Mid-Year Freak Out 2021

I woke up with a start the other day to the realization that we are half way through the year, and in the blogging world, that usually means something very specific- mid-year freak out tag time. I have been so offline and unfocused lately that I wasn't even prepared for it.

That also means that I can't smugly come here and talk about how well I'm doing with my reading or that I'm perfectly on track to hit my goal. My reading has been absolutely terrible this year. I blamed school for a while because I was doing heaps and heaps of reading- just not fiction. But the last two months have proven to me that I'm just not the reader I used to be. Somehow I have less ability to focus than when I was a kid. But to give myself a tiny bit of credit, I am much busier than I was when I was 13, even without school. I also am interested in a lot more mediums of entertainment than I was when I was a kid and obsessed with books and only books. I still make a concerted effort to be a reader, but it's harder now than it used to be. 

I didn't set a reading goal this year after I read so little during my fall semester last year. Every year, I amorphously aim to finish 100 books, because that seems like a nice number. I used to totally surpass it every year, but this year, I'd be shocked if I got to 80. Which is honestly a little depressing to my former self. I am slowly trying to accept I will likely one day become that adult who reads 10 or 20 books in a year. I'm not willing to admit defeat yet, though. 

So far, I've finished 20 books, and I'm close to finishing my 21st. I've started to aim for completing 3 books a month and writing that down in my bullet journal as one of my goals. That feels much more manageable. That still wouldn't get me anywhere near my yearly goal, but it is motivating in the slower months. 

That's enough rambling. Let's get into the actual tag portion of this post where I talk about the books I did get around to reading. 

Before that, though, if you aren't following me online, here are the handles: 

Instagram: @readingwritingandme

Twitter: @readwriteandme

1. Best Book so far this year?


Despite my general lack of reading this year, I have read so many incredible books. I think not having as much time to read means that I don't continue reading books that I'm not totally in love with. Choosing to DNF any book that doesn't bring me major joy or something else compelling has truly changed my reading life. 
Though it was hard to choose, I think I have to go with Yolk by Mary HK Choi. I love every single book Mary writes as a rule, but Yolk started to rival Emergency Contact as my favorite book. It proved to be everything I needed. Mary's books are always the tiny, microscopic, incredibly intense pieces of life that always break me and then heal my soul at the end. I cried sad tears once and happy tears once, and I think that says all you need to know. 

2. Best Sequel you've read so far in 2021?

I don't read series because there aren't many in contemporary, and I don't really have the patience to wait an entire year to get to the next part of the story. That being said, I love reading new books from authors I love, and in a way, when authors put out a new book each year they feel like sequels or cousins.
So I'm going to bend the rules and say Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan. This is her third book, and I loved her sophomore novel Verona Comics so much last year. I didn't think I could love Some Girls Do more than her previous book, but I've found I love them equally. I love how they explore similar themes from totally different angles, and my heart felt so full after reading that book. 


3. New Release you haven't read yet but want to?

Never Saw You Coming

In literally the best reading day of my life, my top two most anticipated books of 2021 that I didn't have ARCs for went on Read Now on NetGalley. One of them was Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn. Erin is one of my all time favorite authors, and getting to interview her after reading You'd Be Mine is one of my favorite blogging moments ever. Erin is just the kindest and most supportive human being. This book sounds incredible and is somewhat of a companion novel to her sophomore book More Than Maybe. I already know I'll love the book, and I can't wait to start talking about it. But since it isn't out till the fall, I have to get through the summer releases first. 

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

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If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich and Sophie Gonzales and As If On Cue by Marisa Kanter are definitely my most anticipated books for the second half of the year. Marisa wrote one of my favorite books of 2020, What I Like About You, about a teen book blogger, and I can't wait to see what her sophomore book will be like. Then If This Gets Out was MADE for me. You can't convince me otherwise. Sophie is one of my all time favorite authors. I love both of her books from Wednesday. While I'm not familiar with Cale's work, I'm sure I'll want to read his other projects after. Most importantly, though, they are writing about a boy band on tour, which could not be a more exciting premise. 

5. Biggest Disappointment?

Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi was a book I'd been really looking forward to because it's about a bi girl who's also a huge social media influencer. I love books about the internet and about influencers, so I was ready to totally love this book. Unfortunately, it's a miss from me because the social media posts seemed like the author hadn't used any kind of social media in her life, and the writing was flat for me. I think it might be better suited to younger readers because, while the characters were somewhere between 16 and 18, it felt like more of a book the reader was supposed to read up with instead of relating to characters who are their age. It just never clicked with me even though I kept trying to power through.



