This has been a record-breaking reading year for me. And by that, I mean I have read more one-star books than I ever have in a single year (and probably the past couple of years combined). Out of the eighty-eight books I have read so far this year, I have given eight of them a one-star rating. (Weird coincidence that on the day I decided to write this, all of the numbers were eights.)
I didn’t go into any of these books expecting to hate them. I went into most of them thinking I would really enjoy them, actually. (The other two I was expecting to be kind of middle-of-the-road reads, but wanted to give a shot anyway). But I still read at least half of them for blog posts. And since I have scheduled out my blog posts – and coordinating reading lists – for most of this year, I took a look at my lists and started feeling a little bit unsure about how the last third of my reading year is going to go. There are a few books I’m iffy about. But there are also a few I am very excited about.
So as I was kind of mentally making a list of the books I am most excited about (and making sure to spread them out over the next few months so I have things to look forward to), I realized I was basically making my own five-star predictions list. I wasn’t planning to do one this year, but since it was basically already done for me, I figured I might as well, right? Plus, I’m going with books already on my reading list, and not adding extra books. Because I do not need anything else on my TBR this year.
Here are the five books I think have a good shot at being favorites this year. All but one of them are for specific, upcoming blog posts (all different posts, so good luck if any of you are trying to guess).
The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker
I recently finished my reread of The Golem and the Jinni, which is one of my all-time favorite books because we finally got a sequel this year! And I am so excited. I am hoping to get to this one before the end of August (this month’s reading experiment post is insane – you’ll see next week) and I seriously cannot wait!
The Golem and the Jinni is a historical fantasy set in turn-of-the-century New York City, and follows two main characters: Chava, a golem without a master, and Ahmad, a thousand-year-old jinni trapped in human form. And the writing is absolutely gorgeous. Just genuinely one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
Elastoe by Darcie Little Badger
I bet you weren’t expecting there to be a middle grade novel on this list, because, to be honest, neither was I. But I have been hearing such amazing things about this one. It’s magical realism, which I love. And it’s a murder mystery with monsters and ghosts. I just have a good feeling about this one. I think it might be perfect when I want to break up my darker fall reads with something that is both spooky and cute.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Is anyone surprised that three out of my five picks are nonfiction books?
Back at the start of the pandemic when I had not yet learned to channel my extreme boredom into TikTok, I fell down an internet rabbit hole… about mountain climbing. Specifically, climbing Mount Everest. I will never climb Everest (or literally any other mountain). Seriously, those pictures from last year of that line to the top gave me anxiety fuel for months. But it is fun to learn about.
This book is about the famous 1996 Mount Everest disaster in with eight people were caught in a blizzard and died. Jon Krakauer was one of the survivors (and also a journalist, so it makes sense that he would publish a memoir). I have actually read one other Krakauer book – Missoula: Rape and Justice in a College Town – and thought it was really well done. So I am looking forward to reading this one, especially since it is a first-hand account.
Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
This one has gotten amazing reviews and I am very curious to read it. It’s about a family with twelve children, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Since this was in the 60s and 70s, this family served as a way for scientists to study and better understand the disease. This book chronicles the suffering this family endured, but also the lasting impact they had on the study and understanding of mental illnesses.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
I have a feeling this book is going to mess me up, at least a little bit. Which we all know is the mark of a five-star book. I’m joking (mostly), but I still think this sounds amazing. It’s a memoir about growing up in Rwanda during the Rwandan genocide. After wandering through Africa with her sister for seven years, not knowing if their parents were alive, Clementine and her sister were granted asylum in the United States.
I think this deals with culture shock and the lasting effects of war, especially on children, and the struggles that come along with them. I’m pretty sure this is going to hurt and maybe make me cry. But it just seems like something that will stick with me for a long time, and I need to read it.
Alright, that’s it for this post! Like I said, I wasn’t planning on doing another round of five-star predictions (and I don’t know if I’ll ever do another one), but it was a nice way to get me a little more excited about what I have coming for the rest of 2021.
Do you have any five-star predictions you’re hoping to read this year? Are there any books you think I should read that I would give five-stars?
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!