On booktube there’s a meme called “Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag” where booktubers answer some questions about their reading in the first six months of the year and then tag other booktubers to also make a video answering the same questions. Now, obviously I’m neither a booktuber nor have I been tagged, but I felt like doing a blog entry on this tag. Except that I’m not calling it a “freak out” as there’s no reason for freaking out. Calling it a “recap” instead. So, here goes:
- Best book you’ve read so far in 2020?
Beloved, by Toni Morrison. It was a reread, but I hadn’t picked it up for a good number of years. I loved it, as I did when I last read it. All her novels that I’ve read this year are ones that I first read while I was at university, although I wasn’t required to read all for class. I picked them up for pleasure. Paradise, the novel I’m going to read in July, will be the last one of those rereads. In 2003, when Love came out, I was one year into working full-time and I’d kind of stopped reading literary fiction and just read genre fiction, like mystery novels, fantasy, or sci-fi (also a lot of fan-fiction online). I started reading classics and literary fiction again in 2018 when I did a buddy-read of Richardson’s Clarissa with a friend. 2020 is the first year that I’ve set myself reading goals. It’s an interesting experience, and I like it, but will tweak the process of goal setting for next year. So, Love will be the first Morrison novel that I haven’t already read. I’m really looking forward to it and the other three novels of hers that I haven’t read yet.
- Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?
Network Effect, by Martha Wells. This is book five of the Murderbot Diaries and it is just great. I love the murderbot’s struggles with its humanity and its interaction with its friends. And the plot was thrilling, as usual in the series.
- New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
The Other Bennet Sister, by Janice Hadlow. This book is hyped on booktube and I think I’d really like it. It’s the story of Mary, the middle Bennet Sister in Pride and Prejudice. I love Jane Austen, and it would be lovely to revisit the world of this novel. I hope to read it sometime later this year, maybe during my October vacation or otherwise over Christmas.
- Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. I found out last year that this book was scheduled for release this September and I was thrilled, because I’d recently finished her huge novel Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrel. I got this book as a hardcover for my birthday from Partner when it first came out and then didn’t finish it for years because I somehow couldn’t get into it. But last year I started it again and loved it. I’m not sure if this new novel is set in the same magic universe, but I’m thrilled about it in any case.
- Biggest disappointment?
I haven’t had a book-related disappointment yet. I’m just a little disappointed that Piranesi is a lot shorter than Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrel, but maybe it will be the perfect length.
- Biggest surprise?
I’m really surprised at how much I like reading Dickens. I kind of dared myself to read all his novels this year (except the one that I already read last December, Our Mutual Friend) but I secretly feared that they’d be a slog. They are not. Except for one (Dombey and Son) I liked all of them just fine. I may even like Dombey and Son if I ever reread it. It did have some memorable scenes.
I’m also surprised that I really like short stories. I used to avoid them, because I prefer (or thought I did) immersing myself in long novels, the longer the better. I’m glad I challenged myself to read a short story a day. I think I’ll keep up this habit.
- Favourite new author, either debut or new to you?
Ali Smith. She’s (of course) not a debut author, but I really love her short stories and they were new to me. I’ve read all her collections this year.
- Newest fictional crush?
I’m too old for crushes on fictional characters and I haven’t had any that I can remember. I very much admire Spock, of the classic Star Trek series (the character, not the actor). When I have to make a decision about something difficult, I often ask myself “What would Spock do?”. Kind of crazy. But I wouldn’t call that having a crush on him.
OK, come to think of it, maybe I had a crush on Snape. And when I was a teenager, I was absolutely taken by the dragons in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels.
- Newest favourite character?
None, I like a lot of characters in the books I read, but I can’t say that one sticks out. It’s more a whole world of a novel kind of thing that I like, not so much focusing on a single character.
- Book that made you cry?
Network Effect. The murderbot has some very emotional moments that can make me tear up.
- Book that made you happy?
All of them. I need books. If I’m not reading for a few days, I’m unhappy and get grouchy. I need quiet reading time to recuperate from everything else in my life.
- Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year?
The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu. I got myself the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. It’s lovely and I’m planning to start reading it after I’ve finished War and Peace.
- What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Don’t need to read any but would like to complete my reading goals for this year, especially to read all of Dickens’ and Morrison’s novels. I’m optimistic that I’ll make it, as so far, I’m on track.
Keep safe, world