2020 In Review

A Thinker

A Thinker, A Young Roman Monk (1848) Alexandre Cabanel
~ source Wikiart

2020 Reading Stats:

Hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner

Number Of Books You Read: 16  (four books better than my worst year)


Number of Re-Reads: 


Genre You Read The Most From: Classics


Best in Books

Best book you read in 2020: The Wind in the Willows

Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’tThe Big Four by Agatha Christie.  Just too overdone, a spy novel on steroids.

Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2020: The Lord of the Flies  I remembered reading it in high school and knew that it was disturbing but I’d forgotten quite how much.


Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) in 2020: The Iliad, however it’s probably not a fair choice because I didn’t finish it so it’s not on my list.  I was hosting a read-along of it when my mom passed away and everything kind of came to a grinding halt.  I do intend to finish off though, I’m just not sure when.

Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender:  I started to read P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster with  Thank you, Jeeves and The Code of the Woosters from my Omnibus book.  I thoroughly enjoyed both!

Favorite new author you discovered in 2020:  I’m going to put Angela Thirkell here but I can’t say she’s my favourite.  I wasn’t that enamoured with High Rising.  Hopefully the next book by her is much better.


Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/ out of your comfort zone:  The Mad Gardener’s Song.  In spite of having good intentions, I don’t read alot of poetry.  I’m glad to be able to fit in a couple of poems per year.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year: Laugh if you will, but I’m going to say The Wind in the Willows.

Book you read in 2020 that you are most likley to reread next year: The Wind in the Willows.  What a lovely read that makes you comfortable and cozy and uplifted and happy all at the same time!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020: Definity High Rising.  Whoever does the artwork on these books is very talented.

High Rising

Most memorable characters of 2020:  Ratty and Mole from The Wind in the Willows!!  Such fabulous friends!

Most beautifully written book read in 2020: 
The Wind in the Willows. It takes you into another world that you don’t want to leave!

Most-thought provoking/ life-changing book of 2020: Hmmm …. this is more difficult but I’d have to say The Lord of the Flies. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more character development — the boys’ characters seemed ingrained from the start and didn’t seemed changed by their experience, only magnified.  But it certainly gave some good food for thought.


Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read:  Well, I’d have to say At The Sign of the Cat and Racket but only because it’s the first Honoré Balzac novel I’ve read.  And it’s the first in his Human Comedy series which consists of 96 works and 48 unfinished works.  I will be stunned if I manage to get to them all but I enjoyed this first one.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2020: This one is easy to choose the book: The Wind in the Willows.  But to choose the quote?  Oh, there are so many of them.  Most people are most familiar with:  “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” however, I think my favourite is: “All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.”  I believe if we could see every day with such eyes, it would be a life well-lived.  Yet : “He saw clearly how plain and simple – how narrow, even – it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one’s existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.” is wonderful because it shows us how important small, simple things can be and that it’s important to have something to ground us in this world that can turn things topsy-turvy.  I believe that it’s family and home (God is sort of a given) ~~ Kenneth Grahame

Shortest/longest book you read in 2020: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (704 pgs.) & The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (197 pgs.)  

Book that shocked you the most: The Lord of the Flies.  I’d remembered from high school that it was gross, but it was truly appalling.

OTP of the year: Oh, I’m stumped here.  I have a few choices, such as Bundle and Bill from The Seven Dials Mystery, but I disliked their pairing.  So nothing for this year.

Favorite non-romantic relationship:  Oh, definitely Ratty and Mole and their wonderfully unselfish friendship.

Favorite book you read in 2020 from an author you’ve read previously: Ooo, difficult as I’ve realized I had quite a few new-to-me authors this year.  So I’d have to choose The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.

Best book you read in 2020 that you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.  Lots of fun and drama!

Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year: The Wind in the Willows.  It’s not a masterpiece but the prose created a dreamy world at times.  Just lovely!

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read: Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.  Need I say more?

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2020: It’s difficult to cry when you’re reading mostly mysteries.  I’m going to put The Phoenix and the Turtle by William Shakespeare.  It didn’t make me cry but it was poignant.

