This has been a very good reading year for me so far: I set myself a target of 70 books for the year and I’ve finished 46. So I thought I would do a mid-year review with this tag from last year.
- Best book you’ve read so far in 2021
Currently still Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – it’s at least as good as The Martian, if not slightly better.
- Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. I got the whole five-book Percy Jackson series for my birthday in March; although by the third book, I was a bit dissatisfied that they all seemed to involve the heroes doing the same things but with different monsters, the fourth and fifth books certainly picked up. The fifth book, The Last Olympian, was my favourite, providing an epic and satisfying finale.
- New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Locked in Time by Dean Lomax, a non-fiction book on how the behaviour of prehistoric animals can be inferred from certain fossils. The podcast Space and Things also keeps providing new releases to add to my list, like Beyond by Stephen Walker, which is about Yuri Gagarin.
- Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield – a space thriller by an actual former astronaut holds great promise!
- Biggest disappointment
Contact by Carl Sagan. I wanted to like this book more than I did, having enjoyed both the film based upon it, and Carl Sagan’s non-fiction. Unfortunately, while there are moments of beauty – particularly when painting pictures of the cosmos and having philosophical discussions – a lot of the content is poorly paced and feels very dry, with some scenes that should have some drama making little effort to instil an emotional response in the reader. Apparently the concept started out as a screenplay – and ultimately, it works a lot better as a film.
- Biggest surprise
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I got the audiobook of this as I was in the mood to try some fantasy – but it’s often hard for me to predict whether I’m going to enjoy a fantasy novel or not. I tend to either really enjoy them or be indifferent to them. I decided to try The Blade Itself as it was one of those recommended for readers of The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch, and I was pleased to find that this was a solid recommendation. I think I prefer fantasy stories where the main conflicts stem from worldly concerns, like political manoeuvring and foreign invasions, rather than some vague, dark, magical threat – though there are possible hints of something like that to come in the First Law trilogy, the rest of which I’ll be checking out at some point in the future.
- Favourite new author (debut or new to you)
Rick Riordan. Given how much I love Greek mythology, it’s really taken me too long to start reading his books. Having gotten through the original Percy Jackson series and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to reading the subsequent Heroes of Olympus series.
- Newest fictional crush
I don’t do fictional crushes.
- Newest favourite character
Rocky from Project Hail Mary. Amaze!
- Book that made you cry
I still don’t cry at books, but a few particular scenes in Project Hail Mary got the biggest emotional response out of me.
- Book that made you happy
Spaceman by Mike Massimino. Former Shuttle astronaut Massimino is a great storyteller, both in terms of his writing and how he narrates his own audiobook. This, along with the interesting subject matter, and a combination of funny and poignant moments and positive guidance, made this book a real pleasure.
- Most beautiful book you’ve bought (or received) so far this year
Marvel Greatest Comics: 100 Comics That Built a Universe by Melanie Scott was at least the most aesthetically pleasing, inside and out.
- What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
This year, I’ve been building a list to keep track of what I intend to read this year – including new discoveries (e.g. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E Taylor), books by authors I like (e.g. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari), books that have been on my shelf for a while (e.g. Forever Young by John Young), and old books that I fancy re-reading (e.g. American Gods by Neil Gaiman). But of course, that list keeps getting longer, so who knows if I’ll get through them all by Christmas?