2019 Book Survey

Love the idea of this Survey, from Jamie’s End of Year Book Survey and having read a few, thought I’d (perhaps a little belatedly) upload my own.

**2019 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 40
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Crime, Fantasy and Literary

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2019?

The genre that gained most 5 star ratings was distinctly Gothic having begun the year with Melmoth by Sarah Perry and finished it with Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley.

However, my favourite book of the year is probably Lanny by Max Porter for its sheer and pure and exuberant language and its ability to find lyricism in the prosaic.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: perhaps it was because it is in translation, perhaps because it didn’t transfer well to an audiobook format….

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Akwaeke Emezi’s Women’s Prize listed Freshwater: a fresh mythic take on identity, gender and sexuality deeply embedded in Igbo culture and beautifully rendered. I am currently reading her YA novel Pet which is also gorgeous.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Frances Hardinge’s Deeplight: I began pushing others to read it before it was released and, as a teacher, I have a captive audience!

 5. Best series you started in 2019? Best Sequel of 2019? Best Series Ender of 2019?

I don’t think I began any new series in 2019, but it did seem to be a year of conclusions: Wyntertyde brought Andrew Caldecott’s Rotherweird series to a conclusion, The Rosie Result concluded the Rosie trilogy.

I’m going to nominate, however, The Trespasser by Tana French which may (or hopefully may not) bring the Dublin Murder Squad to an end – it certainly felt like a curtain was being drawn.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2019?

Akwaeke Emezi for Freshwater and Pet.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Vertigo and Ghost by Fiona Benson: a deliberate attempt to return to contemporary poetry.

Violence hangs over this book like an electric storm. Beginning with a poem about the teenage dawning of sexuality, Vertigo & Ghost pitches quickly into a long sequence of graphic, stunning pieces about Zeus as a serial rapist, for whom woman are prey and sex is weaponised. These are frank, brilliant, devastating poems of vulnerability and rage, and as Zeus is confronted with aggressions both personal and historical, his house comes crumbling down. A disturbing contemporary world is exposed, in which violent acts against women continue to be perpetrated on a daily – hourly – basis.

The book shifts, in its second half, to an intimate and lyrical document of depression and family life. It sounds out the complex and ambivalent terrain of early motherhood – its anxieties and claustrophobias as well as its gifts of tenderness and love – reclaiming the sanctuary of domestic private life, and the right to raise children in peace and safety.

Vertigo & Ghost is an important, necessary book, hugely impressive in its range and risk, and dramatic in its currency: a collection that speaks out with clarity, grace and bravery against the abuse of power.

Amazon

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Pierre Lemaitre’s Blood Wedding: Hitchcockean cat-and-mouse games across France.

 9. Book You Read In 2019 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I very rarely re-read a novel but Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea was so intricately plotted, structured and woven together that, if I re-read anything, it would be that – to see what I missed the first time through!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?

I adored the art deco style of the Mitford Murders series by Jessica Fellowes.

11. Most memorable character of 2019?

Dead Papa Toothwort, the capricious, gobliny, Robin Goodfellow character cavorting like Puck through the pages of Max Porter’s Lanny .

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019?

Lanny by Max Porter which evokes the English countryside and the power of grief and love wonderfully.

And which will be returned to throughout this list, I am sure.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2019?

Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World: despite the fact the she is murdered in the opening lines of the first chapter, Tequila Leila is a ridiculously vibrant and alive character, challenging our perceptions of family, belonging and friendship.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? 

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle – the first Sherlock Holmes novel and rife with the prejudices of the time!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019?

Having already quoted from Lanny, I will instead cite the novel Circe by Madeline Miller which was, again, marked by lyrical language albeit perhaps a little less experimental, but no less beautiful for that. The opening to it is a gorgeous example

WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and thousand cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves. That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019?

A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a brief 123 pages whereas The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon was a whopping 848 pages!

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Pisces by Melissa Broder – not shocking because of the sex, although there was an awful lot of that! Oral, anal, addictive, toxic, one-night stands. No, the shocking thing here is that our main character fell in love with a fish – well a merman. A merman! I found myself wondering on several occasions What on Earth am I reading here?

