the mid-year book freak-out tag :)

Well met, travelers, and welcome to the woods, where your [aspirationally] gracious hostess is nearly always absent and there is no uniformity of theme or style to her posts.

How have you all been?

Last time, I posted a long ramble about death and academia. Today I’m here to tell you about the books I’ve read this year. Niche? Heh. Who cares about niche when you could be writing what you want to write.

I did this tag in 2019, 2020, and 2021 on my other blog, and it is really fun to compare my stats from previous years to this year!


At the time of this writing (June 23) I have read 49 books, which means I’m well on my way to meeting my goal of 100! I read at least 100 books every year until last year, when I read 63. I know I can’t read this much every year of my life from now on, but I am very glad to know I haven’t lost my speed-reading skills. (Also… I counted schoolbooks, even if I didn’t read the entire thing. 7/10 books of the Republic is enough to count, right??)

You can see all the books I’ve read this year so far here.

๐Ÿ•ฎ best book so far ๐Ÿ•ฎ

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. What a wonderful book. From the start, I knew I would love it: a perfect beginning with just enough exposition, then off to Narnia. But the characterization and the dialogue and the descriptions and the themes kept getting better and better… this is one of my all-time favorite books now. [read my review]

(Normally I would reserve this category for first-time reads, but I haven’t read the Chronicles in years, and had forgotten a lot. Plus, I never loved this one before. I just liked it. But now… it’s probably in my top five books of all time.)

Even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.

๐ŸŽœshasta’s complaint, sarah sparks ๐ŸŽœ

Honorable mentions: Knight’s Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff, Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton. (It’s been a GOOD reading year.)

๐Ÿ•ฎ best sequel ๐Ÿ•ฎ

The Odyssey by Homer. I’ve also read this one before, but I didn’t really like it; I appreciated it as a classic, and that was that.

This year, though, I read Emily Wilson’s translation and discussed it in class. Now, please understand me, I kind of hate Emily Wilson’s translation, as a translation. It’s really inaccurate and can lead to wild misinterpretations and frustration for struggling students who know very little Greek yet are trying to write papers citing the Greek… (couldn’t be me. I would never write papers citing languages I don’t know) (but I did, because I’m a classics major and that’s what we do; we write about Latin and Greek in all of our non-classics classes) (it’s great). BUT. It got me into the story, and helped me appreciate it as story rather than just as a classic. And then the lectures helped me appreciate it as a classic. [read my review]

He held [the bow] in his right hand
and plucked the string, which sang like swallow-song,
a clear sweet note. The suitors, horrified,
grew pale.

๐ŸŽœsirens, the gray havens ๐ŸŽœ

๐Ÿ•ฎ new release you need to read ๐Ÿ•ฎ

I have ARCs of Wishtress by Nadine Brandes and A Darkness at the Door by Intisar Khanani and I need to read both of them! Alas, they are e-ARCs, and I don’t like reading on the computer/my phone. But I will put aside my discomfort for the sake of reading such lovely books.

(I’m also counting this answer for the “most anticipated release for the second half of the year” question because, technically, both of these books have yet to be released.)

๐Ÿ•ฎ biggest disappointment ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Probably Sex and the City of God by Carolyn Weber. Don’t let the title throw you off — it’s a wonderful memoir with no content I wouldn’t let most teenagers read. I loved the Augustine allusions and the ruminations on how romantic love reflects Christ’s love for the Church, but in comparison with its predecessor (Surprised by Oxford) this one felt disconnected and unfocused. Still, I did like it. [read my review]

๐ŸŽœ all shall be well, andrew peterson ๐ŸŽœ

Also, maybe Troilus and Cressida by Shakespeare. I didn’t really have high expectations, so I can’t properly claim that I was disappointed, but… it wasn’t good.

And Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross… I’ve heard such good things about her writing, but I didn’t like her style or voice at all. [read my review]

Oh, I nearly forgot! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis really disappointed me. I do like it, still, but it’s hard for me to appreciate it without asking a LOT of questions. [read my review]

๐ŸŽœ a narnia lullaby, harry gregson-williams ๐ŸŽœ

๐Ÿ•ฎ biggest surprise ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Meditations on First Philosophy by Renรฉ Descartes! There seems to be a general dislike/disapproval of Descartes in my friend group, but surprisingly, I really liked reading his thoughts. I didn’t agree with everything he said, of course, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself.

I even wrote an essay about the Meditations for philosophy class:

๐Ÿ•ฎ favorite new author ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Carolyn Weber! Without a doubt. I loved her Surprised by Oxford so dearly [read my review] and now I want to go to Oxford, ha. Her writing is clear and heartfelt and honest, and her story compelling and redemptive.

No individual, by the very state of existence, can avoid life as a form of servitude; it only remains for us to decide, deny, or remain oblivious to, whom or what we serve.

๐ŸŽœ too good, jess ray ๐ŸŽœ

๐Ÿ•ฎ new fictional crush ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Every year this gets harder and harder to answer. The older I get, the more I realize I want to marry a real man, not someone from a book. But if that man happened to be compassionate like Edmund (Narnia), and wise like TDH (Surprised by Oxford), and humorous like Nikolai (Grishaverse), and brave like Syme (The Man Who Was Thursday), and loyal like Sophos (A Conspiracy of Kings)… well, I wouldn’t complain. ๐Ÿ˜‰

๐Ÿ•ฎ new favorite character ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Oh my. Well, I like all the ones I just mentioned. I also really connected to Penelope this time through the Odyssey. But my favorite is probably Nikolai, who is hilarious and tragic and loveable and broken. (And, hopefully, redeemed… no one go and spoil Rule of Wolves).

