• Carla Ra

My 2020 Reading Recap

Happy new year, everyone! I hope 2021 can be the world’s healing year. Let us be patient and strong to rebuild a better life after this hard year that was 2020.


Today I will do a reading recap of last year, to share with you my stats and my top 10 best sci-fi books I’ve read in 2020. So let’s jump into it.



I was considering joining Goodreads for months, I’ve even signed up an account, but I gave up on the idea. Mainly because I was interested in their recommendation algorithm, but then I realized I already have a massive list of books to be read (TBR), so no use for Amazon’s AI recommendation system for me. Another reason is that I don’t really like to rate books. At least not openly. I am not a book critic and my rating system is very personal and based on the degree of my enjoyment. It is a measure of if I am the right audience for that specific book. A two stars I give does not reflect the quality of the book at all, and I know people get really worked up over ratings. But I still want to share with you a report of my reading, so I will do one of those every January first. It is a good way to start a year.


In 2020, I have read 21 books (15 science fiction, three non-fiction, one fantasy, one horror, and one literary fiction). Two of those were short-story collections and one novella. Of those 21, five were in Portuguese (four translated). I did not finish (DNFed) two, one sci-fi and one non-fiction.


So let’s get to my 10 favorite science-fiction books I’ve read last year. I order this list based on my personal enjoyment, not particularly on the quality of the book. Guilty pleasure rules.


1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


A scientist with a god complex and a monster with daddy issues. Science fiction and horror mixed together? Yes, please!


2. Kindred by Octavia Butler


Unwilling time travel to save a white ancestor when slavery had not yet been abolished. This ride took me only two days to read; a personal record.


3. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin


This one is all about the politics of a frozen world where gender does not play a role in the power dynamics. An introspective and slow-paced narrative that I recommend strongly.


4. Contact by Carl Sagan


The first-contact-with-aliens trope done in the most beautiful way. A love letter to science, Contact is Carl Sagan in its most romantic storyteller. Although I admit the movie is a good adaptation, the book has something the movie does not have: Carl Sagan’s voice. (Did I ever mention I am a fan of this guy? True story: I considered—for a split second—to use the pen name Carla Sagan.)


5. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton


Dinosaurs’ attacks, exposed intestines, and lots and lots of blood. What else does one need in a book? This book is fantastic! I will say this is one instances when the movie is better than the book. The visuals and the sound score were amazing; Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Williams did a great job! But the book is so worth the reading. Consider it an extended version of the movie. Ah, the nostalgia…


6. All Systems Red by Martha Wells


Murderbot is my spirit animal. No need to say no more. What a fun read! The plot is pretty straightforward, no surprises, no twists, all goodz. But the character is something truly original.


7. The Martian by Andy Weir


An astronaut home alone on Mars. What could go wrong? Again, this is the other case of the movie being better than the book. Not because the book is bad, but because this story seems perfect for the screen. And the casting was superb.


8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley


Utopic dystopia? Dystopic Utopia? I must admit dystopia and utopia are not my favorite sci-fi subgenres (although I totally want to write some in the future), but this was fun to read. I found it less thought provoking than the other classics I’ve read in 2019 (Fahrenheit 451 and 1984), but I enjoyed reading this one more. And the ending was super.


9. Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu


It is hard to describe this one with no spoiler. It seems better to go into it knowing nothing. I will just say it involves physics, in particular the three body problem, the question about the trajectories of a system with three celestial bodies. The first chapter (or is it an epilogue?) is hauntingly beautiful, but the rest of the story is very inventive and unpredictable.


10. The Humans by Matt Haig


Lighthearted first contact with aliens from the alien perspective. And a tribute to Mathematics. How not to enjoy it? It was super fun to read, and to see the alien struggle to understand humans, and discovering his own humanity.


That’s it, folks. Have you read any of those? Which one is your favorite?


This year I hope to read more non-fiction. My goal is to read at least 24 books. I’ll tell you next year if I could do it or not.


See you next post!

Ra.

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