Book Postscript 2018 Tag

One last 2018 wrap up post!  This tag was created by Adam @ Memento Mori on booktube – I’m not sure if anyone else in the blogging world has adapted it but I thought it sounded like a really fantastic way to highlight some of those books that tend to fall through the cracks at this best and worst list time of year.

1. The longest book you read this year and the book that took you the longest to finish.

According to Goodreads the longest book I read (and I am so embarrassed by this since the page count isn’t even that crazy) is Emily Wilson’s translation of the Odyssey, coming in at 582 pages.  That obviously includes the intro, etc, but I did read this cover to cover.

The book that took me the longest to finish was probably Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, which I apparently started on June 30 and finished on October 30.  As I explained in my review I was really enjoying this and then I just fell into a period where I wasn’t in the mood to read it at all, but once I got back into it I started loving it again.

375335872. A book you read in 2018 that was outside of your comfort zone.

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso: the only graphic novel I’d ever read before wasn’t even a graphic novel, it was a graphic memoir, and that was Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, so this was a pretty big change from my usual fare.  I enjoyed this, it didn’t change my life or anything and I’m not convinced it earned its spot on the Man Booker longlist, but I’d definitely be interested in reading more graphic novels going forward.

3. How many books did you re-read in 2018?

Only 4 – The Odyssey, Antigone, and the Bakkhai, translated by Emily Wilson, Robert Bagg, and Anne Carson respectively, as well as Macbeth by Shakespeare.  Almost worryingly on-brand.

4. Favorite re-read of 2018.

All 4 for different reasons.  The Odyssey because I think Emily Wilson is superb and one part of her translator’s note (below) nearly made me cry; Antigone because I was rereading it after finishing Home Fire and pairing them together really enriched both texts (and because I was coming off a really fucking stupid argument about how I apparently do not understand Antigone in the slightest, which I just found amusing); the Bakkhai because I am worshipful of what Anne Carson can do with words; and Macbeth because I reread it in preparation for seeing Sleep No More the second time which I got so much more out of with the text fresh in my mind.

It is traditional in statements like this Translator’s Note to bewail’s one’s own inadequacy when trying to be faithful to the original. Like many contemporary translation theorists, I believe that we need to rethink the terms in which we talk about translation. My translation is, like all translations, an entirely different text from the original poem. Translation always, necessarily, involves interpretation; there is no such thing as a translation that provides anything like a transparent window through which a reader can see the original. The gendered metaphor of the “faithful” translation, whose worth is always secondary to that of a male-authored original, acquires a particular edge in the context of a translation by a woman of The Odyssey, a poem that is deeply invested in female fidelity and male dominance.” – Emily Wilson

5. A book you read for the first time in 2018 that you look forward to re-reading in the future.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder, Milkman by Anna Burns, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Also, I anticipate reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley at least two more times (and I have already read it twice).  First because I used one of my audible credits long ago to get the audiobook since it’s narrated by Dan Stevens and I enjoy his voice immensely.  And second because I want to read the original 1818 text at some point.

6. Favorite single short story or novella that you read in 2018.

I love this question.  I’m torn between these two:

The Universal Story from The Whole Story and Other Stories by Ali Smith: A man buys a secondhand copy of The Great Gatsby in a used bookshop.  The narrative switches focus about a hundred times in a couple of pages and it’s just spectacular.  I don’t know how to explain this.  Just read it.

Hell Screen by Akutagawa Ryunosuke, from The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories edited by Jay Rubin: A talented painter is commissioned to create a folding screen that depicts Buddhist hell.  As he’s unable to paint an image that he hasn’t seen firsthand, he inflicts torture on his apprentices.

And, if it counts as a novella (what’s the qualification for being a novella as opposed to a short novel anyway, does anyone know?  Please tell me):

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss: A teenage girl and her parents accompany an anthropology course on an excursion to Northumberland, where they live for a few weeks as Iron Age Britons once did.  This book is subtle and harrowing all at once.

