Category Archives: Book tags

My Life in Books Tag (2019)

I’ve been seeing this tag around  (for more fun check out these recent posts from Rachel, Laura, Naty, and Callum) and I love the idea of it! It’s a fun way to look back at what we’ve read this year, with a bit of humor mixed in.

The rules are simple: Using only books you have read this year, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

In high school I was: Full Dark, No Stars

People might be surprised by: The Silent Companions

I will never be: Early Riser – or The Killer Across the Table, I hope

My fantasy job is: Mostly Hero

At the end of a long day I need: A Room of One’s Own

I hate: Suspicious Minds

I Wish I had: The Lottery – would also accept Mr Salary

My family reunions are: A Storm of Swords

At a party you’d find me with: The Dreamers

I’ve never been to: The City of Brass – but since I live rurally, I HAVE been to The Farm, The Far Field, and The Country Funeral

A happy day includes: Women Talking

Motto I live by: Come Rain or Come Shine – or on less optimistic days, Lock Every Door

On my bucket list is: The Odyssey

In my next life, I want to have: The Time Machine


(Obviously these answers are somewhat in jest, but just in case anyone’s worried, I was melodramatic in high school and there is no violence at my family reunions! We may not always agree but we are almost always polite.)

Tagging: anyone who wants to participate!


The Literary Elephant


The Translated Literature Book Tag

Diana created this excellent tag post a couple of months ago and I immediately made a mental note to try it at some point! Then Callum helped me out by tagging me shortly after! To be honest, I’ve been putting this off a few weeks because I know my list of translated readings is not very substantial yet, and I’ve recently become more invested in trying to turn that around- but my life is so busy right now that I know I won’t be able to pick up all of the great translated titles on my TBR immediately just to do justice to this tag, so I’m going to try the tag now, and make a note to myself to return to it in a year or so and see how my answers have changed! These look like such interesting and versatile prompts that could be filled with so many different titles every time you try it (including some you haven’t read yet), and I think it’s important to any reader’s world perspective to keep picking up translated lit from countries and languages other than your own, so I don’t mind promoting a tag like this twice! I highly recommend checking out both Diana’s and Callum’s posts, and searching for others who’ve posted this tag as well, if you’re looking for some great translation recommendations!

And here’s my contribution:

1 – A translated novel you would recommend to everyone:

25489025Here are two, from the same author: The Vegetarian, and/or Human Acts by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith. I recommend them cautiously because they’re both experimental in style and deal with very difficult subject matter, but I think for anyone who is interested in learning about other cultures or pieces of world history these novels are absolutely worth the challenge. The Vegetarian, on the surface, is about a Korean woman who decides she will no longer eat meat; her family and friends cannot accept her decision. Thematically, I’d say it’s a more universal look at how society judges a choice that’s uncommon or hard to understand in cultural context. 30091914Human Acts depicts a student uprising in 1980s Korea and its tragic aftermath. Thematically, it’s an exploration of the cruelty and vulnerability inherent in human nature. Both are brilliant, eye-opening, gut-wrenching books, and I’m eager to read more from Kang!

2 – A recently read “old” translated novel you enjoyed:

22054577I’m going with the very old, and very classic, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Though I had to read big excerpts from both books for high school and college classes and was already fully familiar with the plot and themes of both, I only read The Iliad in full for the first time last summer, and The Odyssey this past winter. I liked the characters, plot, and story arc of the former better, but found the latter much more engaging and immediately entertaining to read. Though I appreciated both, I do not recommend this translation (by Samuel Butler, from the Greek); it resorts to prose rather than trying for anything close to Homer’s epic poems, and generally sticks to such a literal translation that any artistic flare is quite lost. I’m planning to try other editions of both at some point.

3 – A translated book you could not get into:

165035I don’t think this is a bad series at all, but I have to go with The Emigrants (and the entire Settlers series) by Vilhelm Moberg, translated from the Swedish by Gustaf Lannestock. The only reason I was able to stay invested in this series is that the story of a Swedish farming family emigrating to the US in the mid-1800s and establishing a new family farm in the American Midwest is also a chapter of my own family history. Even with that connection, I really struggled to stick with the writing style, which I found rather dry, and the characters themselves are not the most engaging. It was fascinating to me to see some of the challenges faced by Swedish emigrants, but there’s really not a lot of plot here and I can’t imagine anyone without a Swedish farming background finding this series very readable.

