Third Quarter Challenge Check-In (2020)

It actually took me a few days to even realize that the third quarter of the year was already over, since I’ve lost all concept of time this year. I started going back to work in-person in July, but it was only half-days at a time with very small groups. By the end of the third quarter, we had expanded to more shifts each per week, and with a few more people per group. I was surprised to find that my reading didn’t seem to be impacted too badly by the increased workload. I definitely took advantage of some of the extra time to take on a few of my longer books, but not to the same extent as in the previous quarter.

By the halfway point of the year, I had read a total of 86 books. By the end of this quarter, I had read 133 books (60% of my yearly goal of 220!). That means that this quarter alone, I read a total of 47 books. To be honest, that was a tiny bit lower than I expected somehow, although it was only a slight drop from last quarter, where I’d read 51 books. However, I was also very surprised to see that I’d reached 60% of my yearly goal, since I thought I was much further behind. I’m strongly considering lowering my goal to 200, which is a bit more realistic and had been my initial plan before getting ambitious before upping it to 220, but I’ll see how the next month or two go before I decide in December. Also, all of the books I read this quarter were rated either 4 or 5 stars! Of all the books, 24 of them were rated 5 stars, and 23 were rated 4 stars. That’s about the same number of 5-star reads as I’ve had every quarter so far, and a very similar number of 4 star reads compared to last quarter.

Series Goals and Standalone Goals

I set myself a goal to read 13 series before the end of the year, and had already finished 7 of those series by the halfway point of the year. This quarter, I took a little break from reading series until right at the end, where I finished the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, bringing my total up to 8. I’d also commented last time that this goal might be a bit of a struggle going forward since I still had no library access, and didn’t have many of the books that I needed. Audiobooks were an option, but I find that I don’t process audiobooks as well as I do when I read physically, so I considered that a last resort. Luckily, within the past few months, I managed to buy 4 more of the series that are on my list: Stalking Jack the Ripper, Shatter Me, The Dark Artifices, and Scythe. I’m planning to read at least 2 of those series before the end of the year, but I’m not sure if it’s realistic to finish them all since some are quite long. The only series on my list that I still don’t have is Nevernight, since those books are still so expensive! In any case, whichever series I don’t finish this year will become top priority to pick up next year.

I had also set myself a list of Top 20 Books to Read in 2020, as well as some 5-star predictions. The two lists really should have overlapped a lot more than they did, but I purposely separated some of the books out so they wouldn’t be too repetitive, and have kind of regretted that ever since. By the end of the second quarter, I had only read a total of 5 out of my Top 20 books, and had bought a lot of the others. This quarter alone, I read an additional 6 books from this list! I read: King of Scars, Full Disclosure, The Escape Room, Frankly In Love, With the Fire On High, and Saving Meghan. That officially brings me over the halfway point of this list, with 11 out of 20 completed! I also now own all but 2 of these books, and I’m hoping to get copies of the remaining two as soon as I can, so this list is quite likely to be done by the end of the year.

Priority Authors

For some reason, this goal has oddly felt like a struggle all year, even though it involves reading books by authors that I’m excited to try! I suspect part of it is because I didn’t want to fly through them all so quickly, so I’ve been subconsciously delaying some of these books, but it left me in a pretty bad position on this goal by the end of the second quarter. By the halfway point of the year, I’d only read at least one book from 1 author on my non-YA list, and 2 authors on my YA list. Luckily, this quarter was much better! This quarter alone, I read books by Morgan Matson, Jenn Bennett, Katrina Leno and Ruta Sepetys from my YA list, and Karin Slaughter, Mary Kubica, Peter Swanson and Mhairi McFarlane from my non-YA list. That brings me to a total of 11 authors out of the 20 that I chose, 6 YA and 5 non-YA. I also own at least one book by each of the other authors on my list now, so that should make it easier to finish off this list.

Read Books That I Own

Who would have known, when I set this goal, that we’d be spending the majority of this year in quarantine and I’d have so little access to the library? It’s safe to say that this goal has been easily accomplished. My initial plan was to only read my own books in the winter, and then start using the library again for the rest of the year, but that wasn’t really possible. I have started to branch out a bit and borrow a few audiobooks and ebooks from my library system, but the vast majority are still books that I own. It may be cheating a bit, but I also bought a ton of books this year that I really wanted to read, so I’ve definitely been reading mostly books that I own. Of the books I read this quarter, 10 books were borrowed from the library, and the remaining 37 were books that I own, which means that 80% of the books read were my own. Including all of the books I’ve read this year, I’ve read 100 books that I own and only 33 books that I borrowed, so that means 75% of all books read were books that I own.

