so bad after all and I’m looking forward to 2021.

Happy new year, everyone!



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