Happy New Year!
Isn't it exciting? A new year and a clean slate feel so good, don't they? Not to mention how happy everybody is that 2016 is finally dead. What better way to start off my posting in 2017 than with a huge recap post of everything I read in 2016? I neglected this blog throughout December because between shopping for Christmas, the holidays themselves, and being sick at the same time, blogging wasn't high on my priorities. But in 2017 I'm going to be dedicating myself to this! I bought a planner and everything okay I'm serious.
I decided to break down my year's reading into groups based on star ratings, but first let's have a few stats courtesy of Goodreads.
And now for the actual books.
DNF and Unrated
Night (Night #1) by Elie Wiesel Unrated
The Great Gatsby is overrated as hell. I got about 20 pages in and couldn't stand it. I mean really who cares about all these wealthy people's problems seriously and they're all assholes I have no time for that.
I almost managed to finish Lolita, and it really is great - beautiful prose - but it just made me so uncomfortable by then I had to stop. I wasn't in the place to read it at that time, but it's one I hope to get back to.
More Than This shouldn't really count as "did not finish". It was more "can not finish" - the copy I bought was misprinted. And I don't mean typos or anything; 60 pages were missing out of the middle of the book. Like, just missing! Never made! Is that something that actually happens or am I just the most unlucky person in the world? Although the fact that I still haven't finished it is my own fault because I still haven't brought it back to the shop oops.
Night was something I did't feel comfortable rating. I just don't think there is any way to rate something like that. It's nonfiction about Wiesel's time in a concentration camp during WW2. The things in the book actually happened - the man actually lived through those horrors and then put them to paper. I can't do something so frivolous as to put a star rating on that.
1 and 2 Stars
Stardust by Neil Gaiman 2 Stars
Lord of the Flies is terrible. Utterly terrible. I got so angry when I finished that book. I felt cheated. Mostly the whole way through I'd been bored, but there was also this forced tension in the book that I wanted to see how it climaxed. It didn't. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS SHITTY BOOK. It still pisses me off.
I think Stardust was the first time I openly admitted that a movie version could be better than the book. They're both completely different, but everything good about the movie was added in with the movie, and had no connection to the book. Only the very basic plot was taken for the film, and the film is so much better. Cross dressing Robert De Niro will always be one of my favourite things to ever happen in cinematic history.
I wrote a full review for Foer's book, which boiled down to how I liked the writing style and not much else. The way he chose to write the book was the only thing that saved it from being a 1 star read.
Another overrated read was Fight Club. Is it just me or do the weird guys who make you uncomfortable for no discernible reason always consider this their favourite book. Just saying.
The two books by Marita Conlon-McKenna were ones I read as a kid in primary school. They're both decent kids books, but after reading them I gave them away to a charity book shop because I knew I wouldn't read them again.
I liked The Time Traveler's Wife, but it just wasn't anything particularly special. Plus it dragged a lot, and I felt like it was longer than it needed to be.
Red Sky in the Morning was another book I read as a kid, but after re-reading I felt a little uncomfortable with how the topic of disability is handled, but I don't know enough about that to make any informed comments. If anyone in the disabled community has read this and wants to weigh in on it in the comments feel free. I gave this one away with the others.
I'm sensing a pattern here that a lot of classics are overrated. Plus can people stop saying Jane Eyre is a feminist book when as soon as Jane turns into an adult she starts shitting on every other woman that makes an appearance in the book? I will fight anyone that calls this a feminist book. And don't even get me started on how mental illness is treated. I might have liked the general plot and the prose in this but mostly the book annoys me.
As far as OitNB goes - just watch the TV show if you're looking for entertainment. I felt very uninterested with a lot of what the author talked about. All the interesting stuff was from the other women inmates she met while in prison. If one of them brings out a book, let me know, because I'd much rather read that. I ended up just giving this one to a friend.
I love modern poetry, and yes I'm including poetry on websites like Tumblr and Instagram. I like the style of poetry that Kaur writes in. But I've seen a lot of people do it better. Still, it holds a lot of emotion in it, and there were some pieces that were very good. Apparently it's the highest rated book on Goodreads that I've read this year, and while that really surprised me, it's fair enough. Some people just have different taste.