4 – Your most anticipated translated novel release:

42983724Technically this book is already released now, but I’m still anticipating reading it: Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (and longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize earlier this year). I’ve been so eager to get my hands on a copy of this strange little mystery ever since I first heard that brilliant title- I had the first hold in at my library before the official US release date, but it took so long for the library to get the book into circulation that I just got it recently. It’s either going to be my next or second-next read, and I can’t wait to see about this reclusive woman and her dying neighbors! (Could there be a more perfect time of year for this content?)

5 – A “foregin-language” author you would love to read more of:

21411194. sy475 I read my first novel by Haruki Murakami earlier this year: Norwegian Wood, translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin. I thought the writing was excellent and the story of love, loss, and grief quite moving, and I know Murakami’s other works tend a bit more toward the magical, which sounds potentially wonderful. After finishing this first book, I immediately added The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to my TBR, and have also since picked up a copy of After Dark from a convenient secondhand shop. I’m sure I’ll want to read more as well, but I’m looking forward to continuing with these two next!

6 – A translated novel which you consider to be better than the film:

I’m not sure I can answer this one properly. I don’t watch a ton of films in general, and can’t at the moment think of a single translated novel I’ve even seen an adaptation for! Perhaps I’d say that The Iliad is a better book than Troy is as a movie, but I actually thought Troy was a very interesting adaptation, though not perfect.

7 – A translated “philosophical” book you recommend:

36436073. sx318 I actually don’t like reading philosophy very much, but I did appreciate Albert Camus’s Create Dangerously, translated from the French by Justin O’Brien. Perhaps I appreciate it even more in retrospect than I did while reading- a common trend for me with philosophy (I appreciate the logic of it, but struggle with the circular nature and myriad loopholes). I think I’ll need to reread this one at some point because I think I can take more from it if I put more time into focusing on all of its points, but I do remember fondly some of Camus’s arguments about how and why we create art, and the need to fight for one’s freedoms, even the freedoms we’ve already won. There are three little speeches in this small volume, all worth the read.

8 – A translated fiction book that has been on your TBR for far too long:

2429135I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland, is the translated novel that’s been on my TBR the longest. I started reading it in 2012, but I picked it up right before I graduated from high school, and didn’t get far enough into the story to be excited about picking it back up that summer… so I never did. Since I own a copy, and am too stubborn to admit defeat, I’ll definitely try again at some point; I am currently more interested in reading this book because it’s firmly in my mind as an “unfinished project” than because I am excited about the story. In fact, I don’t remember anything about the story. Seven years is a long time to pause a book.

9 – A popular translated fiction book you have not read:

36739755. sx318 One novel I’m interested in that I see mentioned quite often and can’t believe I haven’t gotten around to reading yet is Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takamori. This is such a short book (just over 150 pages!) and focuses on one woman’s sense of identity and non-conformity. In theory, it sounds like something I would adore, and even if not, it would be nice to finally be able to weigh in on a title it seems like everyone but I have read!

10 – A translated fiction book you have heard a lot about and would like to find more about or read:

37004370Specifically, I’m going to mention The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa here, translated from the Japanese (I didn’t realize there would be so many authors from Japan on this list!) by Stephen Snyder. This is a brand new (to the US at least) dystopian release in which the “memory police” can make anything disappear; the MC is trying to save her editor and career. This one’s been getting some buzz lately and I would love to jump on board, partially because I’m very interested in this author in general; I have several of Ogawa’s books on my TBR now and still haven’t read a single one- an issue I certainly need to remedy!


Since I’ve done a few tags this month and have already tagged quite a few friends, I’m not going to list anyone specific to continue this tag- but I really hope that anyone who sees it and reads translated fiction will decide to take part! I love finding translation recs through these posts. 🙂

Have you read any of these books? What’s your favorite translated novel of all time?


The Literary Elephant

Choose the Year Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Laura Frey for this Choose the Year post! She’s got more info on the Booktube side of this tag on her post, and focuses on the books from 2000, so for more popular books from years past, check out her post and links!

