Best of 2018 – the reading edition

Last weekend I went for a facial in quite a foul mood, and so was even more prepared than usual for a super relaxing hour of pampering. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the tinkly glass bottle tapping noises I was waiting for weren’t actually going to show up, because this was real life and not another ASMR video on YouTube.

I find myself in the weird position of having lots of ideas dinging about inside my brain combined with absolute mammoth amounts of inertia to actually do anything. Somehow I’ve mustered up the energy to do a wrap up post before the year end actually rolls in, so here we goooooo –

Books & Graphic Novels

I’d set myself a goal of reading 80 books this year, and I blew that way way way out of the park with a total of 189 as of this afternoon (I just finished one this morning, and am planning to finish another by tonight if life works out in my favour).

To be fair, a huge portion of that is because I rediscovered Detective Conan – I caught myself completely up to date in the span of a couple of weeks. That’s about 85 volumes worth of far fetched mystery solving. What can I say? I love me some guilty pleasures.

Along the way, I also started reading a couple of other manga and webtoons (including one by a dear friend, called Old Souls, which picks up the story of the kdrama Scarlet Heart Ryeo after its somewhat unsatisfactory ending. I didn’t actually watch the drama, but apparently the fandom has very strong feelings about this show, so if you’re one of the indignant viewers, you may be interested in checking it out!).

Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed most this year were ReLIFE, Something About Us, and Why Did Men Stop Wearing High Heels?. The first is a story about getting a second chance at life, the second a sweet realistic story about college life, love, and friendship, and the third is all about the difficulty and joy of embracing your guilty pleasures and defying societal expectations.

As always, YA featured heavily in my reading this year as well. My top rated books were When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, whose work I read for the first time and absolutely fell in love with, and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones which is my number one go-to re-read, especially when I’m feeling under the weather. I cannot thank enough the person who told me I remind them of Awful from Archer’s Goon, because even though I’m still not sure how that’s a compliment, it was my doorway to all of Diana Wynne Jones’ books and my life has been infinitely richer for it.

I had a fair few four star reviews this year, so I’m just going to highlight some of my favourites.

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton easily jumps to the top of this list, for being one of the most unique, gripping books I read all year. I was so excited the entire time I read it, and even though the ending fell flat for me, the rest of the book was so perfect that it makes up for it, which is saying a lot – usually a poor ending will ruin everything.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell irritated me on several fronts – I didn’t realize when I started it that it was part of a series, and really, I’m hard pressed to say what it is about this book that made me give it such a high rating – the writing isn’t particularly heartstopping, the premise is interesting, but not that unique… yet there’s just something about it, I really enjoyed reading it but I couldn’t quite tell you why.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera has been flogged to death in terms of being recommended at my library, which has stripped its sheen a bit for me. I’m always all about boosting the underdogs, and I think this book has a high enough profile that it doesn’t need any boosting from me. It’s sweet, and well written, and it probably does deserve all the praise, but in typical contrary nature, I’m over the fan fare of it all. Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t read it. It really is quite good.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily Pan has also been getting lots of great reviews from all over, but I only read it a couple of weeks ago, and had a huge sob fest during the last few chapters of it, so I’m not at all torn about recommending this one. It makes a great read for anyone who likes stuff that’s a little weird and off beat.

Speaking of weird, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders was hella weird. I loved it. It’s not quite YA friendly because of some random sexiness toward the end of the book, but it’s a really different sort of fantasy book, and I was grateful for coming across it this year.

I made my way through a ton of graphic novels as well, whether in single issue format or as collected editions. The most exciting of these were the two big marriage storylines in DC and Marvel – not necessarily the best stories I’ve read this year, but the outcome of the Marvel one still gives me a thrill when I think about it, and I’m hoping the DC one sets Batman up for some great story arcs so I figure they’re worth mentioning.

A much younger, lighter read was All Summer Long by Hope Larson – which I would have loved just for the fact that it doesn’t force romance into every friendship. But even beyond that, it’s a lovely story about self-identity, and growing with and through friendships, and I couldn’t recommend it enough to younger teenagers. And even some older ones.

The second volume of Fence by C. S. Pacat isn’t due to be published for a while, and I’m irate about having to wait. It’s such a good first volume to a series, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves.

I loooooved readin The Babysitter’s Club when I was a kid, and I had huge reservations about how the graphic novels would turn out, but I’m seriously impressed with how good they are. Even after graphic novel rockstar Raina Telgemeier let go of the reins, the quality remains super. I’m not sure if more volumes are forthcoming, but if they are, I would definitely get them for my library… and to read myself before processing.

That’s it for reading this year, be back with a (probably much shorter) post on kdrama type things before you blink!

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