Year of Historical Reading – 2020 recap

Exactly one year ago, I declared 2020 my Year of Historical Reading. I wanted to get through my unread shelves of historical fiction and nonfiction and focus all of my reading on this genre. I’m not a big reader of the most buzzed about books of any year since my reading tastes generally don’t correspond with the mysteries, thrillers, literary fiction, or memoirs usually at the top of these lists. Also I am a highly sensitive reader so unless it’s a historical book, I have a hard time reading about bad people doing bad things! 

In 2020, I wanted my reading to be 85% historical fiction or nonfiction for the year. As you’ll see below, I met and exceeded this goal (although I may have classified some books differently than traditional lists)! 

I used the amazing reading tracker from the Currently Reading podcast (click here to become a patron to get access to it!), and it enabled me to pull together all of these stats at the click of a button!

General Stats

Total books finished in 2020: 113 

  • 69% fiction
  • 31% nonfiction 
  • 90% historical fiction or nonfiction – exceeded my 85% goal!

Book Source:

  • Unread shelves: 48% 
  • Purchased in 2020: 18%
  • Library: 23%
  • Review copy: 9%

Biggest reading month: July with 15 books read 

Lowest reading month: September with only 5 books read – I blame back-to-school craziness! 

6 DNFs – all but one historical fiction or nonfiction


This was my biggest reading year since I was a teenager. Most years, I read between 50-60 books but this year, I set my Goodreads goal at 100. It seemed like a reach goal, especially with my mom’s health issues and COVID craziness, but I not only hit it, I exceeded it! This year, I’ve set my Goodreads goal at 125, which definitely seems like a stretch, especially given that I’m currently writing a fiction novel. When writing, it’s hard to find time to read for pleasure.

I enjoyed my Year of Historical Reading and its focus on historical fiction and nonfiction. That’s what I read anyway so it wasn’t hard for me to focus almost exclusively on that genre. By being intentional about what I was reading, though, I read more books I loved and didn’t have very many duds.

I rediscovered my love of my childhood favorites this year. I always knew I loved the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables books as a child but I wasn’t sure how they would translate as an adult. They are comfort reads, which brought me joy during some of the hardest moments of the year, and were just as delightful as I remembered. It was especially fun to discover modern books based on those stories as well.

I didn’t get through as many of my historical nonfiction unread books as I would have liked. I have so many of these books and just can’t stop buying them! Thankfully I am reading bits and pieces of the Civil War history books as they are helping me with my fiction writing research. This year, I need to do a better job at getting to these books I tend to collect at every historical site I visit!

I bought way too many books this year but also did a pretty good job at borrowing from the library and getting galleys from NetGalley. I don’t have any shame about spending money on books. It’s necessary for my sanity!!!

I was surprised that I did not like reporting my reading every month. I don’t like anyone looking over my shoulder at what I read and didn’t report every single book to Goodreads. It’s hard for me to be public on what I like and don’t like because, as an aspiring author, I want to be kind and thoughtful. Not every book is for every reader! Going forward, I won’t be doing monthly recaps of my reading but will occasionally do an update.

At first, I was shocked I didn’t have more DNFs but I know my reading tastes pretty well and choose accordingly. The few DNFs I did have were mainly galleys (unknown books) and books where I didn’t feel a connection to the characters or thought the history wasn’t being told correctly. Nothing will turn me off a book quicker than an incorrect historical fact. As I look ahead at 2021, I might want to try some books outside of my comfort zone whether historical or not.

Overall, I’m very happy with my Year of Historical Reading. I’m not naming 2021 but you can be sure I’ll keep reading historical fiction and nonfiction!

Favorite Books of the Year

This is hard to do! I read so many amazing books this year. According to the books I reviewed on Goodreads, I had 39 5 star reads and some of my 4 star reads were books I’ve continued to think about months later. I’ve listed some favorites below, broken into categories.

All links are Amazon affiliate links. You can also purchase the books at my shop on, which supports independent bookstores and creators.

Favorite Historical Fiction Books Released in 2020:

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Favorite Historical Fiction Backlist Books Read in 2020:

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Ribbons of Scarlet by various authors

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Favorite Nonfiction Books Read in 2020:

Favorite Young Adult Books Read in 2020:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Hamilton and Peggy! By L.M. Elliott

Favorite Middle Grade Books Read in 2020:

Anne of Green Gables series (my favorite in the series for adults was Rilla of Ingleside)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

Such a great reading year! It’s going to be hard to top it in 2021 but I’ve already read a couple of galleys of 2021 releases that are 5 stars. My new post on Friday will list my most anticipated 2021 reads so stay tuned. If you’d like to follow along with my reading, be sure to follow me on both Goodreads and Instagram

What was your favorite read this year?

4 thoughts on “Year of Historical Reading – 2020 recap

  1. I have really enjoyed hearing about what historical fiction and non-fiction reading you are doing. I certainly understand not wanting to have that feeling of someone monitoring what you are reading but not reporting or scoring books you didn’t like as much. I hope you will still post books you have read and enjoyed though, as one historical fiction fan to another!

    1. Thank you! I’ll still report on the books I’ve enjoyed, just not monthly or in a formal way. I love sharing the books I can’t put down!

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