Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Mid-Year Book Freak-out Tag 2021

The year is pretty much half over, so it's time to check in on my reading life and see how things are going. Before I get to my list of goals (which I'll do in a separate post, possibly not until after the fourth of July weekend), I wanted to do a quick survey of the books I've read so far using the prompts from the Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag. This is typically a YouTube tag, but I think it's a good framework for taking stock of my reading so far this year, so I've adapted it to the written format. I also removed a few questions from the list that didn't apply to me. 

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

I always do a top 25 at the end of the year, because it's so hard to narrow it down, but for this one I'm going to say Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I read this in April, and I truly could not put it down. I have never been so motivated to read such a long book so quickly, and I still think about the characters and setting all the time.  A close second to this book would be Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. 

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

Back in January, I finished Elizabeth Goudge's Eliots trilogy when I read The Heart of the Family. It was a perfect ending to the three-book family saga and I loved looking back and seeing the growth and maturity of each of the characters.  

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

I am waiting not very patiently for my hold on Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid to come in on Libby. I placed a hold on the ebook rather than the audiobook, which is kind of a let-down, but the holds list was shorter and I want to read it this summer.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I don't pay a lot of attention to new releases before they come out, but thanks to the Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide, The Guide by Peter Heller is on my radar. It won't be released until the end of August, but it involves a pandemic and is a sequel to The River and I am super excited to see how it is. 

Biggest disappointment

I listened to My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman, whose series about private investigator Tess Monaghan I had previously enjoyed and whose To the Power of Three was one of my favorite books of 2091. I disliked her personal essays and worldview so much that I actually decided never to read another book by her again. 

Biggest surprise

I read Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang in January after seeing several rave reviews. I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill quick and easy graphic novel, but it was surprisingly multi-layered and emotional. My kids don't read graphic novels so I typically don't either, but I'm glad I made this exception.  

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

I really enjoyed K.J. Dell'antonia's debut novel, The Chicken Sisters. It's a story involving family ties, fried chicken, and reality TV, but it's not a frivolous story at all. I'm excited to see what she writes next.

Newest favorite character

I really like Renee Ballard from Michael Connelly's Ballard and Bosch series (which is a spin-off from the long-running Bosch series.)  I especially like her relationship with her grandmother. 

Book that made you cry

Toward the end of People You Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, I unexpectedly started to tear up. It's such a great love story in the same vein as When Harry Met Sally.

Book that made you happy

When I read A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher, I was thrilled not just because the stories were so cozy and uplifting, but also because they inspired me to start writing short stories again myself.  

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Though I don't have an official TBR, I do have some books on my radar that I definitely still want to read this year. These include: Letters to Myself from the End of the World by Emily Stimpson Chapman, The Dearly Departed by Eleanor Lipman, Two Towns in Provence by M.F.K. Fisher, and The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. 

Here is the original Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag.

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