Category Archives: Book tags

Book Postscript 2018 Tag

One last look back at 2018 before we get too far into new, exciting reads! I was tagged by Rachel for these out-of-the-ordinary superlatives.

1. The longest book you read this year, and the book that took you the longest to finish:

Interestingly, Stephen King fits both of these answers. It was the longest book I read in 2018 with a grand total of 1,156 pages. I buddy read this book over the course of a month, but it didn’t really take me that long to read. I focused on it for two or three days each week for four weeks, and it flew by. I loved it, even while I read other books on the side.

For the book that took me the longest to finish I could go several ways, but I’m choosing not to name any of the books that I paused and returned to months later- instead I’m naming the book that I consistently tried and failed to finish: the third novella in The Bachman Books (only about 200 pages, titled Roadwork) was my sole reading focus for over two weeks and I just could not get through it. This collection of 4 novellas took me a whole month to finish though it was nearly 500 pages shorter than It and I wasn’t reading anything else in the meantime. The Bachman Books slumped me.

2. A book you read in 2018 that was outside of your comfort zone:

askingforit

I did a lot of branching out this past year, but the title I want to talk about here is a YA contemporary that I did not expect to find especially challenging: Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It. I read several books (YA and adult) in 2018 that dealt with rape culture, but this one was absolutely brutal to read. The fact that it felt so plausible and relevant really got under my skin. This book made it to my favorites list for the year, despite the unlikable main character and downright disturbing turn of events, but I still can’t think about it without cringing- it’s that powerful.

3. How many books did you reread in 2018?

I haven’t been rereading much in recent years, but I would like to change that. In 2018 I reread four books, and took quite a journey through examining my changed opinions. This is not the first year I’ve reread Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s Hawksong, a favorite from my middle school days, and I still enjoy that one with all its nostalgia, though its sequel (Snakecharm) didn’t impress me this time around.

But I’ve also been undertaking a bigger project, rereading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga one chapter per day in order to make a study of how my reading tastes have changed over the years. I finished both New Moon and Eclipse in 2018, and came up with some interesting reflection posts for both (linked through the titles). Though I don’t enjoy the series anymore, pushing through one chapter per day and asking myself what I liked about the books originally and why I dislike those same things now was a very interesting and educational exercise. I do intend to finish the reread with Breaking Dawn in 2019, but I’m also hoping to pick up some rereads that I actually expect to enjoy!

4. Favorite reread of 2018:

Probably Hawksong by default because it was the only really good rereading experience I had in 2018. It’s been one of my all-time favorites since I was eleven or twelve, and even though I’m not longer obsessed with it I do still find YA fantasy elements that I appreciate in the short and sweet reread.

But my Eclipse reread generated one of my favorite posts of the year as well, so I guess I’m glad I suffered through that one also.

5. A book you read for the first time in 2018 that you look forward to rereading in the future:

I could list so many! But to name a few, Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin is an epic fantasy/family saga with a brilliant ending that will definitely change the way I see the rest of the book the next time I pick it up. I also loved Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Anna Burns’s Man Booker-winning Milkmanboth of which I look forward to enjoying all over again in the future.

6. Favorite single short story or novella that you read in 2018:

thebachmanbooks

I didn’t read very many short stories last year, and I didn’t like many of the few that I did read. So we’re back to Stephen King’s The Bachman Books for my favorite novella: The Long Walk. It’s a creepy story about 99 teenage boys who walk until they die– and one who outlasts them all. I liked it enough to finish it in one day during my busiest time of year, and bought my own copy of the single story after returning the collection to the library.

7.  Mass appeal- a book you liked and would recommend to a wide variety of readers:

I’m taking a surprising break from fiction here to recommend an essay and an essay collection. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. should be required reading; it’s a short, historical, and still impactful examination of human rights, and I’m so glad I finally read it in full. If you need more incentive, it now comes in this cute tiny bindup from the Penguin Modern collection.

Additionally, Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay, is a collection of essays in a variety of forms from men and women who have something to say about rape culture. This is the book you never knew you needed until you started reading it. It sounds straightforward, but each of the thirty essays shows a different angle to a problem we’ve all seen and experienced in some form or another.

8. Specialized appeal- a book you liked but would be hesitant to recommend to just anyone:

thepisces

Melissa Broder’s The Pisces is a fantastic novel about a student struggling more than she can admit to finish her thesis, and the merman she falls in love with in the meantime. I picked this up in the midst of the mermaid-book-fever this summer and can honestly say it’s one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read. Also one of the most compelling. But the main character is rather unlikable and the merman romance is rather graphic, and I honestly don’t know who I would recommend it to who would embrace the abrasive details to appreciate the unique voice that drives this novel. It’s seriously good, but also seriously weird.

