Mid-Year Reading Stats 2017

As we’ve just finished June, and I’m well underway with this year’s reading challenge (upped to 60 books from 50 because I had an unbelievably quick start to the year with some shorter books) I thought I’d share a breakdown of what I’ve been reading so far, what I’ve loved, and what I’ve hated.

 

Books Read

36

 

Top 5 Books so Far

The Good Immigrant, ed.

The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

The Power, Naomi Alderman

Girls Will Be Girls, Emer O’Toole

 

Books DNFed

The Melody of You and Me, M. Hollis

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, Benjamin

Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld

Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

 

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

64% fiction, 36% non-fiction

 

Fiction Genres

Fantasy 6

Contemporary 6

Dystopian 2

Romance 2

Historical 2

Graphic Novel 2

Children’s 2

Poetry 1

 

How are your reading years going so far? Are there any surprising stats from your year so far?

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Review: 1984, George Orwell

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✮✮✮✮☆

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

 

Why I picked this book up:

I’d read this book a good few years ago, but as it climbed higher up the bestsellers list over the last few weeks (three guesses as to why) I realised that I hardly remembered anything about the book itself, or even the majority of the characters. Luckily this classic is fairly short one that I could dip in and out of during a hectic week of job interviews and class presentations.

 

The bad:

As you can probably tell from the 4 star rating, I did thoroughly enjoy this book – that being said, I don’t think it was anywhere near perfect in its construction. The first hundred pages, until the character of Julia comes into play, is almost entirely exposition told through the quite boring day to day activities of Winston. I also felt that when Orwell included passages from the book, these 5 page excerpts were quickly condensed by Winston’s internal monologue immediately after, so felt very unnecessary and clunky in what was a very fast paced section of the book. If I’m really being picky, in places the political messages felt a little over-stated, with some passages, such as that on the creation of newspeak, extremely intelligent and deftly handled, whereas others, such as when Winston discovers a photograph of some inner circle members, were a little overdramatic and lacked the nuance so much of the book contained.

 

The good:

Despite my few small problems with the narrative, this reread really cemented how excellent and relevant this novel still is. Orwell’s exploration of intellectual freedom, language, and different forms of rebellion is like nothing else I’ve read, and so clearly defined a genre that is continuously replicated today. The dark and menacing ending acts as a warning and stark reminder of political powers that go unchecked, and how rebelling can be as large as standing up to corrupt leaders, or simply finding the beauty in life that those in power would have you forget.

 

Favourite quote:

“Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

 

Overall rating: 4/5

Christmas Gift Guide: Books

Around this time last year, on my old blog URL, I published a bookish Christmas gift guide on a budget, mainly revolving around accessories, bookmarks, or jewellery. This year I’ve decided to recommend books to buy people based on things they’ve already loved, and I’ve tried to recommend alternatives for popular series or authors.

 

If they like Philippa Gregory, try the Outlander series1.png

Like most of Philippa Gregory’s work, the Outlander series is (for the most part) a chunky historical fiction series, with lashings of romance and engaging plot lines.

 

If they like Throne of Glass, try Three Dark Crowns

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Like the Throne of Glass, Three Dark Crowns is the beginning of a new YA series, which stars three sisters forced to attempt to assassinate the other two in order to gain the crown. It has a similar feel and is a great action packed fantasy novel.

 

If they like The Mistborn Trilogy, try Sorcerer to the Crown

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Although slightly different in tone to MistbornSorcerer to the Crown is a wonderfully original fantasy set in an alternative Victorian London. They’re both fantastic pieces of genre fiction, and Sorcerer to the Crown is something that epic fantasy fans may not have picked up themselves.

 

If they like Me Before You, try Ugly Love

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Another bittersweet romance novel, Ugly Love is great for fans of Me Before You. It’s an intense and page turning novel, although be warned: this is definitely not for younger readers due to adult content.

 

If they like The Book Thief, try All the Light We Cannot See

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Although both of these are WWII novels, they both take an original and beautifully crafted approach to an over-saturated genre. All the Light We Cannot See is similarly an emotional and personal story set against the backdrop of war torn Europe, with heartwarming but tear-jerking endings.

 

If they like Ready Player One, try Only You Can Save Mankind 

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Only You Can Save Mankind is an older novel following a plot similar to that of a stereotypical ‘fight aliens’ video game – but all is not as it seems. Thematically the same and similarly nostalgic, Pratchett’s hilarious writing is great for fans of Ready Player One.

 

If they like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, try Heartless

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What’s better for a fan of a classic than an updated retelling? Heartless tells the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland‘s Red Queen, written by the author of the Lunar Chronicles series. Set before the events of the book, it’s a fresh new take on the popular classic.

 

If they like The Inheritance Cycle, try Seraphina

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Although both of these series are aimed at a younger audience, both are great fantasy stories for all ages. Seraphina also plays on a new take of the dragon myth, combined with a brilliantly written romance, fantastic characterisation, and intimidating dragons and courtiers.

 

What do you guys think of these recommendations? Would you buy any of these for fans of the popular series mentioned?