The Mid-Year Freak-Out is one of my favorite tags to do every year, but with everything going on lately I almost forgot about it. I could really use a dose of bookish excitement right about now, so thanks to those who’ve posted this one already, and here is my contribution! (And, in case you’re curious, links to my previous iterations of this tag: 3.0, 2.0, and the original.) If you haven’t already posted or been tagged… consider this your call to participate! 🙂
Best Book You’ve Read in 2020 SO FAR
Real Life by Brandon Taylor. This may be a biased answer because I finished this book very recently, but it just pulled me in from page one and never let me go, and I’m confident I’ll be thinking about this book for the rest of the year.
This is a cheat answer because I haven’t actually read ANY sequels yet this year, which is odd! Instead I’m going with a first-in-series book that I loved, which I expect I’ll love the sequels to as well when I get to them (which I should do soon!); I’m talking about All Systems Red by Martha Wells.
New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Really Want To
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. I loved Station Eleven and ordered the author’s newest novel immediately, but shamefully I haven’t picked it up yet! I can’t wait much longer, I’m still dying to read this one.
Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
This is tough because (as always) there are a lot of anticipated releases on my radar, but this year in particular a handful of favorite authors have new books coming up, which complicates the choice. But the one on my mind at the moment is The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi, perhaps because I just read their 2019 YA release and loved it! I cannot wait for this next adult novel, coming in August!
A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne, primarily because I had such high hopes for it as a previous Women’s Prize winner. (Not to be confused with my least favorite read of the year so far, which is an award that has to go to Edna O’Brien’s Girl this time around!)
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi. It won the National Book Award for Fiction last year, which was the final motivating factor I needed to pick it up. The entire first half of the novel was a bit of a slog for me, so imagine my surprise when the twist of perspective in the second half turned this around to such an extent that it ended up being a 5-star read for me in the end!
Favorite New Author
Maggie O’Farrell. I read Hamnet as part of the Women’s Prize longlist, and even though many of her readers say this isn’t her strongest work I had such a good time reading it. I’m so looking forward to checking out more of her books!
Newest Fictional Crush
I don’t really crush on characters, but I do love great relationships on the page. I think my favorite so far this year is the Darlington/Alex/Dawes combo from Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House, who are, at the end of the first book, an entirely platonic group… But Bardugo is great at slow-burn romances (I will never get over Kaz and Inej) and I’m really hoping for something to develop here. I don’t even have a preference for which way it goes, any budding relationship here is bound to be fantastic. My review for this book coming soon.
Newest Favorite Character
Queenie, from Candice Carty-Williams’s Queenie. This may come as a surprise after writing a 3-star review for the book, but what prevented it from being a flawless read for me was not the main character, who I found fierce and resilient and unapologetic. Queenie might not have it all together, but she’s a delight to read. I would 100% pick up a sequel (although I don’t think this story line needs one).
Book That Made You Cry
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Oh my god, this book. It’s incredible, but I found this SO painful to read (it focuses on sexual assault of a minor by a teacher) and had to set it aside often to regroup because it was hitting so hard. My review will be coming soon.
Book That Made You Happy
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is such a fun romp. Both the main relationship AND the alternative political landscape warmed my heart. I can’t wait to read McQuiston’s next book.
Favorite Book-to-Film Adaptation
Sense and Sensibility, based on the book by Jane Austen. I haven’t been watching many movies so I had a small list to choose from here, but I’ve always loved this film adaptation (from 1995). Earlier this year I read the book for the first time and rewatched the movie, which was just as much of a success as usual. The book, actually, is perhaps my least favorite Austen novel (so far- I still have Mansfield Park left to read), but I think the film really goes above and beyond.
Favorite Post This Year
As always, I love posting prize content and series wrap-ups, and I’ve been getting so excited every month to share another round of my 2020 Genre Spotlight series, but for now I have to go with my Vacation + Book Haul post from my trip to New York earlier this year. To be honest it was a rather hasty round-up of pictures and book synopses and the beginnings of pandemic fear, but at this point it feels like a reminder of a whole different era, and I need to be able to remember some good times to get through the dark ones.
Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought (or Read) This Year
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. It may look simple, but blue and purple are my colors. I love that the landscape builds the gradient and that the lettering is crisp and cool. I love how bright it is. And this is one of the rare occasions where the people on the cover add rather than detract from the artwork for me. Those two little girl shapes get me all kinds of sad. In a good way?
A Book You Want to Read By the End of the Year
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I’m hoping to read this one over the summer actually, because it’s one of the previous Women’s Prize winners that might affect my vote in the Winner of the Winners competition! I’ve recently ordered a copy that’s on its way and the deadline for the vote is November, so I’m hoping this will be the one that breaks the trend of my not reading whatever book I name for this prompt… So far I’m 1/4, and that’s not counting my similarly bad turnout for “new release you haven’t red yet but really want to.”
Tell me about a book you’re freaking out about this year!
The Literary Elephant