Tuesday, 10 January 2017

16 Bookish Thoughts from 2016

Yet again I'm linking up with Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner for her End-of-Year Book Survey! Because we don't talk about books enough. I have slightly, *ahem*, modified the survey, so here you are: 16 Bookish Thoughts from 2016. (Which is a fancy way of saying I picked 16 of the In Books questions. It's #aesthetic, trust me.)

Number Of Books You Read:
Eight more than I read last year! Well done, me! That includes five rereads.
Most-Read Genre:

Classics! There's a surprise, eh?


1. Best Book


Last year I actually picked a single book, but ... here we are. Oops. To highlight the books I'm not going to talk about again this post:

Les Mis // exquisite, honestly. More than worth the month I spent on it. I don't know if I'd be writing LesMisBook if I hadn't read this -- I already loved the musical, but reading it takes that to a whole new level -- so it has literally changed my life!

 :
[source]
River // favourite book by favourite poet. I think about this book a lot.

Hurry up. Join the love-orgy
Up here among the leaves, in the light rain,

Under a flimsy tent of dusky wings.

~ from Caddis

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More Than You Did?


The Raven King // OK OK PLEASE DONUT HATE ME. I LOVED THE RAVEN KING. I GAVE IT FIVE STARS. I BOUGHT IT ON RELEASE DAY AND FINISHED IT THE NEXT. But ... it confused me? At points? Basically I expected it to be perfect, and shrieked a lot beforehand about how I expected it be perfect, and when I read it I couldn't exactly work out if it was perfect ... or if I just read it too fast and assumed it was perfect because that was my expectation. I may also have slightly forgotten the plots of the previous books. So the conclusion is I must reread the series, and then I shall know the truth. 

Two Lives // I was so disappointed! A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth is one of my favourites (heck, Nina Seth is named after him), but this one I ... did not like. It meandered. A lot. It didn't answer any of its own questions. Much sadness did I feel.

Lanark // was hoping for METAFICTIONAL GLASWEGIAN TRIUMPH and got really long, sexually dubious, bizarre novel. It was really interesting and I really liked it. But I didn't love it the way I was expecting.

Romola // SO MUCH DISAPPOINTED SADNESS IN MY HEART. I loved (with the blazing passion of a forest fire) Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss, also by George Eliot. And then ... Romola. Really long. Characters ranging between kinda annoying and very annoying. So densely written I thought my eyes would fall out. Lots of politics. Weird religion.

It just makes me so so sad when an author you loved who wrote books you adored (Vikram Seth, George Eliot) produces something you do not adore, and you have to say, oh, maybe he/she isn't perfect, after all. And the cruel reality of the world falls heavy upon your young shoulders.
Heir of Fire // it really wasn't Crown of Midnight, was it?? WHERE WAS CHAOL? (And where was the satisfying worldbuilding, and the great writing, and the male characters who don't instantly fall in love with Celaena? Yet to see any of these in this series, to be honest. (I did like this book, but not as much as the previous one!))

The Aeneid // so ... long ... so many ... names ... so much ... blood ... honour ... swords ... light is ... fading ... 
^Basically me reading The Aeneid.

*ahem*

3. Best Series Started? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender?


Desolation // I started this trilogy in the spring. I didn't think Demon Road was the best thing ever, but Desolation absolutely blew me away! It was! So! Good! (And now I'm rereading the Skulduggery books and just, damn, I love Landy a lot.)

Forever and Sinner // HELLO TO THE BEST SERIES ENDER AND TWO OF THE YEAR'S BEST BOOKS. Wolves of Mercy Falls just gets better and better. The writing, the romance, the humour. We don't say All Hail Stiefvater for nothing, do we? More thoughts on this series here.

Anne's House of Dreams // after slight disappointment in the fourth book, this #5 was wonderful. Watch out for more Anne chat in this post.

The Golem's Eye // a good surprise! The Amulet of Sarmakand, the first one in this trilogy, was good but not amazing, but I loved this book!

The Last Olympian and The Lost Hero // Percy = life. These books are my old friends, I love them.


AND THESE BOOKS WERE UTTERLY AMAZING. Because I don't talk about JK Rowling enough. I loved The Cuckoo's Calling, but these two took it to a whole new level. Characters! Setting! Murders! Plot twists! Pace! Social observations! Come on, look me in the eye and tell me you don't want to read about a detective duo solving fascinating murders in London.

