Books I didn’t know were popular when I read them

I’ve always been a reader, but I’ve only been a part of the online bookish community for the past 5 or so years. Becoming a part of the bookish community has definitely introduced me to a lot of books, authors and genres. But there are a few series that are wildly popular in the bookish community (or at least were at that time) that I read without actually knowing they were super popular.


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This is probably the most popular and the one that is still super popular now. I started this series when there were only 3 of them out. By that point, I was already on the fringes of the book community. I had joined goodreads and that’s how I found out about it. But I didn’t realise it was so popular until after reading it. I was just browsing Goodreads and the synopsis of it intrigued me so I read it and then binged the remaining two books. And then I found out that everyone was talking about it.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Another one that I just found on Goodreads but was unaware of its popularity until later. I had read The Hunger Games, so I was looking to books similar to that on GR and this came up as one, so I read them and then found out they were even making a film.

The Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore

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By the time I really got into the bookish community, these were already losing popularity because of all the controversy surrounding the author. But as I was reading them, I was unaware of both their former popularity and their fall from grace.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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I actually originally started reading this series years ago. Like way, way back probably around when it first came out. But I wasn’t really fussed about it. I then re-read it (I didn’t even realise I was re-reading it until I started remembering things that were happening). I was unaware of its popularity on both occasions.

2018 Year in Books

I really enjoy making these end of year posts. I have so many ideas for posts. I’m not sure how many of them will actually materialise, but anyway here is an overview and some stats about my 2018 reading year. I guess this is going to be a relatively boring post, but I enjoy writing it so whatever.

2018 was a crazy year for me from so many points of view, but despite everything it was a pretty decent year reading-wise. It was the year I continued with series, which is something I’ve been historically bad at. I think I’m going to make another post in which I just talk about continuing series, but that’s something that I’m really pleased with. Also in that vein is reading other books by authors that I enjoy one book or series from.

2018 was also the year I really got into audiobooks, which was a format I wasn’t sure about. I’m still super picky about narrators, but I have enjoyed audiobooks quite a lot this year. I’ve also read a lot of books and authors that I’ve been meaning to read for years and it feels really satisfying to look over my read books and see all those titles that I’d been putting off for years. Even more so because pretty much all of them were books that I ended up loving.

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I read 92 books in total, so I was 8 books shy of my Goodreads challenge. However, my initial goal was 60 books. I then moved it up to 100 because I decided to read all of Attack on Titan which meant that I read like 25 books in a week because manga is super easy to get through. So all in all, I’m pleased with the amount of books that I read and also with what books I read.

My average rating for 2018 was 4.3/5 stars. So I mostly read books that I really enjoyed. I had a few 2 star reads and some 3 star ones, but for the most part, it was 4 and 5 star reads for me, so I made some pretty good reading choices I think. I’m probably going to make separate posts about my favourite and least favourite books of the year where I can gush and be salty respectively.

I’m less happy with what I did blogging wise. I just did not have the time and energy to maintain this blog. I am so behind with reviews and I’m frustrated with myself because I really enjoy blogging and reviewing books. But I just haven’t found the motivation to this past year and that’s something that I want to be better at in 2019.

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One thing that I wanted to do in 2018 and just didn’t was get rid of books that I don’t love. I’ve even decided what books I want to get rid of. But I haven’t actually done it. I haven’t picked them up and donated them to a charity shop. Just purely because I never found the time for it. But that’s something that I really want to do soon because i just don’t need those books to clutter my shelves when there are so many great ones I could replace them with.

I did do quite well this year with picking books that I enjoy, but I want to push that even more in 2019. One thing in particular I want to get better at is DNFing books. I will usually finish a book if I’ve started it even if i don’t enjoy it. But I don’t need that kind of time waste in my life.

This has turned into somewhat of a 2019 goals combined with 2018 overview. I didn’t really know what i was going to write when I started this out, so apologies for the rambliness, but I enjoyed writing it and i hopt you enjoy reading it.

 

Book Titles That Make No Sense

A while back, I did a post on book covers that don’t reflect the inside of the book. So I thought I should make a post about books with nonsensical titles that have nothing to do with the book, because we all know there are plenty of those.

The Schwarzschild Radius by Gustavo Florentin

schwarzschild radiusI think is the number one most wtf title ever. Honestly, it has absolutely nothing to do with this book. The Schwarzschild radius is some mathematical constant that has something to do with black holes. The only connection that this book has to that is one very minor character (he appears in like 1 chapter) who studies black holes or something like that. But it’s so completely irrelevant to the plot of the book and everything that goes on. I just don’t understand what the thought process behind that title was. “Oh well… this is a dark book… black holes are dark, right? What’s the most obscure black hole reference we can think of… oh I know!”

