Hello and welcome to my best of 2019! It feels mad that we’re not only wrapping up a year but a decade too (though I haven’t done a decade count down, I honestly don’t know if my opinions over the past 10 years are still the same!).
The Reading Corner
My Goodreads challenge was to read 35 books this year and I managed to make it to 45 with the help of a whole bunch of picture books through work. Whilst I enjoyed a lot of picture books and have ~opinions~ on stories aimed at people a quarter of my age, they don’t quite make the rankings this year.
Circe – Madeline Miller
I liked Circe a lot. From Miller’s poetic writing to the way she captures the mindset of a being that lives for thousands of years, the book is a joy to read. I loved the explorations of mythologies and the idea that even as a goddess, Circe is still vulnerable was great. Though the ending came a bit too soon for my liking.
Monstress – Marjorie Liu
I will have to read this again because of how complicated the worldbuilding is, but Monstress is absolutely fantastic. From the understated matriarchal world, to the steampunk illustrations to how dark the main character is, this graphic novel was a fantastic read for me.
The City of Brass – S.A. Chakraborty
What a fantastic book. I loved the Middle Eastern setting, the history, the mythology, the worldbuilding and the ways that it consistently defied expectations and YA tropes. I’m so excited to read the rest of this trilogy!
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
I still haven’t finished this trilogy, but I adored this book and Schwab’s writing is beautiful. I love the idea of the parallel Londons, Lila’s character in this and I am officially a Schwab stan because of this book.
The Power – Naomi Alderman
The Power is a book I find really hard to talk about but enjoyed immensely. The idea of women developing an electric power to equalise the imbalance between genders in our patriarchal society was one that had an inevitable story but my god was it fascinating to track. Highly recommend!
The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang
This book was grim and not the easiest read in the world but what a compelling story. The alternative history of the Sino-Japanese war mixed with supernatural elements made this book one of my top reads this year.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Normal People really surprised me. Though I’m not sure if I would read it again anytime soon and whilst I didn’t adore it, it captures something about being that in between age of teenagehood and adulthood. There’s just so much truth in her writing.
This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
This book has just been released in the US, and if you’re from there I implore you to read it. It’s funny, sad and heartbreaking all at once and has given me more of an appreciation for the NHS and the people who work there than ever before.
2019 did not feel like the strongest year in movies for me. This might be because it is the first year in a few that I didn’t have on my list of resolutions to deliberately watch films from the IMDB Top 250 list. My attempts to watch the top voted films in cinema has led to hits and misses in the past. Last year was a lot of mood-watching and franchise-watching which I think has resulted in a really short list of films.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
I only had a couple of minor quibbles with Endgame but otherwise, this felt like a well-deserved conclusion to the last decade of film-making. I love me a time-travel plot and the kind of fan service in this didn’t feel gratuitous.
Spider-man: Homecoming (2017)
I actually watched this after Avengers but you can get away with it because it is not a big story. Tom Holland as Peter Parker is the perfect casting and I love that it builds reminds the audience that he’s just a teen and that it builds on his relationship with Tony Stark.
How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Lost World (2019)
I don’t think this is the best HTTYD film, and in fact two major plot lines don’t even interact remotely with each other, but I found it entertaining. And mostly, I found it visually quite spectacular – the animators in this film have enjoyed creating the world, the dragons and the flying sequences and I enjoyed that a lot.
Inside Out (2015)
I finally watched Inside Out and it was everything I ever imagined it to be. Cue that meme about Pixar ‘What if toys had feelings? What if fish had feelings? What if feelings had feelings?’ – and yet they manage to create a coherent and clever story.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2018)
My first response to remakes/rebooting of franchises is usual one of cynicism, especially of media that I have a personal connection to. The original Jumanji is an excellent film and this sequel actually works because it builds on the concept rather than rehashing the original.
