The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

I haven’t previously posted this tag, and I thought it would be fun – I have seen it on both the Literary Elephant and There’s Something About KM blogs. I have also skipped the questions on “best sequel” and “newest fiction crush” because, so far this year, I haven’t read a good sequel nor had a fiction crush.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2020

That’s a tough question – it will probably be Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red – I enjoyed the murder mystery there, the intellectual and historic atmosphere, and the ending. The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe was my other memorable read.

New Release You Haven’t Read But Really Want To

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (the author of Eileen [2015] and My Year of Rest and Relaxation [2018]).

The synopsis to Death in Her Hands reads that this is a novel “of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds a cryptic note on a walk in the woods that ultimately makes her question everything about her new home” (Goodreads). I also need to pick up The Truants by Kate Weinberg.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

Unquestionably – Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (the author behind ingenious Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell). Words cannot describe how much I am excited to finally read Piranesi.

Favourite New Author

Barbara Kingsolver is relatively new to me and, since I liked The Poisonwood Bible (more or less), I want to try to read her other books, especially Prodigal Summer recommended by Cafe Society and YaYaRead.

Biggest Disappointment

Recently, I picked up Little Eyes [2018] by Samanta Schweblin, but I soon found out that it did not work for me at all. This is a story of strangers who are capable of “infiltrating” homes through certain cute devices. Perhaps I went into this book expecting one thing, but met something different. I found the whole premise of this book too far-fetched and predictable without nuance – nor did I enjoy the style of writing.

Biggest Surprise

Mildred Pierce [1941] by James M. Cain, which I finished reading this week.

I have not expected to be presented with such a grand character study (of courageous, but sometimes-oblivious-to-the-faults-of-others Mildred Pierce) and nuanced drama (involving Mildred’s “monstrous” daughter). The book isn’t perfect (perhaps the famous film with Joan Crawford is better), but it was still a page-turner for me, so I recommend.

Newest Favorite Character

Perhaps this is a strange choice, but I loved the truth-speaking heroine in Near to the Wild Heart [1943] by Clarice Lispector. I felt sympathy for her, and this is really a unique voice. I highly recommend this book by one of the most distinctive Brazilian literary voices.

Book That Made You Cry

I thought The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison was an incredibly sad, even depressing, book. It did not necessarily made me cry, but it made me very sad and think of the plight of people who live at the fringes of society.

Book That Made You Happy

This is maybe a lazy answer, but I am just finishing a book of Japanese fairy tales (by Yei Theodora Ozaki) and it is making me happy (the review will come in July). The book reminds me of my own childhood when I used to read a lot of Russian fairy tales. I find that many fairy tales around the world share common tropes and themes.

Favourite Book-to-Film Adaptation

Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d’un curé de campagne) [1951] is a classic French film directed by Robert Bresson (Pickpocket [1959]). It is based on an acclaimed novel by Georges Bernanos, which I liked. This film has been so influential that Martin Scorsese used it to make Taxi Driver and it inspired one of my favourite films First Reformed  [2018] by Paul Schrader. Also, the debut performance by Claude Laydu is considered to be one of the greatest in the history of film.

Favourite Post This Year

I like my article where I compared A. J. Finn’s debut The Woman in the Window with Sarah A. Denzil’s thriller Saving April.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

Taschen books must be some of the most beautiful books in the world. I recently bought Sébastien Mamerot’s illustrated A Chronicle of the Crusades. I love history and I cannot wait to read it.

A Book You Want to Read By the End of the Year

Sisters by British author Daisy Johnson (Everything Under [2018]).

It promises to be a good book and I love that it deals with a siblings’ relationship. I have a hunch that it must be both poetic and psychological. It will be released in the UK on 13 August 2020.

29 thoughts on “The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

  1. Glad you did this tag – so much to love about your answers! I’m going to add your most anticipated book for the second half of the year to my list (since my list currently has no books on it 😆), and I’m going to try to find a copy of that collection of Japanese Fairy Tales. Also, your comparison post on Saving April and The Woman in the Window is certainly one of my favorite blog posts I’ve read so far this year. You did an incredible job making it so thorough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah Schweblin isn’t exactly subtle! I find her a bit hit and miss, but I still want to give this one a try. Meanwhile, I couldn’t get anywhere with Near to the Wild Heart, despite trying! I think it was the wrong place to start, for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this is exactly what I think of Schweblin too. I also understand your feelings about Near to the Wild Heart. My first Lispector was The Hour of the Star and after that I knew what to expect in Near to the Wild Heart, liking it probably more that I would have otherwise.

      Like

  3. Ooh, great answers! I’m sorry to see Little Eyes was a disappointment for you, I had high hopes for that one. And like you, I really want to read Death in Her Hands and Sisters before the end of the year. I’ve also got your Woman in the Window post bookmarked- the novel is in my summer reading stack, and I’m looking forward to revisiting your post to look over the plot similarities with Saving April once I’ve actually read one of those books!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post, Diana! I didn’t know that Susanna Clarke was coming out with a new book this year! So wonderful! I loved Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Prodigal Summer’. It is one of my favourite books. Hope you like it too. I haven’t read ‘Mildred Pierce’, but I watched the newer TV adaptation of it. It had Kate Winslet playing Mildred. I loved it. I loved ‘Diary of a Country Priest’. Nice to know that the novel version is wonderful too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

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  5. Fun tag, it seems to be very popular at the moment! I really want to read The Bluest Eye, but I find that I have to be in the right mood for stories like that. Oh, and the cover for Sisters is great!

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  6. I love Barbara Kingsolver’s books, especially The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams. Prodigal Summer is my least favorite because Kingsolver has an unfortunate tendency to get didactic occasionally, and she does that in this novel. Start with another! Start with Animal Dreams!
    At some point read Flight Behavior (here’s my review, in which I talk about Kingsolver’s didacticism) https://necromancyneverpays.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/flight-behavior/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fun post, I enjoyed reading your answers. I am looking forward to It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan (love me a spooky story!), and the biggest surprise for me so far this year was The Extinct by Xiaole Zhan (a novella written in free verse).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Bluest Eye did not make me cry as much as despair. I don’t see how such situations can turn around, when the father rapes his daughter and behaves so inhumanly. Whatever Toni Morrison tried to convey, and did to those who love her writing, has always escaped me. It all feels so hopeless.

    I adore Orhan Pamuk, especially Snow. But, I have yet to read My Name is Red. I would like to get to that soon!

    Thanks for sharing such an interesting post/meme, and especially your thoughts in completing the questions. I so respect your blog and reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and your kind words, I really appreciate it!

      I am still to read Pamuk’s Snow (it is great to know you loved it), but I absolutely adored My Name is Red and I think you are going to like it too. I am currently reading Pamuk’s The Black Book and though it is definitely not a page-turner, there is something very intriguing about it in a Pamukish sort of way which I am starting to love 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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