326203327. Mass Appeal: A book you liked and would recommend to a wide variety of readers.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  I have seen a couple of negative reviews of this, but for the most part I’d say it’s near-universally adored, and for good reason.  You’re going to want to put your skepticism aside and just give this one a try, because it actually does live up to the hype.  The characters are wonderfully vivid and the story itself is immersive and heartbreaking and just lovely.  I read this in two days and I couldn’t put it down.

8. Specialized Appeal: A book you liked but would be hesitant to recommend to just anyone.

I’m going to go with two different retellings of Euripides’ Medea:

Medea by Christa Wolf: It’s not that I think you wouldn’t find this book enjoyable if you don’t have a working knowledge of/obsession with the Medea myth, because I do think it’s exquisitely written regardless, but the real joy for me in reading this was seeing Wolf’s unique subversion of the familiar story, so I would hesitate to recommend this to anyone not already interested in Greek mythology, as opposed to something like Circe which holds a much wider commercial appeal.

By the Bog of Cats by Marina Carr.  This is one of the best plays I have ever read, but I think you would need to share my morbid fascination with all things tragic and macabre to appreciate this downer.

9. Reflect on your year as a bookish content creator (goals met, good/bad memories, favorite videos blog posts you made, etc).

This was a perfectly steady year for my blog – I didn’t make many changes, but I did continue to post regularly and I’m very happy with that.  I also decided this year that rather than following Top 5 Wednesday etc. I have more fun when I’m inspired to create my own book lists for no particular reason.

One such list that I’m proud of is my Adult Books About Young Adults post which I wrote in the hopes of lessening the misconception that all adult literature is about 40 year old straight white men.

I’m also proud of finishing the Man Booker longlist in time for the winner announcement, as it was the first time I’ve ever read a literary prize longlist in its entirety: in case you missed that you can read my longlist reaction, shortlist reaction, longlist recap/winner prediction, and reaction to the winner announcement.  I’m still pleased with myself for predicting the winner correctly.

I didn’t quite manage the Women’s Prize longlist, but I came close – you can see my shortlist reaction, shortlist review/winner prediction (I did not guess correctly), and reaction to the winner.

I do quite love these two literary prizes and I had a lot of fun with both this year.

10. Tag some fellow bookish content creators.

Aurora | Marija | Hannah  | Hannah| Emily | Sarah | Ren (I’m not sure if you do tags?)

Definitely feel free to skip it etc.  And tagging anyone else who wants to do this!

44 thoughts on “Book Postscript 2018 Tag

  1. Oh very cool! Thank you for the tag. I saw this floating around on Booktube and thought it looked intriguing.
    By the way, I did take an audible breath when you said Medea doesn’t have mass appeal. I mean you are probably absolutely right but still, it is SO brilliant. Everybody should love it. (I read it for school and lots of people disliked this book but not as many as is usually the case with assigned reading.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just love how the questions are more interesting than ‘what was the best book you read.’

      I was conflicted about that one! Because I do want people to read it but I also want them to know they should read Euripides’ Medea first. Because these mythology books seem to be having a bit of a moment, and with something like Circe I think you can read it without being familiar with the Odyssey and still end up loving it… I think if someone read Medea without being familiar with the original they might like it but not love it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s an absolutely true point. Although I did not know all that much about the original when I read Christa Wolf’s version but I had already read and adored Kassandra more than once beforehand. Plus, reading books and discussing them in class was always my favourite part of high school.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post! Your re-read of the Odyssey and Antigone has made me want to read it again though I don’t have the same edition. I have been trying to find it but to no avail. 😞 Also, Medea! I absolutely love it, doesn’t everyone? 😱

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so in awe of how much classics reading you do! I have my favorites there (like Frankenstein) but in general I’ve always had a tendency to avoid them so I’m endlessly impressed by how you read and re-read and analyze them so thoughtfully.