9. Reflect on your year as a bookish content creator (goals met, good/bad memories, favorite videos blog posts you made, etc):

I don’t really set blogging goals for myself, other than just not to quit. Talking about books is what I do for fun, so I like to just keep it fun and not make a chore of it for myself. But I did manage to complete every post that I meant to in 2018, and I am glad I kept coming back to the blog despite some disruptions in my real life schedule. I know I tend to post way more reviews here than anything else, but that’s what I like to write most so I don’t mind? I hope you don’t mind either.

One post I’m particularly happy with this year, and that I think I’ll keep up in the future, was my 2018 Almost-Favorites. Maybe every year I won’t have so many, but in 2018 I had so many runners-up favorites that I didn’t want to be left out of my end-of-the-year lists, and Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect time to talk about those second-best books that I appreciated throughout the year.

10. Tag some fellow bookish content creators

I fell a bit behind between Christmas and New Year’s this year, so I’m not entirely sure who’s already posted what for wrap-ups. And so as I continue to catch up with viewing those, I tag anyone who feels up to answering these questions! Please link back so I can check out your answers, as I do love wrap-ups, and I think these are great questions!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

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Coffee Book Tag

I was tagged by Rachel for this one; she admits to not drinking coffee, but my confession might be worse: I don’t really like any warm beverages. Or even iced coffee. I drink maybe two cups of tea per year and otherwise just stick mainly to water. But a preference for coffee does not seem to actually be required for this tag, so I’m going to have some fun with it anyway. Here we go:

(P.S. cute font graphics totally borrowed from Romie We Deserve Love)

(P.P.S. titles are linked to my reviews, where applicable)

black coffeeA Series That’s Tough to Get Into But Has Hardcore Fans

redrisingcoverThe Red Rising saga by Pierce Brown. This is a dystopian sci-fi series set in space, and it seems like that’s enough info to turn a lot of readers away. Furthermore, the first book is the weakest of the series, in my opinion. Brown lays some groundwork, but there are some unfortunate parallels to concepts from The Hunger Games in that first book that turn even more readers away. I would definitely advise reading at least through book 2 before deciding, because once you’re hooked, you’re really hooked. The Howlers are an intense  wolf-cloak wearing fanbase that I am happy to be a part of- minus the wolf cloak.

peppermint mochaA Book That Gets More Popular During the Winter or a Festive Time of Year

achristmascarolcoverA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This seems obvious to read around the winter holiday season, but I read it for the first time last year. I was already familiar with the story, but had never actually read Dickens’s original, and it is definitely worth the read. It’s a classic about kindness and generosity during festive times of year, with a supernatural twist, and it’s not too religion-focused for those who don’t celebrate Christmas.

hot chocolateA Favorite Children’s Book

thecityofembercoverThe City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. This is one of the first chapter books I remember reading in elementary school that interested me in the weird and bizarre. I didn’t know about genres back then, but I did learn pretty young that I like books that turn the real world upside down and inside out. Books that toe the line between reality and fantasy. Other favorites from this era in my life include Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Joseph Bruchac’s Skeleton Man, and The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

double shot of espressoA Book That Kept You On the Edge of Your Seat From Start to Finish

darkmattercoverDark Matter by Blake Crouch. This is a science fiction thriller that constantly surprised me. I think the fact that I didn’t know much about dark matter and hadn’t read a thriller for a while probably contributed to how well this one worked for me, but I loved the otherworldliness of the twists and the exploration of “what if you had made different choices in your life?” I never knew what to expect next, and that’s exactly what I was looking for when I picked up this book.

starbucksA Book You See Everywhere

itcoverIt by Stephen King. With a new 2 part-film halfway released, this thousand page monster has been seeing a lot of fresh attention over the last year or so, and I doubt that’ll go away until the excitement from the second film dies down. This one has a strong magical/sci-fi element even by Stephen King standards, but it was the characterization that I loved most. Watching the 6 kids from the Losers Club navigate childhood fears and bullies and seeing them return to their haunted hometown as adults was absolutely fascinating, and they remain some of my favorite King characters.

that hipster coffee shopA Book by an Indie Author

aluckymancoverA Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley. This is probably not exactly what the prompt wants me to do, as this book was a contender for the National Book Award and is thus not so obscure, but it’s got less than 500 ratings on Goodreads so I’m going ahead. I haven’t even actually read this book yet, but I fully intend to, and I hope a lot of others will as well; Brinkley was one of my creative writing teachers at the University of Iowa, and at that time I don’t believe he’d had anything published yet. So it was pretty awesome to look at the National Book Award nominees this year and see a writer that I actually knew and wanted to support for that reason. Unfortunately, though he was shortlisted, he didn’t win. But I liked what I heard of his work back then, and I’m looking forward to picking this one up.

