All The Books I Read in 2020

My goal for 2020 was to read 20 books. I didn’t managed to do that, but it’s 2020 so all bets are off. I read 15 books and I am entirely fine with that.

My Year in Books 2020

Also, although I read fewer books this year than last year (I read 20 in 2019), I read more pages (4,069 pages in 2020 vs. 3,094 pages in 2019 – that’s a 32% increase!)1.

Since I’ve only blogged about one of these books so far, here’s a short and sweet discussion of each of the books. There may be spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.

Books I Read in 2020 - Part 1
Books I Read in 2020 - Part 2

Qualitative Inquiry: Thematic, Narrative and Arts-Based Perspectives by Lynn Butler Kisber

Cat and book

I wrote my first ever book review of this book! It’s in the Evaluation Journal of Australasia and the pre-publication copy was actually just posted online this week. Sadly, it’s not an open access journal. If you have access to this journal (e.g., from your university’s library), you can find it here. If not, once the article is published in an issue (which I think will happen in the spring), as opposed to just the “online first” version, I am allowed to send a copy to colleagues for non-commercial purposes. So hit me up in the spring for that.

Also, I may have written a poem as part of this book review.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

During stressful times, I often turn to reading the Harry Potter books for an escape. And so it was that I found myself re-reading HP and the CC in the early pandemic. I have to say, I don’t love this book the way I love the original series. I am also conflicted about reading HP books given that the author (She Who Must Not Be Named) has doubled down on her transphobia this year. In the end, I really appreciated the response by Daniel Radcliffe (the actor who played Harry Potter in the movies):

“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.”

So it is with that in mind that I’m OK with continuing to read the books/watch the movie/play HP game. Also, I already own the books, so I’m not further contributing money to SWMNBN.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince AND Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’ve ready the first five books each several times. When the later books were being re-released, I would re-read the earlier books. But I hadn’t read the last two books that many times, so decided, again as part of my reading-HP-books-when-life-is-stressful, to re-read these two. Also, I listen to the HP and the Sacred Text podcast and when I got to the season for book 6, I realized that I would appreciate it more if I re-read the books first as I couldn’t remember a lot of the details of what happened in this book.

The Woo Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family by Lindsay Wong

This book is written by an author from BC and is a memoir about her experience in a Chinese Canadian family dealing with (or perhaps I should say, neglecting to deal with) mental health issues. I read it early in the year and now taht I think back on it, I can’t even remember if I enjoyed it or not.

Cat Zero by Jennifer L. Rohn

Cat Zero

This was a science-based thriller in which a researcher is working on a mysterious viral illness coming from cats while also fighting sexism in academia and having an entirely inappropriate relationship with her postdoc. It was OK.

Olga: The OK Way to a Healthy Happy Life by Olga Kotelko and Roxanne Davies

I actually got this book 5 years ago when I went to a talk by one of the co-authors at the library (sadly, the other co-author, Olga Kotelko, had passed away before the book was published), but hadn’t gotten around to reading it until this year. It’s a combo of the life story of Olga, who started competing in track and field when she was 77 years old, ultimately competing around the world in track and field events until she died at the age of 95 and winning hundreds of gold medals in the process. It was fascinating to read about her early life growing up on farm in Saskatchewan, of escaping a bad marriage with her two daughters who she raised as a single mother (an unusual thing to do in her generation), and then how she became an athlete so late in life. I quite enjoyed this book.

Distillery Cats by Brad Thomas Parsons

I picked this up in Kings County Distillery when I was in Brooklyn in February. It combines two of my favourite things: cats and distilleries! It provides a short summary of cats that live in distilleries and all the stories are pretty cute. I definitely enjoyed this book!

I Fought the Law by Olivia Locher

This is a book of photographs representing a weird law in each of the US states. Did you know that “in Minnesota it is illegal for a person to cross state lines with a bird atop their head? I will admit that I read this book because it was a very quick read and I wanted to add a book to my list of books read this year. I was amusing though.

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph

Every Canadian should read this book. It is full of so much information about the Indian Act, which is a piece of Canadian legislation that has been used to control indigenous people across the country and to try to destroy their culture. Canada has done – and continues to do – many shameful things and though it’s hard to face up to the truth of having been complicit in this attempted genocide, I think it’s important to understand what has and is happening and the implications of it for indigenous people today.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight

This book is a parody of Maria Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and although it’s light hearted and funny, it also has some pretty good advice in it about prioritizing what’s important to you and not worrying to such about what other people thing. Well worth the read.

Evaluation Failures by Kylie Hutchison

This book is compilation of stories of evaluation failures, and what can be learned from them, written by a number of prominent evaluators and compiled by local prominent evaluator, Kylie Hutchison. Each of the stories are very interesting, providing food for thought, and give a sense of what it’s like to do evaluation in the real world (as opposed to textbook situations!) Definitely a book I recommend to all evaluators

Evaluation Foundations Revisited by Thomas Schwandt

A long and dense read, but well worth it for evaluators.

  1. These page numbers only count books that I read – they don’t include journal articles, for example. When I set a reading goal for 2021, I’m going to set a page number goal in addition to a number of books goal. []

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