Books I’ve read (or listened to) in 2020

I miss reading for pleasure. Alongside the standard lament of being too busy/tired/lazy, one of the professional hazards of being an academic is having to read “lots of stuff” (broadly defined). Previously, I have tried to identify a set of books in January to read in the year ahead, with minimal success. But with the multitude of challenges from the last year including little, if any, travelling, I have made a conscious effort to chip away at the stack of books that I’d been collecting over recent years.

As you see from the combination of physical books and audiobooks listed below — including a number of re-reads, annotated by [⟳] — there’s a good chunk of both fiction (largely sci-fi/fantasy) and non-fiction, aligning to some of the key themes that have defined this year(!). I was actually surprised at how many books I’d finished this year when I compiled this list; but sets an ambitious target for attacking the “never even touched” book pile next year.

So, in reading/listening order:

Whilst reluctant to formally rate or rank any of the above titles, my favourites of 2020 were as follows:

  • HHhH (2013) by Laurent Binet, which recounts Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. The title of the book is an initialism for “Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich” (“Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”), a quip about Heydrich in SS circles.
  • Brian Limmond’s a.k.a.Limmy‘s autobiography (2019), offering intimate, candid and hilarious insight into the life and world of the Scottish comedian.
  • And an honourable mention to the excellent The Broken Earth trilogy (2016-2017) by N. K. Jemisin, thrice winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in consecutive years for these books; I have no doubt I will re-read them again in the near future.


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