decafA Book You Were Expecting More From

snapcoverSnap by Belinda Bauer. I decided to read the entire Man Booker longlist this year, and this thriller was the first title I picked up. I’ve been looking for a really impressive thriller all year, and I thought that one longlisted for a literary prize might be exactly what I wanted- but it fell short. Though I liked some of the ideas and characters that went into this story, Snap was riddled with so many plot-holes and problems that I ended up pretty frustrated with it.

the perfect blend A Book or Series That Was Both Bitter and Sweet, but Ultimately Satisfying

emmacoverEmma by Jane Austen. This book is full of dramatic irony; it was so frustrating at times to watch the characters make choices that the reader knows are mistakes, but rewarding in the end to see them overcome their earlier failings. I have not quite read all of Austen’s novels yet, but this seems the one that best shows off her skill as a writer, while also featuring the sort of heartwarming romance that she’s best known for.

green teaA Book or Series That is Quietly Beautiful

faithfulcoverFaithful by Alice Hoffman. Though this book starts with a difficult tragedy and the main character takes a lot of time to figure out how to cope with it, it was heartwarming seeing her find her way at last. Also, she adopts a lot of dogs along the way- as a cat person, I must say that the dogs must’ve really been written well to impress even me. (Also I really love looking at that beautiful floral blue cover.)

chai latteA Book or Series That Makes You Dream of Far-Off Places

origincoverOrigin by Dan Brown. Actually the entire Robert Langdon series. I used to read these books because I liked the action and the puzzles, but even though Origin didn’t impress me the same way, it was still full of art and cultures that I would love to see in person. Particularly in this latest book, the Guggenheim Museum of modern art, in Bilbao. Looking up images of the art described was probably my favorite part of reading this book, and it’s the locations rather than the plots that have stuck with me from the previous books in the series.

earl greyA Favorite Classic

rebeccacoverRebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I love classics. I don’t read enough of them, considering how much I enjoy them. This is just the most recent classic I’ve added to my favorites shelf, a Gothic romance with an emphasis on the psychological. Other classic favorites include: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, and George Orwell’s 1984 (though the scene with the rats will always haunt me).
taggingNone, actually. I’m going to leave it open to whoever likes coffee and/or books and wants to try this tag. Link me if you’re interested, I’d love to see some more answers!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

My Bad Reading Habits

I was tagged a while back by Rachel to show some of my bookish bad habits. So many of her points were relatable, but there are plenty of bad habits to go around… here are some of mine:

  • Thinking about my rating way too early – I don’t generally take any notes for my reviews until after I’ve finished reading, but I do try to keep up an ongoing mental roster of impressions. And thinking about what I want to include in my review always leads to thinking about how many stars I’m going to give. To an extent, knowing whether it’s a 5-star read or a 2-star read is going to impact the sort of review I’ll be writing, but it is totally unfair to any book to try forming a solid judgement when I’m only halfway or a third through the book. And by the time I get to the end, it doesn’t matter what I thought earlier anyway, because the rating almost always seems obvious by then, so all that worrying ahead of time about whether I’m going to say it’s a good book or not is just wasted worry anyway. Like I need more anxiety in my life.
  • Committing myself to too many books – I’m not generally bad at math, but almost every month I have the same problem with overbooking my reading schedule. I pick up 5 books at the library thinking, “yeah, I read more than that in a month, I can handle this,” and then I pull 5 books off my TBR shelf thinking the same thing, and at no point do I think “well, I average more like 8 books a month so I actually have to choose which of these stacks is more important.” And then I borrow a book from a friend and agree to a buddy read and decide to read a prize longlist.
  • Checking the page count first – Before I buy a book, I check the page count. Before I check out a book from the library, I check the page count. When a book I’ve ordered comes in the mail, the first thing I do is check the page count. Unless the book is extremely short or extremely long, the number has no bearing on when I will read the book. I just like to know. The reason I consider this a bad habit and not just a weird one is that looking up the page count means seeing the last page of a book first, and I concentrate so hard on not reading any of the ending that sometimes I accidentally see some of the ending just because I’m so focused on the fact that it’s there. I hate spoilers; I don’t know why I can’t stop checking the page count to help myself avoid them.
  • Mood buying when I’m not mood reading – I didn’t own a lot of books as a kid and as a teen. The school library and the public library were easily available, I was big on rereading, and I didn’t have an allowance or a nearby bookstore. Just in the last 3 or so years I’ve developed a problem with buying way more books than I can keep up with reading. Other than the numbers of what I’m buying and what I’m reading simply not matching up (apparently I’m just bad at book math in general), my biggest issue is that I buy what I’m craving to read, but then I don’t read what I’m craving and the mood passes. I definitely own books that I think I would have appreciated more if I had read them right away instead of waiting. Which goes hand in hand with:
  • Saving the best for last – If I have two unread books in my hands, one of them inevitably excites me more than the other. Instead of reading the exciting one, I start with the one I’m not as sure about so I can end on a high note. Except by the time I’ve read that less-exciting book, I’ve got two more books in my hands, and I’m picking up the less exciting one again just to get that out of the way. And the cycle continues, because there are always new books and I can’t stop buying and borrowing. But if I keep on saving the best for last, I will never get to those books I’m most excited about. I know that no matter how many years I live, I will die with hundreds of books left on various TBR lists. So why am I saving the good books? Why do I put aside books I’m incredibly excited about or interested in? The world may never know. This is the habit I most want to break, because… it’s ridiculous. I need to become one of those Eat Dessert First people.

