When I was younger, I didn’t read much American literature. It’s not something we did at school and I guess I just stuck to what I knew. Whatever the reason, I don’t think I’ve read anything by Anne Tyler before. I know that she is one of those writers that everyone recommends but I just haven’t picked anything up. I’ve got plenty of books on my Kindle and bookshelves. I just need to get around to them. Now I’ve read this one, it might actually inspire me to do it.
I’ve been so tired this week that I haven’t finished my current ready yet. Luckily I already had a book ready to review, so I didn’t have to rush to finish something. Hourglass was my final read of last month and one that I’d had my eye on for a while. I’ve not read any of Keiran Goddard’s poetry but I do love a verse novel. Plus, it looked absolutely gorgeous and was going to be a super quick read. Basically, my perfect book.
I had to Google the Booker Prize shortlist that saw Graeme Macrae Burnet’s novel His Bloody Project competing for the prize. It was way back in 2016, which is crazy. It feels as though I only read that a couple of years ago. I definitely wanted Burnet to win but that’s mostly because it was the only one that I’d read. That doesn’t mean it didn’t deserve it. His Bloody Project was an absolute masterpiece in the way that it blended fact and fiction. I knew that this was a writer that I wanted to read in the future. So, I ordered a copy of his next book as soon as it was possible. I knew that it was going to be something big. But could it possibly be as good as his last book?
My second Agatha Christie novel of the month and one that I was excited to read again. I don’t think her standalone novels really get enough love these days. I guess most modern readers are automatically going to pick up books starring Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. They’re her most famous literary creations, so why wouldn’t they go for them first? The problem is, some of her greatest novels are actually the standalones. Yes, her most famous ones tend to star the great Belgian but some of them are a little overrated. Not bad but definitely way too hyped.
After having a slight reading slump this month, I wasn’t sure that I’d manage to make it through a lot of books. I had set myself a TBR list but, inevitably, had to change that around to finish my monthly challenge. The plan is to finish what I didn’t read in February in March. At least there’s only 5 letters to cross off.
Number of books read: 10
Number of rereads: 0
Number of physical books: 6
Number of ebooks: 0
Number of audiobooks: 4
The recent lockdown has caused a major disruption to my usual Christmas themed Instagram. Under normal circumstances, I’d have been able to pick up a cheap box of crackers on my lunchbreak at work. Since all shops have been closed and I’m, once again, staying inside as much as possible, it’s been harder tracking them down. Or, at least, tracking them down for a price that is cheap enough considering I’m going to destroy them. Thankfully, I found a box on Oxfam and decided that the additional charitable donation would somehow offset my intentions. While I was browsing the site, I got a bit sidetracked by all of their Moomin related items. I put a whole bunch of stuff in my basket but, after a lot of thought, got rid of all but a few things. One of them was this delightful book containing two stories by Tove Jansson. It seemed like a must for any real Moomins fan.
I was incredibly excited the moment that I found out that there was going to be a sequel to Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before the Coffee Gets Cold. It was one of my favourite books of 2019. In fact it was number 2. Only beaten by the exquisite comedy of Richard Ayoade‘s examination of the film View From the Top. The first book, adapted from Kawaguchi’s play of the same name, was such an unusual but engaging book. I had never read anything quite like it, so getting the chance to revisit his work was most welcome. It was released at an great moment and really helped pull me out of my reading slump. After taking a week or so to finish The Thursday Murder Club, it only took me a couple of nights to get through this. Hopefully, this means I’m back to normal. Definitely a good thing because my non-review bookish posts ideas aren’t exactly inspiring.
What were your favourite audiobooks in 2019?
I’ve never been a huge fan of audiobooks if I’m being honest. I’m too easily distracted by what’s around me. Like a baby or a puppy. If anything were to happen near me or if I spotted anything, I was doomed. And don’t get me started on listening to them in bed. Anyone who can stay awake when they listen to Audible needs to tell me their secret. If I tried to listen to an audiobook, I’d just be forever skipping back to the start of the chapter. But towards the end of this year, I started listening to one audiobook every weekend. Not only was it a really lovely way to relax when I had nothing planned but it got my reading numbers up even further. By the end of 2019, I’d got through 10 audiobooks. So, without them, I’d not have got to my reading total. When it came to listing them, I wanted to do a top 5 but, in the end, couldn’t decide between a few. So, I went with a top 6. I know what you’re thinking, why not just put all 10 in order? Laziness. I’ve already written two top 10 lists already tonight. I didn’t fancy another. So, here we go.
What were your favourite reads in 2019?
2019 has been my best year for reading so far. I had originally set my target as 30 but managed to smash that a while ago. I then upped it to 50. I hadn’t thought that I’d done very well in December but, upon looking back, it turns out I got through 6 books. Much better than I’d expected and something that means that I finished the year with 58/50. I know compared to many people this isn’t a lot but, for me, this is a massive achievement. Something that I want to discuss later. I know that the number of books isn’t a very good metric to use to measure success though. I’ve never been a fan for competitive reading and sometimes it feels as though Bookstagram is basically a way for some people to brag about it. Though, as in all walks of life, it’s all about the quality rather than the quantity. In 2018 I had four 5* books and four 4.5* ones. This year, I’ve not had as many of those top books but I’ve had far fewer lower scores. This year there has been an abundance of 4 and 3.5* reviews. This means it was really difficult deciding which books would make my top 10. In the end, I went for enjoyment over the writing style. Although, most of the times these two went hand-in-hand. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 books of 2019.
What were your favourite films in 2019?
Looking back on my favourite films of 2018 has been tough. I definitely think I was a little generous with some of them. I mean, what was I doing putting Solo in my top 10? When I remember that now, I only remember bad things about it. I might have to rewatch it to make a final judgment. But I certainly think my ratings have been harsher this year. Last year I gave out 5* reviews as if it was an end of season sale. This year, I still don’t think I’ve quite cracked it but I think I’m getting there. Though I did end up with an awful lot of 4* films. 9 in total. I should have written a separate list of those films. And they were all films that I did really enjoy but, I guess, it wasn’t quite as much as these 10. But that’s the joy of criticism. It’s a personal preference that you offer to the world. I’m never one to suggest that my analysis of a film is the only way to look at it. I just like writing it down. Maybe some of you will get something from that but probably not. It won’t stop me doing it. Anyway, I’m starting to babble, so I’d better get on with it. Here are my top 10 films of 2019.