The saga continues! Here is the latter half of the ten books I’ve read in 2019 thus far. Missed the first half? Click here.
6. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The first time I read the Lord of the Rings series, I think I was too young to appreciate it. I was probably 11 or 12, and these are dense books with a lot of old-fashioned language and seriously involved world-building. However, my love for Tolkien and Middle Earth is strong, and I am enjoying the books much more as an adult reader. Much of the humor that was lost on my then is delighting me now, and I find that I’m much more invested in all the characters. Reading these is still a major undertaking, and I’m taking a breather before I dive into Return of the King, but it has been a worthwhile journey.
7. The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Have you ever read something that’s so utterly on-brand for you that you feel like you’re being spied on? That’s how I felt about The Alienist. Psychology! Serial killers! Historical setting! Sharp-shooting feminists! Teddy Roosevelt! This book really does have it all and culminates in a fast-paced thrilling read. I have the sequel on my to-read list, but am curious if anyone has read it and if it lives up to the first, because the first wrapped up so nicely.
8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
A couple notes on this book:
- The cover, and the blurb on said cover, really misrepresent the book in my opinion
- This is NOT a young adult novel. I REPEAT, this is NOT a young adult novel!!!!
- This novel is a marvel.
I have never read anything like The Poppy War. In spite of my previously mentioned LOTR love, I don’t read a ton of fantasy, so keep that in mind, but I truly have never experienced anything quite as dark, ambiguous, well-researched and beautifully built as this book. Based on the real history of the Sino-Japanese War, it is graphic and intensely realistic, but if you can stomach it, I highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy and/or history. Oh, did I mention that the author was only 19 when she wrote this? Mark me down as scared and impressed.
9. Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
After the heaviness of The Alienist and The Poppy War, I was in the mood for something a little lighter. In 2018, DC Comics commissioned some popular Young Adult authors to write a series of books called “DC Icons” that explore the young adult lives of beloved superheroes. Marie Lu, whose books are on my to-read list, wrote this one about an 18-year-old Bruce Wayne who has just inherited his sizable trust fund. This was a fun and fast-paced read, with all the atmosphere I expected from a Batman story as well as some modern updates that made it feel fresh.
10. Agorafabulous: Dispatches from my Bedroom by Sara Benincasa
I’ve been following Sara Benincasa on Twitter, where she is witty, clever, and often vulnerable, but I still wasn’t prepared for just how wonderful this book would be. She has incisive observations about mental illness while also treating her past with a very comforting kindness and self-forgiveness. She manages to balance humor with vulnerability and searing honesty in a way that makes you feel like you’re getting a big hug from a beloved aunt or older sister. I cannot recommend this book enough if you need a reminder that there is a light at the end of the dark mental illness tunnel. Sara is living proof that you can come out the other side with a sense of humor.
So, what’s next? I’m currently reading All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung, but I’m always accepting recommendations. I want to know what you’re reading, or what you’ve read that really affected you. Send it on over!