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

catcher in the ryeNow, I’ve read this book a long time ago, but I don’t remember there being any catcher in any rye anywhere. I vaguely remember some reference to catching something in rye. I just googled it, and apparently it was a line in a song that the main character hears at some point. Seriously. What significance that has to the book? I don’t know. What does that tell you about the content of the book? Absolutely nothing. It just makes no sense. Almost anything would have had more significance to the book than that. Why wasn’t it called “The Red Cap” or “The Whiny Brat”. I feel like that last one most aptly describes the book. Can you tell I hated this book?

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

never fadeI get the title of the first one. The Darkest Minds cause they have mind powers and some of those powers are messed up and it just makes sense. But Never Fade? What does that have to do with the story. I just can’t find a connection. And I know the titles make a sentence. I feel like In the After Light makes more sense for that book somehow, but for the second book in the series, I just don’t get the title. Having said that, I do actually like Never Fade as a title, I think it’s a cool title. Just doesn’t have much to do with the book itself.

 

 

 

 

 

My TBR Shelf

I’ve never had a designated TBR shelf before. I usually kept read and unread books together. But I recently moved to a new flat and I have this little shelf right next to my bed, so I decided to put my unread books on it. These aren’t all of my unread owned books, because they wouldn’t all fit, so I kept my unread non-fiction books separately.

A great photographer, I am not, but this is what the shelf looks like at the moment.


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The books on here aren’t actually sorted in any particular way except that the hardbacks are at one end and I kind of grouped the white books, but other than that I just shoved them on in whatever order. The little shelf at the top holds the books that I’ve already started but have yet to finish.

In case you are for whatever reason curious as to what books are on my TBR shelf, they are as follows:

Top shelf (started but not yet finished)

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas – I’ve legit been reading this for a year now. Since it came out last year. I’m just really not enjoying it, mainly because I cannot stand Chaol. I just want to get through it so I can get to Kingdom of Ash. I’m almost halfway through it (I know, I hate Chaol that much).

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks – This is another one that I just couldn’t really get into. I was actually expecting to enjoy this book and series as I’ve heard great things about it from people I trust. And I am intrigued by the plot and the world, but again, I dislike the main character and it just puts me off reading it. Every time I pick it up, I read a few pages and I put it back down. I’m 135 pages into this one.

Looking for Alaska by John Green – I started reading this at the start of September, but then I just really haven’t been in a contemp kind of mood, so I haven’t been picking it up much.

The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis – This is the non-fiction that I’m currently reading and as usual with Lewis’ books, I’m really enjoying it. Though I have to say at least so far, this one is my least favourite of his books that I have read.

What If? Serious Scientific Answersto Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe – This is another non-fiction that I’m reading, though not as actively as The Four Loves. Because of the nature of this book, this is what I pick up when I have only 5 minutes and want a quick pick me up as each chapter is very entertaining and usually quite short.

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch – You can’t actually see the spine of this one, but it’s the one with green pages. This is my meh book of the moment. Am I the only one who has a book that’s just kind of mediocre that you read when you’re too tired for anything that requires more than a quarter of a brain and you don’t want to read a book you love because you won’t be able to focus, but you want to read? Or when you just finished an awesome book and you know you won’t be able to focus on a new one, but you also want to keep reading? No? Just me? Anyway, this is my second Sara Raasch book and I didn’t really like the first one either.

The Bat by Jo Nesbo – Final book on the little shelf. I’ve been reading this book even longer than ToD. I’m debating just admitting that I’m never going to finish it. But… it was recommended to me by someone special and I just really wanted to like it.

Bottom shelf

I haven’t actually read any of these, so I don’t have much to say about each one. I’ll just list them, from left to right:

Hardbacks

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas | Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton | Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett | State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury | Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Paperbacks

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund | Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pincola Estes | Elantris by Brandon Sanderson |A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by G. R. R. Martin | Origin by Dan Brown | Down River by John Hart

Wild Embers by Nikita Gill | The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood | City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab | The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett | Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu | Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen | A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas | Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel | American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Judging Book Covers #2

As before, I went to my goodreads read shelf and randomised it. And as before, I will split the rating between aesthetic and relevance to the story, with a maximum of 2.5 points in each category.