Hidden gem of the year: The Wind in the Willows although it wasn’t particularly hidden.  It was simply because it had been so long since I’d read it, I had forgotten how lovely it was!

Most unique book you read in 2020: Well, it wasn’t particularly unique but I’d say The Mysteries of Udolpho as it’s something I wouldn’t normally read but was very entertaining.

Book that made you the most mad: The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  It is continually disappointing how brutal human beings can be to each other.  And it doesn’t seem to change.
Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene Reading Ambrosius Benson (c. 1530-40) Public Domain

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2020:  Hmmmm ……  So hard to choose.  But I’ll say Kim at Fancied Freedom, another classic book lover.  I also can’t leave without a shout-out to Nick at One Catholic Life.  For many years now, he’s been hosting read-alongs that encompass the year and make it very easy for readers to make it through intimidating tomes such as Les Miserables and War and Peace.  The books are shorter this year but the challenge is just as helpful and interesting.  Check out his Chapter-A-Day Readalong for 2021.


 I’m not sure if you noticed by I managed to put a blogroll on the side bar of this blog.  Unfortunately it doesn’t do updates like my Blogger blogroll did but at least it’s there.  Finally.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2020:  
It wasn’t a spectacular year for reviews, I must admit but the best one of the few I managed was The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.


Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: Well, the wonderful discussions began with The Iliad read-along which I hosted.  Sadly my mom passed away in March which brought the read-along to an abrupt halt.  I know many participants went on to finish but I still haven’t yet.  I will though.

Best event that you participated in: My own event, The Iliad read-along, but only because most of my year derailed because of life circumstances and I didn’t participate in anything else.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2020:  I have no great answer to this one but perhaps some inspiration for next year that happened at the end of this year.  I’ve already scheduled many of my reads for the first half of 2021.

Most popular post this year on your blog: The most looked at post that was posted this year was my Mysteries of Udolpho Read-Along (279 views); my most popular review posted this year was The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (206 views).  And my most popular review overall was once again Apology for Idlers by Robert Louis Stevenson (with a whopping 946 views).


Post you wished got a little more love:  None.  People will look at what resonates with them and that’s okay with me.

Best bookish discovery:  I’m not sure if others have noticed but it was very hard to get books this year, especially for someone like me who likes to investigate used book stores in the U.S.  Not happening with closed borders.  I’m going to go way out there and say a little book on basic economics that is often used for high schoolers but is beneficial for everyone: What Ever Happened to Penny Candy.  I’ve started it and it’s excellent. And it’s made me firmly believe that most politicians have no concept of economics.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year: No.  My Back to the Classics Challenge (one book read) and my Deal-Me-In Challenge (two items read) were almost a complete wash.  There’s always next year.
Reading the Letter

Reading The Letter (1892) Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky
~ source Wikiart

Looking Ahead

One book you didn’t get to in 2020 but will be your number 1 priority in 2021: Oh heavens, this is embarrassing.  The Last Chronicle of Barset to complete my Chronices of Barset challenge of years ago.  I said this last year.  Embarrassed broken record.

Book you are most anticipating for 2021 (non-debut): I must say The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.  I loved Elizabeth and her German Garden (and am bugged that I didn’t review it), so I think I’ll love my second read of her works too!

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2021: The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope.  A broken record and an annoying parrot.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2021:  To read more.  Life seems to be giving me more challenges and delights that take time away from my reading.  Some are welcomed and some are time-consuming but I hope/pray/ beg that I’ll have more time to read.


Wishing everyone clear minds, happy thoughts and books galore in 2021!!

Previous reviews:

Year in Review 2019

Year in Review 2018

Year in Review 2017

Year in Review 2016

Year in Review 2015

48 thoughts on “2020 In Review

  1. OMG, I‘m so sorry to hear about your mom.

    Though, congrats on tackling both “Udolpho“ and the Iliad in the same year … and even finishing one of them.

