Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly mean, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
This is such a fun prompt that lets me reflect on the year to highlight the best authors and genres and other discoveries that made this year amazing.
1. Reading Communities
Maybe this doesn’t feel like a discovery to many, but I fell into some amazing bookish groups this year. In particular the UKYA bloggers group has been one of the most amazing communities – books, adaptations, blogging and life. They’re so kind and supportive.
I also got to meet friends I’d made through bookish groups online for the first time. I’ve loved meeting them in person, once the slight awkward “Hi, I’m Sifa from [insert group]” is over.
2. YA Thrillers
In February, I picked up a few YA thrillers that’d I’d seen talked about a lot on social media because they were on special in Waterstones. I was hooked and haven’t looked back, expanding my collection throughout the year and adding a dash of diversity to the genres I’ve read this year.
Yeah, there have been a few disappointments (mainly books that were mis-labelled as thrillers when they were primarily contemporaries), but overall it’s been an amazing year for thrillers. One, A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER, was even my favourite book of 2019.
3. I actually like some contemporaries?
For years I’ve stayed well clear of YA contemporaries, because the lack of magic is not my cup of tea. Romance even less so because it all felt so unrealistic (and the obstacles so unrealistic).
However, this year, I’ve tried to push the boat out more with what I’ve been reading. While there have been some contemporaries that fell really flat, there are others I like. Some were even romances – albeit alternative-world contemporaries with additional royalty (like AMERICAN ROYALS) because who doesn’t love the glitz and glamour of royalty?
On the non-alternative world contemporaries, the ones I’ve loved most have been written by UK authors, set in the UK, and don’t have a large, central romance. In particularly, I’ve really enjoyed THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY and SOFA SURFER (Blog tour in Feb).
I think the UK setting and UK author is half the reason I really enjoyed them – because the world is mine. I’m not fighting to get my head around to a different cultural reference point, so the setting is effortless and familiar. Not to mention that THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY is about finding your bookish place in the world!
4. Danielle L. Jensen
On a whim, I picked up DARK SHORES at YALC this year – because I’d seen it mentioned once or twice on Instagram by authors I follow. Also, it’s a fantasy book with a blue cover. Yes, I am that shallow about my favourite colour.
I devoured the book, and then went hunting for other books by her. I love it when you find authors like that, instant favourites who send you scrambling for more of their books – particularly ones with a backlist who you can binge read your way through. Her two 2020 releases are on my list of “can’t waits”.
5. I’m starting to warm to retellings again
During the first half of the year, I gradually got more and more exasperated by the sheer number of retellings in the YA and adult fantasy markets. It’s was often the same handful of fairy tales being retold, and I was struggling with the fact that I knew the major beats.
However, at the end of the summer and then as the decade drew to its end, I found myself reaching for more retellings (at the time of writing, my current read is a retelling). Some of these were rarer stories being retold, but at the same time I read two little mermaid retellings and liked both (SPEAK THE OCEAN and SEA WITCH).
Having several months without retellings helped, and then spacing those that I read out. I’m still not immediately reaching for retellings, but I’m also not rolling my eyes when a new one gets announced. There are some exceptions, which are mostly stories that are constantly retold.
6. I may be getting more lenient with sci-fi
Sci-fi is one of my smaller read genres, but I’ve read more of it – and more widely in the genre – than normal. From adult military space sci-fi, to YA space opera where the rules of physics are secondary, I’ve largely enjoyed the sci-fi I’ve read this year.
Most crucially, I’ve worried less about the scientific accuracy of what I’ve read because I’ve been able to turn off that part of my brain more than I used to. I’m hoping that this trend continues, because I really want to get back into sci-fi (a dominant genre when I was much younger).
7. Middle Grade is for everyone
Is that obvious, Sifa? Well, yes, but I haven’t been reading MG seriously for years. That changed in 2019, and I picked up several on a whim in Waterstones on recommendations from girls at church – including swapping books with them. MG now makes up about 5% of my shelves, and I’ve got several books I’m eager to read this year.
8. Put yourself out there with publishers
During the final three months of the year, I pushed myself to request ARCs from publishers. It’s not always been successful, but I’ve been sent more ARCs than I thought I would ever get. I, frankly, have pretty terrible stats, but I’ve discovered that the enthusiasm of the request often counts for more.
9. I like books set on the sea
I may avoid boats in real life (no idea why – I’m a proficient swimmer) but if a book has boats or pirates or the sea, I tend to reach for it quickly. Pirates are certainly a trend at the moment, and I am not complaining. From VIPER to SEAFIRE to my favourite THESE REBEL WAVES, pirates and magic are ruling the shelves at the moment. But there are other sea books too making waves, and I’m loving it.
10. Foyles is amazing for US books
For many years, I have been a Waterstones loyalist, but I have recently discovered that Foyles is amazing for getting the US books that aren’t published over here. So I guess I will be heading over to that shop from time to time.
What bookish discoveries did you make in 2019?