The fourth book is coming out this spring.


4. Most Memorable Character?

I'm going to take this as a Donna Tartt cue. All her characters are complex and utterly believable, and The Secret History was a perfect example of this. (One of) the theme(s) of the book is the nature of evil and how it presents itself, and this centres around the character of Henry, who is the mastermind behind the murder with which the book starts, and also beloved of the characters and the reader. I can't stop thinking about him, about this book. More thoughts here.

Francis talking, gesticulating wildly in his white robe and Henry with his hands clasped behind his back, Satan listening patiently to the ranting of some desert prophet.

5. Most Beautifully Written? // Favorite Passage/Quotation?

Right back into The Secret History!

Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,' that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn't. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs. 


// I know I've shared this one at least twice before, but, like, damn. First line. Swooping me in and refusing to let me go until I'd turned the last page.
[source] // @hawwaetc
//

It is easy to see things in retrospect. But I was ignorant then of everything but my own happiness, and I don't know what else to say except that life itself seemed very magical in those days: a web of symbol, coincidence, premonition, omen. Everything, somehow, fit together; some sly and benevolent Providence was revealing itself by degrees and I felt myself trembling on the brink of a fabulous discovery, as though any morning it was all going to come together -- my future, my past, the whole of my life -- and I was going to sit up in bed like a thunderbolt and say oh! oh! oh!

// This probably is my favourite passage, if I'm going actually to answer the question. Serendipity. The world slipping into place. Have we not all felt this way? The tragedy, of course, is how it falls the other way so fast, dreams shattering, certainties vanishing like mist.

Tracey Emin's Neon Lights - Feminine Collective:
[source]
Also Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway. This really was one of my favourite books, too.

Now, looking out of the tunnel of trees over the ravine at the sky with the white clouds moving across in the wind, I loved the country so that I was happy as you are after you have been with a woman you really love, when, empty, you feel it welling up again and there it is and you can never have it all and yet what there is, now, you can have, and you want more and more, to have, and be, and live in, to possess now again for always, for that long, sudden-ended always; making time stand still, sometimes so very still that afterwards you want to hear it move, and it is slow in starting. ... So if you have loved some woman and some country you are very fortunate and, if you die afterwards, it makes no difference. Now, being in Africa, I was hungry for more of it, the changes of the seasons, the rains with no need to travel, the discomforts that you paid to make it real, the names of the trees, of the small animals, and all the birds, to know the language and have time to be in it and to move slowly. I have loved country all my life; the country was always better than the people. I could only care about people a very few at a time.

// take me to Kenya! Review here.

Pinterest: @pastel5sos Tumblr: @viirtualsouls:
[source]
And finally Darling by Jackie Kay, specifically this poem, which I posted in my last post but hey let's all read it again!

In my country

walking by the waters
down where an honest river
shakes hands with the sea,
a woman passed round me
in a slow watchful circle,
as if I were a superstition,

or the worst dregs of her imagination,
so when she finally spoke
her words sliced into bars
of an old wheel. A segment of air.
Where do you come from?
‘Here,' I said, ‘Here. These parts.'

National identity, innit. For more thoughts on why this is so important to me, click here.

6. Most Thought-Provoking Book?


Completely changed the way I thought about race and racism. And hair. Review here.

7. Book That Shocked You The Most

Apart from We Were Liars? A Dance With Dragons: After the Feast by George Rampaging Ruinous Martin. I'm not going to say why, but if you read it you know why.

I just thought ... well let's not talk about what I thought because what I thought was wrong. The world is a web of lies.
8. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)


BEATRICE AND BENEDICK = LIFE. 

Also ROBIN AND STRIKE, STRIKE AND ROBIN from the Cormoran Strike books!

Me @ Book 4
9. Best Book Read Based On Peer Pressure?

We Were Liars by E Lockhart. Everyone and their nan has read this but I only got involved this spring ... and I loved it! Absolutely stunning. If you're like, meh, don't like hyped books" ... make an exception for this one! Review here.

10. 2016 fictional crush?

Bizarrely, I don't think I have one! Maybe Henry Cheng? But really, my heart goes on for Jaime. That's all there is ...

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


Normally I talk about A Song of Ice and Fire, but as I have already said “the worldbuilding is so stunning! The depth! The geography! The religion! The history! The food!" 685950 times, I thought I'd highlight Sunset Song.

you'd waken with the peewits crying across the hills, deep and deep, crying in the heart of you and the smell of the earth in your face, almost you'd cry for that, the beauty of it and the sweetness of the Scottish land and skies.