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Whilst I began the year with Conan Doyle and Johnlock will always bear an inevitable appeal, I will keep with the canonical pairing of Queen Sabran and Ead Duryan in Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree – clone of an immortal witch pairing up with a kick-ass magic wielding warrior priestess.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Dead Pape Toothwort and the village in Max Porter’s Lanny. Porter does something extraordinary with the colloquial and everyday language in the village, turning it into something lyrical and beautiful:

he swims in it, he gobbles it up and wraps himself in it, he rubs it all over himself, he pushes it into his holes, he gargles, plays, punctuates and grazes, licks and slurps at the sound of it, wanting it fizzing on his tongue, this place of his

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2019 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I would again cite Lanny above as something extraordinary, just as wonderful and awe inspiring as Grief is the Thing with Feathers.

21. Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver, a recommendation from a work colleague with a very gothic sensibility and who, I am sure, is enjoying the BBC Dracula at the moment!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019?

Zachary Ezra Rawlins, the son of the fortune teller in Erin Morgenstern’s gorgeous The Starless Sea.

23. Best 2019 debut you read?

Freshwater from Akwaeke Emezi.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Again, for the sheer vividness of the setting of the community of the village, generated through voice in a remarkable manner, I’d say Lanny.

But I’d also like to add as an honourable mention Deeplight by Frances Hardinge.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson for the sheer fun of this extended interlude in the world of Roshar.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019?

10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World, Elif Shafak where it wasn’t Tequila Leila’s death that moved me to tears, but her finding of peace at the end of the novel.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I’m not sure how hidden it is, considering how many times Amazon and Audible both recommended it to me, but I would say Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World, Elif Shafak

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2019?

Without a doubt, Lanny – unique and extraordinary.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Lying Room, Nikki French – received as an ARC from NetGalley and riddled with capitalisation errors and paragraphing issues. And even setting those aside, the most ridiculous plot and irritating characters!

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2019?

The Witty Sarcastic Bookclub – mainly because of the sarcasm! But also we share similar tastes in books and proud nerdhood.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2019?

I think I’d choose a Top Five Saturday list: book with maps in because it was just so much fun to think on and to consider.

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2019?

Neither artistic nor beautiful, but an exciting poetic book haul.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

I’ve simply not had the time to get to any events this year…

So I shall rely on the increasing number of ARCs I have been receiving.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2019?

New Year’s Eve! I love those look back on the year and reminding myself of the great reads I have experienced so I please have a look at both my Favourite Reads and my Review.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Time.

Time. Time. Time.

I have a wonderful but time-demanding six year old girl and I teach full time and I am have to devote time to planning and marking – and indeed am writing this surrounded by Mock Exam scripts.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

If we ignore the Home Page, the two blog posts with most love were

  • Tsotsi by Athol Fugard which has always received a lot of love and it is a gorgeous and heart wrenching novel
  • Rotherweird and Wyntertyde, a quirky little fantasy trilogy from Andrew Caldecott.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

In terms of reviews, Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson: it was challenging and gorgeous and unsettling and disturbing. Maybe my review wasn’t up to scratch but I’d hoped for more engagement with it…

“must try harder”

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

NetGalley!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I didn’t set any this year and, as a result, read more than in the last few years!

Read for joy, not for the sake of a list!

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2019 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2020?

Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi – just as wonderful as her Freshwater.

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth.

Amazon

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2020 (non-debut)?

Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light completing the Wolf Hall Trilogy.

‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

3. 2020 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality cop shows, thinks he’s smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job).

When a boy at school goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from episodes of Police Patrol to find him. With Pari and Faiz by his side, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the sprawling Indian city; the bazaar at night, and even the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. But kids continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2020?

In addition to Hilary Mantel, Ail Smith’s Summer bringing her Seasonal Quartet to a conclusion

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2020?

Personally, I never began my blog to attract followers and statistics, just to share my love of books and writing, words and language. So I’m not setting a target of any particular number of followers or books read.

What I’d like to develop are more conversations, more connections, more comments – to find that people shift from being a fellow-blogger to a friend. So if you are willing to make that leap, hit me up!

6. A 2020 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

4 comments

  1. For the first time in years I decided to do the 30-day Book Blogmas challenge as a survey instead of Jamie’s, feeling like there was just a little too much overlap to do both, and I am full of regret! But I loved reading your answers. You give such a good snapshot idea of book recommendations.

    I did make some book graphs here if you are interested in that kind of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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