My first WordPress post (in March 2018) was Books in 2017. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to practice long form writing, and at the time I was rediscovering children’s books (as evidenced in my 2018 list) so I thought this might be a book blog. However 2019 saw the dawn of my “creative renaissance,” and long form writing (and reading) took a back seat to arts and crafts, which is also clear in the number of picture books and illustrated journals I consumed this year.
In the past I kept track of the books as I read them on my phone’s memo app, but I dropped the ball on that this year so this is what I can piece together from my Kindle and Overdrive history.
- Let My People Go Surfing – Yvon Chouinard
- All You Can Ever Know – Nicole Chung
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling (reread, obvs)
- The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
- The Crimes of Grindelwald – J.K. Rowling
- La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust Vol 1) – Philip Pullman (reread)
- The Sculptor – Scott McCloud (graphic novel)
- Don’t Keep Your Day Job – Cathy Heller
- Find Your Artistic Voice – Lisa Congdon
- The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust Vol 2) – Philip Pullman
This list is pretty consistent with my reading from the past couple of years: mostly fiction and YA books with a few self help type books thrown in. Last year the self help themes were diet and financial advice. This year was “Follow Your Dreams and Live Your Passion!!” I read my first graphic novel this year, The Sculptor, which along with The Graveyard Book, are the standouts from this category.
Valiant Efforts (Didn’t finish)
- Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
- Hello, Universe – Erin Entrada Kelly
- Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs Book 2) – Jacqueline Winspear
- The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
To be fair, I was enjoying most of these books but just didn’t finish them before the library loan was due. I’d like to return to The Hate U Give and will maaaybe give Sapiens another try, just because I feel like I should read more smart books for grown ups, even though my book heart naturally seeks the YA fantasy section.
- Maisie Dobbs – Jacqueline Winspear
- Crush It and Crushing It – Gary Vaynercheck
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Annie Barrows
- Fantastic Beasts: Makers, Mysteries and Magic – Pottermore Publishing
- Harry Potter Books 1, 3 and 4 – J.K. Rowling
When I went back a few weeks ago to check my previous book posts, I was really surprised to see the list of audio books I had listened to in 2017 (Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, and Anne of the Island) because I literally had just listened to all three. Whether I’m 13 or 33, I guess my comfort zone is the Wizarding World and Avonlea.
- Midnight Riot – Ben Aaronovitch
- Trick Mirror – Jia Tolentino
- Dear Girls – Ali Wong
Right now I’m reading Midnight Riot thanks to my friend who described it as being about “a wizard cop in London.” It’s a little more gory than HP, but I’ll finish it soon and return to Trick Mirror. Jia Tolentino is a writer for the New Yorker I first encountered on the Speakers Page of last year’s Betsy-Tacy Convention. I had just finished the series and was intrigued by who this Asian-American writer might be. Her writing is so illustrative and just gets you in the gut, I remember doodling ideas for illustrations and stop motions inspired by her other writing. Some of the MANY ideas that never got realized, but that’s what 2020 is for!
Special Category – Self Published Korean Books
This is the category which I actually read and enjoyed the most, but am away from most of my books now so don’t have the full list. In May I took a self-publishing course and printed my own, book, Love Dad. That project introduced me to the eclectic and endearing world of self-publishing and indie bookstores in Seoul. It’s a creative and fun and supportive community and I ended up buying a lot of self-published books, first as reference for designing my own book, and later because I just wanted to. The past few years I had stopped buying books for various practical reasons, but this year I just let myself indulge in buying pretty tomes. I’m pretty sure they were all mostly personal narrative and essay.
Of the various self-publishing genres, I basically started collecting illustrated travel journals. The kind of travel journals I enjoy most are the ones that are terribly homemade and unique. Scanned pages from sketchbooks and handwritten notes. You can’t help but buy them because they’re one of a kind. My love for self-published travel illustration journals deserves a separate post with photos, which you can read here.
What are your favorite book genres, and what kind of reading do you do (or don’t do)? What were your reading habits like this year? I’d love to know!