2020 Reading: First Update

Greetings! I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping a healthy routine. While at home this week, I took an inventory of what I’ve read in the first three months of 2020. I use the Toronto Public Library 2020 Reading Challenge as a guideline to read more widely and add a few categories on my own to make my reading more interesting.

Last year I read thirty two books in the first half and thirty books in the second half of 2019, or 62 books in total. This year I had set a modest reading goal of 36 books because I was planning to travel frequently. Well, with the COVID-19 pandemic and travel cancellations, I may be able to read more than 36 books after all.

Here’s a look at my year-to-date reading listed by author’s last name:

  1. Celestial Bodies, Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth.
  2. Wherever She Goes, K.L. Armstrong.
  3. Bad Move, Linwood Barclay.
  4. Elevator Pitch, Linwood Barclay.
  5. Stand On The Sky, Erin Bow.
  6. Love Walked In, Marisa De Los Santos.
  7. Bone Black, Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  8. At The Mountain’s Edge, Genevieve Graham.
  9. Comics Will Break Your Heart, Faith Erin Hicks.
  10. And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini.
  11. The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary.
  12. A Better Man, Louise Penny.
  13. Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  14. Snowmen, Mark Sedore.
  15. The Art of Racing in The Rain, Garth Stein.
  16. 26 Knots, Bindu Suresh.
  17. A Delhi Obsession, M.G. Vassanji.
  18. Starlight, Richard Wagamese.

Number of books read: Eighteen books from January to March 2020.

A book originally written in a language other than my first language: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth. Altharthi makes literary history as the first female Omani author to be translated into English and as author of the first novel written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize 2019. She shares that extraordinary success with translator and Oxford professor Booth.

A book by an Indigenous author: Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle, and Starlight by Richard Wagamese.

A book that made me laugh: Bad Move by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star, a Canadian daily newspaper. I used to read his column and enjoy his humourous writing style.

A book under 200 pages long: 26 Knots by Bindu Suresh at 151 pages and Snowmen by Mark Sedore at 170 pages.

A book over 450 pages long: Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay at 453 pages.

A book for young adults: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks and Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.

A book to be made into a mini TV series: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A book with a dog’s view of life: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

A book written in three days: Snowmen by Mark Sedore. This is Sedore’s first published novel and the winner of the 32nd Annual International 3-Day Novel Contest.

A book that took me to other places in Canada:

  • British Columbia: Starlight by Richard Wagamese.
  • Nova Scotia: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.
  • Quebec: 26 Knots by Bindu Surash and A Better Man by Louise Penny.
  • Saskatchewan: Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  • The Arctic Circle from Canada to Russia: Snowmen by Mark Sedore.
  • The Yukon: At The Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham.

A book that took me overseas:

  • Afghanistan: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
  • India: A Delhi Obsession by M.G. Vassanji.
  • Mongolia: Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.
  • Oman: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.
  • The United Kingdom: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto library branches have been closed since March 13 until further notice. I look forward to picking up a few books that have been on hold for me when the library reopens. In the meantime, I have a few books at home waiting to be read. Knowing that makes me smile.

What about you? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2023 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

61 thoughts on “2020 Reading: First Update

  1. It sounds like a great list. Does your library not have online borrowing of books electronically? We get ours from Austin Public library on line right to our Kindle, and have Amazon Prime and get 2 free a month from them.

    You should check out The River of Doubt, a real page-turner about the last river to be explored in South America by Teddy Rosevelt.


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 10:23 am

      Yes, I can access e-books online from my library. I prefer physical books atm to keep my screen time low. Thank you for your book suggestion. I’ll add The River of Doubt to my ‘to read’ list.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sagittarius Viking March 29, 2020 / 10:18 am

    I’m tempted to pick up a few of these! I read a lot and currently don’t have a book to read. Thank you!


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 10:25 am

      You’re welcome, Maria. I hope you find something you like from my list. I always keep a few books on hand to read when the mood strikes 🙂


  3. Jill Weatherholt March 29, 2020 / 11:11 am

    Great list, Natalie! Lately, I’ve been doing more writing than reading, but during this challenging time, a book that leaves me feeling good is a must. Thanks for sharing! Stay well!


