What did you read this year?
Did you read more or less than last year?
Personally, my list of books I went through is significantly shorter this year then it was in 2019– partly intentional and partly due to changing life circumstances. For example, I got a job which no longer allowed me to listen to audio books or podcasts while working. Also, I was camping for a couple months during the summer and didn’t have access to a library. That said, a portion of it was also a deliberate attempt to cut back on my reading because I feel like I am such a book lover that I can, at times, spend more time reading about how to do things than I do actually doing them.
And I wanted to change that.
I do still love books and all that I can learn from them, it just needs to be tempered with a little more hands-on action! So how do the numbers stack up? In 2019 I read 64 books, 4 of which were fiction. In 2020 I read 22 books– 21 non-fiction and 1 fiction. An astounding decrease in the amount read…. Hopefully that correlated to an increase in projects completed and skills learned!
Favorite Books From 2020
You may notice a couple of trends if you compare the reading list from 2020 and 2019. First off, most of the books I read for relaxing “down time” are still non fiction, mostly histories and accounts of explorations. I’ve always been fascinated by what you can pick up about a time period by reading an account of a persons life or specific event.
Secondly, I seem to have this morbid fascination with reading about man eaters! Haha I know I enjoy adventure and hunting stories, but I never realized how many books I read about hunting down man-eaters (mostly felines) that go on killing sprees. In 2019 I read 5 books recounting tales of hunting man-eating animals, in 2020 they comprised 3 of the 22 books I read.
I guess they fill that realm that occupies the nature side of things (you can actually learn lot if looking for it: the hunter needs to be pretty in tune with their surroundings and know wildlife well in order to successfully kill animals that are actively hunting them), overcoming challenges, and the suspense/thriller genre that most people turn to murder mysteries for. . . At any rate, they seem disproportional represented in my reading!
As far as favorites go: my favorite book of 2020 that I read to in the how-to realm was Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel. It’s an older book, but it definitely got my wheels turning and will likely result in me putting in a lot of effort to dig a large hole in the ground this next summer. . . Growing and preserving food is a fundamental skill in my mind, and frankly makes me giddy thinking about stocking a cellar full of food. We’ll see if the magic wears off when I have to put in all the work for it instead of just dream about it! Along those same lines, I also REALLY enjoyed Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying,Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation which opened my mind to possibilities that I hadn’t thought about. Read them both.
Outside of the how-to realm, my top books this year were Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kemmerer and Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich. I particularly mention Secondhand Time because we tend to think of the communist russia, the cold war, and the collapse of the USSR from a single perspective. . .the American one. It gives you a very fascinating glimpse into the phyche of the russian people and what it meant to be a soviet. Not from the typical perspective from the other side of all this, but from the common people who lived and died as soviets (the book is a compilation of interviews the author had with various individuals recounting some of what they had lived through). As a warning though, it also has some deeply disturbing parts and you’ll read in graphic detail about the horrific atrocities that some people have and will inflict on others. Not a feel good book.
If you read any particularly good books this year let me know about them, I’m always looking for a good read!
2020 Books in Review
- Composting Toilets: a Guide to Options, Design, Installation, and Use by Gord & Ann Baird
- The Grand Canyon Expedition by John Wesley Powell
- Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
- Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets: The Remarkable Discovery of Assyrian Tablets That reveal The Fate of “The Long Lost Tribes of Israel” by E. Raymond Capt
- The Year-Round Hoophouse: Polytunnels for all Seasons and all Climates by Pam Dawling
- Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying,Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
- Navajo Native Dyes: Their Preparation and Use by Nonabah G. Bryan & Stella Young
- Death in the Dark Continent by Peter Hathaway Capstick
- Making Native American Hunting, Fighting, and Survival Tools by Monte Burch
- Bush Craft by Mors Kochanski
- Montana Native Plants and Early Peoples by Jeff Hart
- Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel
- The Last Ivory Hunter by Peter Hathaway Capstick
- Death in the Long Grass by Peter Hathaway Capstick
- David Thompson’s Narrative of His Explorations in Western America, 1784-1812 by Joseph Burr Tyrrell
- Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
- Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
- Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
- *The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin Mckinley
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts