• Abigail Woodruff

My 2019 Reading Year

Woah. Long time no see. Like, literally more than half a year! I am mildly ashamed that it has been so long, not going to lie! I knew that I was going to be on here less because I was going to start working full time, but I didn't think it would hinder me so much that I just didn't write at all. In better news, I read like an actual boss last year. I am so proud of myself for the amount of books that I managed to plough through. 103 baby! I've got so much that I want to talk about, but I think I would actually pass out or something if I tried to give a review on all 103 books that I read, so I think I am going to try and break them down into different categories. Do a little award show for some of the best and worst reads of the year. I would absolutely love to hear some of yours as well! Let's turn on a musical soundtrack and get this kicked off then.


Best Audiobook

Audiobooks were a new experience for me this year, and honest to goodness, a massive reason why I was able to read as much as I was able to. I commute about an hour a day, so if I am listening on double speed, that means it's an automatic two hours of reading a day that I was doing!


That being said, not all audiobooks are good! There were MANY that I stopped half way through or found myself drifting off during, but "This is Going to Hurt" by Adam Kay was the golden ticket. Humour meets heart-wrenching stories. I learned so much, and I truly don't think I have recommended a book more. I talk about it with literally anyone that will listen. Please, give it a go.



Best Re-Read

I actually re-read quite a few books this year. Some of them successful, others not so much. It always scares me a little bit to do a re-read of a story that you hold dear, because what if it doesn't hold up. A lot of them were books I read from high school, and oof. In some of my adolescent favourites, there was a lot of casual racism, or just plan poor writing.


One of the books that witheld the test of time was The Hunger Games, though. Is it possible that this book got even better with age? I say we bring back the dystopian sub-genre. For a honourable mention, it goes without saying that The Importance of Being Earnest is a favourite, but I thought I would switch it up a bit.



Least Favourite

Oh my goodness don't hate me. I know full well that this is a well-loved novel. Also, please do not think that my disappointment for this book has anything to do with the amazing representation in it. I am ALL about having a diverse protagonist.


I think the biggest thing for me was that I didn't find myself caring about absolutely anything that happened in the plot. I very clearly remember closing the cover and being like. Right, well that's done then. I had no attachment to anybody or anything and it's just hard to praise a book that had little to no impact on me. Honourable mention to The Little Prince, which I just did not understand.




Most Surprising

I can't remember why I picked this up. I feel like I had an inkling that it would be bizarre and I was in the mood to read something that pushed boundaries. Let me tell you, this book is the flipping epitome of weird and dark, and I would bet money on the fact that most people would hate it and be disgusted.


But.... if you are like me and like morally black characters, a warped plot, and something that will make you think 'what the bloomin' 'eck did I just read?' Than, this is for you. Fellow weirdos, I highly recommend Perfume for a twisty murder that will make you feel much discomfort!




Unpopular Opinion

I love this book. And not a lot of people do. I get it, actually, it is a bit of a controversial plot. A man reading private emails between two women, but the whole time there was never a point where it made it 'okay' that he did it. He had to face the consequences, and the reason that it started initially was literally for his job, so I can see reasoning behind it. Also, I just really love Rainbow Rowell. The only book I have not read of hers yet is 'Wayward Son' and it's on my shelf. She is a midwestern soul with a beautiful literary voice. If you have been putting off reading this because of some of the poor reviews, let my voice gently sway you back to trying this very cute romance book.




Most Underrated

One of the most important stories I have ever read. I was going to have a category originally for each category, but it was the fact that I couldn't choose between 'Becoming' and this beauty of a book for the category of biography that I couldn't do it. They are both so important for their own reasons, but 'Becoming is so well-known and well-loved where this heartbreaking gem of a book needs to reach so many other readers.


It follows the real life struggles of Rena behind the gates at Auschwitz. It also follows the love and strength between two sisters and how their relationship kept them moving forward in one of the worst things to happen to humankind.



Most Unforgettable

This book had such an impression on me that it got its own blog post. Something I really don't do much anymore. I don't want to blather on about it for eons, so if you're interested in my non-spoiler and spoilery thoughts, i'd love for you to check it out: https://oshaberi94.wixsite.com/acwoodruff/blog/a-little-life


I still think about this book every single week, if not every single day. It's not for the faint-hearted. It is the hardest book I have ever read. So hard that I had to set it down and take a walk around the cruise deck before coming back to it. It's also the most impactful book that I think I have ever read, though.




Most Forgettable

I remember really liking the concept of this book and the fact that it was touching an important thing that was happening in the world today in such a unique way was such a strong selling point for me, but something about it did not stick with me in a way that I was anticipating.


As I was scrolling through this list I was struck by the fact that all I can remember from it is the synopsis that I could get anywhere on the internet. I could not remember any specifics or even any of my emotions on how I felt about it. Upon reading my review, it looks as if I found the reading experience pretty mediocre, which goes to show that this book is one of the most forgettable ones I read this year.



Best Discovery

I had the unprecedented delight of falling back in love with classics this year after leaving university. There was a fear that set it when I thought I would not love classics anymore after I was 'forced' to read so many of them from beginning to end in my English major career. However, I introduced myself to the Bronte sisters this year and am patting myself on the back for it. I still cannot believe that after a decade reading classics, I didn't have the chance to pick up Austen or any of the Brontes until I left school.


If you have the patience to sit down and read a classic novel, do yourself a favour and pick up either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights because they both enlightened my reading this year.



Favourite(s)

Okay, okay I am cheating. I can't just pick one. I love both of these books equally for very different reasons. 'Bear Town' is an example of exemplary story telling and a hard hitting topic that I found so important and empowering and upsetting and every other emotion in between. If you haven't done yourself the favour of picking up Backman yet, then I urge you to do so. He is slowly becoming one of my favourite authors ever. This is a cult favourite, as is the next one that I am going to talk about, but believe me when I say that all of the hype surrounding both of these novels is well placed.





I was one of the few that read Daisy Jones before I read Evelyn Hugo and while I enjoyed it, I didn't seem to enjoy it as much as everyone else, so I was really nervous going into the book that broke the book world. I think this was pretty much everyone's favourite book of last year and here I am am continuing the hype, y'all. It is so good. Beautiful character development and eventful story weaving that led to me hoping that Evelyn was real, and not quite believing that she wasn't. If you haven't already put it on your list or read it, I think it is certainly worth a try. There's a reason we all love her.




And finally, some honourable mentions for books that I truly read, loved, and would recommend, but that just didn't make it onto this bizarre list!

There we have it! My entire reading year, thousands of pages, thousands of opinions whittled down into a bite-sized blog post. Here is to hoping that 2020 brings more blog posts, more amazing books, and more interaction.


Happy reading,

xx

A. C. Woodruff

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