Tag Archives: book tag

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. (I forgot and logged on yesterday when I FINALLY finished reading The Stand– it’s disturbing to realize how automatic logging into Goodreads is!- but I’m fully committed now.)

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

 

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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

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

astormofswords

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

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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

99percentmine

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

ghostwall

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

thebridetest

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

mysistertheserialkiller

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

norwegianwood

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

daisyjonesandthesix

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

dumplin

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

womensprizelonglist19

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…

faberstories1

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

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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

Mystery Blogger Award

I was tagged by Sarah for this fun award! I’ve been saving it for a while in order to post something different in the middle of my long buddy read of The Stand, which has been taking up a lot of my reading and reviewing time. If you’re not already following Sarah you should definitely check out her blog, she’s a delightful human and her reviews are always so thoughtful and thorough!

What’s the Mystery Blogger Award?

“It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Okoto enigma

The original creation post comes from Okoto Enigma’s Blog!

Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Answer the 5 questions you were asked
  6. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  7. Nominate 10 – 20 people
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  9. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  10. Share a link to your best post(s)

Questions to Answer

  1. What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently? – Ooh, this is tough, as I haven’t watched any movies in a couple of months! I think the last I saw was Bohemian Rhapsody, right in the midst of my Daisy Jones craze this spring, which made it a perfect fit!
  2. How often do you make music playlists? – Only once or twice a year. I tend to spend a lot of time carefully curating them to my current taste and adding a ton of songs so that I can use them for ages, until I feel like my life has changed enough that I need an all-new soundtrack.
  3. What’s the last book you were gifted? – One of my friends gave me One Day in December by Josie Silver as a belated Christmas gift. I haven’t yet read it because I want to pick it up in December- we exchanged gifts on New Year’s Eve so there wasn’t time last year!
  4. What are you looking forward to right now? – I’m really looking forward to the announcement of the Man Booker longlist! I had so much fun following along with the Women’s Prize this spring (even though it didn’t turn out as I’d hoped it would) that I’m excited to start again with another prize! Even though I’m not fully committing to reading the entire longlist before seeing it, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do so.
  5. [weird question] If you could switch places with one actor in any scene in any movie/TV show, which would it be? –  [appropriately weird answer, lol] I would want Leonardo DiCaprio’s role on Titanic when the ship first sets out. Waving to the crowds and all. Titanic sank on my birthday (historically; I wasn’t born in 1912) and I’ve always been fascinated with the story of its sinking. So many things had to happen in the exact way that they did for that disaster to have been as bad as it was, it’s eerie. But when the ship sets sail on its first and only voyage, what a time to be alive, right? I would’ve loved to be on Titanic. Except not really, because of the 1,500+ people dying and all. So movie Titanic would be the best option, really. Rose just doesn’t have the right level of enthusiasm, but for Jack it’s the best time of his life. That’s the closest I’d like to get to experiencing Titanic.

About me

  1. I collect postcards. I haven’t been many places, but I ask my family and friends to pick them up for me as well so I’ve gathered probably upwards of 200? Looking at places I want to go is very conducive to goal setting for me.
  2. I have never been able to fall asleep while reading. I get tired, but I have to put the book down and make the choice to close my eyes before I’m able to sleep.
  3. My favorite food is probably popcorn. I like a lot of other things, but popcorn is the only food I don’t think I have ever or would ever turn down, if offered.

Nominations

  1. Kristen @ Kristen Kraves Books
  2. Elysa @ Words Words Words
  3. Donna @ Donna’s Reading Chair
  4. Melanie @ Grab the Lapels
  5. Laura @ The Book Habit
  6. Diana @ Thoughts on Papyrus
  7. Ren @ What’s Nonfiction?
  8. Lou @ Random Book Reviews Web
  9. Anne @ I’ve Read This
  10. Jenna @ Jenna Bookish

(If you’re not tagged and want to participate, consider yourself nominated! I tagged only the minimum number of bloggers today, so feel free to jump on board if you haven’t been tagged for this lately and/or feel inspired to answer my questions!)

Questions I’m Asking

  1. What’s your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?
  2. Do the number of bookshelves that you use hold all of the books that you own and/or what do you do with overflow books?
  3. Which book-to-film adaptation do you wish would be redone?
  4. Name a story you loved as a child/teen that never gets old?
  5. [weird question] Which of your favorite characters would win a karaoke contest, and with what song?

Fave posts

  • I had a lot of fun assembling my Women’s Prize longlist wrap-up, especially since this was the first year I managed to keep up with the prize schedule. I also loved chatting with everyone else who read longlisted titles this year!
  • Almost-favorites is a list I started last Thanksgiving, that I intend to continue on a yearly basis. This list highlights top contenders that don’t quite make it to my favorite reads of the year list, though I still consider them valuable moments in my reading life.
  • Top of the TBR is a new series I’ve started that I really love posting every week. It’s easy to keep up with, but it also builds a lot of bookish excitement for me. I’ve linked the most recent addition.

Thanks again to Sarah for the tag!

