A Mid-Year Reading Round-Up

I’d be the first to admit that I’m the slowest reader on the planet, but I’m happy to say that I’ve been reading like a maniac recently.

One of the reasons I began to step away from being almost exclusively a book blog several years ago was that I was barely reading.  It was difficult to talk so much about books when I didn’t really feel like picking them up. In retrospect, this was a mixture between struggling with depression and just being a busy grown up, and I’ve cut myself a lot of slack since then. Doing so has meant I’ve allowed myself to enjoy a much broader range of genres – it’s absolutely ok to just read children’s books, graphic novels or even magazines.  I did a big ol’ speech on this years ago (I should probably start following my own advice, eh?).

However, 2021 I got my reading mojo back.  Apparently, it only took a pandemic to get me reading again.  How long this re-found enthusiasm will stick around for, who knows!  But, for now, I’m enjoying the feeling of craving a book in my hands.  I even read half a book through my tattoo recently, and was genuinely excited to use the appointment as an opportunity to get some serious chapters covered.

So, here’s what I’ve been busy reading during the first half of 2021.  Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s, Teen, Graphic Novels – I’ve tried a bit of it all so far.

(Click the bold titles for reviews).

  1. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix // This was an amazing way to kick off the year and genuinely quite frightening!
  2. The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley // A shiny new library book I picked up from work – I was obviously drawn in by the fact it was set in Tokyo.  It proved to be something quite special, and well worth a read to anyone who wants to see the dark underbelly of the city.
  3. The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife by Maz Evans // I read this whilst on the Summer Reading Challenge Readers Panel. The story was fun, and it featured lots of diverse characters.
  4. Diversify by June Sarpong // I heard June Sarpong speak on a Ctrl Alt Delete podcast episode, and I thought she had a lot of amazing things to say on the subject of equality.  Her book was exceptional, and even included educational prompts so the reader could do some of the work themselves.
  5. Not the Type by Camilla Thurlow // Unexpectedly brilliant, I didn’t think I’d be quite so inspired by the work of someone I had definitely shrugged off as ‘just a Love Island contestant’. Never again will I judge reality TV stars, Camilla Thurlow is pretty exceptional.
  6. The Soup Movement by Ben Davis // A second Summer Reading Challenge Readers Panel title, and though it didn’t make the final cut, I highly recommended it to the judges as I thought it was a beautiful and moving story (based on real events too!).  I may have cried just a tiny bit.
  7. Artemis Fowl #1 by Eoin Colfer // Artemis Fowl kicked off a bit of an audiobook binge for me this year, with some truly brilliant voice acting.  I’d always assumed the story would be a bit too young for me, but I was totally wrong – can’t wait to read more!
  8. How the Pill Changes Everything: Your Brain on Birth Control by Sarah E. Hill // This book revealed a lot of worrying studies about the negative side effects of birth control bills.  I definitely recommend this to anyone who has ever felt ‘not quite themselves’ on their contraceptive pill.
  9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1 by Douglas Adams // Having shamefully never read the book before, I let Stephen Fry read me the story via audiobook.
  10. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman // It wasn’t until the end of the book that Neil pointed out who Richard Osman was, and I had a bit of an ah-ha! moment.  Despite knowing too late that it was written by a TV personality I enjoy watching, this book is still fantastically written on its own merit, and full of fully fleshed-out characters and belly laughs.
  11. Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh // I did a little dance when I realised Allie Brosh had released another book after a long period of absence. Somehow, she manages to make you laugh and break your heart all at the same time.
  12. Ikabog by J.K.Rowling // Another audiobook listen, narrated (once again) by the fabulous Stephen Fry.
  13. A Toolkit for Modern Life: 53 Ways to Look After Your Mind by Emma Hepburn // Another purchase inspired by a Ctrl Alt Delete episode, I enjoyed listening to Emma Hepburn speak about mental health and how easy it is to be overwhelmed with adult life.  I didn’t enjoy her book as much as I liked hearing her speak about these topics, but it was still a helpful and educational read.
  14. No More Rubbish Excuses: How to reduce your waste and why you must do it now by Martin Dorey // This library book was definitely an eye-opener that I had been full of rubbish excuses that I hadn’t even realised I was making. I now recycle better, and do more positive things for the environment. I loved the way this was really cut down into helpful bullet points, keeping it interesting and need-to-know.
  15. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll // I don’t often re-read books, but I finally purchased what is one of my favourite graphic novels ever.  It has absolutely stood the test of time, and still gave me chills.
  16. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell // Though I don’t remember buying this book (it just appeared on my shelf?!), I loved the illustrations and comfortably predictable story. It was such a cosy read for a cold, winter’s evening.
  17. Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield // This possibly wasn’t one of my favourites I’d read this year, but I appreciate the author had poured her heart out to share with young people her struggle with anorexia.
  18. Maia and What Matters by Tine Mortier // This moving picture book for children quite literally broke my heart. I’m not convinced I’d want to read it to my kid, but as an adult I appreciated the art and the message.
  19. Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G // This cute graphic novel was picked up from Forbidden Planet in Bristol over a year ago, and has sat on my shelf ever since.  In a bid to read more of the books I’ve had kicking around for a while, I finally picked it up in July.
  20. Earthlings by Sayaka Murata // I’ve recommended this one to everyone I know, with a bit of a disclaimer for how downright weird it is.
  21. Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman // Why had I not read this sooner? It was the perfect love story.
  22. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid // This had been recommended to me so many times that I felt I had to read it. 5/5 – it was a really fresh way of looking at relationships (of all kinds) and race.
  23. White Bird by R.J. Palacio // It was a miracle I didn’t cry reading this. It felt so real that I was baffled when I realised it was fiction. R.J. Palacio is kind of a genius and he even illustrated it? I’m honestly in awe of his superpowers.
  24. Heartstopper: Volume 2 by Alice Oseman // Completely by chance, the second in the series was available on my library app, so I snapped it up and read it in less than an hour. It hasn’t stopped being so good.

Phew!  Writing them down, I had no idea I had read as many as 24.  There were a few books that I started that I didn’t finish, and they didn’t make the list, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be reaching my Goodreads goal of 25 books this year!  I’m currently listening to the Midnight Sun audiobook (and getting major nostalgia for my teenage years), but it is so long that I don’t know if I’ll finish it by the end of 2021, or even before I’m Edward Cullen levels of old, haha…

What have you been reading so far this year?

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