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 11:19 am

      Hi Jill, Reading or writing to take a break from the grim news is good for our mental health during this challenging time. Stay well! Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gary A Wilson March 29, 2020 / 11:26 am

    Hi Natalie, I too have a kindle and have come to love it despite things about it that make me nuts. I don’t like the navigation at all but once settled in with a good book — I can fly for hours, stopping only to refresh my tea or an occasional required bio-break. I actually prefer the kindle app on a normal android tablet because I don’t like the font options on the paper white.
    Stay wise and healthy.


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 11:41 am

      Hi Gary, It’s nice to have reading device options. I read physical books to be away from a screen. If I run out of books to read before the libraries reopen, I’ll move to e-books which I can access while the pandemic is on. Thank you for stopping by.


  5. Colline March 29, 2020 / 12:27 pm

    I have started listening to audio books that I have been able to get through Overdrive. It has been a life saver.


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 12:50 pm

      Yes, thankfully there are lots of good audio books for listening. Thank you, Colline, for your visit and comment.


  6. Dr Sock March 29, 2020 / 2:46 pm

    You sure read a lot, Natalie. I usually do too, but since the pandemic has ramped up, I’ve had trouble concentrating on reading, and am spending far too much time reading news sites about COVID-19. I like reading the Canada Reads shortlist. This year I have read “Son of a Trickster” by Eden Robinson, which was excellent and am partway through “Radicalized” bu Cory Doctorow. Both of these are on the short list. I’m also partway through “Brazzaville Beach,” by William Boyd, which I’m reading for my book club. If I finish these before I can access the library or a bookstore, I don’t have to worry as I have a shelf of about 120 books waiting to be read!



    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 5:10 pm

      Jude, I stay informed about the pandemic but don’t get fixated on it. I make conscious efforts to minimize the constant exposure to grim news, too much screen time, and prolonged sitting. They don’t do me any good. Thank you for your book suggestions. I’ll check their availability at the library.


  7. Kathleen Howell March 29, 2020 / 4:39 pm

    I’m so far behind on my reading challenge on GoodReads! That’s one thing about this mandatory stay home order, I’ll have more time to read!


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 5:12 pm

      Yes, more time for reading is a plus when you’re mandated to stay home. Thank you, Kathleen, for stopping by.


  8. Retirement Reflections March 29, 2020 / 4:40 pm

    Hi, Natalie – Although we are both big readers, and often read in the same genre, we often don’t have the same books on our ‘Recently Read’ list. This time, there’s two on your list that I have read (although not recently): The Art of Racing in the Rain and Loved Walked In. ‘Racing’ is one of my favourite books of all time. The movie was okay, but no where near the book’s quality. I read “Love Walked In’ for a book club several years ago. Parts of it stayed with me, but very few.
    Currently, my own goal is to read ahead ALL books on the 2020 Reading list for BOTH of my bookclubs. So far, I’ve read 12 and have 9 left to go (one book club takes Dec. off, and they both take July off).
    What I’ve read so far includs; The Stranger in the Woods (non-fiction, good), The Stone Diaries (Canadian, experimental), The Comedians (classic, excellent), The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (Historical Fiction, others liked it more than I did), The Boys in the Boat (Non-Fiction, excellent), The Gentleman in Moscow (amazing….but a weak ending), The Huntress (good), Catch and Kill (truly 5 stars), Lives of the Saints (Canadian, okay), Becoming ( I liked it), Brooklyn (great fiction) and The Great Alone (amazing descriptions of Alaska…but another weak ending).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 5:19 pm

      Thank you, Donna, for sharing what you’ve read so far this year. From your list, I read Becoming. I’ll check availability for the other books at my library. I haven’t watched the movie The Art of Racing in the Rain and don’t plan to. I don’t give a high score for Love Walked In either. Hope you’re staying well and having fun with Zoom.


  9. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond March 29, 2020 / 6:02 pm

    Hi Natalie, I’ve been indulging in reading whilst in isolation. I’ve not heard of any on your list so there are many for me to try. Recently I’ve read A Million Dreams, Food of Love, The Light in the Hallway, Five French Hens and the LJ Ross DCI Ryan series. Take care and stay healthy #lifethisweek


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 6:14 pm

      Hi Sue, It’s wonderful that there are so many books available. Thank you for sharing your recent reads. I’ll check for their availability at my library. Hope you’re staying safe and healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Natalie April 1, 2020 / 8:02 pm

          Thank you, Sue, for another terrific MLSTL link-up. Stay safe and well my friend!