I really enjoy the tags/awards that look different every time you see them; there’s so much room for creativity here. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is your chance! And even if you have, this is a great post to repeat with different questions and answers. Happy blogging, all!

 

The Literary Elephant

Tag: Spring Cleaning

I was nominated for this Spring Cleaning bookish tag by Hannah last month! I’ve fallen desperately behind this season between being busy and a bit of a reading/blogging slump, but I had a lot of fun putting this one together and it’s still spring in my corner of the world, so thanks for the tag, Hannah!

The Struggle of Getting Started: A Book or Series You Struggle to Begin Because of Its Size

11264999I’d have to say A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. I struggle with picking up every single one of the books in this series, even though I love the world and story and do delight in reading them once I get going. I believe the shortest of the series is the first book, A Game of Thrones, which stands at over 800 pages (at least in the copy that I own). I’m currently hesitating about picking up book 4, but I think I’ll get around to it in about a week or so.

Cleaning Out the Closet: A Book or Series You Want to Unhaul

6186357The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. After the harassment allegations against Dashner a couple of years ago I no longer want to support his writing in any way. I’ve been hesitating because The Death Cure (book 3, the final installment) would be the first book I’ve bought and then unhauled without reading, which doesn’t sit well with me either. Though I found the plot of this story interesting, the writing style has bothered me from the first chapter of the first book, so between that and Dashner’s recent reputation, I just don’t have any interest in picking it up in order to read it to send it away- a stalemate.

Opening the Window and Letting Fresh Air In: A Book that was Refreshing

40597810Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’d heard a lot of hype, I’d seen some reviews criticizing the documentary-script-style formatting, and I wasn’t sure how interested I was in reading about a fictional 70’s rock band. But The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo had convinced me to set my expectations aside and give TJR a chance with any subject and style, and to no one’s surprise I adored almost everything about this book. By the time I finished, I found myself completely addicted to classic rock. The modern spin on this “historical” trend was perfection. Refreshing.

Washing Out the Sheets: A Scene that you Wish You Could Rewrite

39938177I really liked the plot and characters of Taylor Adams’s recent thriller, No Exit, but there was one disturbing scene that felt gratuitously cruel and ruined the suspension of disbelief for me once and for all. (It was the door hinge scene, for anyone curious who’s read the book. Not really a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t.) I’m not sure what I would have wanted to happen in place of this event, but I found it disturbing and unnecessary in a way that negatively impacted my opinion of the entire book.

Throwing Out Unnecessary Knick-Knacks: A Book in a Series You Didn’t Think Was Necessary

32283133Origin by Dan Brown. Honestly the art that I was encouraged to look up after encountering it in this novel is the only benefit I remember encountering as a result of reading this book. I loved the first three books in Brown’s Robert Langdon series when I was in high school and my first year of college. Inferno (book 4) was beginning to lose my interest, but I still found its concept intriguing (forced mass sterility as a method of worldwide population control) and was interested in Dante and his Divine Comedy at the time, so I didn’t mind. But Origin (book 5) felt completely unnecessary and frankly much less engaging than I’d found the rest of the series. So unnecessary that I’m not sure I would ever continue reading future books that might follow it someday.

Polishing Doorknobs: A Book That Had a Clean Finish

30849411I tend to prefer endings that leave something open for the reader to consider after closing the book, which is not exactly what I would call a “clean” ending. The first thing that comes to mind that might fit what I think is the spirit of this prompt is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This is a multi-generational story set in multiple locations, and though the ending was not the most impressive chapter of the book for me, I did appreciate how it tied all of the characters and their stories together without wrapping up all of the suffering in the book in an overly neat or dismissive way. Just the right amount of hope and grief.

Reaching to Dust the Fan: A Book That Tried Too Hard to Covey a Certain Message

37969723I think I’ll have to go with The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. Overall, I enjoyed this book and appreciate its themes, but after much consideration (probably due in part to the book’s inclusion on the Women’s Prize shortlist this year) I’m still not on board with the Achilles chapters. I think Barker makes a valuable point about ownership of stories and history by including him the way she does- allowing him to take over Briseis’s story- and perhaps disliking his character the way I did was the Point. But I wish she had found some other way to make this Point because the Achilles chapters continue to mildly irritate me, months later.

The Tiring Yet Satisfying Finish: A Series That was Tiring But Satisfying to Get Through

165035Last year I read Vilhelm Moberg’s (translated) Emigrants series, about a Swedish farming family relocating to the American Midwest in the mid 1800s. I found the writing a bit dry and progressed through the four books rather slowly, but ultimately look back on this series fondly. I had never before read anything remotely similar to my own family’s history, so it felt rewarding to learn about it through my favorite art medium- fiction, obviously. I’ve actually met some of my grandma’s Swedish relatives since finishing this series, and appreciated having a bit more context with Swedish history and culture prior to meeting them.

