It’s that time of year again! The review of my life this past year, in books! I’ve got longtime favorites, recommendations, and more!
That’s right! Thanks to Goodreads, the social site for book lovers, I can tell you everything I read, and everything I felt about what I read, in chronological order! *Audience goes: OOOOOOO* If you haven’t got a Goodreads but love to read, sign up! We can be friends on there since this is my last post on this blog. *Audience goes: AWWWW*
Now, let’s compare this year’s stats with last year.
Last year there were 861 books on my To-Read shelf and I owned 99 of those books on that list.
This year! 971 books on my To-Read shelf and I own…drumroll as I count please! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Darn it. I went up seven books. I think I know which ones they are too -.- My friend gave me the entire Throne of Glass series plus the first two books in A Court of Thorns and Roses. I just wanted the first book of ACTR, but…I couldn’t say no! 😦 Oh! But wait! Given those new books count up at eight, and I only went up seven in the final tally, that means I’m narrowing it down! Right? …math people?
This year I read 5,845 pages across 23 books.
The first book I read was Volume 10 of Sui Ishida’s manga Tokyo Ghoul!
I am so in love with this series. I gave this book five stars. I didn’t review it on Goodreads, probably because after ten volumes, how much more can I gush and “*scream*” over it? I think we get the point after ten volumes, haha. I actually finished the series this year, making this particular review include Volume 10-14. But technically I read Volume 10 first, naturally, the other books followed. Fun fact! Volume 11 is the highest rated book on Goodreads that I read. 🙂 You can bet your bum each volume I read received five stars and more screaming, raving reviews. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already have an idea of how much I love this series. Have I mentioned I love this series? Anyone who enjoys manga, wants to get into manga, loves twisted realities, dramatic character developments, dark plot lines, and/or monsters should read this series. It’s amazing and just genius and twisted, and yes we get the point, I love it, let’s move on.
After Volume 10 I read my first research book of the year, Sankya by Zakhar Prilepin.
That’s right! I started off the year with a research novel for my book The Coffin-maker’s Basement. It was this book that received my first review of the year: “I’m between giving this novel a 2 or a 3 [stars]. The translation was terrible. There are a lot of typos and grammatical errors. The story itself isn’t bad, although I don’t know if I’d call it good either. Transitions between paragraphs were abrupt at times, and certain scenes/details were glossed over completely, leaving some loose ends. All in all, not a personal favorite, and I’m not sure I’d recommend it either.” I don’t know if there’s more to say than that, but while this book may not be for me, I’d recommend it for people who enjoy learning about other country’s politics and the philosophies of its people. I gave this book three stars.
You may remember Rattle from last year’s review, but just in case you need a refresher, Rattle is a poetry journal based in LA. This year I read Rattle #57. If you are interested in poetry, supporting upcoming artists, and/or supporting independent presses, I recommend subscribing to Rattle. A one-year subscription (four journals) is only twenty dollars! You can subscribe here. For any poets looking to get their work out and into the world, Rattle hosts many contests, and (to my knowledge) they are always accepting submissions. However, I recommend reading the journals before submitting, just to get an idea of the journal’s personality.
The shortest book I read was 45 pages, and it was a how-to book called Botanical Color at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos.
This little how-to book is all about dyeing clothes with plants! I dyed some yarn with eucalyptus leaves thanks to what I learned and made a scarf! It’s enjoyable to read and easy to follow along. Desnos doesn’t make things complicated with jargon or botany, she simply tells you what you need to know. I recommend this book for any plant-lover, creative, knitter, crocheter, or DIY-er.
Following BCYF, I reread Holly Black’s Tithe and later, Valiant.
The first time I read Tithe and Valiant was exactly ten years ago, and it was so enjoyable to reread it again all these years later. I’m still crushing on Roiben and Ravus (swooooon) and love Black’s narratives with the fae and how mythologically accurate they all are. This land of iron and magic she waves is so lovely, I feel like I belong. Definitely recommend for the romance/fantasy/fairytale lover.
I read another research book after Tithe, and I think you’ll all know this one given it was the most popular (and longest) book I read on Goodreads. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
Do I need to review this book? It’s incredible. Reading about Nazi Germany from a German’s point of view shifts the tables on what people went through during that time. What it meant to be a German who believed what your country and its leaders were doing was wrong, it’s a story we don’t hear. The things Zusak writes are told from the stories those around him shared, some of those people being his own parents. Read it for its honesty and mode of storytelling. Choice of narrator! So, so well done. And I especially recommend the 10 year anniversary edition as Zusak recalls the varying stages The Book Thief went through before reaching the stage we know it to be.
I read Elizabeth Kostova’s The Swan Thieves next and unfortunately didn’t finish it.