I’m tagging: Amanda, Nirmala, Claire, and anyone else who wants to confess some bad reading habits. (No pressure of course.) Comment below or link back so I can see your habits!

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Disclaimer: If you’ve noticed that I’ve basically fallen off the face of book earth lately (or if you haven’t), it’s just because fall is a crazy busy time in my life, and I do plan to catch up on what I’m not posting now when I have time again later. But A few weeks ago Rachel tagged me for The Sunshine Blogger Award, and answering some bookish questions is just what I needed this week. Thanks, Rachel!

sunshinebloggeraward

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog to this post
  2. Answer the eleven questions asked by your nominator
  3. Nominate eleven bloggers
  4. Ask them eleven questions, different to the ones you’ve answered
  5. List the rules
  6. Display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and blog

Rachel’s Questions:

What’s the worst book you had to read for school?

Grand Opening by Jon Hassler. I actually liked most of the books that I had to read for school, but this one immediately comes to mind. I went to high school in Minnesota even though I lived in Iowa, and we were assigned this book because it was set in Minnesota and was written by a Minnesotan, so in addition to just finding the story pretty boring it also felt irrelevant to me in the spirit of supporting home-state authors that it was presented to me with.

Within your own country, where would you most like to visit that you haven’t already been?

New York City. For most of my childhood, I wanted to live in New York after graduating high school, but then I was pretty depressed around that time and gave up a lot of things. I’m not really interested in setting up my life there anymore, but for as badly as I wanted to go then, I owe it to myself to at leas visit.

What’s the best first line of a book you’ve ever read?

I have no idea. I tend to savor them in the moment and forget them, I guess. But I just flipped through some favorites from my shelf to see if anything jumped out, so I’ll mention this opener by Lauren Slater in Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir – “I exaggerate.” That’s the whole first chapter. It’s a perfect fit for the book. (And arguably for all books. What are writers if not exaggerators?)

Do you have any tattoos and do you want any?

I don’t have any yet. I would like to get at least one, but I’m the most indecisive person alive, so I’m just waiting until I’m sure that I won’t end up hating my choice.

If you watch booktube, who’s your favorite booktuber?  If you don’t watch booktube, what’s your favorite thing to watch on youtube?

Currently Ariel Bissett, but it fluctuates. I would rather read than watch/listen to book reviews, so I like that Ariel isn’t really reading and posting about the most popular books at the moment, though her content’s still bookish. I especially liked her recent documentary about Instagram poetry, and her “books I want to read that nobody cares about” videos.

Which classic do you think more people should read?

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. I had to read this one for school, and it didn’t sound like anything I would be interested in so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a sort of dual look at what a person will do for money, and what a person will do for love, in a great mirrored structure. I’ve recommended this one to a lot of people who don’t ordinarily read classics, because it’s easy to read and surprisingly resonant and I don’t know why more people don’t know about this book?

What would you consider the most overhyped and the most underhyped book you’ve read in the last year?

Overhyped = The Power by Naomi Alderman. I wanted to love this one because so many others seem to, but in the end I thought it had some great concepts but poor execution.

Underhyped = Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. I thought this was a brilliant novel about identity and African culture, and was sad to see it fade out of sight after its release this spring.

Would you like to work in the publishing industry, or do you prefer to keep books and reading strictly a hobby?

I actually tried (pretty half-heartedly) to get a job in editing/publishing after finishing college, but I was so burned out at the time and it was only ever second-choice to writing. So I’m taking the rest of this year to finish my first novel, and depending on how that goes I’ll regroup before moving forward, but I plan to always be doing something with books, so I would love to make a career of that in some way.

If you’re a writer, which author’s style do you think is most similar to your own?  If you’re not a writer, which author’s style do you connect with the most as a reader?

Oh gosh, it’s hard for me without ever having been published to compare myself to anyone who has been; although I’m pretty sure I’ll still have imposter syndrome long after my name is printed on books. But maybe a bit like Caroline Kepnes? Fast-paced, mysterious, contemporary, but the focus is mostly on all the weird stuff that’s going on.

What’s your least favorite book cover?

