It’s about a month past the middle of the year and I kept putting off this blog post because I’d already done the video for The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022. But then again, I really want to do this here as well. As you might know, this is a tag with 15 questions which we use to check in on our reading progress in the middle of the year, be it talking about the books we loved, the books we didn’t like, the books we are looking forward to, and so much more!
The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag is one of my favorite book tags to do because of how much fun the questions are. I get to gush about the books I love – something that can give me hours of footage to edit – and diss on the books I don’t love – well, this too can give me hours of footage to edit. 😛 I make sure to do it every single year on my channel and I intend to keep it every year so that I can track my reading.
Anyway. I won’t ramble on for long in the introduction itself, because I think there’s going to be quite a bit of it up ahead. 😛
The original video was made my Chami. Here’s the video: The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag.
1. The Best Book You’ve Read So Far This Year?
The beginning of the year wasn’t kind to me but before the whole haze overtook me, I found a couple of favorites, and I’d like to think my reading mojo has picked up because of the favorites I’ve been finding ever since. Some of my most memorable books of 2022 so far are:
- In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri: I think I’ve spoken so much about this book, even done a book discussion post about this, but I cannot seem to stop gushing about it because of how much it has affected me. Learning a new language and finding myself in this book are just two of the reasons why I love this book and why Jhumpa Lahiri has cemented her place in the list of my favorite authors of all time.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf: Given how I DNFed To the Lighthouse, I didn’t have many expectations going into this. But oh boy, was I wrong. This is a lighthouse in itself, a cornerstone of feminist literature that I fell in love with word by genius word, chapter by genius chapter. I see Woolf’s appeal. I finally do.
- The Poppy War (TPW #1) by RF Kuang: The more I talk about RF Kuang, the more I sound like an obsessed schoolgirl. But what’s wrong with that? RF Kuang is a freaking genius. The amount of research she puts in, the way she has molded this story of military strategy and one’s identity – it’s mind-blowing to say the least. I cannot wait to be wrecked by the second and third in this series, The Dragon Republic and The Burning God.
- Honor by Thrity Umrigar: A story of honor killings that will raze you from inside out, Honor wrenched me in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. I have, however, tried to do it in a wrap up blog post before, if you’re interested in finding out.
- Sadie by Courtney Summers: This didn’t figure in the video that I made for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022 because I finished it only recently. But oh my GOD, this book kept me up at night! It’s about a girl who sets out to find the man who murdered her sister. And it might seem ‘simple’ at first glance, but it is so much more complicated and nuanced than just that. It’s gory, too, with mentions of violence and abuse, and I’d recommend keeping this in mind before you pick it up.
2. The Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?
I haven’t read a lot of series so I cannot really answer this question, but I cannot – and I mean CANNOT – wait to pick up the second and the third in the Poppy War series by RF Kuang – The Dragon Republic and The Burning God.
3. A New Release That You Haven’t Read Yet But Really Want To?
There are two books for this. One a nonfiction and the other a fiction, and both authors those who I’ve been fawning over since last year because of how impactful their writing is.
- In the Language of Remembering by Aanchal Malhotra: Aanchal Malhotra is a strong voice when it comes to Partition literature and I’ve stood by it 100% ever since I read Remnants of a Separation last year. This new nonfiction book promises to give more insights into Partition and the effects it has had. I’ve had it for just over a month and haven’t been able to start it because of two reasons: 1) It’s a brick. 2) I need all my senses about me and this past month has been a study in distractions for me. But soon, I promise, I will be reading it and losing my mind over it like I did for Remnants.
- All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir: Sabaa Tahir’s YA debut is going to wreck me as much as An Ember in the Ashes did, if not more. I just know it. A story of love and forgiveness spanning decades and generations, All My Rage has been getting so much reader love and I’m here staring enviously at everyone who has already gotten to read it. But soon, I promise myself, smirking. 😛
4. Your Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year?
- These Are The Words by Nikita Gill (18 August): You know how I get about Nikita Gill. Every time a book by her releases, I lose my mind until I get my hands on it. And then I read it and lose my mind over the book itself. This poetry collection is going to talk to me like every other Nikita Gill book, I know, and I willingly submit myself to it.
- Babel by RF Kuang (23 August): This whole blog post seems like a love letter to RF Kuang and her writing abilities and I’m not even sorry. And to have a tagline that goes Or the Necessity of Violence: an Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution is in itself an explanation of the lady’s genius. Enough said, methinks.
5. Your Biggest Disappointment?
I’ve had multiple bad books so far but three books in particular, I had high expectations from that ended up disappointing me.
