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2019 in books

Ane Berasategi
#NLP master student, reader, amateur flute and chess player, intermediate hipster. Reading a lot of papers recently
・4 min read

I've always had a book on my nightstand but when I started uni and bought a smartphone I started reading less and less until in early 2017 I decided to read seriously again.

It's been 3 years since I started and I never believed I would read so much and enjoy it as I do. I set some goals for this year and I'm proud to say I reached almost all of them.

These were my goals for 2019:

  • Read 20k pages
    • After having read 17k in 2018, I thought 20k was my limit and it'd be nice to go all in and try to reach it.
  • Read 10 books in Basque
    • It's my mother tongue and unfortunately I've somewhat abandoned Basque literature.
  • Read 15 nonfiction books
    • Because if I'm going to get serious about reading and read many books, I might as well learn something in the meantime.
  • Read 10 classics
    • I noticed I had barely read any classics so I hoped to fix that.

And what I actually achieved:

  • I read 24k pages
    • This is the official number, but this year I quit some books I just couldn't go through so the real number is closer to 22k.
  • I read 4 books in Basque
    • I tried very hard but either the books I chose were all boring or I'm out of habit at reading Basque, but I'm not giving up.
  • I read 29 nonfiction books
    • Big success with this one, I read many great books and learnt a lot.
  • I read 10 classics
    • I didn't enjoy them very much but I did it.

I got 3/4 of my goals, read many fantastic books and my to-read shelf in Goodreads is longer than ever. I would say it's been a good year!

These are my top 5 books in 2019, in no particular order:

I was a big Medieval nerd as a teenager and The Pillars of the Earth and The Physician were all-time favorites, I wanted to read it again and it made it into the top 5 despite it being a re-read. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy the sequel as much.

Not a magnificent nonfiction book but it got me interested in neuroscience and mental/brain illnesses. It also freaked me out. I read more books about neuroscience after this and it debunked many myths I had about psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. Somehow I thought I knew what they were but turns out I had no clue. I look forward to learning more in 2020.

Each book from Newport has been in my top 5 in previous years, this time it was Digital minimalism. His books are so inspiring, and make so much sense, they make me want to improve so much. I think about his ideas even months after having read the book. I can't recommend his books enough.

Small cheating in this one, both books are about endurance, one about a failed Everest expedition and the other about Shackleton's incredible voyage to Antarctica in 1914. These books grab you and don't let you go, I had nightmares with them and I felt the despair they felt in Antarctica and the cold and desperation from the Everest expedition. Extraordinary stories and very well written.

After watching the HBO series I felt some shy pride when I understood the very basic concepts of nuclear energy and I decided it was a fantastic opportunity to read about the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the 1986 disaster. It was terrifying, complex terminology sometimes but worthwhile.

Summary of 2019

I'm proud I read a lot but even prouder that I managed to be regular and read at least 1k pages a month. Sometimes life gets in the way or you get stuck in a book and lose motivation, but if you have a habit of reading, you keep reading and reading until you get out of that block. Picking up a light fiction or young adult novel, or a book whose topic you're interested in are some of the tricks that get me into enjoying reading again.

Goals for 2020

2019 was a hardcore year reading wise, I don't think I can read any more intensely without compromising other areas of my life. I definitely want to invest more time and effort into reading in Basque, so my goals for 2020 are as follows:

  • Read 20k pages
  • Read 5 books in Basque or 2k pages
    • I like the number of pages goal, books can have different lenghts and I just picked up a biography that's at least 800 pages, it seems to involve complex vocabulary and if I manage to read it, I'll consider it a huge success.
  • Read 25 nonfiction books

On to the next decade!

Discussion (2)

emma profile image
Emma Goto 🍙

Nice work achieving your goals! I want to start reading in another language next year too (Japanese).

I've got my top 5 here:

anebz profile image
Ane Berasategi Author

thanks! all the best with Japanese, thanks for your top 5 I added you in Goodreads :)

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