Monday, 23 December 2019

My Year in Books

Hi daisies,

Hope you are all doing well. I want to take this time to say that I very much appreciate you if you are reading this right now, as although this is a very small blog, the readers I have mean very much to me.

This year has been both challenging and brilliant. I've experienced some very low lows but also some ecstatic highs. I've learned that it's really important to discover exactly what "self-care" actually means (hint: it isn't always bubble baths and treating yourself) and that it's okay to cut yourself some slack when things don't go the way you intended. This year I have worked on some things that needed resolving, grown in my confidence, gained a little more control over my migraines, and I stuck to my quest to read more books this year!

I stopped reading in my teens because I was in a situation which meant that concentrating on a book was nearly impossible. I got out of the habit of reading before bed time. I stopped buying new books. It is with huge pleasure that I can say I'm back to my bookish ways, and my shelves are overflowing with exciting new words for me to discover. I'm hoping to share where I've been with you.

My Year in Books

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
I re-read this novel this year as I felt I didn't truly appreciate it when I read it in high school. I felt so much more despair this time around reading it as a young woman rather than as a child. 

The Secret Lives of Colours - Kassia St Clair
I always took colours for granted, and now I appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that went into producing so many beautiful colours. The hardback cover was also lovely and textured. 

Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
I have always adored Howl's Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli, and I would be tempted to name it as my favourite film of all time, so I was both excited and nervous to read the book. As usual, I discovered that the story had been heavily changed for the film, but I also realised that it didn't matter. The book is special and wonderful, and the film is gorgeous and magical and I highly recommend both. 

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? - Holly Bourne
Holly Bourne is a fantastic author who I discovered through reading It Only Happens in the Movies. This was no exception to her consistently brilliant stories. I wince to use the word "relatable" but there's no other word for it. Her senstive and humanly funny characters who navigate issues with their mental health are so very needed. 

Vox - Christina Dalcher
A recommendation from a student which was a truly interesting read. Recommended for fans of The Handmaid's Tale

Matched | Reached | Crossed Trilogy - Ally Condie
Another student recommendation. Even though in parts I felt the story was fairly long and drawn out, it was actually eerily immersive and consuming, and I did feel as though I were sucked in. A very talented author and a pleasurable read, despite feeling utterly on edge about the trials the characters face.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusack
I have read this book countless time as it is probably one of my most favourite stories. I love the way the story is told, and I am completely enchanted by the characters. It is also one of the rare times that I love the film almost as much as the book. If you haven't had the pleasure, please seek it out!

Invisible Women - Caroline Criado-Perez
Wow, I got mad reading this book. The research compiled in this book suggests very much that all data should be disaggregated by sex. Although I do have some issues with the way this is approached entirely by looking at cisgendered humans, it's important to note how designs incorporate binary ideas of sex and thus must be analysed through that lens to learn how the designs occured. It is without doubt that most things are designed with the idea of the "binary" in mind. 

The Gods Lie - Kaori Ozaki
Utterly heartbreaking

Inkheart - Cornelia Funke
One of my favourite books from childhood, though I must admit that having watched the films many times, I found it quite tedious to finish and I have yet to read the other two books in the trilogy. It was lovely to revisit this part of my childhood, though.

Lord of the Flies - William Golding
The only thing I have to say about this story is that it made me feel cold, uncomfortable, small and out of control. I don't regret reading it, but I don't think I can ever pick it up again, it was far too traumatic. 

Alice in Wonderland | Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carrol
I have always loved Alice in Wonderland and it was wonderful to revisit. As always, not a little bit surprised by the notion that Carrol took a lot of drugs. 

The Curios Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
I didn't expect to like this book. However, I loved it. Although the atmosphere was uncomfortable and awkward and painful at times, it is so important.

You Know You Want This - Kristen Roupenian
I still don't know how to feel about this collection of stories. It is a horrifying, sickening, stomach-turning feeling to turn each page. You feel physically and emotionally damaged by the experience. I absolutely could not put it down. 

His Dark Materials Trilogy - Phillip Pullman
A masterpiece of fiction. I did not expect to fall so in love with this story and to be so upset when it was over. It cannot be overstated enough that the characters are so rich and beautiful and nuanced and wonderful. 

How Do You Like Me Now? - Holly Bourne
Funny and comforting. A must read. Holly Bourne always very unexpectedly displays all of your feelings which you thought were unqiue and secret on the page in front of you. She makes you feel united. That you are never alone. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Re-read this coming-of-age classic. It is as heart-wrenching as I remember. Although I do have some problems with the characterisation sometimes, I think it truly illustrates how fucked up being a teenager is. The film is also a must-watch. Warning: ensure you read a little about the story before you dive right in if you have experiened depression or abuse. Watching/reading it can put me in a bad place emotionally if I'm already feeling down. 

How to have Feminist Sex: A Fairly Graphic Guide - Flo Perry
I picked it up as I loved the cartoony illustrations and I am very much a sex-positive feminist. Although I did take issue with some of the things in there, I think it just shows that feminism is very much an individual thing. Overall, it was pretty wonderful, and I have so much respect for Flo Perry and also her mother, Phillipa Perry and the work they produce. 

Beastars vol 1. - Paru Itagaki
Highly anticipated after seeing the trailer for the anime online. I'm a huge fan of Zootropolis, and I think this is going to be a far darker telling of a similar story of prey vs. predator. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang
Absolutely beautiful. Excellent artwork. Wonderful story. I cannot recommend this enough. I especially hope that young people who feel different can find this story and feel they are seen.

Testaments - Margaret Atwood
Highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid's Tale after such a long break. I was concerned about how the story was going to unfold, but I was not disappointed. I adored this addition to the universe, and it was so beautifully articulated in Atwood's usual way, it was impossible not to devour it.

The Places I've Cried in Public - Holly Bourne
See: here

I Go Quiet - David Ouimet
Charming and beautiful. 

The Power - Naomi Alderman
Brilliant concept and incredibly thought-provoking. It made me realise how terrifying it is that violence and fear can be so normalised in our world if the context is deemed reasonable. 
Although I struggled with the outcome of the novel, and felt a bit confused the closer I got to the end, I do believe the concept is worth exploring. 

Over the Garden Wall - Distillatoria
A comic based on one of my all-time favourite shows Over the Garden Wall. There are no words for how much I love this show, and receiving a copy of this book from my partner on my birthday was a memorable moment for this year. The show is just everything I could ask for and the comic completely surpassed my expectations and made me feel like I was experiencing new episodes of the show I love so much. 

So that's my year in books! I struggled quite a lot towards the end of 2019, as my teaching load got quite heavy. However, I am very happily just starting Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea, which I hope will appear on next year's reading list (as I definitely won't have time to finish it before January, I will be busy eating).

Take care saplings x