Woah, 57 books. I had a moment earlier during which I fell pray to comparison looking at other Goodreader's aspirations and books vanquished but then I was like, hey, I think I only read half this number in 2018 and books are not dragons so 57 is freaking progress. I'm not going to jot each title down here as I have in years past but you can check my list out here on my Goodread's page. I didn't leave reviews for many but I have rated each of them and I'll briefly talk about some of my favorites along with what I learned reading about a book and a half a week.
Firstly, we all have time for audiobooks. I'm not going to lie, I think the bulk of the books I "read" this year I actually listened to. No, we're not going to argue about the merit of audiobooks vs. reading a physical book because then we'll have some wiseguy branching off of that and saying ebooks aren't real books and graphic novels aren't actually novels and as a librarian I'll have to kindly (through clenched-teeth) disagree with you because knowledge is knowledge and stories and stories whether told orally or written down.
I forgot what I was talking about...
Right, audiobooks. We all have time for them, some more than others. I talked about being mindful about available pockets of time back in my 2018 post and gave some suggestions on when you can listen to audiobooks based on my habits. I listen to them while showering, cleaning, cooking, sometimes while driving, and other times right before bed. You will be amazed by the improved quality of audiobooks and by the talented narrators. This brings me to one other point: audiobooks can make or break a book.
Take Gabi, A Girl in Pieces and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (read in 2018). Both are swell books, I recommend them, but during my second semester when I was scrambling to find time, I ended up scooping up audio versions of both of these and listened to them, stupidly, almost back to back. Maybe Kyla Garcia was asked for specifically, and/or there are few Hispanic narrators or for some other reason, but both of these titles were narrated by her. Personally, in addition to me meshing the two stories together, the audiobook for the former title was a bad option for me because I found the narrator's voice annoying. I was left wondering if I would have still found the main character annoying and entitled if I would have given voice to the characters myself, in my head. Definitely watch out for that.
Conversely, audiobook versions, on occasion, can be better than reading the book yourself. I would recommend The Call by Peadar O'Guilin, which takes place in Ireland, in the audiobook version for authenticity. The narrator uses a brogue and also some words I've never heard before. The brogue contributed greatly to the eerie atmosphere and because unknown words can bog readers down, audiobooks can smooth those parts of the fabric out. Another cool thing about them is that sometimes you get the privilege of hearing the actual author narrate the book (We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) or an actor that you like (♥ Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley, narrated by Michael Urie whom I adore). The latter is one of my all time favorite books. If you've ever loved a pet intensely and experienced the loss of one, you need this book. I actually had to pause my cleaning session to sit and ugly cry so have tissues.
For the next thing I learned, I'm going to confide in you and in all honesty say that unless you have a silky, super brain with a crazy ability to remember things, there is no way you're going to remember everything that happened in every book. Heck, there are books that I can't even recall the endings of. Yeah, it's cool to strive for more, but I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to books, quality (remembering the content) is more important than quantity (how many books read).
The biggest happy book surprise on 2019 for me was finding out that The Giver is the first book in a quartet. Did you know that?! And if so, why did no one tell me? I listened to audio versions of the last three and shit, Lois Lowry can throw-down like no other. ♥ Son, ♥ Gathering Blue, and ♥ Messenger were equally haunting and mesmerizing.
I have learned also that life is too short to force yourself to read books that do not grab you. My list could have been longer had I not given up on books that made me roll my eyes so hard I saw my brain. I may have also missed a few titles but I'll update if I figure out which ones.
Something else I learned that I'm a bit ashamed to admit: not all "prestigious" books will be something you love or even understand. I don't deny that Andrew Sean Greer is a good writer, but in terms of storytelling... I can't even remember what the 2018 Pulitzer winning story Less was really about.
Alright, this post has already gotten tidily lengthy so I'm going to wrap it up with a couple titles by debut authors I was drooling over in 2019: ♥ Wilder Girls by Rory Power (a quarantined island, school girls ravaged by disease, holy moly) and ♥ A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (you'll love this is you dug Children of Blood and Bone), and I have to also mention ♥ Dear Martin by Nic Stone (why did it take me so long to get to this book?! so good, I had a lot of feelings) as well as ♥ Unstoppable Moses by Tyler James Smith. Yes, his name is unbelievably white but that book's got so much soul. I ventured into the adult romance genre a bit too last year and ♥ One Day in December was worth the three month wait on the audiobook.
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