Q4 2020 round-up

Wow, what a year it has been. Like no other. I know it’s meant to be the Q4 summary, but as it happens I will also take this opportunity to summarize the year.

We’ve been in multiple lockdowns, we lost loved ones. But we also learned a lot about ourselves. The enforced slowing down has been a time for self-reflection and evaluating what is important. I’d like to focus on the positive in this summary, so forgive me if it sounds a bit Pollyannish. The first lockdown for me felt a bit like an adventure, something from a movie. The reality of the situation did not kick in for the first two-three months. Then came the slumber and complete inability to focus on any text longer than another depressing news headline.

From June on something happened to my perception of time. It simply stopped for me, so you can imagine my surprise in October and November when it hit me we’re nearing the end of the year. Then came the early December stress of whether I’ll be able to make it home for the holidays (I managed).

In all this, the books provided comfort and shelter. When I could start reading again of course. They were friends to me, allowing me to visit other places and explore new frontiers. Like any good friend, they also challenged me and invited me to rethink some of my preconceived notions. In the end, after a reading slumber at the beginning of the lockdown, when nothing felt real, I searched their company whenever I could. And that’s how I ended up with a record year, for the first time I read over a hundred books, and managed to review most of them before the year ended, with some post scheduled in a queue, for January.

I always loved reading, but this year it has saved my sanity on multiple occasions. It helped me calm down and sleep. It provided much-needed alternative topics of conversation after the covid-chat became incredibly boring. It made me reconsider some of my ideas and also opened new horizons. In addition to reading this was probably the first year when I exercised so regularly and without the focus on losing weight, but with a focus on mental wellbeing. And it was also a year when I discovered meditation, I’m still very much a beginner, but it helped me calm down the incessant buzzing in my brain.

Back to Q4, what did I read? A lot of non-fiction. For me at least, a third of the books I read this quarter fall into that category. I was wondering why would I look for non-fiction if the world is such a difficult place right now. One would expect I’d be looking for escapism. But then I understood that the view of the world we’re getting from the news is distorted and also flattened, always focused on one thing only. And there’s so much more to the world around us, so many more layers and facets. And that’s what the non-fiction books help me explore. They provide an escape from the endless cycle of news and take you down a side path.

In terms of fiction, I decided to not be too demanding of myself, so you will find here a lot of crime, and lighter reads. And that’s ok, that was what I needed and it helped me. This year and last quarter of it have been a great adventure and I certainly came out on the other side a changed person. If it is for the better remains to be seen.

Have a fantastic 2021!!! Stay safe!!! We’ll get through it, there’s already light at the end of the tunnel.

104. Król – Szczepan Twardoch re-read (r)
103. Smutek Ryb – Hanna Krall (r)
102. Mystery and Manners – Flannery O’Connor (r)
101. Nie Zdążę – Olga Gitkiewicz (r)
100. Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff (r)
99. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
98. Szamańska Choroba – Jacek Hugo-Bader (r)
97. The Burning Girl – Claire Messud (r)
96. Dear Fatty – Dawn French DNF (r)
95. A Good Enough Mother – Bev Thomas (r)
94. Adrian Mole. The Cappuccino Years – Sue Townsend (r)
93. The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion (re-read) (r)
92. Grief Is the Thing With Feathers – Max Porter (re-read)(r)
91. Streetfight. Handbook for an Urban Revolution – Janette Sadik-Khan, Seth Solomonow (r)
90. Jillian – Halle Butler (r)
89. The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis (r)
88. Queen’s Gambit – Elizabeth Freemantle (r)
87. The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak (r)
86. Grimm Tales for Young and Old – Philip Pullman (Retelling),
Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm (r)
85. Lanny – Max Porter (r)
84. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (r)
83. The House on Vesper Sands – Paraic O’Donnell (r)
82. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides (r)
81. The Testaments – Margaret Atwood (r)
80. Łódź. Miasto po przejściach – Wojciech Górecki, Bartosz Józefiak (r)
79. In The Woods – Tana French (r)
78. The Naming of the Dead – Ian Rankin (r)
77. The Whistler – John Grisham (r)
76. Agent Running in the Field – John le Carré (r)
75. Camino Island – John Grisham (r)
74. Run Away – Harlan Coben (r)
73. The Winner – David Baldacci (r)

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