There are so many bad covers out there, it’s hard to choose. But lately I talked with my Stephen King book reading buddy about some bad covers of his books, and this is one that immediately comes to mind:

petsematary

Who’s your favorite actor/celebrity?

Can I say Evelyn Hugo? I’m fickle about non-bookish celebrities, and don’t have a go-to at the moment.

 

My questions:

  1. What was your first dream job as a kid, and did that dream get realized in any way?
  2. Are you a library person?
  3. What’s the longest book you’ve read, and was it worth the time?
  4. Is there a genre you never read? (Why?)
  5. Which book do you feel like the only person who hasn’t read yet?
  6. Do you judge a book by its title?
  7. What’s your favorite mythological creature?
  8. Is there a book you’ve loved especially because of where or when you read it?
  9. Would you be satisfied or disappointed to reach the end of your Goodreads (or other long-term) TBR?
  10. What is your favorite subject (outside of books/language) to learn about?
  11. Do you have an irrational level of fear for going blind and not being able to read any more (or is it just me)? Or another irrational fear?

Tagging:

Read Voraciously, Failing at Writing, Book Jotter, The Cozied Reader, Jenna Bookish, The Reading Chick, I’ve Read This, and anyone else who wants to answer these questions!

If you’ve already been tagged for this award recently or just aren’t interested, no pressure. If you do decide to post, please link back to me so I can see your answers! 🙂

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag (2.0)

This is a great tag for taking stock of my reading year and just sharing the bookish love. I answered the same questions for this tag last year, and I’ve been seeing it everywhere again lately so I’m picking it up for Round 2. If you’re curious for more info, all titles link back to my reviews.

The questions:

1. Best Book You’ve Read in 2018 SO FAR

notthatbad

Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. I kind of can’t believe my favorite book so far this year is nonfiction, and a collection of essays at that, but this one completely gripped me in a way that nothing else has yet in 2018. Highly recommend.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2018 SO FAR

irongold

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. This is the fourth book in the Red Rising series, and it’s  not my favorite of Brown’s books but I haven’t read many sequels this year. This one requires some patience because it’s mainly a set-up book between the original trilogy and whatever delightful chaos I’m sure is coming next, but it does some great things with characterization.

Runner-up would be Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, but I really liked Six of Crows better in that duology.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

bookhaul5.18

The Outsider by Stephen King. I hauled two books last month and read one of them, and it wasn’t the one I was most anticipating. I love King’s writing and I really want to read more of his books. I’ve read several of his old classics, but I want to check out his most recent work.

4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

providencecover

Providence by Caroline Kepnes. Sequels/new-releases-by-fave-authors are always my most anticipated because they’re the releases I watch for months, whereas new-to-me authors I like to pick up on impulse. Providence comes out tomorrow and I’ve had my eye on it a long time. I’m still reeling from the ending of Kepnes’ last release, Hidden Bodies, and even though Providence is not a sequel in the Joe Goldberg series I just need to see what Kepnes has been writing.

Runner-up would be Pierce Brown’s Dark Age, book 5 in the Red Rising series. This is probably my actual most-anticipated upcoming release, but since I already mentioned one of Brown’s books I thought I should switch things up.

5. Biggest Disappointment

thefemalepersuasion

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. This is not to be confused with The Worst Book I’ve Read in 2018 So Far, which I think would go to Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall. The Female Perusasion is simply a book I expected a lot from that I didn’t feel it delivered in the end. This is exactly why I don’t usually anticipate books by new-to-me authors: my expectations end up skewed. I really hope the next Barnes and Noble Book Club selection impresses me more, but now I know not to plan for an automatic 5-star read.

6. Biggest Surprise

freshwater thedeathofmrs.westaway

A good surprise, and a bad surprise.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi is a book I went into a little warily, having seen some positive early reviews and then absolutely nothing. I didn’t click with it immediately, but it ended up being one of my favorite books from the first half of this year.

On the other hand, The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a new release from an author I’ve loved since her first release, In a Dark, Dark Wood. I’ve always loved her atmospheric writing, but in this newest novel the atmosphere felt like a crutch that the rest of this predictable mystery had to rest on. By far my least favorite Ware book.

7. Favorite New Author

rebecca

Daphne du Maurier. I read my first du Maurier novel this year, the Gothic classic Rebecca. I loved the story, I loved the writing, and I’ll definitely be reading more of du Maurier’s books. It seems so cliche to fall in love with a classic author’s work, but Rebecca is so exactly to my taste that I can’t believe it took me so long to pick it up.

8. Newest Fictional Crush

emma

I didn’t pick one last year and my reason stands: when I like a guy in a book, I like him with his fictional counterpart; I appreciate fictional characters for the creations they are, but generally I don’t wish to meet them or date them.