Backlist Vs. New Releases

This is always my hardest goal to track since it’s not something I consciously pay much attention to. This year, I defined “backlist” as a book that’s been sitting on my Goodreads TBR since 2017 or earlier. By the halfway point of the year, I’d read a total of 34 books that I’d defined as backlist. This quarter, I read another 7 books that had been on my list since 2017 or before. That’s not completely unexpected, since I’d been reading a lot more new releases this quarter.

For this goal, I defined “newer releases” as books published in 2019 or 2020, regardless of how long they had been on my TBR list. This quarter, I read a total of 29 books that had been published in either 2019 or 2020! That’s 62% of all the books that I read this quarter, which was not that unexpected since I knew I’d been prioritizing some newer releases that had been very high on my list. This is also a huge jump from last quarter, where newer releases made up just under a quarter of all the books I read. I’m not that surprised though, since I’d bought a ton of newer releases and made sure to get to many of them relatively quickly. I also read 8 books published in 2018, which is still pretty recent, but just outside of my threshold for this goal.

Reader’s Choice Awards

As always, I’ll end off with a “Reader’s Choice Awards” for the quarter, since the Around the Year in 52 Books group does not seem to be doing it anymore. I always find this a fun way to wrap up what I read in the quarter, since it is limited to only those books.

Breakout Read: A book that was surprisingly good or exceeded expectations

Immediately, I have to give this one to Beach Read by Emily Henry. I picked this one up mostly because of the endless hype, and with very low expectations because I’d already read one of her YA books earlier in the year and wasn’t such a fan. This book completely grabbed me from the start and I just loved the characters. Tweet Cute came in a very close second for very similar reasons, but I expected to love that one so it wasn’t such a surprise when I did.

Biggest Let Down: A book you thought would be brilliant but was a total disappointment

Definitely Searching for Sylvie Lee. I definitely did not hate this book, and I ended up giving it 4 stars, but there was one plot point that I really hated and just couldn’t get past. At first it seemed like it would be only a minor element, but as the book went on, it became a fairly major part of the plot and it really threw me off. It’s too bad, since I loved the last book I read by this author and assumed that this would be an easy 5 stars too.

Best Dressed: The book with the most attractive cover


Best Characters: A book with characters you couldn’t get enough of

I think this one is a tie between Yes No Maybe So and Tweet Cute. Both had surprisingly memorable characters for a YA contemporary, and that was a main reason I loved reading them both!

I also have to give a special mention to the characters from King of Scars, but it felt a bit unfair to choose them since the majority were characters that I already knew from Leigh Bardugo’s other series.

Best Place: A book that was set in an interesting place (fictional or not)

The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black. I loved the way the series blended the Faerie world and the real world and seeing how the characters managed both.

Best Story: A book with a great storyline

I think I have to give this one to The Silent House, which had one of the most unique premises for a thriller that I’ve seen so far. This book is about a murder that takes place overnight in the home of a family who are all Deaf, so none of them knows what happened.

Best Feelings: A book that made you really emotional

I honestly don’t remember anything impacting me that strongly, but I think the one that probably came closest was Clap When You Land because of the way it captured both sisters’ feelings for their recently deceased father upon learning he was leading a double life.

Best Love: A book with a romance worth swooning for (does not have to be a romance book)

I could easily give this one to Beach Read or Tweet Cute again, but for the sake of variety and because I loved the romance in this one just as much, I will give it to The Unhoneymooners. I loved the chemistry and banter between the two main characters and actually felt like the “hate” part of their hate-to-love relationship was believable, and I was surprised to see that it persisted quite far into the book before transitioning into love. This was easily one of my favourite books of the quarter!

Best Shock: A book that made your jaw drop in surprise

I’m not sure this book quite made my jaw drop since I partially some of the twists before they were revealed, but I was surprised by quite a few things in Eight Perfect Murders, especially the ultimate explanation behind who was responsible, which was more surprising to me than the revelations about who it was.

Best Author: An author whose writing you really clicked with

As usual, I will limit myself only to new-to-me authors for this one, so I will have to give it to Emma Lord. Her writing drew me in right from the start and it’s pretty rare at this point that I connect quite so strongly with a YA book.

Best Series: A book from a series you either can’t get enough of or can’t wait to indulge in more

King of Scars! I can’t wait to find out what happens next, and I’m really looking forward to the next installment that will be out in March 2021.

Best Read: The book you read in April, May and June that topped all the others

No surprise given how often it’s come up in these awards alone, but I have to give this one to Tweet Cute, which surprisingly became the most memorable book I read all quarter!


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