Not too long ago, I posted a book tag that I actually enjoyed doing quite a bit. Since it’s the middle of the year, I’ve been thinking about doing some kind of mid-year wrap up to talk about the books I’ve read in the first half of 2021. Lo and behold, one of the “booktubers” that I enjoy watching posted a mid-year book tag so I figured I’d just steal that from her and give my own answers. Here is her video – which also has a link to the original tag creators.
To be totally honest, I haven’t read quite as many books to start this year as I would have liked. I got somewhat caught up in some thicker non-fiction books that have monopolized my reading time (here’s look at you, Washington: a Life by Ron Chernow) and I’ve been busy with some other personal projects. All that being said, I’ll probably repeat some answers for this one.
1. Best book you’ve read so far this year.
This has to be The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I’ve read a few different books this year that I’ve ended up loving, but none of them have entered the list of “my favorite books of all time.” The count might have. I’ve always loved Dumas, but the count is a whole different animal from him. I loved it and I don’t think I’ve ever devoured a 1,000+ page book faster. I love it so much that I just bought a beautiful special edition to keep on my shelf and treasure forever.
If I’m allowed to include nonfiction in this (which, why not? Its my blog), then I’d also add Dominion by Tom Holland. I’m a fan of history and Dominion traces the history of the Christian church from pre-historic times to Donald Trump. The scope of the project is truly breathtaking and Holland did a phenomenal job with it. Holland is also not a Christian, so seeing a non-Christian perspective on the entirety of church history is pretty fascinating.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far this year.
I think I’ve only read one sequel this year and I’m not positive it counts as a sequel. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson is the third novel in his Mistborn trilogy. Even if it wasn’t the only sequel I read, it probably would still earn this spot because it was a fantastic end to this trilogy. It left me wanting to read more Sanderson, which is pretty much all an author could ask for.
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.
Honestly, I’m not super up to date on new releases. I do not pay nearly enough attention to the “new release” book market. I really should, considering I want my books to be “new releases” someday.
I guess, continuing the theme of the last answer, I’d say Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson. It is the (I think) fourth book in his epic fantasy series and it technically released at the end of last year, not this year. I haven’t read any of them, so of course I’m not going to start here. But I’m excited to start that series and one day read this book.
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
Again, not up to date on new releases. To be honest, I don’t know any that are releasing. I generally don’t know until I see it posted on my Twitter feed or someone else posts it on Goodreads/reviews it on YouTube and I think “That looks cool, I’ll check it out.”
Is this where I am supposed to plug my book that is (hopefully) releasing before the end of this year? Check back for more information on that when I have it!
5. Biggest disappointment.
Unfortunately, I’d have to give this one to The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington. It was a new release by a local Nashville writer that I had incredibly high hopes for. But, aside from the Nashville setting, most of it fell flat for me. I wanted to love this one, I still want to love books by other Nashville writers, but this one didn’t work for me.
Also, The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Obviously, it’s the Godfather. One of the most popular and loved franchises in American history. I should love it right? Nope. Really didn’t understand the appeal of this book. There were a couple of scenes that were thrilling and gripping, but all in all it was slow and just kind of strange. I didn’t like it.
6. Biggest surprise.
I haven’t had the chance to review this book yet, but I recently finished reading a novel called Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. At the risk of spoiling the review, I really enjoyed this book. Granted, it isn’t going to win any Pulitzer Prizes, but I don’t think it’s trying to. It’s a simple, fun romcom of a novel. It was easy but engaging. I loved it. Emma Lord has such a refreshing voice, I’m excited to read more books from her.
7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
I’m tempted to say Emma Lord here, not because I loved Tweet Cute that much, I just don’t know of any new to me authors that I’m as interested in reading something else from as her. I did fall in love with Anthony Doerr’s prose when I read All the Light We Cannot See but his other novels are not as appealing to me as that one was.
I’m excited to give Stewart Lewis another shot. He is another Nashville based writer and, while I didn’t love One Stupid Thing there was enough in that book for me to want to give Lewis another shot.
8. Newest fictional crush.
None? I don’t know, I can’t think of anything for this.
9. Newest favourite character.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, Edmond Dantes from the Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most interesting and fascinating characters in all of literature. His story and his response to that story is so wonderful. I loved spending time with him. There were so many great characters in that book, though.
Kilgore Trout from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (and I think he makes an appearance in Jailbird which I also read this year), is such a fun and interesting character.
Although I didn’t technically meet him this year, Marsh from the Mistborn trilogy is one of my favorite villains in fantasy.
10. Book that made you cry.
The Communist Manifesto. Just kidding, though I did read that this year.
None of them really made me cry, I haven’t read an emotional gut punch novel this year (besides They Both Die at the End, but I was a little checked out by the end of that novel so it didn’t hit me hard). I think Things Fall Apart would have hit me harder if I connected with the writing style. I didn’t love the characters, but the colonialization themes would have hit me on their own had the writing made it more impactful.
11. Book that made you happy.
That’s a lot of them. The Count of Monte Cristo made me happy, then sad, then happy again, then depressed. It ran the gauntlet of my emotions.
Tweet Cute made me happy in the way a typically well-done romcom does.
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut was a really fun novel that I liked reading.
12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
Oh boy do I have some answers for this one.
Recently, I have started collecting rare/special edition books. Since starting that hobby, I’ve purchased a first U.S. printing of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle. I’m working on getting all of the Narnia series in first U.S. Printing. The bindings look beautiful on these books. I also have a first edition Tolkien fairytale that is really cool.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, I recently bought a Barnes and Noble special edition The Count of Monte Cristo that I am in love with. You can see that here. This isn’t an ad or anything, I don’t get money if you buy it, but it’s a beautiful edition.
But I think the winner has to be the Minalima illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Long time readers of this blog will be well aware that I love Harry Potter, but if I had this edition when I was a kid, I would have been even more obsessed. It is gorgeous. The illustrations are beautiful. The pop-out interactive content is incredible. The binding is fantastic. I cannot say enough good things about this book and when I get the chance to read the story to my kids or my nephew/niece, I’m using this edition for sure. Seriously, not an ad, but you should check out this book.
13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
There are quite a few books on my TBR list to round out the year, but I think I’ll talk about one that might surprise some people.
Recently, I’ve been interested in trying out some other forms of storytelling/reading that I might have been neglecting. I don’t read graphic novels, but I used to. As a kid, that was just about all I read. As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve seen them as a little childish and that is completely not fair. I’ve missed out on a whole wide world of art because of that mental block. So I want to jump back in to graphic novels. To start that transition, I picked up the first volume of what was always my favorite graphic novel series: Dragon Ball Z. I loved all things Dragon Ball as a kid, and I even read most of the manga for the Dragon Ball series, but I never got to Dragon Ball Z (I only watched the show), so I’m picking it back up and hopefully it will spark a love of graphic novels. It’s a wide world that I want to get plugged in to.