After considering a few different years that were significant to me, I’m choosing to follow the “year you were born” trend and focus on popular books (according to Goodreads) from 1994. If you want to try this tag or are jut curious about he books from the year you were born, you can use this link to search popular titles by year on Goodreads:

The tag prompts:

  1. Choose a year and say why.
  2. Which books published in that year have you read, or if none, heard of.
  3. Are there any books published in that year that sound interesting and would you read them now?
  4. Most obscure sounding book?
  5. Strangest book cover

I’m going with 1994 because obviously I wasn’t reading in that year, so it’s interesting to me to see which titles I’ve been drawn to over the last 25 years. I’m just going to scroll down the list in order of popularity and mention where I stand with each title. Numbers correspond to their rank in the Goodreads list, and titles are linked to their Goodreads pages.

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)1. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. This was probably the first adult mystery book I ever read, very early in high school, and at that time I was absolutely obsessed with this series. I binged all of the books that were out at the time with a bestie- I think No. 16 was brand new and she bought the hardback with bonus stickers. Looks like No. 26 is coming out later this year, but after trying to catch up in college I realized this was no longer my reading taste and quit several volumes ago. It’s a trashy series (in a fun way) but I remember the first book having the best plot; I actually just bought a copy for nostalgic purposes, and am looking forward to a hilarious reread!

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. This one is on my TBR. I just read my first Murakami novel earlier this year (Norwegian Wood) and loved it- I was planning to pick this one up next just because I know it’s one of his best-known titles, but I found a cheap copy of After Dark at a secondhand bookshop that I’m now planning on picking up next. I don’t remember anything about the synopsis of this one but I like reading that way.

3861873. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Another on my TBR. I came across this title a couple of years ago when I was trying to complete a reading challenge that required reading a book from the year I was born, and this is the one I was planning to go with until I accidentally read another title that I didn’t realize fit the prompt… This is a true crime novel set in Savannah, Georgia.

400245. The Alienist by Caleb Carr. This is the title I accidentally read for that reading challenge. I hadn’t heard of it until BOTM featured it as an extra and I decided on a whim to give it a go. It’ a historical fiction mystery following an early psychologist (before the term was coined) trying to solve the crimes of mutilated child bodies found in New York. I remember some of the gritty details but didn’t fully get on with the writing style and structure of the novel, if I remember correctly. I’ll link my review here, but the tl;dr is a 3-star rating and a series I didn’t bother continuing.

438938187. Insomnia by Stephen King. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read a lot of Stephen King and am slowly making my way through his entire list of publications. This one doesn’t seem to be a big crowd favorite but the synopsis does look interesting to me- a man who can’t sleep starts to see things around town and he’s not sure whether they’re hallucinations or not. It’s set in Derry, Maine, a fictional town Stephen King uses a lot and likes to cross-reference throughout his novels, which is a fun feature. This is one of his heftier titles though; this edition from my own shelf clocks in at over 900 pages.

8. Walk Two Moons 53496by Sharon Creech. This is a middle grade book I read when I was 13, at the same age as the main character. I remember that, and I remember really liking the story at that time, but to be honest I really don’t remember anything about it now and the synopsis is not ringing any bells. I did read Bloomability by the same author a year or two later, so it must have made a good impression.

31843110. A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. This is just an “I’ve heard of it” book. I’ve never been big on reading nonfiction about history or politics so even though I’ve seen this one around and know it has a great reputation I’ve never had it on my TBR. But this year has sparked a renewed interest in nonfiction for me, so who knows, anything could happen.

1254313. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. This is a nonfiction book that I had to read an excerpt from in a college writing class, and have always meant to read the rest of. I just realized it wasn’t actually on my Goodreads TBR but it’s been on my mental list. Frightening to think that my 700+ title Goodreads TBR is not actually exhaustive…

22760318. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Another that I’ve heard of. This is a nonfiction/memoir about mental health among America’s youth. I’ve been on the fence about this one for a long time because it sounds very interesting, especially now that I’m more open-minded about nonfiction, but I also wonder if it’s a bit dated at this point? If anyone’s read this, please advise.

853577115. The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. I LOVED this book as a kid. It’s one of those underrated Harry Potter / Narnia type books with a secret magical world that most people don’t know about. I think I read this one before the HP or Narnia series and those have stuck with me more over the years, but I reread this one several times and still have my copy in reasonable condition for posterity.

