This is one of my favourite blog posts to do all year and it is so fun to look back on past years and see how my reading and goals have changed as I get older and (hopefully) wiser. Now to copy and paste the same intro-blatherings as I did last year so you can keep up. Also, please feel free to look back on my past Mid-Year Book Freakouts!
If you decide to do this tag, let me know as I would love to see what you have been feeding your mind with this year so far. Let's start a conversation about books!
I took my questions from the lovely, and hilarious, Paper Fury's blog. Please check it out if you are looking for some fantastic book content! https://paperfury.com/2020-mid-year-book-freak-out-tag/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-2
How Much Have You Read
I have set the same goal for myself as the last couple years at '100 books' which is the perfect balance between 'challenge' and 'comfort' for my current reading rate, and (let's face it) just a fantastically round number. As of today, I have currently read 61 books, so I am more than half-way to my goal. However, I have left some big chunkers (here's looking at you Anna Karenina, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) for the second half of the year, so I am sure that my speed will slow down as I wade my way through the hunky classics.
What Have You Been Reading
My reading tastes change and evolve every single year. It amazes me to think that 5 years ago, I wouldn't be reading half of the literature that I pick up now. This year has been a big year for translated fiction. I have read books translated from Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Norwegian, Portuguese, etc. and I have many more on my list. I have also been enjoying my classics. I read at least one a month, but it will oftentimes be more like two or three. Finally, I have started a book club within my online teaching community so I have been reading a lot of books about the English language, education, and Chinese culture. It has been a fantastic form of personal and professional development.
Best Book You've Read So Far in 2021
Believe it or not, I really did not have to think about this question twice. The best book I have read in 2021 (but, also, maybe my entire life) is 'The House in the Cerulean Sea' by T.J. Klune. This is not some quiet discovery, though. If you are at all involved in the book community, odds are that you will have heard of this book. I have managed to read it twice already in 2021 and it has made me weep with complete and utter happiness both times. The most fantastic story about found family and breaking barriers. It is, in my very humble opinion, pretty much as close as you can possibly get to complete and utter perfection.
Best Sequel You've Read So Far in 2021
Another easy question for me! Keep these coming, please and thank you. I love it when I don't have to rack my brain or do some odd 'eenie meenie mynie moe' garbage to figure out what to put for my answer to these questions. The Brown Sister trilogy is one of my favourite discoveries of the last two years. I read Chloe Brown in 2020 and absolutely adored it, so I immediately put Dani and Eve's stories on my list. I am pleased to announce that both of these managed to not only meet, but surpass the hype that I created within my own brain.
New Releases (Not Read Yet, but Want To)
I mentioned this last year, but new releases are not primarily what I read. I am very much a girl that takes her time sorting through a heavy back-list of reading material rather than picking up brand new books. Since most of the books I read were written in a completely different era, it can be difficult to fulfill this prompt, but let me see what I can do for you.
'The Heart Principle' by Helen Hoang- A romance author I will continue to read anything from. She absolutely blew me away by her representation and fast-paced steamy writing in 'The Kiss Quotient' and 'The Bride Test'. This comes out in August 2021 and I have it pre-ordered!
'One Last Time' by Helga Flatland- I have this book on my radar because my excessive obsession with Norway has now poured into literature and Flatland is a well-loved Norwegian author. This book came out in June.
** I also want to note that I read both of the books I had listed in this category last year and highly enjoyed them both, so let's hope that this good streak continues into 2021**
'The Alchemist' has been on my TBR list as long as I can remember. It is a book that almost everybody I know has read and a very large handful of people love. It always seems to pop up in the category of books that 'change people's lives'. Unfortunately, for me, 'The Alchemist' not only failed to change my life, but completely bored me. I have learned a few very valuable lessons through the reading of this book, though. First of all, I think I can confidently say that I do not appreciate allegory or parables. 'The Little Prince' (another well-loved story of a similar regard) similarly did nothing for me. Second of all, it's so important to remember that books mean different things for different people. We all like unique stories and some times we just happen to read a book at the perfect time in our lives. I'm sorry this wasn't it for me, but if it was for you- that's amazing!
I have had Dreyer's English on my shelf for a hot minute. I picked it up on a whim once when somebody mentioned in as a great resource for an author (an aspiration of mine) and then put off reading it for a good few years because I was very intimidated by reading a full-length piece on grammar and the English language. I feel like you all understand, right? However, in the last few months working as an ESL teacher, I have started to focus on very specific grammatical situations in the classroom and re-fallen in love with English and all of its' complexities so I picked this up for my bookclub I created for online ESL teachers called 'Books and Baobaos' and was so very pleasantly surprised. This book is not only packed with fantastic information, but it is absolutely hilarious and a complete joy to read. I'd highly recommend.