  10. Deborah March 29, 2020 / 6:51 pm

    I’m sure I’ve read most of Linwood Barclay’s books. I certainly own quite a few but don’t think I’ve heard of Bad Move. I must check it out!


    • Natalie March 29, 2020 / 6:56 pm

      I think it’s his first crime novel after he left the Toronto Star. I find that over the years, with many more crime novels published, his writing style becomes less humourous and more to the point as a crime novelist.


  11. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid March 29, 2020 / 9:43 pm

    And The Mountains Echoed is still on the top of my to-read list and I am very excited about Daisy Jones being made into a TV series – I think it will work really well. Super impressed with your 2020 reading, I’m secretly hoping that a positive of staying home will be that I’ll be able to read a lot more.


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 11:20 am

      Hi Sammie, I hope you get to read and cuddle your cute dog a lot more during this time. Stay safe and well! Thank you for stopping by.


  12. Vanessa March 30, 2020 / 2:15 am

    I don’t really have the best concentration right now to read… plenty of unread on my bookshelves if I get the urge though.


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 11:23 am

      Yes, it’s a challenging time. I hope you find something that makes you smile. Thank you, Vanessa, for stopping by. Be well!


  13. trentpmcd March 30, 2020 / 10:11 am

    There are pluses to social isolation… Glad you are getting a lot of reading accomplished. Unless things change, you may hit your 36 by July…


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 11:25 am

      Thankfully there are innumerable books to keep me entertained and educated. I hope things change for the better soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lisa Dorenfest ~ One Ocean At A Time March 30, 2020 / 3:59 pm

    I adore books and appreciate these good recommendations. Your categorizations came just in time. The Snowmen has caught my eye. I just finished the hysterical ‘Oops! The Art of Learning from Mistakes and Adventures’ by sportscaster Kent Sterling and the fantasy fiction Starless Sea. Currently reading The 10,000 Doors of January. Glad to know you are safe and healthy.


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 4:56 pm

      Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your recently read books. The titles caught my attention. I’ll check for their availability at my library. I’m glad to hear from you and know that you and the Captain are safe. Stay well!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Darlene March 30, 2020 / 5:29 pm

    You’ve read some great books so far this year. Starlight, by Richard Wagamese, is a book I’ve wanted to read. I enjoyed And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m currently reading, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron and loving it! Books will get us through this crisis.xo


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 5:39 pm

      I agree with you, Darlene. Books will get us through this challenging time. Thank you for sharing your current reading. I added it to my list. Stay safe and well in Spain.


  16. Debbie from Deb's World March 30, 2020 / 6:44 pm

    What a fabulous list Natalie, I must say I haven’t read any of these! I’m also finding that staying at home more means I’m reading a lot more! It’s pure escapism and I enjoy the time in my sunroom in the gorgeous autumn sunshine at the same time. #lifethisweek


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 7:34 pm

      Your sun room is a wonderful space, Deb. If you’re interested in reading books by Canadian authors, there are some on my list.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Natalie April 1, 2020 / 12:02 pm

          Yes, I’ve got lots of book suggestions from the comments. It’s fantastic.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. Laurie March 30, 2020 / 7:11 pm

    I am looking for more reading material right now since I have been reading A LOT lately. Several trips were canceled for me too. Hope we get to make them later.


    • Natalie March 30, 2020 / 7:37 pm

      Thankfully there are innumerable books for us to read. I’m optimistic that places will eventually be opened up and we’ll be able to make trips again.


  18. Michele @michelevosberg.com March 31, 2020 / 5:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing your list. I jotted down a few! I look forward to reading the new Lousie Penny. next up is Louise Erdrich’s new book. I am able to download books on my library app. I also have a stockpile at home waiting to be red. It is a fantastic way to spend time while quarantined! I recently like Where the Crawdad’s Sing and Say Nothing, which is about the Irish Troubles. Stay well!


    • Natalie March 31, 2020 / 7:26 pm

      Reading is a great activity to do while quarantined. At the very least it takes our mind of the grim news. Thank you, Michele, for sharing your recent books. Stay safe and healthy!