7059131185. Cristallisation Secréte by Yoko Ogawa. This is neat: the original Japanese edition of Ogawa’s very recently translated The Memory Police came out in 1994! I’ve not yet read any of Ogawa’s work, but a couple of her titles (including the English translation of this one) are on my TBR, and more are on my radar. This one’s about a world in which “memory police” can make things disappear, and one novelist at the center of the story hides her editor in an attempt to preserve literature. The Memory Police was just longlisted for the National Book Award’s translated lit category!

Those are all of the books that I’ve specifically read or been meaning to read from the 1994 list. I could go on with a few more children’s books I’ve possibly read and plenty of titles I’ve at least heard of, but I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time and I think I’ve already covered a decent mix.

So, the most obscure sounding book:58372

I think “obscure” is a matter of perspective, but here’s an interesting one. Whatever by Michael Houellebecq, translated by Paul Hammond, looks like a French novel about a thirty year-old man who writes weird animal stories. “A painfully realistic portrayal of the vanishing freedom of a world governed by science and by the empty rituals of daily life.” Maybe I should’ve saved this one for the strangest book cover prompt, but I’ll dive in again…

14288…And find this gem! (Can you tell that I find animal covers strange in general??)

Piercing by Ryu Murakami, translated by Ralph McCarthy, is apparently a “pulsating psycho-thriller.” I have actually heard good things about this author, but that’s definitely not a cover I would feel inclined to pick up. I’m not even sure what the red fibers in the top right are supposed to be? My gut reaction says blood, but if so that’s the strangest image of blood I’ve ever seen.

Quick disclaimer: I realize I picked foreign authors for both the strange and obscure prompts, which should in no way indicate that I think of foreign authors as strange and obscure… I’m judging based purely on the covers, brief synopses, and placement on the Goodreads list, not the content or quality of the books!


Kristen, Karissa, and Elysa. If this tag looks as fun to you as it did to me, I’d be excited to see some bookish highlights from a year of your choosing! If you’re not tagged and want to participate, please do!


The Literary Elephant


Liebster Award

Many thanks to Elysa for tagging me for this award! As a fellow wide-variety reader, I have a lot of fun seeing all the different genres/styles/titles she picks up and the tags she tries, and am excited to be nominated for this one!


Post info from The Global Aussie:

“The Liebster Award is an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The award is a way to be discovered but also to connect and support the blogging community. A great idea in promoting your own blog and others. Originally it was given out to blogs with less than 2000 readers but this has slowly lowed as the reward has gained popularity. It is now only 200 readers or less. It’s really an arbitrary number. If you like helping other blogs out go ahead and do it regardless of its size. If you are returning, the submission for the award can be found here.


  • Say thank you to the person who has nominated you for the Award.
  • Answer the 11 questions the person has asked you
  • Nominate 11 people
  • Ask the people who you have nominated 11 questions

(A note on the rules: I’ve been looking around the blogosphere at this award and have found several different suggestions for number of questions to ask/answer and people to tag, so if you want to participate but 11 seems daunting, choosing another number seems perfectly acceptable!)

My Answers to Elysa’s Questions:

  1. What is your favorite book genre? – I am a firm believer in the theory that if a book is written well, it doesn’t matter what genre it’s in; a good book is a good book. If I had to take a guess, I think I’ve read more literary fiction than any other genre this year, but sci-fi and thrillers probably aren’t far behind, and I’ve been very interested in nonfiction in recent months as well!
  2. Do you prefer watching TV shows or movies? – Definitely TV shows. I love the theater experience, but content-wise I really prefer the character development and world-building that comes with a longer series.
  3. What is your favorite food? – Popcorn. It’s maybe not the food that excites me the most, but it’s the one thing I can eat anytime, anywhere, and never get tired of.
  4. What’s one thing on your bucket list? – To become a published author. This is probably more of an achievement goal than something you just go and do, which is what I think of as typical bucket-listing, but it’s been so firmly on my mind lately that nothing else is really calling to me at the moment. I’m actually sitting on a complete manuscript that I can’t stop fiddling with, and I need to just take the plunge and try to run with it!
  5. What’s a book genre you don’t like to read? – Again, a good book is a good book. But historical fiction has been trending downward for me in recent years, so maybe that one at the moment.
  6. Tea, coffee, or neither? –  If I’m going to a coffee shop with a friend and have to choose, I pick tea, but as a rule water is my favorite beverage.
  7. Do you have pets? Bonus points for pictures! – Yes! I’m currently living in rural Iowa, and have quite a few outdoor cats, a couple of indoor cats, and a few that were born indoors mid-winter just for safety and now think they should be allowed to go in and out whenever they fell like it, lol. Here are the current kittens (Maggie, Frida, and Georgie) and the indoor cats (Patchy and Matchy- the only way to tell them apart as kittens was by their face markings and the nicknames stuck).
  8. Have you ever traveled outside your home country? Where’d you go? – Not really, sadly. I’d love to travel basically everywhere when I can afford it, but so far the farthest I’ve been is a trip to the Bahamas with my parents when I was 3, which I hardly remember. I have done some exploring within the continental US though, and loved those trips!
  9. Where’s your favorite place to read? – In bed, on the couch, on a chair- anywhere I can sit quietly and comfortably. I get absorbed very easily and then don’t really notice my surroundings, so I’m not too picky.
  10. How many bookshelves do you own? – Only two at the moment, and it’s not nearly enough. I’m also using the top shelf of my desk (practically stacked up to the ceiling) and an old TV stand, and an old set of kitchen cabinets that’s been pulled off the wall (on a farm you don’t throw away anything that’s still functional), and saving up to move somewhere I can have a proper book room with plenty of shelf space. I’m basically doing the starving artist thing while I try to figure out what I’m doing with my career, so it’s a weird situation all around.
  11. Do you come from a family of readers, or are you the lone wolf of your pack? – Lone wolf, more or less. My mom reads a bit, but only for entertainment; we don’t have a lot of content or opinion overlap. I think my brothers could count on one hand the number of books they’ve ever finished between them, and I’m not sure my dad has ever read an entire novel. My family encouraged me to read as a kid, the way you encourage a kid to eat fruits and vegetables; I think they were all pretty shocked that I took it so seriously!



  1. Diana
  2. Ren
  3. Hannah
  4. Donna
  5. Portia
  6. Melanie
  7. Sarah
  8. Rachel
  9. Naty
  10. Hannah
  11. Callum

(If you’ve already done this award tag or don’t like the questions, no pressure! On the other hand, if you’re not tagged but do like the questions, feel free to participate! Be sure to link back so I can see your answers! 🙂 )

My Questions to you:

  1. What’s a book you LOVED but have never reread?
  2. Is there a genre (or subgenre) you tried recently and realized you’ve been missing out on and/or should read more often?
  3. How often do you visit your local library?
  4. What are your most and least favorite things (one each) about where you live?
  5. Is there a book you want to read eventually, just to say you’ve read it?
  6. What’s the best weather for an afternoon of reading?
  7. What book are you most anticipating with a far out publication date (or no date announced yet)?
  8. Buddy reads or readathons, and why?
  9. If you had to write/blog under a pseudonym, what would you pick?
  10. Would you feel satisfied or disappointed to actually reach the end of your TBR?
  11. Pet pictures! Or a picture of your favorite real-life creature from anywhere in the world.


And that’s a wrap! Thanks again to Elysa!


The Literary Elephant

The Literary Fiction Book Tag

I was tagged by Rachel for this one, and all of her answers are so spot-on that I highly recommend checking out her post if you’re looking for more lit fic recommendations and haven’t seen it yet! I’m also going to mention that Jasmine’s Reads is the creator for this post, so if you’re looking for a booktube version of the tag to check out, Jasmine’s original post is excellent, and a great place to start!

On to the prompts! (I’m trying not to repeat titles I’ve already seen used in order to spread the love more widely, which means some of my favorites have sadly been excluded. But even so, every book named here was a 4 or 5 star read for me that I highly recommend!)

1 – How do you define literary fiction?


This is, admittedly, a very slippery term to define, and seems to differ from reader to reader. For me, the main difference (while also acknowledging plenty of overlap in the middle) is that genre fiction is more focused on providing entertainment where literary fiction is more focused on testing the boundaries of its form by experimenting with language, structure, and style. Which isn’t to say that genre fiction doesn’t try new things and use meaningful themes that can be just as groundbreaking and impactful, or that lit fic isn’t entertaining; what I mean is that genre fiction is more constrained, aiming to reach a specific goal (to solve a mystery, to bring two lovers together, to explore a scientific hypothetical, etc.) using a repeatable formula, where literary fiction tends to wander off the known paths in favor of exploring the state of human nature or the world at large. I do not think literary fiction belittles genre fiction, but I do think both types approach their stories in different ways. Literary fiction is playful and experimental in a way that shows it is as aware of the fact that it is a book as that it is a story.