Skellig is one of my favourite things I've read this year. It's so sweet. I saw half the film with Tim Roth yeeeeaaaars ago, and never managed to get it out of my head. I finally bought the book and it stood up to memory. Really sweet and beautiful, if a bit short. I'd recommend it.
Finally a classic that isn't overrated! Of Mice and Men was great. Heartbreaking and effective, I really enjoyed it.
Nineteen Eighty-Four surprised me in a bad way. I was expecting a real masterpiece, and it didn't hold up to expectations, but it was still very good. There's insta-love in it, which was just ... weird?
Girl, Interrupted was good. I love reading anything at all to do with mental health, especially when it's own voices non-fiction.
The film version of The Neverending Story was a part of my childhood. It's a real classic! And also a very effective face-wash considering the swamp scene makes me cry enough tears to take my make up off. But the book has a whole second half that isn't included in the movie, and Bastian is kind of a dick. Still love it though.
I really didn't get anything I was expecting with The Lovely Bones. I haven't seen the film (which according to just about everyone is a good move), so I only had friend's ideas of it to go on when I went into the book, and it was such a pleasant surprise. Much better than I was expecting - much more raw, real and moving than I thought it would be, and a lot less fantastical than friend's who'd seen the movie made it out to be.
The Book of Lost Things is CREEPY AS HELL. I did a full review if you want to check it out, but let's just say it's delightfully horrific. It's not often that a book actually manages to disturb me, and I cherish the ones that do.
Do you like conversations about mental health? Dystopian futures? Total satirical parodies of the world that make it look like a really great political cartoon? Read The Suicide Shop. It has such black and hilarious humour, and it's a short, fun read. Be warned that it could possibly be triggering - if you're worried about that but are thinking of picking it up anyway DM me on Twitter or email me and I can go into it. I don't want to recommend something and end up doing harm - take care of yourselves!
From seeing the film of Perks I thought I wouldn't like it. The movie pissed me off; I felt like it was romanticised crap, but after having read the book I realised that it must have just been whatever way they handled it in the film that made it seem that way. The book is great. Really sweet, real, and worth reading.
The Silver Linings Playbook was one of my favourite reads of this year. Pat Peoples the MC is a brilliant character and narrator, and I love him. He is my precious baby and I just want to squish him and roll him in a blanket and tuck him away somewhere safe (don't worry I know he's also problematic af I just have such a soft spot). I talk in my review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about how the writing style was the only thing I liked, and I called it "hyper realistic" - the narration and writing in Silver Linings is the same style, but in my opinion Matthew Quick does it a lot better.
Columbine really addresses all the misconceptions you might have about the incident and throws them out the window. It's a brilliant piece of non-fiction - educational but gripping at the same time. If you still have any notions that the school shooting was committed by misunderstood, bullied teenage boys that just needed some friends and kindness, I suggest you read this. It gives a great balance between focusing on how the tragedy impacted the victims, and why it came about and who the perpetrators themselves were as people.
Reading about such dark topics from the point of view of a five year old that sees everything but doesn't understand any of it is harrowing. Emma Donoghue does such a brilliant job with the narration in Room, and the story itself takes turns to pull your heart into your throat and also to rip it in half. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.
You know how the fear of the unknown is pretty much worse than the fear of anything else? Bird Box builds its whole plot around this. And it does it so well. It's TERRIFYING. I loved it.
I keep looking back at when I read Uprooted and wondering why I didn't give it 5 stars. I think my reasoning at the time was that the writing style itself was nothing special - but the more I think of that I think ??? who cares??? why did that deserve to knock a star off?? this book's amaaaazingggg. It was a really hyped up book on Book Tube when I first joined so I decided to check it out and it really lived up to the expectations! I think I'll re-read it at some point.
Frances Hardinge is one of my favourite authors. She writes (according to herself) "downright creepy children's books" which is extremely accurate. The Lie Tree was one of my favourite reads of this year. The book has a closed island mystery, lots of feminism, and creepy fantastical elements. If you read it, don't trust anyone. That's a theme I've noticed in Hardinge's books.
A book about a gay boy with severe anxiety and agoraphobia who loves Star Trek and has the best family dynamics ever? It was great, and cute as hell, Read it.