  19. Lydia C. Lee March 31, 2020 / 5:49 pm

    I loved Daisy Jones in Audio – read by 6 or 7 actors – it’s great! #MLSTL


    • Natalie March 31, 2020 / 7:31 pm

      Audio books with professional actors reading them are so good. I enjoyed the clever format of the novel and the story.


  20. Jo March 31, 2020 / 8:46 pm

    That’s a good list – across a few genres. There are a couple of these that are on my list to read (Daisy Jones & The Flat Share), but others that sound fascinating too. Bad Move is one that also sounds right up my alley.


    • Natalie March 31, 2020 / 9:05 pm

      Those three books that you mentioned are very good choices, Jo. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Min @ Write of the Middle March 31, 2020 / 9:46 pm

    Wow you get through a lot of books Natalie. Thank you for a great resource for some books to add to my reading list. I’m doing everything I can to stay safe. Hope you are too. Sending hugs! xoxo


    • Natalie April 1, 2020 / 11:42 am

      Hi Min, I hope you and your family are well. Thank you for your virtual hugs. My hugs right back! Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. I’m catching up after those working years when I didn’t have much time to read at a leisure pace 🙂


  22. Erica/Erika March 31, 2020 / 10:37 pm

    Hi Natalie, Books coming to my ereader also make me smile. I get it. I just started “One Drum” Richard Wagamese’s last book (unfinished) before he died. I have become a HUGE fan of his writing. First few pages already filled with gems. What is your opinion of “Starlight?” What is your opinion of “At the mountain’s edge?” We lived in the Yukon, so curious. Thank you for sharing. Take care and stay safe. xx


    • Natalie April 1, 2020 / 11:47 am

      Hi Erica/ Erika, I added One Drum to my list. Starlight is one of Wagamese’s unfinished books before he died, too. Beautiful writing and imagery throughout. At the Mountain’s Edge is based on the Klondike Gold Rush. I think G. Graham did a fantastic research job to write the novel. Bravery and love in a very difficult time. I gave both books 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5. I’d be interested in your thoughts if you decide to read these books.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. leannelc April 1, 2020 / 12:32 am

    Wow Natalie that’s a really diverse and interesting collection of books you’ve read this year. I tend to stick to the same genres – and I love books that don’t strain my brain too hard. You’ve definitely stepped up with this challenge and I’ll be interested to see what else you read over the year.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊


    • Natalie April 1, 2020 / 11:55 am

      Thanks, Leanne, for hosting MLSTL and sharing. Reading books that don’t strain our brain too hard is good, too. It’s like escapism or light entertainment that we all need from time to time. I’ve discovered many pleasant surprises when I explore different book genres.


  24. Denyse Whelan April 1, 2020 / 4:35 am

    You are a widely-read person and I see it is for learning as well as enjoyment. I admit, still, I am much better at listening to books on Audible and am currently listening to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. The fact that Tom Hanks is the narrator makes it even better.
    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, the optional prompt is 14/51 Self-Care Stories #2. 6.4.2020 and I hope to see you link up then too. Denyse.


    • Natalie April 1, 2020 / 11:59 am

      Hi Denyse, Tom Hanks is one of my favourite actors. My library has a lot of holds on The Dutch House, both paper book and audio/ e-book. Thanks for sharing your current reading/ listening.


  25. Suger April 2, 2020 / 6:11 pm

    Such a wonderful wrap-up as always. Hope you’re staying well. x


    • Natalie April 2, 2020 / 6:45 pm

      Thank you, Suger, for your kind comment. I greatly appreciate it. I’m well. Hope you’re well, too.


  26. dawnkinster April 6, 2020 / 10:29 am

    Wow. I need to print this out, such great ideas for good reads here! I have not been able to focus enough to read since, well, since all of this COVID stuff became prominent on the news. You’d think I’d use this time to get lots read…I have a pretty big book read goal for 2020…but I have started the book I’m reading now at least 3 times because I can’t remember what I read yesterday.

    Thanks for inspiring me!


    • Natalie April 6, 2020 / 10:55 am

      You’re welcome, Dawn. It takes time to regain focus for reading after the pandemic began. I intentionally spend less time on the news and more on leisure activities this month. I read what I feel like, sometimes a few pages, sometimes more. No pressure, just take it easy and enjoy the moment.


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