I guess, 2021 is halfway over. I know I say this a lot, but I have no idea where the time has gone. This whole pandemic/staying at home all the time has genuinely messed with me sense of time. It’s weird. And I don’t know how I’m supposed to get back to normal.
You also know that this year, I have been trying to publish one reading experiment post every month (check out last month’s post where I read Drew Barrymore’s favorite classics – spoiler: it didn’t go well). And I have a couple crazy ambitious ones coming up, so I am, of course, freaking out. Just a little.
Which means I had to do the Mid-Year Freakout Tag. I do this (almost) every year, and it’s kind of a nice reminder that I’ve actually read a good amount of books so far. But also that I still need to read A LOT of books.
best book you’ve read so far in 2021
I hate this question. I’ve read a lot of great books this year, do I really have to just pick one? Okay, fine. This might be a bit unexpected, but looking back at what I’ve read so far in 2021, the book that I thoroughly enjoyed on multiple levels and I’m still thinking about is… The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. This is a biography of Jennifer Doudna who won the Nobel Prize last year for her work in developing MRNA gene editing technology (yes, the MRNA technology that gave us some of the covid vaccines). It’s a great biography, and I loved the mixture of personal details and science. What can I say? I’m a huge nerd.
best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021
I really haven’t read very many books in series at all this year, so there’s a pool of only three books to choose from. But my favorite sequel has to go to Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. I just finished the final book in the Brown sisters series (Act Your Age, Eve Brown) and I have to say Dani was my favorite. Which is surprising, since I loved Chloe so much. This was just such a fun series, and I can’t wait to read more Talia Hibbert books next time I’m in the mood for romance.
new release you haven’t read yet but want to
I’m honestly a little mad that I haven’t even started The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker yet. The Golem and the Jinni is one of my favorite books ever, and it’s been eight years and now we finally have the sequel. And yet, I still haven’t read it. I’m in the process of rereading The Golem and the Jinni to refresh my memory before I jump into book two, but I had to put it on pause because I was slumpy last month and now have to catch up on all the books I have to read. Sometimes, being a book blogger is kind of annoying.
most anticipated release for the second half of the year
I really don’t have a ton of new releases I’m super exited about for the second half of this year. Which is probably a good thing, since I have a ton of books I need to get to. But one I’m very curious about is Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I loved All the Light We Cannot See, and think this sounds amazing. It’s set in the fifteenth century and is about books, so we all know I need to read it.
This one has to go to the book everyone was talking about for a while earlier this year: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. This was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick and it was all over Instagram for like two months. And it sounded really good. It’s a thriller set in an old sanatorium-turned-hotel and there is a mysterious figure wearing a plague mask. But this was so boring. Literally the opposite of a thriller. It was one of those books where the author clearly doesn’t trust the intelligence of their readers, so everything was explained to death. Except the things that were barely explained at all and made no sense. I kind of hated this book, and I was a little big mad about it.
I have talked about this one quite a bit because I was honestly shocked that I loved it as much as I did, and that book is How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang. This book is so good! I read this for a reading experiment (coming at the end of the year) and read it first because I thought I wouldn’t like it at all and wanted to get it over with. The cover is gorgeous, but I just didn’t think westerns were my thing. Which I am now rethinking, in part because of this book.
favorite new author (debut or new to you)
I have read some really great new authors this year. C. Pam Zhang, Etaf Rum, Genki Kawamura, Mark Sullivan, Mikki Kendall… But the one who stands out has to be Mona Awad. I read Bunny earlier this year, and it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read and I loved it so, so much. I can’t believe I have never read a book by Mona Awad, and I can’t wait to read more.
newest fictional crush
Back in February, I did a reading experiment in which I read seven romance novels in seven days (and if you read that post, you already know it did not go well). But there were two books I actually really enjoyed, one of which was Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon. And the love interest in this book is definitely swoon-worthy. But this was also the final book in an experiment filled with immature characters in problematic relationships that made me want to scream, so maybe just seeing an actual mature, adult relationship skewed my opinion. Either way, I’m going with Rafe. I also can’t think of any other characters I’ve developed a crush on this year.
newest favorite character
This was a hard one, but I think I have to go with Deya from A Woman is No Man. Of everything I’ve read this year, she’s the character that has stuck with me the most. I identified with her a lot, and I just thought her story was really impactful.
a book that made you cry
I don’t think a book made me cry this year. Probably because nothing seemed terribly sad after this past year. But one book that got me really close and definitely made me tear up a little was Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. It is the true story of an Italian boy who worked as a spy during WWII. And this book hurt. I also wasn’t as prepared for it as I should have been since I’d fairly recently read We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, which is also a true WWII story, but (spoiler) doesn’t have a devastating ending. It gave me a false sense of security going into Beneath a Scarlet Sky and I was not okay after finishing that one.
a book that made you happy
This might be a bit of a shocker based on my usual read, but I’m jumping straight to rainbows and unicorns with Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire. I can’t remember if there actually were rainbows, but this book definitely has unicorns! And it was just such a fun fantasy story that provided a nice vacation from the real world. I love this series so much, and I can’t wait for the next one!
the most beautiful book you’ve bought (or received) this year
I haven’t finished reading it yet, but one book I bought this year that is gorgeous inside and out is the new translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley. It’s just a brilliant modern translation, and the most fun of all the ones I’ve read.
what books do you need to read by the end of the year
All of them? I’m a little afraid to count the number of books I have to read for my upcoming reading experiments. But I guess I’ll go with the one book that is not for a specific post, but I am forcing myself to finish sometime this year. And that is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I have enjoyed what I’ve read so far, but other things keep getting in the way and I’m falling behind with everything else, which means I haven’t picked this one up in a while. I will read it, though! If I haven’t finished this by like November, someone come take away all of my other books.
That’s it for this tag! I hope you enjoyed it! This took me kind of a while to put together. I just haven’t felt like blogging much lately, but hopefully I’ll be back for the rest of the month. If you’d like to do the mid-year freakout tag, too, then consider yourself tagged!
I recently opened a bookshop, where you can go and buy books and also shop my curated collections of my personal favorites AND all of the books I’ve read for my reading experiments. Or you can just buy whatever books you want to. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, and you get to support your choice of indie bookstores – it’s a win all around!