    Thanks for tagging me! I don’t really do tags, mainly because just writing a couple of reviews a week is about the most commitment/mental power/organization I knew I would be able to manage for a blog 😂 but I appreciate it! Like you I’m doing more lists when I get inspired to, so maybe I’ll put something together for it if I can do it sooner rather than later 🙂 really interesting to see more about the specifics of your year’s reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will never tire of the Greek classics, it’s a period and culture that has always fascinated me so much and I just adore theatre and the classic tragedies, and I especially find it fun to reread them in different translations and pick up on the subtle differences. As for the other classics, it’s definitely more of a concerted effort, sometimes it feels like a chore to pick one up when I could be reading a contemporary book without spending half as much time or energy, but at the same time I rarely regret picking up classics when I do. And I wasn’t the best classics reader when I was younger, so there are still so many gaps I’m trying to fill. And cases like Frankenstein where I had to read it when I was 15 for English class and basically thought ‘this is boring and dumb’ so I had a feeling I should probably give that one another try. And I’m so glad I did!

      No worries at all, I couldn’t remember you ever posting a tag so I thought that might be the case! I’m majorly impressed with how often you post book reviews, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for everything. And I find it annoying how tags always ask variations on the exact same questions – which is why I liked this one, it felt a bit different. But compiling random lists on a whim has been much more fun for me than tags and memes this year!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s such a good point, time can change a lot about how we understand, interpret and appreciate a text. I get that it can feel like a chore, but I also think it’s great that you do it – as a mental exercise it must be fantastic, and I think reading classics like that can give you a deeper, more nuanced understanding of a lot of contemporary lit and narratives. Not to mention that it feels very worthwhile to see a deeper reading project through!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, for sure! The mental exercise is definitely another part of it. I hardly ever read for fun when I was in school because I just had such fatigue from reading and academia in general, but now that I’m not in school I miss the occasional mental stimulation! Not enough to actually go back to school, but enough that I do want to throw some more challenging books in with my pleasure reading.


  4. I’m still so impressed that you read the whole Booker longlist! I love the idea of doing that one year, but my brain just doesn’t co-operate the moment I tell myself I HAVE to read a certain book 😂

    Also, yay for Ghost Wall! It’s one of those reads that I love the more I think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really hoping to do the Women’s Prize longlist but I’m also so nervous about committing to that before I see the list! And yes, literary prizes are like, impossible to navigate as a mood reader.

      Totally agreed about Ghost Wall – I didn’t think it would be 5 stars at first but it really crept up on me and I can’t stop thinking about it. I already want to reread it. And read Moss’s entire backlist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! I think the Women’s Prize is the one I’d be most interested in committing to, so here’s hoping the 2019 longlist grabs me enough to overrule my mood reading.

        I’m keen to try more Moss as well. I enjoyed The Tidal Zone, and LOVED Ghost Wall, so here’s hoping she continues to grow on me with each successive read.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m already SO impatient for the Women’s Prize longlist announcement. That can happen any day now.

        I got The Tidal Zone for Christmas so that’ll be the next one of hers I pick up. I’m excited!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I fell into a bit of a classics binge toward the end of 2018 and I’m finding that’s what I’m really enjoying right now! But then I go through periods where I won’t pick up a classic for month, so who even knows. It comes and goes!


  5. Thanks for the tag! Those short stories sound absolutely excellent, and I also want to read the original text of Frankenstein! When I first picked up the book I didn’t realize there were multiple versions and I probably would’ve rather started with the original, but better late than never…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish the 1818 edition were more readily available! I know Penguin republished it recently but when I was looking for a copy to read this time around my bookstore only had the newer edition, and it was only $10 and it had a nice cover so I was easily swayed in that direction. I really wish the Dan Stevens audiobook was for the 1818 edition so I could kill two birds with one stone…. OH WELL I guess I’m destined to read Frankenstein 4 times in this lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such an interesting tag, I love these questions! I really enjoyed reading your Man Booker posts, especially since they’re a big part of the reason I picked up Milkman and that’s the most interesting book I read all year. I really look forward to re-reading that one too. And now I need to read more of Ali Smith’s short stories – The Universal Story sounds perfect! Thanks for tagging me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy to hear that my raving about Milkman inspired you to pick it up! That’s what I love about literary prizes, you inevitably have to slog through some duds but sometimes they do get it very very right.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s