 

Since we’re just on the cusp of summer (at least we are where I’m at), I won’t obligate anyone to this decidedly spring tag. It’s definitely my own fault that I’m getting to this one so late, which is not a reflection of my enjoyment level over putting these answers together! So I’m not tagging anyone specifically, but please feel free to try it if it looks interesting to you, and link back to me so I can see your answers!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

 

The Literary Elephant

Favorite Book Quotes Tag

This tag is pretty self-explanatory, so here we go!

Rules:

  1. Mention the creator of the tag: Celine @celinelingg
  2. Mention the blogger who tagged you: Rachel @paceamorelibri
  3. List 5 of your favorite book quotes along with the reasons.
  4. Spread the love and tag some people to participate and connect!

I actually thought this was going to be more of a challenge to narrow down; I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of the quotes I mark in everything I read for…seven years or so now? But I don’t often scroll through them without looking for something specific, so I thought I would have to choose between hundreds of favorite quotes- only to realize as I started sifting through that I have a tendency toward very morbid lines. Many of my favorites are downright depressing, and that wasn’t the vibe I wanted here. Fortunately, I did find some favorites that are more fitting.

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“Everything must have a beginning…and that beginning must be linked to something that went before.”   -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Some of these quotes are meaningful to me because of the way they connect to my writing life. This first quote, from one of my all-time favorite classics, is a great reminder for a writer: nothing begins from nothing, and often the best place for a story to start is not the beginning. I also just love the romance of the notion that everything is connected to everything else, each story inseparable from the greater story that is life.

18925043“When she could see one of the sides, she was frightened; the ants had been working in all that blackness. She watched them swarm up and down, in silence, so visible, palpable. They were working away inside there as though they had not yet lost their hope of getting out.”

-Julio Cortazar, “Bestiary”

This one has haunted me, in a very lasting way. The girl in the quote is looking at an ant farm, but she is also stuck with extended family (I think) at a summer house, which is its own sort of ant farm. Some of them do want to escape. It’s such a quiet, horrifying moment born out of something that should seem ordinary. Somehow the hopelessness of the dark room makes the ants’ perseverance both better and worse. They never give up. They don’t understand that there’s no reason to keep trying. Are humans that way? In certain circumstances, perhaps. In any case, I’ve been unable to forget about these ants through the years, and “Bestiary” remains one of my all-time favorite short stories.

13547452“Coincidences happen, but I’ve come to believe they are actually quite rare. Something is at work, okay? Somewhere in the universe (or behind it), a great machine is ticking and turning its fabulous gears.”

-Stephen King, 11/22/63

This relates back to the “everything is connected” idea that I always try to keep in mind while writing, and also a reminder that coincidences in fiction rarely seem plausible. But I think it’s also a great image that depicts my love of sci-fi/fantasy or anything otherworldly/bizarre: a sort of double-image, the world superimposed over some all-encompassing thing. I have a weakness for fiction that touches on gods or dreams or fate or other big ideas that we can’t quite explain yet. There’s magic in the unknown.

18966806“And I wonder, in my last moments, if the planet does not mind that we wound her surface or pillage her bounty, because she knows we silly warm things are not even a breath in her cosmic life. We have grown and spread, and will rage and die. And when all that remains of us is our steel monuments and plastic idols, her winds will whisper, her sands will shift, and she will spin on and on, forgetting about the bold, hairless apes who thought they deserved immortality.”

-Pierce Brown, Morning Star

As invested as I am in humanity, there’s something so relieving in imagining that instead of humans wrecking this planet and moving on to another one, the world will be resilient enough to carry on after we’re gone. I know there’s some science about the sun and 8 million years and whatnot, so it’s really only a matter of time anyway, but it’s nice to believe something beautiful can outlive careless waste.

881655“Some of the best things are done by those with nowhere to turn, by those who don’t have time, by those who truly understand the word helpless. They dispense with the calculation of risk and profit, they take no thought for the future, they’re forced at spearpoint into the present tense. Thrown over a precipice, you fall or else you fly; you clutch at any hope, however unlikely; however– if I may use such an overworked word– miraculous. What we mean by that is, Against all odds.”

-Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Here’s an optimistic one that’s actually taken from the midst of a tragedy. There’s something so easy and propulsive about Atwood’s writing that pulls me in every time, but The Blind Assassin pulls all the stops. It’s a dark, dual tale about fictional assassins on a faraway planet and a Canadian family ground down to ruin. And yet, as bleak as this story is, it still takes the time to remind its readers that even at rock bottom, all hope is not lost.

I must be in a philosophical mood today, as I’ve chosen quotes that explain some of my tastes and opinions instead of just beautiful words. But I suppose the quotes that I relate to this way inevitably have more impact and staying-power than the ones I mark simply for appreciating the way they sound or look on the page. I suppose I do read primarily to learn about and connect with the world in ways that I feel are more difficult in real life, so it must make sense that these are the passages that stick with me.

What quotes have made the greatest impression on you?

Tagging some new friends: Elysa @wordswordswords, The Constant Reader @theconstantreader, Jane @whatjanereadnext, and anyone else who wants to post some favorite quotes!

 

The Literary Elephant

 

 

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

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