Conversely to going into books with high expectations, sometimes you go in with pretty low expectations or no expectations. Those are always really nice times because then you end up falling in love with something you never expected. That’s why it felt most appropriate to follow up my most disappointing reads of 2019 with its opposite: my most surprising reads. You’ll find them below the cut.
- Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
I have read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson multiple times and I’ve always really loved that. I was intrigued when I heard she was writing a poetic memoir of her own experience that inspired Speak, but I also wasn’t really sure I would want to read it. In the end, circumstances came around that the school I worked at, picked it up for their library and I couldn’t help myself. I picked it up to read it. I had low expectations because I don’t always love poetry; it’s not my favourite genre. But this book blew me out of the water. Not every poem was my exact cup of tea, but some of them were amazing. The way Laurie Halse Anderson told her story was deeply moving. There were some really beautiful quotes and on the whole, I highly recommend this book.
- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
I wasn’t sure what I was going to think when I picked up Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I knew what it was about, and I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I had read some similar books I wasn’t the most keen on, and it was also a sports book, which isn’t my highest level of interest. The opening wasn’t the most exciting. But then I got into it. Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting the book down. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Saul and how he ended up where he did. I found the hockey aspect of the book really intriguing, and it was interesting to see how he used hockey as an escape. I loved the way the story all came together. It was a beautiful story, and I was surprised with how much I loved it.
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Kari had recommended this to me, but I wasn’t really sure I wanted to read it. I had heard some mixed reviews and romance isn’t really my primary genre and I had firmly placed this book in the romance genre. However, the movie coming out did provide me with some motivation to read the book. I wanted to read it before I watched the movie. Eventually I listened to it on audiobook and I loved it. Rachel is one of my favourite literary characters of the year, even though the book didn’t come out this year. She’s such an interesting character and you really felt with her being thrown into that situation. Then I also fell in love with the various side characters such as Astrid and Rachel’s friend from university. The characters were all so well developed and unique, and I found myself devouring the whole of the series over the course of the year. I’m going to need them to make the next two movies ASAP.
- Mirage by Somaia Daud
Mirage was a book I got in an OwlCrate, and I knew next to nothing about it. The premise sounded interesting, but I didn’t have a ton of motivation to pick it up immediately. However, it fit for a prompt for a readathon I was doing, so I picked it up and I really enjoyed it. It was a sci-fi read that also kind of gave me fantasy vibes, and I found it really interesting. I liked the main character and the way she walked a careful line. I definitely think I’ll be continuing on with this series.
- Hate List by Jennifer Brown
I knew next to nothing about Hate List when I picked it up from Book Outlet. I liked the summary and so I thought I would check it out. I went in with low expectations, but I fell in love with this story. It felt really unique, and I felt desperately sad for the protagonist. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for her to come back to school after her boyfriend killed a bunch of their school mates based off of a list they had made together. It’s a hard line to walk when you don’t know what might be a joke and what might be serious to someone, and I couldn’t help but feel sad for the main character as she struggled with the loss of her boyfriend, who despite killing their classmates she still loved, and the loss of her friends who pulled away from her after everything that happened. It was a really emotional, well written story and it took me completely by surprise.
What books surprised you in 2019? Let me know in the comments down below!