A look back at 2020 in books

I’m always looking forward to the Goodreads ‘my year in books‘ report, although it has less stats every year, or so it seems. I just love to see the numbers and compare them to my previous years. On my personal Dutch blog, I have been sharing these stats and my five to ten favorite books of the year for more than 5 years now. While I was writing that post for 2020, I decided that I would split it in two for In Another Era. So I’ll still publish a post with my favorite reads of 2020, but today I’m focusing on my reading stats of 2020.

My general reading stats

  • I have read a total of 39 books in 2020, one more than in 2019. I read the highest number of books in 2018, that year I read 40 books. On average I read 3,4 books a month.
  • Those 39 books counted for 14.495 pages, 2.000 pages less than last year. So however I read more books, it isn’t my best reading year (as the graphic shows below, I read more pages in the three previous years). In this crazy year, I couldn’t always focus on my book.
Screenshot of the number of pages I’ve read since I have a Goodreads account.
  • The reason I’ve read less pages is quite simple: I read smaller books this year. On average my books were 371 pages long, compared to 434 pages last year!
  • Normally, I pick up a few very big books every year, especially when reading the next installment in the Outlander series. This year, I didn’t manage to grab the next Outlander at the library, and the longest book I read was ‘Sovereign‘ of ‘only’ 583 pages. That’s a big book, but it doesn’t come close to any of my previous longest reads of above 1.000 pages.
  • The shortest book was ‘A Paris affair‘ by Tatiana De Rosnay. A collection of short stories of 114 pages.
  • I gave my books an average rating of 3.6 stars, slightly more than in 2019 and 2018.


  • COVID-19 made sure that the library was closed a while and that I couldn’t visit when it was opened again because we still needed to work from home (and my library is in the city were I work). So I read a lot more physical books from my shelves. I finished 7 books from my shelves and I only bought one new physical copy (‘a tapestry of treason‘) as I haven’t been in a book shop since February.
  • In August I bought my new kindle Paperwhite e-reader (and I started this blog :)). Since then I have read 11 e-books, some of them I received as a review copy via Netgalley.
  • I read almost exclusively in English this year. Because the books on my shelves and on my Kindle are all English and since I didn’t want to linger in the library for too long so I went directly to the English section. I only read 6 of the 39 books in Dutch. FYI: Some 4 years ago, I read in Dutch only.


  • 3 books received the full 5-stars and have become favorites that I want to reread one day.
  • 22 books I enjoyed a lot so they got 4 stars.
  • 9 books were just solid 3-star reads
  • I didn’t like 5 books so they only got 2 stars. I especially disliked ‘the secret history‘ by Donna Tartt (review still to come) and ‘the Boleyn bride‘.

Setting and era

If we look at the settings of all the historical fiction books I read (I didn’t count contemporary books for this section), it’s no surprise that England tops the list:

  • England: 26 books
  • France: 2 books
  • Italy: 2 books
  • Russia: 2 books
  • Iceland: 1 book
  • Jamaica: 1 book
  • Germany: 1 book
  • Spain: 1 book

After England, Italy, France and Russia have always been my favorite settings, but this year there was a clear focus on the English history. But I did read about very diverse ages. My top eras are the 16th century (my favourite era) and the 20th century (world wars, Russian Revolution).

  • Ancient Greece: 2 books
  • 6th century: 1 book
  • 8th century: 1 book
  • 10h century: 1 book
  • 11th century: 1 book
  • 12th century: 3 books (all about Eleanor Of aquitaine)
  • 13th century: 1 book
  • 14th century: 2 books
  • 15th century: 1 book
  • 16th century: 6 books
  • 17th century: 5 books
  • 18th century: 2 books
  • 19th century: 2 books
  • 20th century: 6 books

I’m proud that I’ve read about so many diverse time periods! It’s the first time that I keep track of the setting and era in which a historical story takes place. So it’ll be nice to compare these stats to the one of next year.

Most surprisingly, I didn’t read any book about Ancient Rome, although I always enjoy these books so much. But I believe this is due to the fact that I’ve read all the books about Rome that were on my list, so I need to seek out new books. A fine argument to pick up ‘I Claudius’ from my classics club list soon enough!


  • I read about some formidable queens, of which Eleanor Of Aquitaine tops the list since I read three books about her life. I also discovered the story of Queen Mary Of Teck, Queen Eleanor Of Provence, Queen Langueroth of Strathclyde, Queen Emma Of Normandy, the current Queen Elizabeth II and of course the Tudor Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I.
  • I enjoyed stories about the female painter Artemisia Gentileschi and also Titian was a side character in ‘in the company of the courtisan‘.
  • Other ‘famous’ or real people I read about are Elizabeth Mortimer, Mary Shelton (lady in-waiting to Elizabeth I), Elizabeth Howard, Frances Howard and her husband Robert Carr, George Villiers, James I and of course Henry VIII. I might forget a few :).

Do you keep track of your reading stats? How many books did you read in 2020? Which one is your favourite?

4 thoughts on “A look back at 2020 in books

  1. That’s a great range of time periods! I read a lot of books set in the 16th and 17th centuries last year too, but nothing about Ancient Rome either, which is unusual. Most of the books I read were also set in England, so I’m going to try to read more books set in other countries this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought I was just imagining that the Goodreads stats were less than usual! 🙂 And I thought I was the only reader who disliked The Secret History. I really enjoyed reading through your impressive stats! Happy reading in 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

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