I was tagged to write this by Molly from Silver Button Books, a wonderful blog that I’ve been following for a while now, and vice versa. I always enjoy hearing from her on my posts. Take a moment to check out her blog, if you like.
“Mid-Year Freak Out” feels rather apt for this tag. For one, I’m freaking out a bit that it’s already July, some personal-life stresses having made time especially dissolve away this year. Furthermore, thanks to my prolonged affair reading the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, which is exhaustively documented here at this point, I am woefully behind on the amount of books I want to read this year.
I read a lot of comic books throughout the year as well, but I’m going to try to make this a little more book focused, allowing for something comic book related to trump in when appropriate.
Best Book So Far This Year
Though I had to give this some thought, it all kept coming back to Circe by Madeline Miller. It wasn’t without its small problems, but no other book absorbed me into its story and its main character’s voice the way this book did. It also does a stellar job of adapting Ancient Greek mythology into fiction while still resembling the old myths themselves almost seamlessly.
Best Sequel So Far in 2018
Assuming this heading is referring to sequels I’ve read this year, not necessarily published this year, I’m definitely going with The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Fellowship of the Ring did a lot to set the stage and establish the world that I won’t fault it for, but the pacing was so meandering that I found it especially challenging to complete. The Two Towers built upon its foundation and told a story that gripped me much more consistently all the way through and cemented some of my love for the series.
The New Release I Haven’t Read Yet but Want To
This would have to be The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte, which was published back in April. I got myself a copy last month and I’m pretty excited to give it a look. I grew up obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid. That has quieted down considerably in adulthood, but I’m nonetheless very interested in reading about our modern understanding of these prehistoric creatures, especially now that I have the patience for a dinosaur book with a lot more words than pictures.
Most Anticipated Release for 2018
I’m most looking forward to Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. I’m a really big fan of his work alongside co-write/co-creator Jeffrey Cranor on the podcast/novels in the Welcome to Night Vale series. This novel is based on another narrative podcast written solely by Fink, though in this case the novel is a retelling of the entire story from start to finish. The series itself in in the middle of its third and final season. I’m not in love with Alice Isn’t Dead the podcast, but I do enjoy it well enough and I’m intrigued to see if the change in medium will make it even more appealing to me.
Biggest Disappointment of This Year
Biggest disappointment was definitely Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito, a celebrated horror manga writer and artist. I finally started reading his work this past Halloween after having it recommended to me by a friend for years. I fell in love with his style of horror, so was all the more disappointed with this newest collection of short horror stories that fell significantly short of what I expect from him. They were written after Ito took an 8 year hiatus from the genre and it definitely showed. The art was still superb, mind you.
Weirdly the biggest surprise was The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells. I expected it to be a drier science fiction story, considering its age, but it was a lot more Romantic and fun than I anticipated. I really liked Bedford and Cavor, the book’s lunar explorers, who had nicely distinct strengths and faults that played off of each other well. This book quickly become one of my favourite classic science fiction stories.
Favorite New to You or Debut Author
Though an honourable mention goes to Madeline Miller, I’m going to give this one to Mary Roach. I read her book Spook earlier this year and really enjoyed how the book blended humour with a detailed breakdown of science and the different fields of study she was tackling. In this book specifically it was the idea of ghosts and existence after death. Each chapter broke down the different ways we’ve tried to explain or prove life after death over the years. I enjoyed it enough that I’ve picked up another of her books and I’m curious to check out even more.
Newest Fictional Crush
This is hands-down Doctor Aphra from the comic book series of the same name, written by Kieron Gillen. She’s a part of the new Star Wars comic books published by Marvel Comics. She first debuted in the Darth Vader (2015-2016) series also written by Gillen before getting her own spin-off series. She’s feisty, fun, intelligent, and always ready to stab someone in the back. She’s got heart, but is also kind of a sociopath who rarely hesitates to lie and manipulate, all with a smile on her face. It’s hard not to love the self-styled rogue archaeologist.
New Favorite Character
This will be my only repeat, but I really can’t help giving this to Circe. She was a wonderfully complex protagonist who grew and changed a lot throughout her story while maintaining a core to her being that felt intrinsically her. Powerful, divine, yet full of yearning and compassion, she was simply captivating.
Book That Made Me Cry
This is a rare occurrence for me and has not happened this year.
Book That Made Me Happy
Definitely Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Tackling both philosophy and psychology, it’s ultimately about finding hope and meaning even in the most dire of human circumstance—a Nazi concentration camp—with lessons one can take and apply to their own life.
Favorite Book to Film Adaptation
I haven’t read the book by Jeff VanderMeer yet, but Annihilation was an outstanding film that came out earlier this year. Sadly it got very little distribution and I don’t think a lot of people saw it. If you love science fiction you owe it to yourself to check it out
Favorite Post You Have Done This Year
Having to choose, I’d have to say the first “New Books & Novel Discoveries” post I put out in January. It was the start of a series of posts I have fun doing at the end of every month and I’m happy to see they’ve been fairly well-received each time I write a new one.
The Most Beautiful Book You Bought This Year?
This is definitely The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia. Not only is it a huge, attractively designed hardcover, but it’s also full of illustrations, concepts, and in-game art from the series. I regrettably still haven’t started reading it yet (it’s too big to take anywhere with me), but I’m eager to dig in and hopefully learn even more about the lore and history of Hyrule.
Books to Read By The End of the Year?
For this last heading I could tell you, but why not show you?
More recently, at the beginning of the year I’ve been writing down some of the books I want to get through before or by December 31. I enjoy crossing out the names as I get through them. Here’s where I’m at currently (the out of place notes were done by loved ones who do not respect my precious scrap of paper):
Thank you for reading!