Tag Archives: Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Didn’t Get To In 2017

17 Jan

Neglected books: it happens to the best of us. We get all hyped for a new release or a book we’ve added to our tbrs, and then somehow it falls by the wayside. I am very, very guilty of this: my tbr is always growing and I tend to get more excited for shiny new releases than the ones already sitting on my Kindle. I am a huge mood reader so I find it really hard to stick to any sort of reading list, no matter how big. As soon as I think “I should read this” my brain goes into “I do what I want!!” mood and I end up passing on books I really, really wanted to read. I do (somehow) get to many of my most-anticipated books, but still some slip through the cracks. Let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?

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The Muse, by Jessie Burton. This is probably the most understandable book on the list, because I don’t find the plot summary interesting at all. In fact it comes across as really dull to me and if I was basing it on the blurb alone it wouldn’t get anywhere near my tbr. But I loved Burton’s first novel. The atmosphere of The Miniaturist was just enthralling! The Muse has been on my tbr for ages (it was published in 2016, sigh) and I swore to myself that I would get to it in 2017. Whoops… maybe this year?

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The Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee. Just look at that cover. Drool-worthy. And the plot! Historical fiction about an opera singer with ~secrets~ and someone ends up writing an opera about her own life? And asks her to star in it? Juicy AND meta. This ticks off so many boxes of things I love but let’s be real, it is MASSIVE. Almost 600 pages. And while I do love long books, it’s hard for me to start one when I don’t know the author. I’m thinking of buddy reading this one with my mom, so hopefully that will give me some much-needed motivation.

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Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. I read a lot of literary prize longlists and I really like to go through them in big chunks. So if there’s a lot of buzz around a book and people think it’s going to get a nomination, I tend to avoid it until that finally happens. Homegoing was the buzziest of buzzy books: it was predicted to be on the Bailey’s, Man Booker, National Book Award, and a few others. Yet it made none of those lists in 2016 OR 2017! Meaning… I avoided it for no reason. And once I was swept up in prize reading I honestly didn’t have time for this poor little book. It’s been sitting on my Kindle for a year and a half just waiting patiently to get read.

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Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. You probably know that I’m not a big Young Adult reader. At all. I avoid it like the plague, actually, because I have had so many bad experiences in the genre. Yet I adore Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, and was highly anticipating Taylor’s next release. Why didn’t I read it? It’s so chunky, and reviews seem very mixed! That seems to be the theme here, right? Either I’m not sure about the plot or it’s a really long book. Strange the Dreamer happens to have both of these “flaws.”

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October, by China Mieville. This is absolutely the most shocking addition to my list. I’m honestly embarrassed by myself: Mieville is hands-down my favorite author and I’ve read all of his books. So why did I skip this one?? Well first off it’s historical nonfiction so I found myself a bit intimidated. I also wanted to read it in October, yet I only read horror in October so… that didn’t happen. I love his writing so this honestly isn’t a book I need to be in the “mood” for yet I’ve convinced myself that it just isn’t the “right time.” Bullshit! Get it together, Leah! I will absolutely read this one in 2018. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

So there you have it! 5 books I swore upside down and sideways I’d read in 2017 but just didn’t get to. Funnily enough, The Familiar Vol 5 was going to be #1 for me on this list but I read it first thing in 2018. So there is hope for these poor, lonely books!

Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Reads

17 May

Surprise, it’s another Top 5 Wednesday! I know I don’t do them very frequently, but I like to wait until a topic really piques my interest if I’m going to do a whole post on it.

When I think of summer reads, I think of books that make you really feel the season. Books that are hot, humid, and sweltering. The kind of books that if you read in the dead of winter, you’d find yourself throwing off your blanket because it just feels wrong to read them all bundled up. I know a lot of people think summer = light, fun, fluffy books but I like to read things that are seasonal in setting rather than mood (for summertime, at least). So let’s get into it!

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Summertime, All The Cats Are Bored, by Philippe Georget. Everything about this book screams “summer.” The title, the cover, the moody hot atmosphere of the mystery. It’s a very slow, languid detective novel, so if you are in the mood for a fast-paced thriller this is not the book for you. The mystery is interesting enough, but the real reason to read this is the main detective. He’s hilarious, and nothing like your usual “tough grizzled murder mystery solver.” Basically he just wants a nice calm summer break but all these dang murders keep happening!

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Panic, by Lauren Oliver. My most potent summer memories all revolve around high school. You still get summer vacation like a kid, but you’re old enough to make the memories last. And, you know, to do really stupid things like hang out in derelict buildings and jump into waterfalls from cliffs dangling above them. Panic might not be an amazing book (even I must admit it’s only okay), but it captures that feeling of I-can-do-anything teen invincibility so well. There are few books that really feel like you do in that time of your life: the summer heat, the hormones, the rush of doing dangerous things just to feel alive. If you want a book that makes you look back at your own teenage choices and think, “holy hell was I stupid” then Panic might be the book for you.

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Hurt People, by Cote Smith. This is a recent read, but it’s also the first one I thought of when this topic came up. Hurt People is from the perspective of a young child and his (slightly older) brother one hot and dangerous summer. The actual plot is quite bleak but the childish perspective adds a layer of dreaminess to the narrative. The boys spend the majority of the summer plotting ways to get into the neighborhood swimming pool without their mom knowing, and what person doesn’t have insanely fond memories of swimming in cool water during a heat wave? It’s a nostalgic read, but one that will also tug on your heartstrings a bit.

