Books I’ve Read – The 2018 Edition

A non Twin Peaks post!! It’s been so long! Well not really, as without those posts I usually post nothing on here except for my annual “What I Read” list. That’s pretty much the only thing you can for sure count on to come out of me every year. But this year is ending, apparently we are transcending out of this “3D” plane and into the fifth dimension where we will heal and change and all that good stuff. (I started following this “artist, crystal healer, energy alchemist” on Twitter and while I don’t 100% understand things she says, I like it and I find her tweets very reassuring sometimes.)

Anyways, what I am trying to say is that perhaps once I transcend into the 5D plane I will be able to overcome my sometimes crippling perfectionism and just write freely instead of having over 20 drafts that I can’t post but can’t bring myself to delete. 🙃 Oh well, onwards~

My penchant for re-reading continues! I think everything I’ve read so far this year is pretty much a re-read with only a few new ones sprinkled in. However, I met my goal of 52 books this year which is super amazing because for the past few years I have not. So yay me. 🎉

2018 Goal: 52
Grand Total: 62
2019 Goal: 52/half has to be new books

I honestly have a tower of books beside my bed and they have been accumulating for the past few years. I truly do want to read them; my personal rule is that every book I buy and keep I have to read. Although this article I read in the NTY about tsundoku really made me feel better about it lol.

However my new stipulation that at least half of my 2019 books should be new ones is because while I take great pleasure in the act of reading I also want to partake in the other facets of reading. Such as discovery of new authors, new stories, new ways to use language. It’s always enjoyable to read books that you love and they will always feel new but the discovery that happens during reading is beautiful as well. The expansion of your world view, or a new vein of imagination is never something to deny yourself.

Hopefully my pile of new books is diminished as the year goes on, which gives me even more space to buy new books. Or the new Kobo in which I can store thousands of books. Of course, nothing beats holding a physical book but some of these books are heavy and long and my hands hurt lol. The books I am hoping to tackle are a good mix of true crime, some poetry, two Asian authors and three Toni Morrison’s. So, I’m going to be in good company.

Without further ado, here is this year’s list of books I’ve read:

Harry Potter 5-7 by J.K Rowling

I usually read all seven Harry Potter books every spring/summer like clockwork however this year they were split between this year and last because the last “James Potter series” book was published and I wanted to like read them all continuously so it would kind of flow better.

JKR continues to disappoint me so reading through this was a bit of a slog. What really helped me along and reinvigorate my love for the HP series were all the really long in depth conversations I would have about Harry Potter with my friend Ekow. It all started when we got into a fierce debate about Ron Weasley. I adore Ron as a character, I don’t think he’s the greatest or whatever, (the way he treats Hermione is beastly) but there are facets of him that I love and I will argue with anyone that says he’s a useless character lol.

Ekow is not a fan of Ron at all lol and we have had really long essay text arguments about it. It’s also spiralled into talking about what racism in the wizarding community would be like, wondering if mental health is as hard to treat or manage when they have things like cheering charms etc. Sexuality in the wizarding world etc.

I will always treasure and love this discourse, not only because I love Harry Potter discourse, I’m ready to get into it anytime, anywhere but I also love all of my conversations with Ekow. He’s a brilliant conversationalist and this experience is just another reason why I will treasure the HP series until I die.

James Potter and the Hall of Elder Crossing + Curse of the Gatekeeper

I’ve written about my thoughts on the self-published James Potter series by G. Norman Lippert before in other past lists, and reading them now I definitely see a change in how I perceive them.

Before I really enjoyed them! I thought the world expansion was great the story was interesting even if the writing style wasn’t as great as I would have wanted it to be.

I do find it a bit harder to get into it again now. The world expansion/building he does is still great and some of the characters are still endearing but now when I read I tend to do so with a more critical eye. I don’t know if this is a side effect from school lol but as I’m reading I’m editing at the same time. A lot of it could be trimmed and he loves to over-explain things. Also, as the series continues his usage of “rasps” and “groused” expands and I do not enjoy it lol.

There’s only 3 more books in this series and I’m starting to get into the main story again, I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit but there have been way worst fanfictions that have now made millions of dollars and this one is not that bad and has not made millions so I’ll give it to him.

Gossip Girl 1-11 + Prequel by Cecily von Ziegesar

I’ve never actually finished watched the entire Gossip Girl series but I know everything that happens. I always mean to because it was such a crazy pop culture phenomenon, the outfits are A1, I love Leighton Meester with all my heart and soul… however I never seem to go past season 3.

(Also ironic because when it first aired I was the one in my school hyping it up and talking about it nonstop.)

Anyways since it’s back on Netflix again I was determined to sit down and go through the whole thing…but then I got distracted. I was looking at Dan and Vanessa on the show and thinking about how different they were from the books so I decided to just read the books again just to remind myself of how different they really are.

Dan is 20x creepier in the books, which is saying something as he eventually is revealed as Gossip Girl in the show and you start thinking about all of the fucked up things that he’s posted. Vanessa is way more fun in the books.

