It’s time for the mid-year check-in! I’ve been unsure about whether to do this post this year because my reading hasn’t been feeling very inspired, but who am I to break tradition? Hopefully this bit of bookish excitement will help put my 2019 reading back on track.
I’m sure you know the drill by now, so without further ado…
1. Best Book You’ve Read in 2019 SO FAR
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Most of my favorites so far this year have been books that I love with caveats (some of the caveats being only that the book was short- I’ve read a handful of fantastic novellas this year!), but Pachinko I adored full stop. I wish I had gotten to this one the year it was released, but it was 100% worth picking up late.
2. Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2019 SO FAR
I haven’t read many sequels this year to give it much competition, but George R. R. Martin’s Storm of Swords likely would have won no matter what it was up against. Westeros continues to captivate and impress. I’m so hoping to finish books 4 and 5 this year!
3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Really Want To
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo actually comes out next week, but I’ve already selected a copy from BOTM and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I haven’t known about this one for very long, but I’m so excited about checking out more nonfiction titles in the second half of the year and this one is at the very top of that list. And of course there are about a million other new releases on my list, but the most uplifting course of action seemed to be choosing one that I knew I would be reading soon! (I still haven’t read last year’s answer for this question.)
4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
Margaret Atwood is one of my all-time favorite writers , and the ending of The Handmaid’s Tale has been haunting me (in a good way) for years. The Testaments is its sequel, slated for September release. That’s a busy time of year for me, so… I pre-ordered.
5. Biggest Disappointment
Last year my biggest disappointment and my worst read of the year (so far) did not line up, but this year they do. I’m not a romance genre pro, but I found The Hating Game highly entertaining last year and thus was pretty excited for Sally Thorne’s 2019 release, 99 Percent Mine. Unfortunately, not only did it not live up to its predecessor for me, but I really thought it was quite a mess.
6. Biggest Surprise
I’ve never been much of a nonfiction reader, and I had barely even heard of Mötley Crüe before their memoir-based Netflix film released this spring, so I was shocked both to find myself reading their book, The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band, and to consider it a fairly valuable read. Though I still don’t have much respect for the members of this band, The Dirt was so psychologically fascinating and it opened my eyes to a perspective I’d never considered. Of course, I wouldn’t have even considered picking this book up if not for Daisy Jones…
7. Favorite New Author
I read Sarah Moss‘s Ghost Wall early this year and fell absolutely in love with it. It says more about my prioritizing and time management skills than my interest level that I haven’t read any more of her work yet; I’ve added quite a bit of it to my TBR and am very much looking forward to checking it out.
8. Newest Fictional Crush
My answers for this prompt are always strange because I don’t crush on fictional characters in the way that I think is meant. I’ll give an honorable mention to Quan, who I don’t wish to date but did appreciate in Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test (and also briefly in The Kiss Quotient); though Hoang’s romances never seem to work as well for me as I hope, I’m looking forward to Hoang’s (untitled) 2020 release in which Quan’s story will take center stage.
9. Newest Favorite Character
I so enjoyed following Korede through Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer! The dynamic between these sisters is so wonderfully rendered, but it was absolutely Korede that I found most sympathetic and fascinating from this duo. She’s understandably frustrated with Ayoola’s habit of murdering boyfriends, but never lets her sister down in a moment of need. 10/10 would want a sister like that.
10. Book That Made You Cry
I don’t think I’ve cried over a book all year- it’s rare for me, though it does occasionally happen. But even without actual tears, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood absolutely made me saddest. Major trigger warnings for suicide.
11. Book That Made You Happy
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid covers a lot of sad moments and heavy topics, but it also puts a delightfully modern spin on a favorite pop cultural moment and it put me in such a rock ‘n roll mood that I haven’t been able to shake, months later. I will remember this book so fondly for such a long time.
12. Favorite Book-to-Film Adaptation
I don’t read a lot of YA these days, and I certainly don’t read much cute YA. It’s just not my type anymore. But I picked up Julie Murphey’s Dumplin’ earlier this year while I was ill and simply couldn’t put it down. I loved the Netflix film adaptation even more; it’s very loyal to the original story, with a few streamlining changes that I thought benefitted the plot. I did not like Dolly Parton until watching this movie.
13. Favorite Post This Year
Probably my Women’s Prize content, especially the longlist wrap-up and shortlist wrap-up. Not because I think my posts stand out among the plethora of related posts from other bloggers, but because I had such a fun time following along with the prize, reading everything, chatting with other readers, and making predictions. I’ve never read a prize longlist “on time” before, so it was a great experience all around.
14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought (or Read) This Year
I just bought this edition of The Phantom of the Opera and Other Gothic Tales which is shiny and detailed and wonderful. It’s been on my want-to-own list for a while and I finally went for it. But I haven’t read it yet, so…
I want to also mention the Faber Stories collection, which is technically 20 books rather than one, but I absolutely adore these editions! I’ve read 17 of them so far (reviewed in mini batches one, two, three, four, and five) and can’t get enough of these covers, especially coupled with the tiny size. They’re perfection.
15. A Book You Need to Read By the End of the Year
My answer to the Favorite New Author prompt last year was Daphne du Maurier; I read her novel Rebecca for the first time in 2018 and knew I needed to explore more of du Maurier’s work. Other than The Breakthrough, a small Penguin Modern volume, I’ve not managed to do so yet. I really must get back to her oeuvre this year, and The House on the Strand is at the top of my du Maurier list.
Tagging: anyone who hasn’t done this post yet, because this is one of my favorite tags and it’s so fun to compare and contrast answers!
I’m glad I decided to do the post after all. If you’re interested in my answers from previous years, here are the links to my 2018 and 2017 posts (wow, my reading taste has changed). Whether you’re a seasoned pro with this one or trying it for the first time, I hope you have fun with it! And as always, happy reading. 🙂
The Literary Elephant