Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 Books and Movies

 At the beginning of twenty-twenty, I made a goal for myself to watch fifty (50) movies and read fifty (50) books. I guess it was something of a New Year's resolution. Well, 2020 is in the books, and though I fell short on the movies, watching only thirty-eight (38), I went over on books, reading a total of sixty-two (62). Presented, in the order in which they were read/watched, is what I watched and read last year.


For the purposes of this exercise, I counted anything that was or would have been, had it not been in ebook or audiobook format, "between two covers." (I counted two Beverly Cleary novels that I read aloud to my oldest son, but did not count the numerous picture books as that felt like cheating.) Most were novels, though a few short story collections and maybe even some nonfiction snuck in there. I only counted a book if I read it in its entireity.

1. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

2. Trajectory by Richard Russo

3. Hamburger America by George Motz

4. Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo

5. The Sportwsriter by Richard Ford

6. Norwood by Charles Portis

7. Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford

8. Fender Lizards by Joe R. Lansdale

9. The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry

10. Running in the Dark by Scott Reaves

11. A Simple Plan by Scott B. Smith

12. Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson

13. Washed in the Blood by Shelton Williams

14. Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

15. True Grit by Charles Portis

16. Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

17. The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

18. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

19. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

20. Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

21. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins

22. The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee

23. If it Bleeds by Stephen King

24. Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview by Sam Weller

25. The Brass Cupcake by John D. MacDonald

26. Dead Low Tide by John D. MacDonald

27. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

28. Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis

29. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

30. Dead Girl Blues by Lawrence Block

31. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

32. End of the Tiger by John D. MacDonald

33. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

34. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

35. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

36. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler

37. The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor

38. Burnt Orange for the Shroud by John D. MacDonald

39. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

40. Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton

41. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

42. Gringos by Charles Portis

43. Post Office by Charles Bukowski

44. I Married a Communist by Philip Roth

45. Escape Velocity by Charles Portis

46. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

47. Broadcast Hysteria by A. Brad Schwartz

48. The Auctioneer by Joan Samson

49. Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

50. Mohawk by Richard Russo

51. Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

52. One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

53. Death of a Doxy by Rex Stout

54. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

55. Antkind by Charlie Kaufman

56. The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout

57. I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

58. The Founder Effect edited by Robert E. Hampson and Sandra L. Medlock

59. The Last Seance by Agatha Christie

60. The Barracks Theif by Tobias Wolff

61. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

62. Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller

Looking back over the list, I see that only three books were listened to as audiobooks (Broadcast Hysteria and the two Rex Stout Nero Wolff novels). There was a time when I "read" a great deal in audiobook format, as I had to commute to and from work or school, but now that that's no longer the case, I really only have time to listen to audiobooks when I'm on a long walk—and in fact, as our second son has gotten older and less willing to chill in the stroller while I walk, even that time has been cut drastically.

Another change in format is that the majority of the books above were read in ebook format. I didn't keep track of this, but best as I can remember, forty-two of the sixty-two books I read this year were read as ebooks. I'd like to change that this year, with the goal being to read at least half of the books in physical, paper format. We'll see. There's no doubt that, for me, the reading experience is much better with a paper book, but ebooks are extremely convenient.

Top authors this year are below, with number of titles next to his name:

Charles Portis: 6

John D. MacDonald: 4

Richard Russo: 3

Ray Bradbury: 2

James M. Cain: 2

Beverly Cleary: 2

Laura Lippman: 2

Flannery O'Connor: 2

Tom Robbins: 2

Rex Stout: 2

All other authors wrote only one book each on the list.


Feature length films that I watched from beginning to end.

1. Saludos Amigos

2. The Shallows

3. The Searchers

4. Serenity

5. Waitress

6. The Call of the Wild

7. The Sign of Zorro

8. The Vast of Night

9. The Valley of Gwangi

10. Harper

11. Knives Out

12. The Killing

13. The Grifters

14. Old Yeller

15. The Incredible Journey

16. It's a Wonderful Life

17. You Can't Take it with You

18. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

19. Dave

20. Platinum Blonde

21. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

22. It Happened One Night

23. Meet John Doe

24. His Girl Friday

25. The Jungle Book

26. The Front Page

27. Bringing up Baby

28. The Story of Perri

29. The Lighthouse

30. The Philadelpia Story

31. Davy Crockett and the River Pirates

32. Fun and Fancy Free

33. A Christmas Story

34. The Awful Truth

35. The Bishop's Wife

36. The Shop Around the Corner

37. It Happened on Fifth Avenue

38. Christmas in Connecticut

As you can see, a fair number of Disney films are on the list, which we watched as family movie nights. There would have been even more, except often I'd sneak off in the middle of one of them to do some chores around the house that needed to be done and so missed enough of the film that I didn't feel right counting. it. 

Miranda and I went on a screwball comedy (or screwball comedy-adjacent) run, which was a lot of fun. As a result, there's more than a few Cary Grant movies on the list above. We also hit the highlights of Frank Capra's career, which helps account for the Jimmy Stewart quotient.