Both completely different beasts, it’s interesting to see how the voice changes when ghostwriters start taking over lol. The ending was the best because Blair and Serena chose each other and their dreams and stopped fighting over flop Nate.

Gossip Girl: I Will Always Love You

So this came out around the time the show did and it was also ghost written and it’s a huge departure from the style of the original series. The narration in the original series was really detached, none of the characters were really fleshed out or overtly emotional so you didn’t get too attached to one or the other. Which I think it’s great and keeps in theme with the nature of gossip and celebrity, like you know some stuff but not everything.

Anyways, this series sequel is written in a more traditional narration style. I commend this ghost writer for all the gymnastics she had to do to try to marry the show’s plotlines with the original series, it was really well done I would not have thought it possible. There was a lot of great closure for all of our favourite characters. The book is split into four parts, each of them all take place during the Christmas break when all of them are back in the city from school. So to have such a limited time frame to tie up all of these random loose ends and other adaptations and also make a coherent and enjoyable story? Amazing.

I actually enjoyed it very much. It was my first time reading it, when it was originally published I don’t remember why I chose to not complete my collection but anyways, I’m glad I read it this year. It was a lot of fun, I got a lot of closure for all of my favourite characters. I love how in the end a majority of the characters chose to follow their dreams and passions instead of continuing to date in the same incestuous circle for years.

Most importantly, Blair and Serena chose each other again, finally realizing that Nate is a flop, and they have the most fun with each other and then they literally hop into a cab and speed to the airport and they’re off to Europe for the summer.

Gossip Girl: The Carlyles 1-4 by Cecily von Ziegesar (Annabelle Vestry)

I decided not to stop. When the original GG book series ended the show was just beginning so the publishers decided to milk this cow for all it’s worth and instead of letting GG go off to college with her peers they had her take a gap year and continue to be GG for a new set of teenagers!

I bought the first two books when they originally came out but I couldn’t get into them like I did the originals. The originals were truy love at first line. These… I could tell off the bat that they were ghostwritten (and this was before I realised just how many of my beloved childhood series were ghostwritten) the characters weren’t as fun and most galling of all to me was the fact that GG had stayed.

This is not to say that people who don’t go to college right away are bad, I also didn’t go to school right after high school. BUT! For Gossip Girl’s character is was such a weird move. Throughout the series she was always presented as the ultimate mystery girl. Yes, she reported on Blair and Serena who were elite in their own right but GG was a peer and she was able to have people give her lavish gifts and come to her birthday party all the while staying anonymous. She was just as good as Blair and Serena because she was one of them but more powerful because you never knew about her flaws or escapades. So for her to decide to just report on a bunch of new kids who she’s not even friends with….? Nah.

So the series has a very bumpy, boring start where they are more focused on dropping as many name brands in a sentence as possible. The drama is boring and no one’s really sympathetic. It sort of finds its stride in the middle but then it ends on such a cliche note.

I’m glad they ended this at just 4 books to be honest. It was 4 too many.

The It Girl 1-10 by Cecily von Ziegesar

You thought I was done with the GG-verse!!!!

The It Girl is Jenny Humphrey’s spin-off series where she gets to go to boarding school in order to cultivate the cool, mysterious persona of Serena Van der Woodsen. I’m not kidding lol that’s the only reason she wanted to go to boarding school.

However, this series is delightful. It hits all of my favourite teen boarding school tropes. Everyone is beautiful and lives in such cute dorms and they all have secret illicit parties and there are like a million fun school events where they just drink and hook up.

Jenny in the It-Girl is vastly different than Jenny in GG. GG!Jenny is definitely more naive and even more of a wannabe. ItGirl!Jenny has way more personality, she’s sweet and kind and I’m not going to lie a total Mary Sue. Which I didn’t mind so much because there are so many other characters in the series to immerse yourself in. There’s a lot of great character development, even Jenny by the end is more confident in herself and her place in the world which is great.

That Scatterbrained Booky series by Bernice Thurman Hunter

Lmao okay so this list is literally just book series I loved as a kid and have reread as an adult because my life is in shambles I guess. I’ve written about my love for this series before and what it means to me. When Bea gets her first kiss is still one of the sweetest scenes I’ve ever read and my heart still thumps when Lorne asks her to be his girl.

It’s crazy to me how I first got interested in this book because Bea’s parents were also poor and fighting all the time like mine but her tenacity and her little adventures around Toronto are what makes it close to my heart.

A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3 by Lemony Snicket

I re-read these in prep for season two and three coming up on Netflix to be honest lol. And also, once all of those gross accusations against Handler were revealed, it just quelled any interest I have in reading anything of his now.

I will always think that he’s a great writer and some of the books he’s written are my absolute favourites but I will no longer be directly putting money into his pockets.

Artemis Fowl 1-8 by Eoin Colfer

I started reading these again because this year Artemis Fowl started popping up in the news again. They’ve finally made and are releasing a movie. Eoin is doing a series continuation focused on one of Artemis’ little brothers but it all feels like ten years too late. Not impressed with the trailer and I’m not that interested in reading about one of the twins. If there is to be a new Artemis Fowl book I want to know about Butler, Juliet, Holly, Mulch, Foaly and even Minerva lol.