- Tales from the Café: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated from the Japanese into English by Geoffrey Trousselot: I loved the first book, Before the Coffee Gets Cold and its concept. But this second one, I felt was repetitive to the point where I was wondering when this would be over, even though it’s a fairly short book. A huge disappointment for me, personally, but definitely not a bad book on its own.
- The Music of Solitude by Krishna Sobti, translated from the Hindi into English by Vasudha Dalmia: This, I didn’t see coming, honestly. I was expecting so much from this but a few pages in and I just couldn’t take the rambling manner of narration that bordered on careless. Maybe if I’d read the original in Hindi, it would have been better. But hey. No use crying over spilt milk.
- Hell Fire by Leesa Gazi: This one hurts the most because a friend gifted it to me thinking that I’d like it. It, instead, turned out to be a dud. It’s a study in mental health and the effects events can have on it, yes, but some things that happen in here are not justified one bit. It’s a little unnerving and angering because then you’re like, “What did I miss? Nothing? Then why?” Aaaaargh.
6. Your Biggest Surprise?
It isn’t fair to say that a book surprises you when you end up liking it because it means that you think it wasn’t capable of being good. But The Loneliness of Hira Barua by Arupa Patangia Kalita and translated from the Assamese into English by Ranjita Biswas was a pleasant surprise to me. A collection of short stories, this book narrates the stories of Assamese women in their domestic lives as well as against the mosaic that is society and community. The translation isn’t the best but it is impactful, and in the end, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
7. Your Favorite New Author or An Author That is New to You?
As if I haven’t already made it clear so far: RF Kuang.
She is a friggin’ genius, the way she churns out book after accurate book, while putting in the research. I’ve only read one of her books but OH MY GOD am I in awe of her!
8. Your Newest Fictional Crush?
Without giving much about the book away, Alexander Ashton from A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari. The book is set in 1923, and not to minimize the good ones, but to find a character like him existing back then, even if fictional, brought warmth and smiles to me. It’s not the best historical fiction meets mystery, but it’s a good one-time read.
9. Your Newest Favorite Character?
It’s a travesty, I think, because how do I have multiple favorite books but absolutely no favorite characters? But the year hasn’t ended yet, and I’m hoping to find some in the next however many books I’m going to read.
10. A Book That Made You Cry?
I didn’t cry much while reading this year – emphasis being on ‘while reading’ – but The Poppy War came closest to actually making me. Although I don’t remember if I cried while reading Honor. It all seems a blur from this far away. But I did shed happy tears while I read In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri because of how much I related to Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing. Which brings me to the next question…
11. A Book That Made You Happy?
Here we go again with In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri. In my defense, I did warn you I’d be gushing a lot about this book. 😛
This year, I’ve been learning a new language that is pretty close to my heart. And while I love the process, I wish I could just download the language and its semantics into my brain and start talking the language automatically. It isn’t realistic, though, and while I recognized this, I felt a little sad that my memory betrays me so. Jhumpa Lahiri, through this autobiographical account, In Other Words, embraced me and told me that I was not alone. She narrates her own experiences learning Italian and through that, told me not to give up hope. And I stood to attention and said, “Yes, Ma’am!”
12. Your Favorite Book to Film Adaptation?
I haven’t watched any many movies this year but I have a few on my list, the topmost being Heartstopper. I LOVED the graphic novels by Alice Oseman when I read them last year and I know that I NEED to watch the show ASAP. I have major FOMO from watching people on Twitter losing it over how lovely and warm the show is. And I have plans to make a video around Heartstopper, so you know that it’s definitely one that I WILL be watching.
13. Your Favorite Video You’ve Made This Year?
A month ago, my answer was ‘None’ because of the dry spell I was in. But now, I can, with confidence, say that my Favorite Authors video is one that I loved making because it meant that I got to gush about them. Yet again. Go watch it? 😀
Here’s the link: 7 Authors I’d Do Anything For.
14. The Most Beautiful Book You’ve Either Bought or Received This Year?
Again, a month ago, I had just two answers:
But I also have two more that I bought that I absolutely love, and both are absolute tomes.
15. What Are Some Books That You Need to Read Before the End of the Year?
I’ve done away with TBRs for the time being because of a lot of factors and circumstances. I’ve decided that I will read whatever I feel like reading, given how my whole situation has been this year. I think that will ease some of the pressure on me and Lord knows I don’t need more pressure. I have enough from life already. 😛
When I made the video, I was hoping that I’d be able to finish up all the review copies that I’ve ever received. But now, I’m not going to list any books because there’s a life change coming and I don’t know if I’ll be able to access the books that are on my TBR right now. My choices are going to be very, very fluid, really.
So that was my Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag 2022. Which of the books I’ve mentioned in this post have you read? Which did you like? Which didn’t you like? What are your answers to these questions? What are your plans for the rest of the year? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll see you very soon in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life. 🙂