But I did really enjoy reading about Mr. Knightly and Emma though, in Jane Austen’s Emma. I thought they were a great match, and that’s the best romance I’ve read this year.

9. Newest Favorite Character

thegreatalone

Leni from Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone. She’s strong and resilient and inspiring, and she really saved this book for me when I struggled with Hannah’s writing style.

Runner-up: Eleanor from Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This is another book that fell a little flat for me, but I did really enjoy reading about Eleanor and she has stuck with me since January.

10. Book That Made You Cry

theglasscastle

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. We can’t pick our parents, right? And no matter how much we love them, sometimes they make the wrong choices. I have very little in common with Walls’ story in this memoir, but a few of the details about her parents’ failures really got to me anyway. It just sucks to depend on someone who lets you down. The whimsy of most of this story made the sad parts sadder for me, so it was an all-around success.

11. Comic Book That Made You Happy

sagavolumessevenandeight

Saga: Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This one was sad and happy, but definitely one of my favorite volumes of the series. Not to be confused with volume 7, also pictured, which was just kind of uneventful, though not particularly disappointing.

12. Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

readyplayerone

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I may even have liked the film more than the book– I know, blasphemy. The book has a few great elements that the film doesn’t touch, but I thought the balance of plot and 80’s references was handled better in the film and it was just really well-done and fun to see brought to life.

13. Favorite Post You Have Done This Year

top25

Top 25 Favorite Books, 2018 edition. Every year I revise my list of top 25 favorite books of all time, and it’s definitely still a work in progress (how does anyone have one favorite book?), but I always love seeing how my tastes change from year to year, which titles stay, what new books make the list. It takes a lot of thought and effort and I always end up with a list of books I’ve loved, and love to look back on.

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

circecover

Circe by Madeline Miller. This is the UK cover, which I ordered. Both the UK and US covers are gorgeous, but I bought this one. I just love the floral pattern and the shiny bronze color and the texture of the art. And there’s another drool-worthy pattern stamped onto the actual hardcover, underneath the jacket. I haven’t actually read this one yet, but it’s coming up fast on my TBR.

15. A Book You Need to Read By the End of the Year

homefirecover

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction for 2018. There are a few others from the shortlist especially that I also want to check out, but I can’t not read the winner. Prizes aside, it just sounds like a great read: a modern Antigone retelling featuring two Muslim families. I’m hoping to get to it this summer.

 

If you’ve read this far, thanks, and consider yourself tagged. I love seeing the answers to these questions, so feel free to let me know in the comments if you’ve participated with this tag!

And that’s the end. Though I don’t actually have a lot of 5-star reads yet, I have been feeling great about my reading year. I feel like I’m learning and growing a lot as a reader in 2018, and branching out more with the books I’ve been picking up. Even the books I haven’t loved have taught me things that I’ve been applying (or removing) from my own writing as I’ve been focusing more heavily on that this year, as well. 2018 is going fast, but I can’t wait to see what fresh new surprises the second half has in store for my reading.

How’s your year going? Have you read any of these books?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

Unforgettable Bookish Memories Tag

It’s been months since I’ve done a book tag. I wasn’t tagged for this one, but I’m in the mood for some bookish questions and this is one that’s been floating around my feed lately so I’m jumping on board.