Nikolai knew. He was a king who had only begun to make mistakes. He was a soldier for whom the war would never be over. He was a bastard left alone in the woods. And he was not afraid to die this day.

๐ŸŽœ glitter and gold, barns courtney ๐ŸŽœ

๐Ÿ•ฎ book that made you cry ๐Ÿ•ฎ

The Ballad of the White Horse by Chesterton. Please note that this epic poem is available free online and thus you have no excuse for not reading it. I dare you not to cry at the end of Book Three:

Ere the sad gods that made your gods
Saw their sad sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale,
That you have left to darken and fail,
Was cut out of the grass.

Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings,
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things.

For our God hath blessed creation,
Calling it good. I know
What spirit with whom you blindly band
Hath blessed destruction with his hand;
Yet by God’s death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow.

๐ŸŽœtheoden king, the two towers ๐ŸŽœ

๐Ÿ•ฎ book that made you happy ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is quite an odd book, and I’m not sure what I think of it. But there were several parts that made me very happy. [read my review]

Several times Waves passed over our heads, but they fell back the next instant. We were drenched, we were numbed, we were blinded, we were deafened; but always we were saved.

๐ŸŽœ wander. wonder, the arcadian wild ๐ŸŽœ

๐Ÿ•ฎ most beautiful book acquired ๐Ÿ•ฎ

Definitely my copy of the Odyssey, but I also bought lovely copies of Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.

๐Ÿ•ฎ to read by the end of the year ๐Ÿ•ฎ

So, I have a list, and I’m not sure I’ll stick to it, but I think I’ll get around to most of it as long as I stick to my 100-book goal. The list is only around 30 books and I need to read 51 more this year, which leaves plenty of room for mood reads and schoolbooks.

  • The Silmarillion (currently reading), The Hobbit, and LOTR by Tolkien
  • Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo*
  • Right Ho, Jeeves by Wodehouse (for a program at college!)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (for the same program)*
  • Death By Living by N.D. Wilson
  • Wittenberg vs. Geneva by Brian Thomas
  • The God of the Garden by Andrew Peterson (currently reading)*
  • The Book of Concord (currently reading)*
  • the original Mistborn Trilogy by Sanderson
  • the Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon
  • The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  • the Auralia Thread by Jeffrey Overstreet
  • The Songkiller’s Symphony by Daeus Lamb*
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco*
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  • Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle*
  • The Gift of Fire by Richard Mitchell*
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman*
  • the Fiddler duology by A.S. Peterson
  • Wishtress by Nadine Brandes*
  • A Darkness at the Door by Intisar Khanani*
  • Cursed by Marissa Meyer*
  • The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Operation Lionhearted by Maribeth Barber*
  • The Falconer by Elizabeth May*
  • Heretics by Chesterton*
  • Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
  • Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky*
  • In Memoriam by Tennyson*
  • Paradiso by Dante*
  • the rest of the Narnia Chronicles (currently on VotDT) by Lewis
  • the Ransom trilogy by Lewis

Okay, that’s intimidating. I take back what I said about probably finishing it.

(* = first time reading)

๐ŸŽœ library card, j. maya ๐ŸŽœ

Okay, that’s all for now. And I think it’s quite enough.

How many books have you read this year? Which is your favorite (so far)?

take a quiz to pick your next read!

Until next time!

~ m a y a : )

9 thoughts on “the mid-year book freak-out tag :)”

  1. The Ballad of the White Horse is one of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. I can recite bits and pieces of it to this day.

    “I tell you naught for your comfort–yea, naught for your desire–save that the sky grows darker yet, and the sea rises higher.”


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agh it is so beautiful. That line!!

      I want to memorize it someday! Actually I have a friend who has the whole thing memorized and his enthusiasm was a major inspiration for me to finally read it. If someone thinks a poem that long worth memorizing, then I need to know why.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your picks, especially the ending list. I’m almost done reading Six of Crows and very excited to read the King of Scars duology. There are so many other good books as well! Chesterton and Susanna Clarke are high up on my TBR list, and so are Lewis and Tolkein re-reads.
    Two other things of note: one, for whatever reason, the quiz at the end of the post isn’t working. The link is fine, but if I enter my name the button to start it doesn’t work (and neither does hitting enter). I don’t know if this is a browser issue or not (I’m using Brave), but I thought you’d want to know.
    Secondly, could you write a post about Hillsdale? It has recently become my dream school (even though I’m out of state) and I’d love to know more your story in choosing it and how your first year went. If you’d be willing to share!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, I think it must be a browser issue, I’m sorry.

      Definitely recommend all of those! Chesterton/Lewis/Tolkien reign supreme as my favorite authors, and Clarke is on my top ten list as well (along with N.D. Wilson, Robin McKinley, Brandon Sanderson, and Megan Whalen Turner).

      I might write about Hillsdale! I did write about college in general a couple posts ago. But I could write about Hillsdale in particular too. thanks for the suggestion (:

      Liked by 1 person

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