2 – Name a literary fiction novel with a brilliant character study


Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi is a book about a Nigerian person whose body houses several different spirits (ogbanje); though each of these is a separate entity with its own desires and motivations, the book as a whole is an exploration of identity and madness, of defining the self when none of the modern labels seem to fit. It’s both a very specific look at one character’s conflicting sense of self (with one foot solidly in Igbo culture), and a broader reminder that some identifiers- like gender, sexuality, and mental disorders- don’t always apply neatly.

3 – Name a literary fiction novel that has experimental or unique writing


Women Talking by Miriam Toews is a short work of fiction inspired by a real (awful) event- the women of a Menonite colony have been subdued and raped by the men that are their husbands, brothers, and neighbors. What’s interesting about the writing is that several colony women have gathered to decide how to respond to their attackers, and the entire book is comprised of the recorded minutes of their meeting. Though some readers are put off by the fact that the women are unable to write and must thus employ one of the colony men for this task, I think his opinionated account and seemingly random tangents muddying the record further display the level of helplessness these women are dealing with and must overcome if they want their situation to change.

4 – Name a literary fiction novel with an interesting structure


From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan is one example of a structure trend that I particularly enjoy- the narrative is divided into three sections that each follow a different character. Their stories at first seem completely unrelated, and it isn’t until the final closing section of the novel that one action aligns the three men and intertwines their fates. Until that moment, the novel feels like a set of distinct vignettes or short stories, each interesting in their own right but so much stronger when woven together as a whole.

5 – Name a literary fiction novel that explores social themes


Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli is a current Booker Prize nominee and former Women’s Prize nominee that highlights the conflict of immigration and nativism, and the current problem at the US southern border. This book also has an interesting structure and writing style, but what stood out to me most was its exploration of indigenousness both historically and as a crucial ingredient in today’s political climate.

6 – Name a literary fiction novel that explores the human condition


Human Acts by Han Kang is a hard-hitting novel about the 1980 uprising in Gwangju (South Korea). Though it describes some of the specific hardships (death, torture, and imprisonment, to name a few) suffered by the working class at this time, the book’s thematic focus is on the cruelty and vulnerability of human nature. Though the narrative arc follows the affects and aftereffects of one eventful month in one certain place, Kang’s speculations about humanity apply with much wider scope.

7 – Name a brilliant literary-hybrid genre novel

(I’m going to follow Rachel’s lead here and list a few, because I love these hybrids and it’s hard to choose.)

There’s Severance by Ling Ma, an apocolyptic (sci-fi) literary blend that features zombies and a running commentary on the perils of following the herd; it’s a satire on the mind-numbing routine of rote work and the pursuit of money over one’s dreams.

There’s also The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, a fantasy literary blend that alternates between an intergalactic plot full of revenge and assassins, and a tragic family saga full of ruination and death. The wildly different pieces of this story shouldn’t work together, but somehow they do- seamlessly. Ultimately it’s a tale of heartbreak and loss, and the unknowing ways we hurt the ones we love.

Then there’s The Need by Helen Phillips, a horror literary blend in which one frightening supernatural element (it’s best not to know specifics in advance) leads our main character into a spiral of uncertainty about who she is, what she will do to protect her family, where to draw the line between her self and her role as a mother. It’s an excellent dive into how much a parent can or can’t endure, and what we see when we look into our own souls.


8 – What genre do you wish was mixed with literary fiction more?

This is tough, because I like so many genres that I would really read any literary/genre mix. But I suppose I especially enjoy the dark and bizarre, so anything frightening, otherworldly, or just plain weird is something I want to see a literary version of. So… horror? Sci-fi? Fantasy?