6. Biggest Surprise?

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This is my biggest surprise, not because I doubted I would love Rachel Lynn Solomon's latest YA (she's an auto-buy author for me) but instead because I didn't know the book had OCD representation before I started reading it. Most of the time when I read about OCD in YA I can't relate to much of it or I have to bend it quite a bit to relate it to my own experiences. Quinn has so many of my same intrusive thoughts and compulsions that I felt so incredibly seen that my heart started to hurt in the best way. I felt so incredibly seen by this book, and I was able to love it on even more levels than I previously anticipated. 



7. Favorite New Author?

This spot definitely has to go to Miel Moreland who has an amazing new book about a queer band that utilizes social media and fandom so well called It Goes Like This. While Miel is great at writing queer love stories and bringing Tumblr to books, she's also a fantastic follow on Twitter and has excellent music taste. I always go to her account when it's time to talk about Taylor Swift. I can't wait to see where her writing career goes next. 


8. Newest Fictional Crush?

Patrick from Yolk and Ruby from Some Girls Do get to take this honor. Yes, I couldn't keep it to just one fictional crush. 
Patrick isn't a huge part of the book, but I appreciated his interactions with Jayne so so much. Patrick is so incredibly gentle and caring. Yes, he's not the perfect guy, but he's also not one we see often in YA or in the media on the whole. I want more gentle love interests. 
Ruby is just magnetic. She's a character that has stuck with me long past finishing her story. The way she handles the messy confusion that is young adulthood is super relatable, and I love how larger than life she can be without being put on the manic pixie dream girl level. 

9. Newest favorite character?

Quinn from We Can't Keep Meeting Like This is my favorite character of 2021. We're just so similar that I still think about Quinn all the time, and we had an instant connection. 
Full Review 

10. Book that made you cry?

Since I already said Yolk earlier, I guess I have to go with the second book of the year that has made me cry. The Anthropocene Reviewed was that book. I think I have a childhood attachment to John Green's work because as pretentious and "they don't sound like teens" as everyone makes his writing out to be, they always sounded like me. 

I loved this book of essays even more. Having grown up watching Vlogbrothers and listening to all these podcasts, most of the stories weren't new to me, but they were still interesting and wonderous and lovely. John has a really fascinating, comforting way of articulating his thoughts. I totally covered this book in highlighter and had a couple moments of definitely getting emotional. 


11. Book that made you happy?

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This Will Be Funny Some Day isn't necessarily a happy book, but it was another one that made me feel very seen. Izzy is in high school, but she's never really fit in there. She stumbles into befriending a group of college students through standup comedy. She loves hanging out with them, and she doesn't want to ruin it by divulging her age. I've definitely related to Izzy and what she went through so much, and I never thought I'd see that reflected in a book. Though it deals with some heavy topics, as any book about a stand up comedian should be, it was hilarious. 


12. Favorite book to film adaptation?

I actually haven't watched any film adaptions of books this year or really at all, so I'm going to bend this question a little. I'm going to talk about a book I want to see adapted instead. That honor goes to As Far As You'll Take Me by Phil Stamper.  I loved how this book chronicled such a major life shift for 17 year old Marty who moves from the midwest to London to start over. I'm getting ready to make a giant move as well, so I appreciated getting to see Marty's journey. This book was so vivid and detailed that I'd love to see it transformed into a mini series. 


 
13. Favorite review you've written?

This isn't a review, but it is my favorite post I've written this year. I had a great time pairing up SOUR, Olivia Rodrigo's album, with books. I love when I get to blend books and music together, and I hadn't done it in a while, so it was so much fun to step back into that. 

14. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year?

Yolk, Some Girls Do, and It Goes Like This have to take the crown here. Yolk has a gorgeous dust jacket and then the book itself is also beautiful underneath. I love the sunset and all the colors on Some Girls Do, and It Goes Like This has the best color palette with all the purple, and I love the galaxy doodles. 

15. What book do you need to read before the end of the year?

I have waaaaaaaaaay too many books on my TBR at the moment. As far as books I have checked out from the library at the moment, I have One Last Stop and Where the Crawdads Sing. Then, on NetGalley I have to read Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach, Remember Me by Estelle Laure, You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao, Lucky Girls by Jamie Pacton, and so many more. 

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