    And isn‘t that cover of “High Rising“ absolutely lovely? I read it last year (similar to you, liked but didn‘t ou-and-out love it) — had been planning to follow up with “Christmas at High Rising“ this holiday season, but didn‘t quite get there. Well, there‘s always Christmas 2021 … 🙂 (Hopefully at the tail end of an overall better year for all of us!)

    Thank God (and Mr. Wodehouse) for Jeeves and Wooster!!

    • Thanks for your condolences, TA. She had lived a good long life. It was probably a blessing it happened before Covid. I don’t even want to think about what it would have been like if it had happened after.

      I didn’t know there was a Christmas at High Rising (although I read Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm, a collection of short stories, last year and wasn’t that impressed. Hopefully High Rising will be better). I’ll have to include it for next Christmas but I’d hoped to go through the Thirkell books in published order. We’ll see …..

      Yes, God bless Mr. Wodehouse and Jerome K. Jerome! They make most things better. Happy 2021!

      • Happy 2021!

        “Christmas at High Rising“ is a slim volume of short stories / vignettes, ca. 15-20 pages on average; less than 150 pages total. It got sidelined by a number of republished Golden Age Christmas mysteries hereabouts lately, but I have every expectation of getting to it eventually. I don‘t know where it fits within the universe of the series, but since I doubt I‘ll be reading all of it, anyway, I don‘t greatly care. It just seems a nice way of returning to that world in bite-sized, holiday-themed chunks — and I liked the Christmas-themed chapters in “High Rising“.

        (Not the biggest fan of “Cold Comfort Farm“, either, incidentally. So it never was overwhelmingly likely I‘d read that particular Christmas collection … even less so now.)

        Here‘s to a great reading journey in 2021!

        • Only one of the stories in “Christmas At Cold Comfort Farm” was about Cold Comfort Farm, so you might be safe, lol! It was sort of cheap, I thought.

          Thanks for the wishes! I’m reading already!

          • Excellent! 🙂 What‘s your first book in 2021?

            Still not sure about Gibbons; I suspect it‘s her style as much as the farm itself that‘s not a perfect fit for me. Anyway, thanks for letting me know! 😀

          • I’ve started to read Tevye the Dairyman and some of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. What is your first book of the year?

            Gibbons style is unique. It’s not one that would normally appeal to me but I became used to it after Nightingale Wood. I described her writing in my review as an explosion between Dodie Smith and Virginia Woolf. Her style is definitely hard to pin down and while I would not say she is a favourite author, her writing has some appeal for me and I do want to read Westwood this month.

          • I had the dreidel pick my first book of the year as part of the Festive Tasks game — it‘s going to be J.J. Connington‘s “Mystery at Lynden Sands“. I read Connington‘s dystopia “Nordenholt‘s Million“ in the fall of 2020 and decided to check out some of his more mainstream writing, to see whether some of the things that I‘d found moderately unsettling in NM are present in his other books, too, regardless of their subject matter. By the same token, Connington is one of the (then well-known, now almost totally forgotten) Golden Age mystery writers that I‘m particularly unfamiliar with; and there are those who would suggest this is an omission on my part, so I‘m going to take a look at whether there is indeed something for me to remedy.

            I‘ll also be starting soon on the (M)DWS group / buddy read of “The Three Musketeers“ … and I‘ll be following the progress of the various Gibbons reads. It‘ll take quite a lot to make me want to go near another book by her, though; I don‘t mind the Virginia Woolf aspects of her writing, nor certain superficial similarities to Barbara Pym — or, for that matter, Thirkell or Winifred Holtby‘s “South Riding“ —, but her and my sense of humor simply don‘t synch; truth be told I find hers rather annoying. (And yes, I realize that “Cold Comfort Farm“ is intended as satire … let‘s just say to me the satire mostly falls flat.) But of course I still hope everybody else is going to enjoy their further exploration of her work! 🙂

            Other than that, I‘m hoping to get to Mr. Obama‘s memoirs soon … as well as Kamala Harris‘ “The Truths We Hold“.

          • It sounds interesting. I’m feeling guilty for reading so many Agatha Christie’s last year. I have to add some more “meat” this year.