Katie, Portia, and Diana. (No pressure, of course, but I’d love to see your answers if you decide to try the tag!) Also tagging anyone who hasn’t been tagged yet and wants to jump on board! Please link back if you do, so I can see your fave lit fic books! 🙂


The Literary Elephant


Soul Ripping Romance Tag

I am skipping Top of the TBR this week because I only had three books to talk about today anyway, and more importantly because there’s an Amazon protest going on until the 16th and I don’t want to log into Goodreads (which is Amazon-based) in the meantime.

Which means this is the perfect time for a tag- and thanks to the kind and wonderful Naty (who nominated me for this one; check out her post here!), I have the perfect tag in mind!

“It feels intellectually unserious to concern himself with fictional people marrying one another. But there it is: literature moves him.” -Sally Rooney, Normal People 

The Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you and create a pingback to the original author – Nel at Reactionary Tales.
  • Share at least 5 (but more are welcome) romances that tugged your heart strings. They can be from books, movies, TV shows, manga; anything you can think of! They can be examples of sad tears, angry tears, happy tears or a combination of all three.
  • Nominate 5 (or more) people to share their emotional traumas
  • (Note: Try not to spoil the story for your readers in case they would like to check out these romances on their own)

The Romances

  1. crookedkingdomLeigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. Romance-driven fantasies don’t often work for me, but when the romance is a background detail I tend to love it. Romance is definitely not the Point of Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, and for that reason I think the relationships feel so much stronger. There’s also the fact that they’re friendship-based, which is excellent. I particularly love the way Kaz and Inej skirt around each other (though Jesper and Wylan are also adorable and Nina and Matthias are clearly meant for each other). I desperately want Kanej to have an honest conversation about their feelings, but I do not want the eventual third book in this series cheapening the romance with too much wish fulfillment. *fingers crossed for subtle greatness*
  2. theblindassassinMargaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. I use this book in tags as often as I can, because though the pace is a bit slow the payoff was huge for me, (and it fits so many prompts!). It’s a genre-bending novel by one of my favorite writers, part family saga, part fantasy- and completely, utterly tragic. The chapters switch in and out of a mysterious ongoing affair throughout most of the novel, but the heart-wrenching love story comes in a bit later. It all fits together so incredibly, I doubt I’ll ever forget this one.
  3.  Margaret Mitchell’s gonewiththewindGone With the Wind. This was one of the first classics I ever read, and I was young enough at the time that reading it opened doors for me, so it holds a special place of honor in my reading life. This is another tragic romance, in my opinion. Scarlet O’Hara was the first unlikable character that I ever really appreciated. She’s so set on having what (and whom) everyone else seems to want that she can’t see what’s in front of her, which might be a better match. Her love life was always destined to go awry because dissatisfaction with her lot (even when everything is grand) is her modus operandi, and frankly, that’s why I found her choices so compelling.
  4. conversationswithfriendsSally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends. Naty already used Normal People, so I have to go with Rooney’s other novel because I can’t refrain from including one! The relationships in Rooney’s books are just brilliant- awkward, difficult, somewhat inappropriate, and completely captivating. Though Normal People resonated with me more, Conversations with Friends was delightful to read. It gave me a lot of anxiety because as usual the characters repeatedly make poor decisions without learning from them, but the intensity of emotion that Rooney manages to invoke- all kinds of emotion- is only further proof of her skill.
  5. Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. thetruthaboutforeverI figured that with this being a romance tag, I should at least pick one book that’s an actual romance novel. Here is a YA contemporary romance that I first fell in love with at age 12, and reread (for the first time in a long time) in 2017 only to fall in love with it all over again. Sarah Dessen is one of my most nostalgic tween/teen authors, and I was so relieved to discover upon the reread that I enjoy her work just as much as an adult. The Wish Catering crew in this novel is probably my favorite fictional friend group of all time, the romance is a slow-burn built on honesty, and underneath the banter are heavier themes like handling grief, finding a self-identity separate from what others expect of you, and refraining from judging others because there’s always more to them than you see on the surface. I am not a YA contemporary romance reader anymore. But I will 10/10 read this again and love it just as much.

The Tags

I’ve tagged a bunch of specific people in my last few tag posts, so I’m going to open it up in this one instead, to whoever wants to participate. If you’ve read this far and your heart has ever stirred for fictional characters, consider yourself tagged!

What’s your favorite romance of all time?


The Literary Elephant


Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag 3.0

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

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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

the dirt

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

See the source image

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