A Clash of Kings by G. R. R. Martin

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I like this cover. It’s simple, yet effective. I like the colours as well. I would say 2 points for aesthetic. The crown there gives a nice medieval feel to it. You know picking this up, it’ll be a medieval setting. So 2 points for relevance with a total of 4/5.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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I love this cover. I have a thing about covers with crows or ravens on them. And it’s just so pretty! 2.5 for aesthetic. As for relevance, you can definitely tell this  will be fantasy from just looking at it. You can see a kind of city landscape and the bird’s wing also looks a little bit like the night sky, so it very much suggests night-time shenanigans in an urban setting, which is very much relevant, so 2.5 for relevance as well! 5/5

The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

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I like the font of this. The background is simple, so it looks good. 1.5 for aesthetic. You can see the snow, which is relevant, and the sort of metal door behind bunker sort of vibe, which is also relevant. I would say 1.5 for relevance as well, with a total of 3/5.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

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Well… it is essentially a book about a blue dragon, so gotta give it full points for relevance although subtlety and symbolism clearly eluded whoever designed this. I like the blue of it and the font, but I’m not a huge fan of the dragon for some reason. 1.25 for aesthetic; 3.75 total.

Everless by Sara Holland

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I really like this cover. Minimalist, but captures the essence of the story excellently. There’s an hourglass, blood, a castle built with it… 2.5 for relevance. I love the font and the simple design, so 2.5 for aesthetic as well. We have another 5/5.

Best Book Titles Part 2

About a year ago, I made a post about book titles that I love. Today I’m going to share some more titles that I really love.


Turtles All the Way Down

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I generally like the titles of John Green’s books. Contemporary YA titles tend to have the name of the main characters in them a lot of the time, and I’m not a big fan of that for some reason. But John Green’s titles usually make little sense before reading the book. And those are the kinds of titles that I like best.

For Darkness Shows the Stars

I also like titles that begin with linking words such as “and” & “for”. It makes them sound like incomplete sentences and it gives the impression that you’ll find out the rest of the sentence by reading the book. Again, I’m a fan of titles that gain more meaning as you read the book.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

I love everything about this title. I love the abundance of adjectives, I love the imagery of a small angry planet, I love the imagery of a tired traveler who’s come a long way just to encounter said small angry planet, I love that it’s long. I love long titles. I don’t know what this book is about. But this title makes me want to read it.

Wink Poppy Midnight

I like this title because I don’t know what to expect from it. Are Wink, Poppy and Midnight 3 characters? Is someone telling Poppy to wink because it’s midnight? Is a wink poppy a type of flower? I don’t know. This title doesn’t offer enough information and it just makes me want to read the book to get that information.

Stalking Jack the Ripper

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I’m not even going to offer an explanation for this one. I just think it’s awesome.

Diversity in media – Discussion

This post is brought to you by Children of Blood and Bone, which is my current read. I’ve talked a little bit about this in my review of The Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin (which btw, if you’re looking for diverse or just good fantasy and you’ve not read it, what are you waiting for?), but I want to take the time and discuss it properly.

As I said, I’m currently reading CoBaB and the more I read, the more I come to realise, and I know I’ll probably get stoned for this, that this is one of those books that suffers from diversity hype syndrome. Where a book is hyped to heavens for no other reason than being diverse. Listen, I love seeing diversity in media. But I also like good media. I like good stories, good characters. I don’t see why there needs to be a trade-off and I don’t think a book should be called good just because it is diverse. Diversity does not a good book make. And I am willing to bet a finger that if CoBaB were about a bunch of white people in a medieval European setting, same characters, same story, just not diverse, it would have got a big collective shrug from the book community because it is mediocre at best.

It really bugs me when this happens because it tells publishers and authors “Well, people are going to buy bland, mediocre, unoriginal books as long as they’re diverse.”. And as a reader, that is NOT the culture I want to promote in the book industry. Because we as consumers, are ultimately what shapes the industry. What shapes every industry. I want good diverse books. That’s the culture that I want to promote.

Another thing that really annoys me is when a book is hyper-aware of its diversity and is basically pointing a big red arrow at itself that says in neon colours “DIVERSE!”. Every other page, you’re just reminded about how diverse this book is. You’re reminded that Jimmy has the biggest crush on his army buddy Paul or that Rajesh’s skin is dark brown at least once a page lest you forget for a split second that THIS IS A DIVERSE BOOK. It’s good to write diverse books and you can be proud of having written a diverse book, but the story and the characters should still be the main focus of your book if you are writing a novel. You want to send a message, okay good. Do it through compelling storytelling. Not by stating it on every page.