            I wish I had time to read The Three Musketeers again! It was lots of fun! And it will be interesting to find out what I think of Westwood. Nightingale Wood bugged me until I managed to find things to appreciate about it.

          • Re: the comfort reads: that‘s how I felt about 2020, too, when I posted my mid-year “year in review“ post, but when I began to realize that good intentions alone wouldn‘t be able to change anything about it, I just let it go — it just was that kind of year. I have every intention of giving more love to my more challenging (multi-year / indefinite-time) projects this year again, though (Around the World; Freedom and Future Library); I‘ve even come up with a new blog project in support of the Around the World challenge (Diversity Bingo — I‘ll try to get through the categories in the space of a year, but if I don‘t … I don‘t. Pressure is the last thing I need from my reading.)

            And of course the (M)DWS group reads are going to spice things up with a nice sprinkling of classics … though I won‘t be doing all of them, and I can already see that Christine‘s proposed schedule for “The Three Musketeers“ isn‘t going to work for me, so I‘ll just read it at my own pace; probably in a combination of printed text (my French language paperback) and audiobook of some fashion or other.

            I‘m not sure “bugged me until I managed to find things to appreciate about it“ would be much of an incentive to me to read more books by a given author — along the lines of “too many books, too little time“, I‘d probably just say “thank you for the experience“ and move on. 🙂 Though I admit that your approach is much worthier of course!

          • Oh, you can read French! Lucky you! My dream to be able to read/speak two (or three) languages instead of flounder around in them. 🙄

            I do know what you mean about too many books and too little time. Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes I get pulled in directions I shouldn’t. I need to keep that in mind this year and keep on track!

          • You have the advantage that your mother tongue is the modern world‘s lingua franca … where that isn‘t the case, you‘re forced to learn foreign languages to get along in the world, so we have English and French drummed into our heads from a young and impressionable age onwards! 🙂 (I really enjoyed those classes, though.)

  2. What a wonderful post! Wind in the Willows is something and no praise is enough for this marvelous piece of fiction! I did like High Rising (Sorry to disappoint) and felt it’s a good easy breezy read! Here’s wishing you all the happiness, health with loads of laughter and books on 2021

    • I didn’t dislike High Risings, just found it was okay. From the hype, I’d expected more.

      Wishing you a year bubbling with happiness and wonder, my sis!

    • Thanks, Bookstooge! I hopefully will have an increase in reviews in 2021 and definitely an increase in reading! Have a blessed 2021!

    • It didn’t feel that wonderful but I’m comparing it to previous years. Perhaps I should just be happy with it. Yes, please read The Wind in the Willows! You won’t be disappointed! Wishing you a wonderful 2021!

  3. Clearly I need to read The Wind in the Willows. It is a category on the 2021 Back to the Classics challenge, so that box is already ticked! Happy New Year Cleo. 😀

  4. I love reading these year in review posts! You’re not alone in not finishing reading projects this year. I dropped most of the ones I had planned to participate in when the pandemic hit.

    I enjoyed The Wind in the Willows too! I think I may have mentioned that on your review post for the book? Hmmm….. Anyway, I love the video of it too that has Vanessa Redgraves in it. There is just something so peaceful about both the book and the movie. Even despite crazy Mr. Toad. LOL

    Oh I hope you love The Enchanted April. I already have it in the works to do a read-along for it in April. I plan to share a line-up of read-alongs I plan to do on my blog in the next couple of weeks. Great Expectations is still on as well. Anyway, after this weird and crazy year of 2020, I think something like The Enchanted April will be a great read! I love both the book and the movie! I’ve read the book a couple of times and watched the movie I don’t know how many times! So I highly recommend watching the movie after you read the book.

    • Oh, Karen, I can’t wait to read what you have lined up. I’d still like to read Great Expectations. I was thinking of switching out reading David Copperfield for Great Expectatiions or Bleak House in the Chapter-A-Day read-along.

      I saw The Enchanted April movie ages ago and remember little about it except that I loved it. So I’m sure I’ll love the book more. I can’t wait to get reading! Have a wonderful 2021!