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The Summer that Melted Everything, by Tiffany Daniels. As you can tell by the name, this book is hot. It takes place during the hottest summer on record in a small town when… the devil comes to visit. Only the devil is a little black boy. Tiffany McDaniel’s descriptions of the heat made me feel sweltering: I was desperate for an ice pop basically the whole time. This was also my favorite book of 2016! The writing is stunning, the plot is interesting, the themes are dark and relevant… you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish that you too had an ice pop.

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The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. When I think “books that make you feel so hot you want to die” nothing can beat The Windup Girl. It takes place in a flooded, post-apocalyptic Thailand and is a strange mashup of steampunk and environmental spec fic. It’s also so freaking hot. Every moment in this book is dripping in sweat: not only is there no air conditioning, but global warming has kicked into full gear so it’s routinely around 110 degrees. And the characters are surrounded by water, so it’s also humid. Lovely! It’s also tragically sad, like the other top three books on this list: I wonder if summer books are more likely to be melancholy, or if I just read a lot of depressing fiction?

Top 5 Wednesday: Future Classics

29 Mar

You may have noticed that recently I have tried to expand my posting from just reviews & wrapups. Or rather, “I used to do more types of posts but stopped for a long time and now I’m back on the horse.” For some reason, I’ve just been a lot more excited to blog recently, and my reading thoughts go far beyond wrapups. I’ve always liked the Top 5 Wednesday videos & posts, so I thought that was as good a place as any to start!

Especially because I found this week’s topic particularly interesting. How do you know what books will retain their fame and acclaim down the line? Is it the ones with the most awards, the most-read books, or is there some other nebulous quality that makes something a classic? I tried to balance my list with books that I think will be classics and also books that I love. For example, I’m absolutely sure American Gods will be regarded down the line as a classic, but I found it almost unbearably boring so there’s no way it is going on my list. Unsurprisingly, this also serves as a ‘favorite authors’ list of sorts.

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5. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro. My favorite Ishiguro novel, The Unconsoled, has about zero chance of becoming a classic. My second favorite, The Buried Giant, also seems to be pretty hated (for reasons I do not fully understand). So I’m just going to play it safe and go with the hauntingly beautiful The Remains of the Day. Is this cheating because it’s a ~modern classic~? Sometimes I am a bit fuzzy on the distinction between the two. I feel like 27 years is not old enough to be a “classic.” Classic implies an enduring work of fiction that is important many decades after it is published. And while I certainly think Remains will reach that status, it hasn’t yet.

(PS, can we all take a moment to appreciate the fact that the cover for The Remains of the Day states ‘by the author of The Remains of the Day‘ at the bottom? Thanks, I never would have guessed)

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4. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville. Mieville is my favorite author, so of course I had to include him on here! The Scar is my favorite of his books (and indeed, my all-time favorite novel) but I think it is Perdido Street Station that will be a classic. Yes, a “genre” classic (which sadly has a less prestigious connotation) but it’s no secret that this book revolutionized fantasy as a genre. New Weird really took off with PSS, and it’s clear to see Mieville’s massive influence on fantasy as a whole. I greatly prefer this weird, gritty, dirty, phantasmagorical take on the genre to traditional sword & sorcery & dragons, so this is a book with a lot of meaning for me. It’s also probably the best place to start with his work!

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3. Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell. This seems like kind of a vague answer, right? “Something from each of these two authors with similar styles!” But let’s be real, we know that each of them has already produced several classics (and who knows how many more they will write?) and I feel ill-equipped to pick which of their works will be the most remembered. I mean, Cloud Atlas and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle seem like safe choices, but who knows what will happen down the road? Maybe it will be Thousand Autumns and Norwegian Wood that future students will read in class. Or maybe the books of theirs that people will hold up as the best haven’t been written yet!

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2. House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski. Another book that is considered a ‘modern classic,’ though this one is certainly more controversial among readers. Then again, controversy is part of what makes a book endure. Lolita is a beautiful book, perhaps the most beautiful book ever written, but we all know that part of the reason it is so famous is because of how absurdly controversial the subject matter is. Everyone wants to read that weird book about a pedophile. And everyone wants to read that weird book about a house.

Not that HoL can be reduced to any simple plot summary: it’s a book in a book about a documentary that doesn’t exist. Bizarre, experimental, and incredibly scary, HoL is basically the holy grail of weird postmodern fiction. When a book leaves this much of a mark on the literary community, there’s no way it won’t be remembered down the line.

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1. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara. At only two years old, this is the newest book on my list, but also one of the ones I am most confident about. There was quite the stir in the literary community when A Little Life came out, and opinions range from “this is the best book released in a decade” to “this is exploitative torture porn trash.” It’s a love it or hate it book for sure. I tend to like dark books, the more depressing the better: I enjoy nothing more than a book that really makes me sob. Do you know how many times I cried during ALL? A lot. I stopped keeping track, actually. And at one point (the same point as everyone else, I’m pretty sure) I actually had to put this down and walk away because it was just too much.

I think a book that merits this much discussion definitely has a place in the literary cannon. Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to deny how explosively popular A Little Life got. And given its massive page count and dark subject matter, that’s pretty impressive.