There is a scene from Macbeth that sticks in my head. Malcolm and Macduff are talking, and after a long speech in which Malcolm speaks of the horror coming for their land, Macduff, overcome by emotion, cries simply, “O Scotland, Scotland!" One of the reasons I loved Sunset Song was that I've barely read any books set in Scotland. The way Grassic Gibbon described the land was absolutely beautiful,

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

Got to be the two Georgia Nicolson books I read, Luuurve is a Many-Trousered Thing and Stop In the Name of Pants! If those titles don't tell you all you need to know ... Seriously, though, you may frown upon teen romance / bright pink books, but the Georgia Nicolson series, I assure you, will send those prejudices skittering aside like dust. They convulse me with laughter. I can't believe I only have one left to read!

13. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


I'm putting this one in here because, whilst Anne of Green Gables is well-loved and famous, I feel the later books of the series get a lot less love. Anne's House of Dreams was absolutely delightful! And I don't think many people have read this far. I cannot wait to read the sixth book!

14. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Apocalyptic picture of a father and son travelling through an ashen America, searching for the sea. Probably in my 2016 top three; it also took my heart and diced it and mashed the pieces and served them on toast. The opening lines:

When he woke in the woods in the dark and cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. The nights dark beyond darkness and the days each one more gray than what had come before.

15. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

Time's Arrow by Martin Amis. It's told backwards! Like, it starts with the narrator waking up in bed, having just died. He gets up, he leaves the hospital, and back we go through his life as he grows younger. This book absolutely blew me away; review is written and scheduled!

16. Other Books You Want to Shriek About?

Love's Labours Lost // properly hilarious Shakespeare play. Loved it.

Under Milk Wood // “a play for voices" by Dylan Thomas. Absolutely wonderful interweaving narrative telling the story of a day in a Welsh village.

A Grain of Wheat // very similar to Under Milk Wood, in fact: a Kenyan book about a village on the brink of independence from the British. Marvellous. Review here.

Shakespeare's Sonnets // stunning. This book changed the way I think about Shakespeare: it showed him, a man, an individual, writing about his feelings and his day-to-day. Read Sonnet 27. Have you ever lain awake thinking about someone? Well, so did Shakespeare. That blew my mind.

TS Eliot's Selected Poems // “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherised upon a table ..." So begins The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, one of my favourite poems. This book also contains The Waste Land, the post-WW1 poem that shook the face of twentieth century literature. I love TS Eliot, I can't tell you.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest // a remarkable look at mental illness, written after the author Ken Kesey spent time in a mental hospital in the 1960s.

Up on Disturbed there's an everlasting high-pitched machine-room clatter, a prison mill stamping out license plates. And time is measured out by the di-dock, di-dock of a ping-pong table.

I think about this quotation so much! Because that's how I feel about ping-pong! I mean, I get that's not exactly what it's about, but I remember reading this and being like YES, YES, THAT IS WHAT PING-PONG IS LIKE, THAT'S WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE, EMPTY, SOULLESS. It was a good moment.

Image result for alan bennett the best moments in reading
[source] // Alan Bennet
~***~
looking-ahead-books-2015
1. 2017 Excitements
Skulduggery Pleasant Ten Teaser

The Winds of Winter // this was my answer last year, too! WHEN OH WHEN?!!!

Skulduggery Pleasant X // excuse me whilst I SHRIEK THE CONTENTS OF MY SOUL FOR SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS. I'm currently rereading the Skulduggery series and having a whale of a time. It's like a massive reunion, and more beloved friends keep arriving!

Cormoran Strike #4 // still no cover or title! I NEED TO KNOW. It'd better be out when I get back from Kenya, I'm just saying.

2. 2017 Priorities: The Ones I Didn't Manage in 2016

2017's colours are blue and red, apparently.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone // humiliatingly enough, this was my answer to this question not only last year, but also the year before. IT'S SHAMEFUL I KNOW. But I am taking it to Kenya, it is HAPPENING!

The Scorpio Races // obviously.

Inglorious // because I love Come to the Edge by this author, and I've owned this one for over two years, and, yeah.

Queen of Shadows // because whilst I wasn't Heir of Fire's biggest fan, it's important to keep up with one's series!