  1. The First Book You Ever Read (or was read to you) – thecrayonboxthattalked.JPGI’m looking at The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf for this one, which is a book I loved around the time I learned to read. I know my mom read a lot of books to me before I could read, but neither of us can remember a first book. I’m not even sure The Crayon Box that Talked was the first book I read myself, because I think I had the words memorized by the time I actually learned to read, and was just reciting it. But it is one of my earliest and fondest bookish memories.
  2. The first book you ever bought with your own money – ugliestrilogyScott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy (back when it was a trilogy). I was reading these in seventh grade when my parents suddenly decided that I wanted too many books and I would have to chip in if I wanted to keep adding to my bookshelves. Other than Christmas or birthdays, after Uglies I bought all of my books myself. I also started visiting the library a lot more frequently because I couldn’t afford all the books I wanted either.
  3. A book you stayed up all night reading – voyagerAll-nighters are usually guilty pleasure reads for me, because I worry that reading tired will make me miss things and I don’t want that to happen in a book I really love. One of my last all-nighters was also accidental: featuring Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. This is the third book in the Outlander series, which I was briefly obsessed with. I was planning to sleep  through the morning to make up for the lost night, but a family emergency involving a flat tire ruined that plan. I’m pretty sure I went out that same day to check out a copy of the next book in the series, even though I was probably yawning all the way through the library.
  4. What book or series will you never forget – harrypotterseriesThis is obvious, but I have to go with Harry Potter. I loved the series as a kid, but it’s also one of the few child-appropriate stories that’s just as fun to read as an adult, and not just for the nostalgia. So many times while reading YA (and I can’t read middle grade at all anymore) I’m left cringing at the way the stories seem dumbed-down and condescending, but Harry has lessons for all ages and Rowling is never talking down to her audience. Furthermore, it’s such a huge franchise that it’s a great connector for readers worldwide, and being a part of such a wide audience is pretty phenomenal.
  5. A book you frequently think about –  harperleeduo.JPGI’m going to go with two books here– To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, both by Harper Lee. The first was one of the few mandatory reading assignments from high school that I really loved, and it’s definitely remained a favorite over the years. But last year I read Go Set a Watchman, which upturns some of the assumptions made in To Kill a Mockingbird, and months later I’m still trying to sort out how I feel about the duo. I love the ways that they contrast each other and challenge perspective, but it’s definitely a set that’s hard on the heart.
  6. A scene that has haunted you for years after reading it – coralineNeil Gaiman’s Coraline includes a scene in which the main character gets trapped with the Other Mother, who has buttons for eyes. Weird eye details/injuries gross me out above all other physical details/injuries, and the button eyes of Coraline have stuck with me for years. Runner-up: Stephen King’s Misery, in which the protagonist is forced to eat his own thumb. These are the details that haunt me. (Great books though. Would read again.)
  7. An unforgettable character – sixofcrowsduoInej from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. She’s been through hell, but instead of letting it break her, every trial makes her stronger. She has an unusual and specific skill– tight-rope walking– that she turns into an admirable (though admittedly dark) career. She’s resourceful, she sets her own code to live by and sticks to it, she’s a loyal friend, and she chases her dreams. She knows when to let something go, and when to hold on. Also she’s Kaz’s best friend, which would be pretty amazing. I wouldn’t want to be either of them, but they’re inspiring to read about.
  8. A book that changed your opinion about something – gonewiththewindMargaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. This was the first classic that I read voluntarily, my freshman year of high school. It was long (over 1k pages in the mass market paperback copy I read) and I was so afraid that I was too young, that it would bore me and go over my head. But I loved it. This book started my love of classics, but perhaps more importantly, it taught me not to make assumptions about books I haven’t read, and to be more confident in my abilities.
  9. Share another bookish memory – This isn’t about a specific book, but lately I’ve been wondering if my reading rate has slowed down and I’ve been remembering this: in a high school English class, we were supposed to read so many pages per week outside of class, and then write little book reports every Tuesday and Thursday to prove we were actually reading. By the third report I realized I’d written about three different books instead of just reading the 50 pages or whatever was required, and I set a challenge for myself, to have a different book for every report. For the entire semester I read at least two books per week so that every report featured a different novel. I have no idea where I found that kind of time at that point of my life. I think  I was reading faster then, but less critically. The only book I specifically remember from those reports is The Shining.

Book nostalgia gets me every time, so these questions were right up my alley. If you’re interested in answering them, consider yourself tagged, and let me know in the comments so I can see your answers! I think it’s so incredible how people can unite over a shared love of books and still have such different memories and opinions about what they’ve read. It’s a beautiful world we live in.

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

I saw this tag on quirkyandpeculiar‘s blog, and I thought, “what a great way to check in on my progress this year and get excited about the rest of 2017!” So here we are. It’s the middle of the year, and I’m (still) freaking out about books.