The first four are definitely stronger than the last four. At one point in time I really did enjoy the last book and thought the ending was really clever but re-reading it now I’m meh about it lol. I think it serves as a nice ending to the development of Artemis’ character but plot wise… it’s all so random after the fourth book.

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I’ve given up waiting for him to actually write the final two books in this series lol. He literally wrote himself into a corner, he got too into the world building and now he’s lost. It sucks, but I guess that’s what sometimes happens.

(Side note: Was definitely going to happen to me with my fic Chubby Buddies lmao. Believe me, I wanted EVERYTHING to happen to all 500 of my characters.)

I also fell off the show around season three or four. The writing was getting sloppier, there were way more naked women and rapes than actual story progression but GOT is a pop culture phenomenon. I can’t help but want to know everything that happens to all these characters I’ve been waiting an ending on since… I don’t even remember.

Yes, I could google what happens to all of the characters but that just births more questions for me so I have to start at the beginning. I’m doing the audiobooks for GOT and watching the show at the same time.

Audiobook: Really, really, really, so, so, so weird hearing a grown ass man voice a 14 year old’s sexual climax.

Show: A lot more boring than I remembered. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen seasons 1 and 2 before but wow, snoozer.

Cormoran Strike 1-3 by Robert Galbraith

I only did this because the fourth one was coming out this year and the TV series did as well and I was just prepping myself and comparing accuracies. Also I am a masochist.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Whew, where do I even begin? In terms of mystery there is one, but only if you squint really, really hard. I thought Career of Evil had a cookie cutter plot, this plot was slap dashed together from the remains of Career. The actual crime/mystery is surprisingly not the main focus of this mystery book in it’s mystery series.

The last book ended with Strike literally crashing Robin’s wedding just as she says “I Do” to her now-husband Matthew Cunt-liffe. Lethal White literally picks up seconds after that happens.

A huge chunk of this book is focused on Robin and Strike’s relationship (much like Career of Evil…) and all of their unspoken ~feelings. I am still not a Robin x Strike shipper. However in the show the chemistry is unreal but that is probably just due to Tom Burke tbqh. And because of Tom Burke book!Strike got a little makeover looool. Like a time jump happens and he’s lost a lot of weight and stuff to kind of subtly match the show depiction lol.

What is interesting about the time jump though is how much Strike and Robin’s business has grown. They have actual employees now and that’s really great to see. We also see Robin dealing with her PTSD after CoE and her terrible marriage to Matthew.

I stan Robin x Independence and the scene where Robin finally leaves Matthew literally made me scream for joy. I loved seeing her stand up for herself more and I hate that the ending implies that now single Robin and single Strike are smiling at each other shyly at the ~future.

At this point Robin x Strike are inevitable. They’ve already had an ~accidental kiss moment in this book so they will probably have a ~passionate embrace in the next one. And then a few books dithering about being in a relationship and working together and then they might get married and then what?

Do I believe JKR can write a fun married detective couple without it turning into a cozy? Not really. I think inevitably if she wants to continue this series she will probably kill Robin to fuel Strike’s man pain because one of her consistent themes throughout this series is disposable women.

Strike is actually in another relationship in this book, purely in an effort to assuage his ache for Robin. Lorelei who he’s been with for ten months, who literally patches him up and committed the crime of being herself and telling Strike that she loves him, doesn’t even get a last name!!! Lorelei joins Elin and Nina and all the other women that Strike runs through because he can’t be with Robin and Charlotte wounded him tew much.

Speaking of Charlotte, she actually makes an appearance in this book! I liked how tense the scenes always were when Strike and Charlotte were alone, and his frustration at having to be in such close proximity to her when he would rather never see her again.

To be honest, I’m going to have to re-read this again. It was her longest Strike book to date and all of it was just so dense with all of this emotional stuff that it’s hard for me to remember specific events.

When We Were Happy We Had Other Names by Yiyun Li

I’m always unsure of whether or not to count a lot of the other things I read over the course of the year, like interesting articles or short stories. I’ve decided that I’m going to count short stories because they also matter lol.

I loved Yiyun Li’s first book The Vagrants. So much so that I’ve blogged about it on two separate occasions. I love her writing style, it always gives me a really calming vibe but she’s dropping serious pain into each sentence.

This short story is more of the same, it’s a gorgeous meditation on grief and mourning and memory. My admiration for her is new every morning.

Honourable mention: Allison P. Davis’ profile on Lena Dunham for The Cut

I’m not going to count articles but this is one I urge everyone to read. It’s a masterclass of profiling. I love the tone and how it sets up a sort of nice thing Lena did but then she speaks again. It’s so fantastic, I love it.

On that note I’m going to say that I’m going to enter 2019 in the spirit of discovery. This year was a nice reminder that comfort is great but it’s not as invigorating as trying something new. Like even if the subject matter of the material is not to my liking, but the way it’s written can be impactful too.

Today's featured image is by Ireth Alcarin
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