It’s strange how when the world comes to an end, you focus on all of the big things that change. When the plague (you know what I mean) first started ramping up in 2020, we knew a few things we could expect. We knew that our work and school schedule would be disrupted, we knew we’d have to adjust to a “new normal” (ugh, I hate that phrase) in our daily lives.
But I think as things in the U.S. start becoming more normal-ish, I’m realizing that there are a lot more “little things” in my life that have changed. And while it might seem silly, one of the things that’s definitely changed is my reading habits.
Most book bloggers like to start off the year with lists of books they want to read in the coming months. But not on Maggie’s Musings. Nope, here we talk about all of the books I don’t want to read in the new year.
I’ve sort of accidentally made a tradition of doing a purge of my “to-be-read” (TBR) books every two years – I did it for the first time in 2017 (read Part 1 and Part 2) and then again in 2019 (Part 1 and Part 2), and now it’s 2021, so I guess it’s time to dust off the old TBR list again.
But before I begin, I did want to mention three books that got kicked out automatically because they already survived one round of this and I still didn’t read them: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan (2017 Part 1), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (2017 Part 2), and Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2019 Part 1). A few other old ones are still around, but they’re on thin ice.
In 2020, I set a goal to read 65 books. I set it a bit higher than my previous reading challenges, which were usually in the 45-50 range, but I knew I would be able to meet it.
The thing is… I wasn’t really expecting to meet it so soon.
Since I no longer have my big reading goal looming over me, I want to be more intentional about what books I read throughout the rest of the year. This is for two main reasons:
I still have some smaller reading goals to complete, like reading #OwnVoices diverse books and nonfiction books.
I may or may not have gone on a book shopping spree the last few months, and now I have several books on my shelves that I should read before I buy any new ones.
Charmaine did a list like this at the beginning of July (which makes a lot more sense, since she still had half a year to work with), so I stole it felt inspired by it and decided to make my own reading commitment for what’s left of the year.
So without further ado, here are 10 books I want to read before the end of 2020!
It seems like everyone and their weird uncle has started a new hobby lately. Some people are baking bread, making soap or candles, or learning a new language.
Well, I’ve also started a new “quarantine hobby.” It was a terrible idea, not because I hate it, but because I’ve become practically obsessed with it over the past few weeks and I can’t make myself stop.
Here’s your hot take for the week: We don’t understand The Hunger Games.
“But Maggie,” I hear you say, “How could we not understand The Hunger Games? It was the biggest teen movie franchise since Twilight! Don’t you remember reading about how well the movies performed commercially? Didn’t you give a presentation on the cultural impact of dystopian fiction on young adults?”
I did indeed give such a presentation, but that doesn’t debunk my claim right off the bat. There are plenty of readers and viewers of The Hunger Games who looked beyond the hype and saw the message of the story – we wouldn’t still be talking about it otherwise. But in general, our society has missed the point.
Let’s get one other thing out of the way: The Hunger Games is not my favorite book or film series, not by a long shot. If you asked me to name my top ten books of all time, I doubt it would make the list. That’s not to say it’s a bad book though! I think it’s an excellent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better understand young adult literature. Personally though, I’m more interested in how The Hunger Games is (or maybe was) a cultural phenomenon.
For those reading this who missed out on The Hunger Games or just did not care, here’s the premise: a futuristic and dystopian nation known as Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which 24 “tributes” between the ages of 12-18 are selected to participate in a televised fight to the death. The heroine, Katniss, volunteers for the Games to take the place of her younger sister Prim. Fair warning, there will be plenty of spoilers as we keep going!
It’s autumn. Leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather for a roaring bonfire. And you know what we do with bonfires?
We roast things.
Look, we’ve all been there. A close, trusted friend (or – gasp – a family member) recommends a book to us. They claim it’s the best use of ink since the first Bibles rolled off of Gutenberg’s printing press. And you trust them, so you decide to give it a try.
And you don’t like it.
Maybe you don’t hate it – maybe you’re just apathetic about it. And then when your friend/family member asks you what you thought, you’re caught in an awkward position. Do you risk your relationship by telling them the truth, or do you lie to spare their feelings?
I’ve read more than my fair share of what I would call “overrated” books. Not all of them are bad books – in fact, in many cases, I think they’re pretty decent works of literature. But the more I think about them, the less I like them. And mostly, I just think they need to be taken down a peg or two.
So gather around the campfire, readers. I’m about to roast some books.
As I did in my previous post about book heroines, today I’m revisiting my three-year-old top five heroes list. And, like I said in my previous post, I’m certainly not diminishing the awesomeness of the characters I wrote about before (although, if I’m being honest, there are a few that I haven’t had many thoughts about in the years since). The characters of Artemis Fowl from Eoin Colfer’s beloved series and Sage from The False Prince are still some of my favorites.
But like I said before, I’ve read a lot of books since then, and I think it’s time to give a few other characters some love too.
Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post that was appropriately titled “Top 5 Heroines.” It was, as you might guess, a list of my favorite heroines from books. Now, even though I wrote that blog post three years ago, I still stand by it. There were some really awesome female characters on that list: June Iparis from the Legend trilogy, Cammie Morgan from Gallagher Girls, Deryn Sharp from the Leviathan trilogy, Reyna Ramirez-Arellano from The Heroes of Olympus, and Stargirl from Stargirl.
But I also wrote that blog post three years ago. I’ve read (and re-read) a lot of books since then, and I’ve fallen in love with both new characters and old. So while I still love and adore all of the ladies on my original list, I thought it was a good time to show some appreciation for a few of my other favorite heroines.
Around this time last year, I wrote a post about my favorite fictional couples (which you should definitely go back and read if you missed it the first time around). I thought it would make a nice parallel to do a similar post this year, but focusing on characters who aren’t in relationships.
And then I ran into a slight problem: I couldn’t think of any.
I know, I was pretty surprised too, but let me explain. The single characters I could think of usually didn’t work for one of two reasons. One, they were not main characters, so the audience isn’t expecting to hear much about their relationships unless it’s directly related to the plot. Two, the character is the “token” single person in a cast of characters who had romantic relationships, so there’s a heavy focus on how they’re different from the other characters. There were still a handful remaining after I completed that criteria, but certainly not enough to write a whole list like last year.
That got me thinking – where are all of the single people in our stories, specifically in YA fiction?