  1. The best book I’ve read so far in 2017: darkmatterUgh it’s so hard! I’ve already read 53 books this year, and there have been some real gems, but I think the one that has impressed me most so far is Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. I was skeptical about the “science fiction thriller” description, but I could not put this one down, and every time I thought I had a handle on my emotions, there was another crazy plot twist. I loved every page.
  2. FullSizeRender (11)My favorite sequel of the year: This one’s easy. The Magician King by Lev Grossman is the second book in the Magicians trilogy, and by far the best of the three. It has a constant sense of adventure, unforeseeable plot twists, fantastically flawed characters, magical danger, and so so much more. I’ve had a long-standing opinion of second books in a series being the worst, but sequels have definitely improved lately. I can’t wait for the episodes corresponding with this part of the trilogy to appear on Netflix.
  3. A new release I haven’t read but really want to: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. So many great books came out this May (and other months, but especially May) that I haven’t gotten around to because I’m still trying to read everything else I’ve missed in earlier years and before I was born and really one lifetime is not enough for all the reading I want to fill it with. So frustrating. Being able to catch up on my reading for the rest of eternity is the only reason I would consider vamprisim.
  4. My most anticipated release for the second half of the year: Again, so hard because there are so many, but I’m going with Ruth Ware’s July release, The Lying Game. I’ve been waiting for this one since finishing The Woman in Cabin 10 last summer and the release date is finally almost here, so this one’s high on my radar of new releases at the moment.
  5. My biggest disappointment of 2017: caraval Stephanie Garber’s Caraval. There was so much hype for this book, but I didn’t really like much more than the atmosphere of it. I had issues with a lot of the relationships (especially the one between the sisters), and the characters I was most interested in seemed overlooked. I have higher hopes for the sequel, and I didn’t entirely hate Caraval, but I was expecting greatness and I was disappointed.
  6. gosetawatchmanMy biggest surprise of the year: This one’s definitely Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. I can’t believe I managed to avoid being spoiled on the big surprise in this book because it’s pretty controversial. It wasn’t a great surprise or a terrible surprise for me, it was just a giant shock. I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and have been living with pretty solid opinions of it, but Go Set a Watchman threw everything I thought I knew into question. It was a major shock to be so uprooted about something as steadfast as a literary classic.
  7. Favorite new-to-you or debut author: I iletyougobelieve she was a debut author in 2016, but I read Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go earlier this year and loved it. At first I thought it had a slow start, but then I realized that there were clues woven into that first part so expertly that they’re almost completely invisible until things speed up. And then they never slow down again. I’ve been loving thrillers lately, and this one has been one of my favorites. I’m planning to read her newer release soon.
  8. FullSizeRender (18)My new fictional crush: I’m not sure what to say here because I don’t approach book boyfriends like lots of other girls. When I appreciate a fictional man in a book, I generally appreciate him with whoever he’s with in the book, or for whoever he should be with in his respective fictional world. Even in my fictional fantasies, I’m still me, and I need a person suited to me, not suited to the fictional girl he’s adoring. That said, I think Nikolai Lantsov from the Grisha trilogy is pretty fantastic.
  9. My new favorite character: Lucienacourtofwingsandruin from Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Book three, the recently released ACOWAR, lays the groundwork for a lot of the secondary characters to become major focuses in the three upcoming related books, and while several of them are quite intriguing, I think I’m most interested in getting a closer look at who Lucien is as a character and what will happen with him next.
  10. FullSizeRender (3)A book that made me cry: Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places has some pros and cons, but it did remind me of what it’s like to feel completely alone even when there are people who care. I was so sure that this was going to be a romance that I didn’t look closely enough at the upcoming disaster and was so much more sad than I expected when it struck.
  11. A book that made me happy: This may thefemaleofthespeciessound odd, but I’m going with Mindy McGinnis’s The Female of the Species. For a hard-hitting YA book with messages about rape, trauma, and grief, this one left me feeling fiercely proud of my gender and of the progress that females have made in recent years toward becoming a strong presence in the world. Even though this is a serious story, it’s also full of hope for the future.
  12. My favorite book-to-movie adaptation that I’ve seen this year: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t watched many adaptations lately. But I did watch the entire second season of Outlander this spring, which I liked far better than its corresponding book (Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber), and the Outlander TV show has earned its current place as my all-time favorite book-to-TV adaptation so far.
  13. thisadventureendsThe most beautiful book I’ve bought/received this year: Emma Mills’s This Adventure Ends is gorgeous, and I’m partially looking forward to reading it just for an extra excuse to take some pictures of it. I’m not very good at photography, as you’ve probably noticed if you follow my blog, so I generally don’t even try until I’m actually reading the book, but here’s a picture of the cover from the internet to show you what I mean about the cover in the meantime.
  14. Some books I need to read by the end of the year: SO MANY. My TBR is back up over 300 on Goodreads again, which is higher than where it started at the beginning of the year, though I’m only 20 books away from reaching my goal for the year. But some of my top priorities for 2017 are: The Hobbit, by Tolkien, because I still haven’t read any Tolkien books and I swear this is the year. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare because if I reach this point it will mean I’ve succeeded with my Shadownhunters marathon of 2017. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen because why haven’t I read this? Also I want to read it before Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, which is also on my TBR. And some upcoming releases are on my 2017 MUST-READ list, like Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints, Andy Weir’s Artemis, Ryan Graudin’s Invictus, Kristin Cashore’s Jane, Unlimited, and probably a lot more that I’m going to sacrifice sleep to find time for.

And a bonus question of my own:

15. A book I’ve been meaning to read in 2017 but haven’t yet: V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic has been on one of my TBRs already, and it’s been on my mind all year even when I haven’t felt up to starting what’s probably going to end up being a three-book marathon. It’s definitely going to happen soon, though. Now that all three books are out, there’s no more reason for hesitation.

That’s the end of the tag, and since I haven’t been tagged I won’t tag anyone, but please let me know if you’re participating in this tag because I’d love to see more answers! I’d especially appreciate seeing anyone incorporating my bonus question into the tag, because I think it’s interesting to see how people’s reading tastes and priorities change, even month to month, and sometimes the things we put off tell as much about our experiences as the things we achieve.

How’s your reading progress going this year?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant