Hello!!! I am here!! Sorry I have been so absent this year!!
I had Goodreads reading challenge to 62 books for 2018. But that was before I decided to take art classes, and to write more, and move a new place. Before I had, like, a block on writing reviews. But I still read 27 books in 2018, which isn’t…terrible! And I believe the ratings I gave them averaged out to 4-point-something, which means they were a good 27 books. However, I don’t have ten books to call my favorites this year, but I do have a very solid five.
Warning…….they are sad (but great).
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
This was the very first book I read in 2018, and I guess you could say it set a bit of a standard for the rest of the books I read this year. This book centers around a Korean family in Japan in the 20th century, and sprawls over several generations of characters. This book is long, and has moments of sadness, sweetness, awfulness, and is a fantastic exploration of cultural identity and history. And while I love history, it was the characters that left the biggest impression on me. There are a lot of people in this book, and I loved how Min Jin Lee connected them and juxtaposed them against one another, in their personalities, choices, and their reactions to life and culture. Full review.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This book was dense and addictive and I literally read it at a family barbecue because I couldn’t put it down. Like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, this book is not necessarily a good time, and her characters are not necessarily good people, but it’s like a train wreck I couldn’t look away from. This book is entirely character driven, but in a way that makes it seem as if the events of the story are out of the characters’ control- if only because they won’t stop making bad decisions. But the nuances Tartt writes her characters with are engaging, sympathetic, and maddening. And as always, Tartt’s prose is beautiful. This book was one of the longest books I read this year, and the most addictive. I loved it. Full review.
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
This book was a surprise, because I hadn’t even heard about it before I’d picked it up off of a shelf in a bookshop because the cover was pretty, but it turned out being one of my favorite reads of the year. Reminiscent of Pachinko, though not quite expansive, this book follows a family displaced by communist North Korea in the mid 1900s. While this book is marketed as an ill-fated romance, or “forbidden love,” I found it to be so much more than that. The female lead, Haemi, grapples with the role of her gender, motherhood, being a wife, and simply being a woman in this particular time in history. And it has a whole lot to say on love, and how it sometimes just isn’t enough. This book …hurt me. None of these characters knew how to make the right decisions. I loved it and read it in a day, I could’t put it down.
Human Acts by Han Kang
This book!! Was!! So sad!! So naturally, it makes it onto my top 5. But more seriously- this work of fiction surrounds the very real event of the Gwangju Uprising of 1980 in South Korea, and more specifically, the death of a young boy, Dong-ho. The book is told in a series of different point of views from people who knew Dong-ho, or knew of him, and examines the human condition toward violence- if we are destined to be violent, or if we can escape it. This book was short, but fascinating and heartbreaking. Of all the books I read this year, this one made me cry the most. Full review.
Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
It is highly unfortunate that I never wrote a proper review for this book because it deserves like, a million great words said about it. This book is strange, and haunting, and sad, and it took a while before I realized where it was going and what it was doing- the synopsis of this book gives next to nothing away. I won’t give anything away either, other than that it’s about a woman reflecting on her time at a special boarding school as a child, but this was one of the most unique, disquieting books I’ve ever read. And it’s beautifully written. Just reading the title is making me emotional. This one wins the prize for my favorite book of the year.
SO THAT’S IT. I love sad historical fiction. Pretty sure at least three of these books ended with characters crying.
Also- I am going to try to be here more in 2019!! 2018 was a year where I was exploring new things and using my time for other types of art and fun, but I really want to make an effort to blog more this year, and give a limited amount things more focus, rather than trying to split my focus on 32840 things like I did this year. But 2018 was a really great year for me- probably one of my best. Hopefully I can say the same about 2019! I missed being an active part of the book community, and am thankful for the friends who never let me stray too far ❤
Now…I must end this post with some pictures I took of Rachel @paceamorelibri‘s wonderful cats when I visited her in August.