About 150 pages in I wasn’t attached to any of the characters, so continuing the rest of the novel wasn’t that appealing to me. There wasn’t anything that emotionally attached me to any one of the character’s whose point of view this book is told from, and while I was curious to know what was going to happen and how these old letters fit into everything, I wasn’t curious enough to keep reading for the next 400 pages. Curiosity will only get me so far when I don’t have anything attaching me to a character. But! I would recommend this novel for anyone who loves mysteries, historical fiction, and/or French art.
While I may not have finished The Swan Thieves, I did finish José Saramago’s Death With Interruptions.
This was the last research book I finished for the year. Currently (still) reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but we’re not talking about that. Saramago’s take on Death, death, and what happens when people stop dying is satirical and honest. I can’t say this was my favorite book, as a matter-of-fact I did think about putting it down but I felt it was a good research book so I stuck with it. Format-wise Saramago did something controversial. He had run-on sentences left and right. Which I think has something to do with the whole “death ending” plot the book has and how it effects everything. If that’s what Saramago was doing, I think that’s clever. If that’s just his style, then it fits with the book’s theme well. But it was this style of formatting that made me a bit sleepy, haha. I recommend this book for anyone who loves a satire.
And it was here that I began Tokyo Ghoul:re.
That’s right. It doesn’t end at Tokyo Ghoul. There’s 11 more books of this amazing series! 😭😭😭😭😭😭 Thank you universe! And Sui Ishida! I wasn’t ready! (Presently, I’m reading Volume 6 of Tokyo Ghoul:re and I’m still not ready…It’s fine. I’m fine.) I won’t talk too much about it because you guys know how much I love Tokyo Ghoul, but I will say that Tokyo Ghoul:re is not a spinoff. It’s like Season Two. There’s new characters, there’s old characters, there’s new-old characters *cough*. Yeah, I love this as much as I love Tokyo Ghoul. It’s so good, Ishida is a genius. I’ll stop here, you get it.
Next I read Mindi Scott’s Freefall.
A YA novel about a boy who lost his best friend and a girl who lost both her parents. I think the highest praise I can give this book is that their romance is the healthiest I’ve ever read in a YA novel. This novel talks about communication and our two characters execute good communication in such a way that should be a model for how to work together in a relationship. This novel is real, and simple. I recommend it for anyone who likes romance, high school drama, and real life problems.
You may remember Ploughshares from last year’s post.
Ploughshares is a literary journal housed at Emerson College. Emerson College is among the top schools for creative writing, so naturally, Ploughshares has won some awards. Unlike Rattle, which is strictly poetry, Ploughshares publishes poets, creative nonfiction, and fiction writers. For their Regular Subscription you get three books a year, a download of the issue delivered, an annual edition of their Omnibus collection, and free online submissions. All for 35$! And yes, you got that right. Ploughshares accepts submissions. I read one volume of Ploughshares this year, and much like I said last year, when it comes to literary journals they really don’t do it for me. It’s a great way to read up-and-coming writers and even some famous writers’ works, but they’re just not for me.
The penultimate book I read this year was The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling.
This little book of wizard lore was such fun to read, especially with Dumbledore’s notes throughout. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytales, Harry Potter, or fun children’s reads. This would be a great book for kids or adults who could use a little fun in their busy lives.
And finally, the last book I read was Kevin Brooks’s Dawn.
This book was ok. I wasn’t too attached to the character herself, she doesn’t leave much to root or be afraid for. I was just kind of along for the ride. I thought to put this one down time and time again as well, but I wanted to know where the book was going to go. It’s a short read, roughly 256 pages, and the book is short (in stature) so it took me something like five days to read. There were a few things about this book that I wish were approached or discussed differently. I don’t want to give anything away, but if an author is going to bring up something controversial and hint at something else that is also controversial they need to be discussed and unpacked, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s right to bring those things up (realizing I’m being vague) and just kind of leave them floating there. In all honesty, I’m too hesitant to recommend this book for those reasons. I’ve linked the book above, so you can take a look at it yourself.
To end this year’s review on a good note, the last book I reviewed was Tokyo Ghoul:re Volume 5. “Wow.”
Thanks so much for reading my last post all. I’ve enjoyed writing these little posts for the past year and a half, I hope you all have enjoyed reading them. If you’d like to keep up with me in the outside world, this is my personal Instagram: @teaandpuppets
I’ve also got an Etsy shop which I operate and sell tea, secondhand books, and commissioned letters, which you can find here: irisbookshopetc.etsy.com
And the shop’s Instagram is here: @irisbookshopetc
Don’t be afraid to come say hi on one of those platforms! Happy holidays and have a good new year!
Thank you for reading ❤️,
* Want more recommendations and books galore? Check out last year’s A Year in Books here.