New Favourite Author (Debut or New to You)
As you can probably guess, Edith Wharton is not a debut author. In fact, she died in 1937, so we cannot even stretch the imagination to call her 'fresh new talent',. However, she was an entirely new author to me this year and I can already tell you that I am eternally grateful to have been introduced to the talent and grace that is Edith Wharton. What an absolutely fantastic writer and storyteller! I read her novel 'The Age of Innocence' and it took everything inside of me to not just read all of the novels that I have of hers back-to-back right after it. Since she has passed away, I need to savour everything that she's left for me to read! As I have fallen deeper into the classics community, learned more about her works, but I personally believe she deserves more hype.She deserves all the hype! I am an Edith Wharton hype-girl all day, every day.
The Most Beautiful Book You Have Read This Year
What can I say, I like a simple type-face cover and this one with the gold leaves and incorporated forest animals makes my heart flutter! Here is the best bonus point of all, though. This book also has some of the most beautiful writing that I have encountered EVER. Did you know that Shakespeare had a son named Hamnet (a name that is interchangeable with the very famous name 'Hamlet') that died when he was eleven? This is a beautifully woven tale of grief and family in 1580's Warwickshire. It made me want to go back to Stratford-Upon-Avon and re-visit the Shakespeare establishments because it adds so much to the story. Also, it made me pick up actual Shakespeare again (completely independently) and wowee, 'Hamlet' is a phenomenal play. It was wonderful to read it and not have to study it!
Underrated Gems (Less than 1,000 reviews on Goodreads!)
I spoke about Laura Wood last year and my obsession with her YA books. There is something about them that just hits a little bit differently than other YA that I have read in the last few years. I have nothing bad to say about 'Young Adult' literature whatsoever- in fact, there was a long period of time where it was all that I read. However, in the last few years my tastes have changed and I crave something a bit more poignant and heart-wrenching in my reads. I do, however, sometimes need something a bit lighter and Laura Wood PULLS through for me. It is physically impossible for me to take more than one day to read one of her books. They are so addicting and atmospheric. 'A Snowfall of Silver' also ended up being my favourite of all of the ones I have read by her because it examines the 'theatre scene' which is near and dear to my heart. She deserves so much more praise for her work.
'The Memory Stones' fell into my lap by the magic of hand-picked reading recommendations through -Mr. B's Magical Reading Emporium- based in Bath. I completed a long and detailed list of all of my likes, dislikes, bookish proclivities, etc. and this was a book that was recommended and sent to me by them. It follows the military coup in Argentina in the 1970's (something I didn't know happened, let alone read about). I was drawn into the historical era of the time and dramatic family plot almost immediately!
Book That Made You Cry (& Made You Happy)
These are usually two separate categories where I tell you all of the sad books I read and all of the happy books I read, but for whatever reason 'happy' is what is causing the tears this year. I love it when I am so happy that my body decides to actually melt into a puddle of tears. Both of these books were so quirky and so precious that my little tear ducts couldn't handle it. On another note, this is the 4th year in a row that Backman has made me sob like a baby, so he deserves some sort of award or something. Oh, it goes without saying, but I literally wept through the last 20 pages of 'The House in the Cerulean Sea' both times I read it, so....
WOW! I usually re-read WAY more than this. Also, can you even count 'The House in the Cerulean Sea' if I re-read it in the same year as I initially read it? Last year I re-read so many books because I found a lot of comfort in stories that I was already familiar with. This year, for whatever reason, I seem to be seeking new adventure in the pages of my novels. I will have to make more of an effort the second half of the year to re-visit some of my favourites. I am anticipating a re-read of 'Anne of Green Gables' so I can continue on with the entire series for the month of October!
I would love to clear out the majority of the TBR on my Kindle
I want to buddy read 2 more books with my husband before the end of the year
I want to read at least 5 more translated works before the end of the year
I want to read the entirety of the Anne of Green Gables series
I want to tackle a handful of the big, 'scary', fantasy novels on my TBR
I want to read at least one self-help book in the second half of the year
I want to tick 'The Count of Monte Cristo' off my list
I would love to complete the majority of the 'PopSugar' Reading challenge
I want to keep inspiring those I love to pick up more books
Alright, 5 million years later (not exaggerated at all), I have managed to actually answer all of the 'Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag' prompts. As stated earlier, please let me know what your reading year has looked like so far and send me ALL of the translated novel recommendations from all over the globe. Thank you for all of your support and for reading this actual scroll. You're the best.