I was combing through my drafts for a thing to post and then I came across this thing I wrote ages ago. This was actually supposed to be included in my 3-part 2020 year-end review but my brain decided to yolo on its own again early this year and I ended up not publishing anything. I was so busy nitpicking stuff because 2020 felt monumental that I ended up just being too overwhelmed and not completely finishing them. Anyway, this was already drafted so I figured I could just post this for the hell of it. This was inspired by a post by Rafaela of The Portuguese Bibliophile that I read early in the year that I really loved.
In retrospect, this whole pandemic thing really did change a lot of my reading habits and then added some. Maybe it’s all of this free time that made me feel that I can experiment more (which is not usually the case) – but these are welcome changes that I was really glad to have for myself. In this post, I listed down 10 significant ways my reading habits changed during this great panini (ehehe).
1. I started reading bigger books again.
I don’t really dislike big books but since I am a very slow reader, I tend to choose shorter ones to give myself some semblance of progress in my reading count. But this year was kind of different. I discovered The Stormlight Archive (and the whole Cosmere) and it got me into this spiral of thousand-page books that desensitized me with page counts. I feel like I already find peace in not being able to catch up that much with the reading count of my peers in book twitter, which is a very good thing for me. These days, I’m not that intimidated by big books compared to before.
2. I revisited my Romance-loving heart.
I’ve read 9 romance books last 2020 out of the 60 books that I read – which is pretty surprising because I’m not much of a romance reader in the past, in terms of novels. And this year, I’ve read 16 contemporary romances out of the 51 books I’ve read so far this 2021 – and counting! I learned to recognize the healing and relaxing effect of reading about love stories and happy endings. To borrow a quote from Beach Read, “when the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.” And I don’t think I could sum that up more perfectly than that.
3. I bought a lot of physical books than usual.
I am not known to be a buyer of physical books ever since I discovered the convenience of reading in my Kindle (and also because I don’t really have that much space around the house to put new physical books in). But last 2020 (and this year as well, I guess), I feel like I bought a lot of physical books compared to other years. I admit it’s the FOMO, most times. I mainly use them for Bookstagram, as I find myself reading alternately in Kindle and physical for some books (which I find wasteful as I should’ve just bought the digital copy). But for the big epic fantasy books (specifically if they have illustrations and important maps), I found that it’s sometimes easier to read them in print. Also, I discovered (or eased into, I guess) online shopping, and I admit that I do have impulse-buying spells whenever I was stressed in the last couple of months (which I am trying to reign in again).
4. I became more flexible switching between reading formats. And I got into audiobook!
As mentioned, I lean towards reading more in my Kindle than other things. And then I also have the physical books which, as mentioned in #3, I find it more useful for the bigger books. Perhaps, the most surprising thing this 2020 (which continued to 2021) is how I really got into audiobooks. Last 2020, I listened to 14 audiobooks out of 60 that I read. This 2021, I listened to 27 audiobooks so far and counting! Before, I could only listen to nonfiction books but now, I can easily also plug in a fiction book (fantasy or romance) and I would have a really great time. Scribd and Audible are really god-sent. Not all books are great as audiobooks though, but for those that are, it’s a really worthwhile experience.
5. I started seriously tabbing physical books.
I do always annotate books (highlight, write on them, etc.) but I don’t always tab them. I think the first set of books that I tabbed would be The Strange the Dreamer series back in 2019. Now, these colorful flags and page markers are an essential part of my reading experience for physical books. Somehow along the way, highlighting quotes have not been enough anymore. It’s an added cost, I have to admit, but it was just so satisfying having to see these flags lined up in there right after you finish a really good book.
6. I wrote more reviews than ever.
Maybe it’s because I had more time these days but I feel like it’s also because there are just so many good books that I read last 2020 that I can’t shut up about. I also added a “Reading Diary” series for other matters that I want to write down and talk about that are a bit spoiler-y as I tried my best these past years to write non-spoiler reviews ( I find that this drives more traffic). I’ve reviewed 29 out of the 60 books I’ve read last 2020 and it is something I am really proud of knowing how lazy I am with these things. I also started writing more capsule reviews at my Bookstagram (@pagesandcc) (and became more active there as well) whenever I wasn’t in the mood to write long-form posts but is still buzzing to share stuff immediately before I forgot.
7. I read a lot of non-fiction books.
Out of the 40 books I read last 2019, 2 of them are non-fiction books. Last 2020, out of the 60 books I’ve read, 14 of them are non-fiction. And now here we are at 2021 and I’ve already read 13 of them so far and counting! I think that’s a pretty great improvement.🙂 I wrote some tips that helped me read more non-fiction books back in 2020 and I gotta say they’ve been working out for me quite fine. I have a regular stream of non-fiction books in my TBR now. Most of the books I’m actively reading right now are non fiction. I also made a dedicated series to the non-fiction books I’ve read: “Non Fiction Round Up” – which has become one of my favorite posts to draft these days. Whew, a lot can change in 3 years indeed.
8. I became more adventurous in my reading.
I tried epic fantasy (the large-scale ones) again starting 2020. I read more romance (true blue romance books, not romance as a subplot) than in any year I can remember. I had a lot of non fiction books which I enjoyed very much. I read a horror book which I didn’t really expect of myself but has been one of my top reads this 2020. I also tried a couple of paranormal fantasy and they are a pleasant surprise. I even tried reading thrillers for the first time in years! I think one thing that I don’t really consider is actively reading historical fiction (that are not fantasy) which I might try more this 2021 if ever I find a great book to start with. I feel like before, it was just a bunch of YA contemporary and fantasy which was kind of getting tired partly because I’m getting older as well. Overall, this has been a very meaty period, reading-wise.
9. I paid more attention to book covers and their artists/designers.
I love book covers and, more importantly, I love books with gorgeous book covers. I know it’s wrong to judge a book by its covers but I think this is one of the most important things a publisher needs to invest in in order to drive hype for a book. A good book cover conveys thoughtfulness. It attracts readers even without knowing what’s inside and who wrote it. And when a book cover makes more sense after reading the book, that is an added appeal to itself. I started putting a portion in some of my reviews specifically for book covers, especially if I really like them. I also tried to trace the artist and tag them in my cover-appreciation tweets if I can. I do think cover artists and cover designers deserve the hype as well. I hope someday I could make a post of my favorite covers of all time.
10. I read more books this 2020 than in any other year since I started tracking my readings.
Based on my Goodreads profile, I started tracking my Reading Challenges way back in 2011 – which makes it more than a decade (!!!) this 2020 of me tracking and challenging myself. Last 2020, I tried to shoot my shot and pledged that I’ll read 52 books for 2020 – an average of 1 book per week. I didn’t really think about it, because I’ve honestly gone over the point where I pressure myself just for the sake of it. But the pandemic hit, and suddenly I have all this free time in my hands. I managed to read 60 books last 2020, 8 more than my initial plan that I thought impossible. And boy does it feel really good. This year though, I only pledged 20 books for the year because I wanna unwind and just slowly and leisurely appreciate the books I’m reading more (and for reasons mentioned here). I still ended up reading 51 books so far though, and counting. Oh well, at least my 2021 Reading Challenge was crossed off already and I have more time to explore and leisurely go through this reading year.