My friend Angela completed this tag on her blog, and I wanted to try it out myself. One benefit of the lockdown has been plenty of time for reading and listening to audiobooks; I have completed 39 books so far this year, my Goodreads Reading Challenge target for 2020 being 60. I think that’s certainly enough books to complete a tag about! The original #midyearbookfreakout tag is from Chami and Ely at Earl Grey Books.
1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. While it took me a few chapters to really get into it, I was loving it by the halfway point, and I definitely see why it’s so highly regarded. It’s full of rich atmosphere, emotional power, some surprisingly funny moments, and encourages self-reflection in the reader.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020
The best book I’ve read this year that’s part of a series (and isn’t the first instalment) is Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett, the second book in the Lymond Chronicles. I’d found the first book enjoyable and witty, if a bit hard to comprehend sometimes, and Queens’ Play is more of the same, with a little more intrigue in the plot.
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Devolution, by Max Brooks. I enjoyed World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, so I’m keen to see what he does with Bigfoot.
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Troy, by Stephen Fry. This is the next in his series on Greek mythology, continuing from Mythos and Heroes. I’m not so familiar with the story of the Trojan War, so I’m looking forward to hearing about it from Mr Fry – though it’s currently unclear whether this book will include the Odyssey or not.
5. Biggest disappointment
The Sunbird, by Wilbur Smith. When I read A Time to Die earlier in the year, it was the first time in years I’d read anything by Wilbur Smith; I liked the book a lot and wanted to go through his work some more. However, while The Sunbird isn’t really a bad book, I didn’t like it nearly as much. The worst thing about it was the romance: there’s a love triangle between the three main characters in which none of them come out looking too good or deserving of much sympathy. (The romance had been the weakest part of A Time to Die as well.)
6. Biggest surprise
The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. I was unsure about this one as it appeared to have mixed reviews, but it was recommended by a friend who’s into personal development. It’s intended to help motivate struggling writers, and I found myself feeling very motivated by it. Pressfield talks about the mental forces of resistance that hold amateur writers back, and how to adjust your mindset to be more professional, all in a very positive and encouraging way. It’s only a short book, so if you’re having a hard time getting words on the page, check it out.
7. Favourite new author (debut or new to you)
In terms of someone whose work I was just introduced to this year and want to read more of, I’ll say Travis Langley. I found his book Batman & Psychology – examining Batman and the characters associated with him through a psychological lens – very interesting, and I’d like to check out the similar books he’s written and co-written on other properties, like Doctor Who.
8. Newest fictional crush
No crushes, but in terms of fictional characters I’d most like to meet, I do wish I could own Einstein the super-intelligent golden retriever from Watchers (by Dean Koontz).
9. Newest favourite character
Thrawn, after reading Star Wars: Thrawn (by Timothy Zahn) – while the character has been part of the Star Wars universe for a while, this was my own first encounter with him. While Thrawn technically works for the bad guys, one can’t help but admire him; he’s always in control, never does anything without a good reason, gives everyone the respect they deserve, and part of the fun with him is trying to figure out what solution he’s got in mind for a seemingly impossible problem.
10. Book that made you cry
I don’t actually cry at books, but the ending of A Prayer for Owen Meany certainly made me very sad, even though the book foreshadows it for some time beforehand.
11. Book that made you happy
Sunny Side Up, by Susan Calman – well, the whole point of this book is to encourage kindness and positivity.
12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought (or received) so far this year
I’m not sure I’d call any book I’ve bought or received this year beautiful, but On a Sea of Glass certainly has a good cover and some excellent pictures inside.
13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I’ve got a few new books about the Titanic that I need to read as research for my WIP. I’m also partway through The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula le Guin and want to finish that, and I told myself I’d read The Victorians by A.N. Wilson after having it on my shelf for years.