I have definitely felt like there were periods of time that I wasn’t watching anything spectacular this past year, but there’s definitely been some outstanding stuff that makes it to my best of list.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (Seasons 1-3)
Hands down the best TV show I watched this year was Avatar. The worldbuilding is amazing, the story arcs in it are well written, the characters are multi-faceted and I love the magical system in it. Plus this is how you engage respectfully with eastern inspired culture.
The Legend of Korra (Seasons 1-4)
Whilst this is definitely not on the same level as Avatar, it makes my list because it was a worthy spinoff for the original story and determined a realistic world that would come after The Last Airbender. Plus, I am a sucker for Victoriana and steampunk stuff.
The Umbrella Academy (Season 1)
My second favourite show of the year was The Umbrella Academy. Though I thought that the story was fairly predictable, it was entertaining, beautifully shot and I loved the concept. It had some excellent moments and I’m excited to see where it is headed.
Fleabag (Series 1-2)
Fleabag is a great piece of television. At times humorous, at times a raw, honest take on mental health, I see why this show has been as successful as it is. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing is sharp, her characters are excellent and I love her fourth-wall breaking,
Peaky Blinders (Series 4-5)
Peaky Blinders continues to be a stellar TV show which is why it has made my list again this year. The development of the Shelby family, and Tom Shelby as a main character is fantastic and I’m just loving everything they’re doing.
Derry Girls (Series 1-2)
Derry Girls is an excellent comedy show, down to earth, humorous and still has some heart. The teen characters are realistic and I love the group dynamic.
The End of the F***ing World (Series 2)
I was unsure about whether to add this to my list because it is a superfluous addition to the story, I did enjoy revisiting the characters and they managed to weave in some mystery and tension too.
Sex Education (Series 1)
I think part of why I liked this so much was because I didn’t expect very much from it. It has an understated humour and serious moments and talks about sex in the way that people *should* talk about sex.
All About Arub
I thought I’d add a little personal section to this year’s wrap up!
Life-wise, a huge change for me this year has been my job. I have moved into my dream editorial job in children’s publishing and at a company which I love, working with people that I love. I’m now an Editorial Assistant at Pan Macmillan, I work on picture books and though it’s a fixed term contract I’m hopeful for an extension.
I went through a couple of hair transformations, with briefly dying it pink (a dream colour) but it wasn’t what I had asked for so I went back and got it changed to a caramel brown (which also wasn’t what I asked for but it was better…). It was a learning experience for sure and I know what to expect the next time I go for a vivid colour. (And will *not* be recommending Not Another Salon in Brick Lane…)
Shortly before all of the above I went on a backpacking trip to Vietnam with my friend Hetal and we travelled from the north of the country to the south. I’ve never done anything like this before and though I don’t think I’d quit my job to go travelling it was a fantastic new experience (though no, I didn’t ‘discover’ myself there…).
Resolutions: I did pretty badly on resolutions in 2019 – I usually have a list of 10 in the hope of meeting at least half of them, and this time I had 5 and didn’t really do any of them well. Pushing learning how to hand letter and improving on my driving onto my 2020 list for sure. My resolutions are usually in favour of creating long-lasting habits over making huge changes and one of my 2018 resolutions was to bake at least 12 times in a year. I’m happy to say that this translated to 2019 and I baked fairly regularly from lemon drizzle cake to brownies and of course my magnum opus: Mississippi mud pie.
Onto blogging life, which suffered from an unintended hiatus during this period, I did blog fairly regularly this year. My top blog posts this year are quite varied including discussions, reviews and a meme:
- The most-views this year was one of my publishing diaries posts where I spoke about my old job in the production department: ‘What is Production’
- I wrote a post on Why You Don’t Have to Read the Literary Canon
- My lengthy complaints against The Priory of the Orange Tree were echoed in the comments
- My discussion on Reading YA literature when you’re no longer the target audience was one that I’m really happy with and glad got a lot of engagement
- And a Top Ten Tuesday made the list with my Top Ten Childhood favourites
If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! How was your 2019? Any favourites that we agree on?