Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries of 2019

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Topics:

January 7: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020
January 14: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019 (these could be books, authors, blogs, websites, apps, products, etc.)
January 21: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf
January 28: Book Cover Freebie (choose what kind(s) of covers you want to talk about: prettiest, most unique, most misleading, weirdest, most memorable, creepiest, ugliest, etc.)

Another “looking back” list here, which is running the risk of repeating some of the features in previous recent posts, particularly the 2019 Book Survey and Year in Books but I will try to avoid repetition where I can.

The List

Discovered Authors

I do try to follow a variety of literary awards in my reading year: the Man Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize, the Costa Prize, the Carnegie Medal… In part that is to expose myself to great writing, but there is a vast wealth of good writing that does not reach those prizes and a part of me is genuinely anxious about that. In part, though, it is also to expose me to a range of new or different authors that I may not have come across before. It is from these prizes, or from friends’ recommendations, or from Twitter and blog traffic, that many of these new authors came up.

Akwaeke Emezi

AN absolutely beautiful writer: muscular, lyrical prose exploring difficult and important issues. Both Freshwater and Pet raise vital questions of identity and worth and humanity, told through impossibly vibrant and vivid and credible characters.

Potent stuff!

Pierre Lemaitre

A name found through browsing blogs! A fantastic thriller writer with an incredibly acute eye for suspense. Blood Wedding was chillingly suspenseful.

Madeline Miller

Whilst I was aware of The Song of Achilles, it was Circe that I read last year: beautifully lyrical prose and vivid recreations of the Circe mythology. Just a shame that I read it very close to Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls: Briseis was a more compelling protagonist for me than Circe. Sorry.

Elif Shafak

Novelist and Political Scientist is how Shafak is described online – a description that doesn’t quite seem to grasp the power of her prose: 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World was a wonderful, potent depiction of a life at the margins: Tequila Leila – woman, abuse survivor, prostitute, murder victim.

Michelle Paver

A recommendation from a friend; the same friend who offered to lend me her entire Hammer Horror DVD collection. That is telling as the Paver novel I read was Wakenhyrst: creepy, Gothic, atmospheric.

Samantha Shannon

Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree came to my attention through blogs and Twitter where people were raving abut this non-patriarchal LGBTQIA+ fantasy novel. I did enjoy it a lot but perhaps the hype was a little exaggerated. Even so, with kick ass female heroines, lesbian queens, gay alchemists, magic fruit and nut trees, big boats and immortal witches – and a gorgeous cover – who couldn’t enjoy it?

Discovered Blogs

So very many new blogs this year, and I really don’t read as many of them half as much as I would love to, or you deserve but two special citations to the two blogs that host the two literary bookish weekly memes and lists that I try to keep up with

Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

Amanda @ Devouring Books

Discovered The Love of Bookish Spreadsheets

It would come as no surprise to those who know me that I love a good spreadsheet: I am literally in charge of writing them for work data tracking! But it was only last year that I stumbled across first Brock Roberts’ Bookish Spreadsheet – check him out on Twitter @lets read – and later Reader Voracious’ version. Both generate beautiful graphs and charts! Geek out!

Reader Voracious Spreadsheet

Brock RobertsSpreadsheet

(Re)discovered Poetry

Choosing to follow various poetry prize as well as novel prizes was a return to an old lost love in 2019. I’m still not entirely sure how to review them – or whether I really understand them, but Fiona Benson’s Vertigo & Ghost is powerful, unsettling and disturbing. All the things poetry should be.

[Zeus]

days I talked with Zeus

I ate only ice

felt the blood trouble and burn

under my skin

Discovered a need to write

Nothing that I feel is in any way in a state to make public, nothing completed but a range of vignettes I suppose, sketches, exercises sort of connected in a way. And I had a crack at a detective story for National Novel Writing Month… not one that reached the 50,000 but hey ho!

Discovered a range of new features in WordPress

New (to me) and exciting (to me) things like covers, columns and my favourite, the scheduled post!

Things I am still experimenting with!

Thanks for reading!

Michael.

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