Capital // I've owned this for so long ... like, I can hardly remember what it's about or why I bought it. (And it's not the only book on my shelf in that category! Oops ...)

I Am the Messenger // because I spend 100% of my time saying, “I love Markus Zusak! The Book Thief is one of my favourite books!" and 0% of my time a) rereading The Book Thief or b) reading any of his other books. Oops!

All the Bright Places // I'm getting there!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell // I think I've owned this for about four years?? And every fantasy fan and their gran has told me to read it. It's just ... you know, really long ...

Gone to the Forest // owned since summer 2015, I think. Very cool surrealism! I just need to actually, like, read it.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius // owned for over four years. Oh, Emily, when will you learn?

Probably never.

~***~

That was a post and a half! Can you sum up your 2016 reading in a word? What was your favourite book? A big disappointment? What's top of your 2017 TBR? Link me up to your survey!

Now, I'm hoping to schedule a couple of posts before I go on Thursday, and I will probably pop up occasionally to reply to comments, but ... I'm not sure. This isn't goodbye goodbye, but it might be a little bit of a goodbye. A farewell, let's say. There's not enough virtual cake in the world for you guys. Regular blogging resumes in May; until then, you're in my prayers. Write those novels! Topple those TBRs (but don't get crushed). Lots of love.

7 comments:

  1. "And I don't think many people have read this far." Really? I always assumed that everyone devours each and every Anne book.
    Time's Arrow sounds fascinating! I'm looking forward to reading that review.
    I think I need to read Sunset Song now. That little snippet is beautiful!
    Farewell for now!

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  2. Congrats for reading 60 books 😊🎉 thank you for sharing :) there are so many books that you have read but I have not read yet..
    Oh I love we were liars, too :)

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  3. I'm disappointed that I haven't heard of/ read many of these books. Then again I've probably just added another 10 books to my TBR because of this post. Thanks :L *tbr tower turns into leaning tower of pisa*
    My favourite book of 2016 was I'll Give You The Sun! I fell madly and deeply in love with it <3 <3 <3
    Also Asking For It by Louise O'Neill was another favourite. So brilliantly haunting!
    I want to wish you well for your trip to Kenya! And I hope to hear all about it upon your return. So long, farewell, aufwiedersehn ^_^

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  4. EMILY. Okay so basically I have to leave my college library rn but I just want to say right:

    Like three years ago I posted this thing (http://littlemoonelephant.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/boy-with-eyes-that-match-his-hair.html) which is super cringey but about this guy not liking me, and you commented. Anyway so this is literally insane but yesterday the guy in that crappy poem and I started dating! It's literally completely mad but I just had to inform you of the update because... it's mad. I just... I can't even. How things change!! And yet we're still blogger friends C; <3

    Sorry for the rambling, I will read this post when I'm not on the verge of being logged out by the timer, but I just had to point it out. So cray.

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  5. I really need to get to the Galbraith books and Donna Tartt one of these days!

    I think I'll have to try Time's Arrow - it sounds fascinating.

    Daughter of Smoke and Bone is so wonderful - I still haven't read the final book (because I just don't want it to end). The Scorpio Races is excellent - I really want more from that world too. And of course Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is amazing - I wouldn't mind if it were a few hundred pages longer - also I highly recommend the tv adaptation!

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  6. Whoa so many books. I definitely don't know most of them but I did recognise that TS Eliot poem.

    I don't have a fictional crush myself. How does one even acquire a bookish crush?

    Favourite books of 2016 were The Help and Head Over Heels.

    Disappointments? Fangirl,The Maze Runner Series, Insurgent, Allegiant... 2016 wasn't the best year for me. I'm glad this year is getting better. I'm planning on reading Cinder, Six of Crows and others. I'm trying to get into Fantasy or see what the big deal is at least. And also to support authors other than Holly Smale xD

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  7. There's so many books here!

    I don't know what to do with myself?

    And you're away from the internet! *distant sobbing*

    But I hope you're having a good time. Although I guess when you answer this you will have already had the good time, yeah?

    Ahem, but obviously I need to prioritize some Derek Landy books and Shakespeare. And you've made me interested in Anne again. I read the fourth book and had had it with Anne's diary excerpts (I love trees and all, but not much happens in that book. . .). But I might give the next book a try if you say it's better.

    I have finally read Under Milk Wood by the way. It's quite beautiful.

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Thanks for commenting! :)