For example, take Black Panther and CoBaB. Both are trying to convey pretty much the same message about racism and the oppression and horrors that black people have gone through and are still going through. One of them does it well, the other doesn’t. Black Panther has a compelling story, great characters, great action, great setting, great dialogue, compelling villains, it packs a mean emotional punch and it states its message loud and clear. There’s no trade-off. And Black Panther is a 2 hour film. CoBaB is 500 page novel. It has way, way more opportunity to do all those things than Black Panther did. Granted I’ve only read about 250 of them at the moment, but that’s half the book. If the first hour of Black Panther were dull, had zero character development to the point where the characters were interchangeable, had an evil, mustache twirling villain nobody would watch it.

My objective in this post was not to drag CoBaB. It was just an unfortunate victim of circumstance because that’s what I’m reading right now so it most easily lends itself to me for examples. The Hazel Wood. Another example of a book that screams at people about its diversity. Admittedly, it’s not as diverse as CoBaB so it has less opportunity to do so, but it still does it and it’s still annoying. I just really want good diverse books and I really want people to stop calling mediocre books great just because they’re diverse.

I understand that there are people who identify with those characters. Who have gone through things that I, as a while, straight, first-world inhabitant, I’ve not experienced. But my question is why should they have to identify with mediocre, cardboard characters instead of good, well developed ones? Like I said before, it’s us as readers that shape the book industry. So let’s promote a culture of diversity, but not one of mediocrity.

I am a woman

I was a girl, I did not know how strong I was;

I was a girl, I did not know what it is to love;

I was a girl, I did not know what it is to lose.

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that my strength comes from God;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that love is a choice I make daily;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that I only lose if I give up.

 

I was a girl, I did not know how to forgive;

I was a girl, I did not know how to be kind;

I was a girl, I did not know how to accept.

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that forgiveness is bearing someone else’s sins;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that kindness is an orchard in my heart;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt to smile and say “Okay” without losing myself.

 

I was a girl, I did not know how to be brave;

I was a girl, I did not know how to respect myself;

I was a girl, I did not know how to be patient.

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that bravery is allowing fear in, but not to control;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that self-respect must not mean disrespect for others;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that if I want you, I must wait for you to be a man.

 

I was a girl, I did not know how to be humble;

I was a girl, I thought I knew what wisdom was;

I was a girl, I thought I had already grown.

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that humility is a life-long effort;

Now I’m a woman, I have learnt that you can’t be proud and wise;

Now I’m a woman and I never want to stop growing.

Books I’m Currently Reading #2

A while back, I made a post about all the books I’d started reading and not yet finished for various reasons. This is a follow up to that because unfortunately, that list has only grown. I think I’ve only completed three of the books that were on that list, have given up on another one and have added a few. For that reason, I will exclude the sciency books that are on this list because those were always going to take me a long time to finish and this list is long enough as it is.


Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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This one I haven’t touched at all since my first post. I am really nervous that I will not enjoy it and I’ve been avoiding it. I am still on page 93 of it.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catheynne M. Valente

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This is still here as well, but I have made progress on it. I am more than halfway through it and I enjoyed it this far, so hopefully I’ll finish it soon. I am now on page 184.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

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Another one that’s still here months later. I did make a little progress on it. Every time I pick it up, I love it so much. I find it so enriching and empowering, but I just don’t pick it up often enough. I am on page 139.

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

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This one’s still here as well. I have made some progress on it though. I just need to sit down and read the last couple hundred pages. But this is another one that I just haven’t picked up because I was distracted with other books. I am now on page 433.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

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This is another book that I have made almost no progress on. I think I read maybe one chapter since the last post. It kind of intimidates me cause it’s huge and I’m afraid I’ll get sucked into it and not sleep until I finish it. But I do have the week off, so maybe I should just get on with it. I’m on page 35.

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

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I haven’t even touched this book in ages. I keep forgetting about it. I’m still on page 157.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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I picked this up after reading The Cruel Prince. I was really craving some more fae, so I bought this one, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, so I only read a few chapters. I do intend to finish it though. I’m on page 38 of it.

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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I’ve been re-reading this series. I finished the first book and started this one, but haven’t picked it up in a while. I’m currently on page 69 of it.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

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This is the book that I’m most actively reading at the moment. I’ve been on an ASoIaF kick since watching the show. I am now on page 459.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

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I know I said I would exclude sciency books, but this is a popular science book and not so much an educational book, so it doesn’t need to be studied, just enjoyed. I am currently on page 43 of this.

Can You Solve My Problems by Alex Bellos

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I’ve been making my way through this, solving all the puzzles (so much fun!). I’m currently on page 29 of it.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Polos

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This is a short story collection that I’ve been reading. I haven’t been reading them sequentially, so I can’t say what page I am on, but I’ve read 12 of the 28 stories in it.