The first Frances Hardinge I ever read, when I was a kid and could never get it out of my head, and then when we were moving and I was going through old boxes of things I found the book and immediately read it. My first read of the year and a great way to start off. Mysterious, adventurous, a hilariously snarky and strong female protagonist and a really aggressive goose. What more could you want? It has a sequel that I'm still trying to get my hands on but I can't find it anywhere! But don't worry about that, because it works very well as a standalone.
The Book Thief is worth all the hype it gets. Beautiful, haunting, and almost guaranteed to cause tears. I've heard some people say that the narration by Death is tacky or that it doesn't work, but I'd have to disagree.
Don't make the mistake of thinking The Last Unicorn is a kids book. It's a great fantasy piece that takes all your favourite fairy tales and mashes them together into something that's both a brilliantly original book and at times almost a satire as well. It throws some Greek mythos in there too. I'd highly recommend this is you love classic fantasy, and the writing is gorgeous.
Never Let Me Go took me on a strange journey. I started off thinking "Eh, it'll probably be a 3 star book," then half way through I got a bit wide-eyed and said "Hm okay maybe 4 stars then," but NOPE. That shit got to the end and I was in tears, mashing the big, red 5 STARS button. It's brilliant. Disturbing, haunting, and human, even though the whole thing questions where the line of humanity ends.
This is the bind-up of my favourite series. As in my all-time-favourite series. Number One Favourite. I can hear so many bookworms fainting right now. Yes, I can pick a favourite! In my post about re-reading books I even say that these are the best books I've ever read. And with that, I don't mean that they're the ones I like the best, I mean in the most objective sense of quality I can have while talking about books I love, they are the best.
How Many Miles to Babylon? is an Irish classic set in WW1. I first read it in school and it's one of the only novels I read for class that's carried on to be a favourite afterwards. Plus it has some serious gay subtext and who doesn't love that.
Both The Catcher in the Rye and The Secret Garden are two of my favourite classics, and for a lot of similar reasons. They have protagonists that are not entirely likeable to read about at the start, but I think they grow on you. Especially Mary in TSG, considering she grows as a person.
Nick Cave is one of my favourite musicians, so when I found this book in a shop in Galway last summer I snatched it up without hesitating. I didn't regret it. I read this book of poetry twice last year - it's gorgeous, and raw. Full of Greek mythical metaphors, it's a brilliant love letter to music, inspiration, art, love and sex.
Robert Langdon (#1-4) by Dan Brown
Angels and Demons - Read - 3 Stars
The Da Vinci Code - Read - 4 Stars
The Lost Symbol - Read - 5 Stars
Inferno - Currently Reading
I find this series great for entertainment factor, and it definitely gets better as it goes along, but even so, the third book The Lost Symbol absolutely knocked me out of the water! I was not expecting it to be so good, but it really and truly was. Unfortunately I'm finding the fourth one a let down after it, but it's still good, just not as good.
Hunger Games (#1-3) by Suzanne Collins (Review)
The Hunger Games - 3 Stars
Catching Fire - 4 Stars
Mockingjay - 4 Stars
Millenium (#1-3) by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 3 Stars
The Girl Who Played with Fire - 3 Stars
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - 4 Stars
These books surprised me. Having seen the film that came out with Daniel Craig of the first book, I thought I knew what the rest would be about; solving mysteries around crimes and Lisbeth being a badass. And while you definitely get both of those things, I missed until half way through the second book that really this trilogy is about violence against women. And it rammed it home for me in the third book, which might seem the slowest and least action-packed, but which I found the most engaging and liked more than the other two. Lisbeth is the main character, and fundamentally, she is a woman who hates men who hate women. Is it okay that I want to be her when I grow up? Even if she's very morally grey? Also why does the position of her tattoo change in all of those covers that's annoying. It's just slowly crawling up over her shoulder in the course of three books.
Chaos Walking (#1-3) by Patrick Ness - All 5 Stars
One of my favourite trilogies, I had to re-read these books before the year was out. All of them are over 500 pages long but it doesn't feel like it at all. They fly past with some great story-telling, brilliant world building, a complex but gripping plot and a ship that I will always sink with.
Oh my goodness, I finally finished the post! This took me three days, and I don't like to beg, but please comment bellow because if I spent three days making the graphics and writing this monster to get no interaction I will curl up into a corner and cry. Am I joking? Please don't take that chance. Happy New Year!