  5. Wind In The Willows is pretty un-put-downable! You get no grief from me on that one!

    That is a very lovely cover for High Rising. I still haven’t read any Thirkell. I should try to change that.

    Happy New Year! Here’s to a better 2021 all around.

    • I almost feel like following up The Wind in the Willows with Winnie-the-Pooh!

      I do hope my next Thirkell is better, otherwise I might be moving on. And I do want to like her.

      You have an amazing 2021 with lots reading and fun!

    • You know, I was very disappointed by it. I’d read Golding was trying to counter the “children are all innocent and it’s their experiences that make them bad” philosophy. But I found there was little development in the book. Most of the boys had awful tendencies before they even got to the island and that psychopathy was only magnified by their experiences, not created by them. I’ve heard Golding has other books that are better but I probably won’t be picking them up for awhile.

      Thanks a bunch for the link. I’ll go and read it right away …. it’s always nice to read something uplifting.

      Have a happy new year and a blessed 2021!

      • Lord of the Flies traumatized me when I read it in school. I feel justified by this post and comment to decide never to read it again. Life is too short.

        • It was disturbing the evil that can be in human beings. I’m like you …. life is too short and we don’t need to read it in a book … sadly, it’s all around us. I’d rather read about something that inspires us to be better people.

    • Hi Beth! Happy New Year to you! I’m looking forward to your wrap-up. I always love learning what you’re reading because while you have eclectic tastes, your choices are always excellent! I’m probably more eclectic than I think! 🙄😬

      I really enjoyed The Mysteries of Udolpho. The ending was a **little** tedious with the pangs of love quite apparent, but mostly it’s a romp with damsels in peril, dark dangerous rogues, escapes, banditti and much more. It’s not taxing mentally but Radcliffe is very good at writing and I will definitely read more of her novels, hopefully all of them.

      Happy reading in 2021!

  6. Wind in the Willows is a good answer for many questions! I didn’t know you’d started reading Jeeves books this year. I have a handful, and it’s highly likely that one of them will end up as my humorous classic for Back to the Classics. Happy Reading!

    • Thanks, Brenton and thanks for the wishes. I will dearly need them! Looking forward to your informative posts throughout the year!

  7. I read The Wind & the Willows a long time ago, I should re-read it. 🙂 I did watch the old Disney animated adaptation last year and it was quite charming!

    Yours is one of my favorite blogs, Cleo – I’m always happy to see your posts show up in my feed. I hope 2021 brings you many blessings and enjoyable reading! 🙂

    • Aw, thanks for the kind words, Marian! I do hope I’ll be doing more of them in 2021. And I can’t wait to see what books you’re going to read in 2021. I’m really glad you’re branching out. You inspire me to add more non-fiction to my reading plans. All the best for 2021!

  8. I tell people all the time: you don’t know how funny English can be if you’ve not read P.G. Wodehouse. Glad you found him! 🙂 Your lookback makes me realize I really should read Wind in the Willows!

    • Yes, I FINALLY read him! So strange that I waited so long considering there are so few truly excellent humorous writers.

      You can never go wrong reading The Wind in the Willows!

  9. Well, when Wind in the Willows is your favorite read of the year…then it was a good reading year. It was good medicine for such a disappointing year. But here’s to a happier new year!! Glad we can maybe read some books together this year. Let me know if you still want to buddy read any Medieval titles. I’m flexible.

    • I did add the medieval reads to my reading schedule. I’m ready to go with A Distant Mirror in March. And I was wondering if you’d be willing to read Orlando Furioso? I’ve always wanted to read it but need a push. If you’re too full for this year, maybe as a tack-on next January??

    • Thanks so much for your kind wishes! And I do hope you like The Wind in the Willows even more than the graphic version. All the best to you in 2021!

    • Oh yes, Jillian, if you like to be taken back to a time when things were simpler and enjoyment was keener, definitely read it! It’s wonderful!

      I know Radcliffe’s other novels won’t be as good, but I’m already looking forward to reading them!

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