Sunday, December 22, 2019

The best and worst of 2019

Another year is coming to a close. I haven't been as active on my blog like years past. Sometimes posting feels like a chore, and I never want to do something that feels like a chore. Honestly, I'm not sure how much longer I will continue posting. When I first started, it was to break out of a personal slump. I had something to look forward to other than work or school. Now, I'm not so sure what the next step is? Monthly recaps? Bi-monthly recaps? Mini reviews? I don't know yet, so bare with me.

I am trying some new things. I've started using a TBR jar. I'm such a moody reader sometimes, that I thought a TBR jar would be a fun idea. I cut up approximately 50 pieces of paper and inserted the book titles that I really, really, really want to get to. Most of them are books I've owned for years but never read. I don't accept as many review titles because it's time to tackle the books I own. I'm also going to give bullet journaling a try. I see so many vloggers on YouTube having fun creating vibrant reading journals, and I think it could be fun for me too. I've got stencils, colored pencils, and highlighters!! So we'll see where that takes me.

Now something that isn't a chore, recapping the best and worst books I read. I enjoy looking back on reading journey for the year. Sooooooooo let's get to it.

Best books of 2019
(Please note, not all of these books were published in 2019. I just happened to read them in 2019.)

1. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: Engrossing family drama, I enjoyed it from end to end.

2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I didn't review this on my blog, but this is a book that deserves the hype. Evelyn Hugo has the life everyone thinks they want, but is it worth it if you have to hide who you are?

3. The Stand by Stephen King: Again, another one I didn't post a review for. Getting through 1,000-plus
pages was its own reward. If it's not already happening, this is a book that should be taught in college. This book had everything: sci-fi, horror, allegory, sarcasm, romance, and drama. There were also so many parallels to our current political world. I highly recommend reading this.

4. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai: Didn't review this one either, sensing a pattern? But this one was great, too. A story of friendship, set against the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago.

5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Sorry, no review of this one either. Keeping secrets doesn't
always end well for the characters in this book, making for an engaging read.

6. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King: Never has 600 pages gone by so quickly. All the women of the world are falling asleep, as they do their bodies are covered in thick cocoons. The men are left to fend for themselves. What could go wrong?

7. A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena: No review, but this was an exercise in learning about other cultures. Everyone wants to believe the worst about one girl, but what if everyone was wrong?

8. The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan: My lone non-fiction read of the year felt almost like fiction. How could seemingly sane people be convinced to go undercover in a mental hospital?

9. Uprooted by Naomi Novik: This one was a book club pick at my job. It's a fantasy novel, and I never would have read it without book club. I'm glad I read it. This one was inventive, and best of all easy to follow!

10: The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood: It's a fictional take on a real story. Five sisters were made into a spectacle instead of a having a normal life.

11. Dumplin by Julie Murphy: I did review this one, but sad to say I still haven't watched the movie. This one was refreshing, finally a heroine who isn't a skinny mini.

The not so good books of 2019
(Please note, not all of these books were published in 2019. I just happened to read them in 2019.)

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult: It pains me to say this because she's one of my favorite authors. I think she was aiming for a nuanced portrayal of race, but I think it just came across as pandering and full of stereotypes. I fully believe she meant well, but I don't think writing about racism is in Jodi Picoult's wheelhouse.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: I don't believe the hype. This had an inventive take on a murder mystery, but the execution just wasn't there for me.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: To me, the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, was worse than the first book. The timeline was just too confusing.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas: This was uneven and was at times not believable to me. Her previous book, The Hate U Give, was better.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan: A grieving teenage girl thinks her mother is contacting her from beyond the grave. Her mother has turned into a bird. The premise sounded good, but again execution is everything.

Looking ahead!
I read 36 books in 2019. As always, I'm aiming for 50 books in 2020. You people who read 100-plus books a year, I don't know how you do it!

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