Spell My Name in Books

I first saw the “spell my name in books” trend going around on Instagram stories. The “Add Yours” feature made it a popular thing for people to share and participate in. I almost did it there too, but then I realized that it could work beautifully as a blog post (so I can ramble too).

My interpretation of this trend is to spell my name in books with titles that have impacted me in some way or are responsible for something about who I am as a reader. It made sense to me that if I were spelling my name, the books I chose should have some special importance to me. And I think it gives people an insight into the kind of reader I am, especially if you’re new to my content or don’t know me much as a reader.

It was fun to go through my reading list on The StoryGraph, sorting everything by alphabetical order and picking out the books I wanted for each letter. These aren’t all the books I’ve read, it’s only the stuff I’ve been tracking since I started using Goodreads seriously back in 2014. Adding everything I’ve read would be a tiring feat that tests my memory and my ability to find titles based on vague synopses that I remember. For all our sakes, it was best that I stuck with the 300+ titles I’ve carefully tracked over the past six years.

Here are the books I chose to spell my name.

C - Cultish by Amanda Montell

Non-fiction isn’t usually a genre that sticks with me, mostly because a lot of what I read was for school. Cultish was the first book I saw that made me go “I want to read that immediately,” mostly because I have a fascination with cults. After seeing this either on Twitter or TikTok, I made a note to get it as soon as possible.

What makes me love this book so much is that it changed the way I thought about cults. Before this, I always thought that cults were groups of people in white dresses following a weird bearded dude who talks about nonsense all the time. Surprise surprise, that’s not the only kind of cult there is.

This made me so much more aware of what makes up cults and more aware of the modern cults that people knowingly or unknowingly join. Plus, it almost counts as true crime and that makes me happy.

Read my review.

H - Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

This isn’t my favorite of Sager’s work, but it was the first book of his that proved to me that he could write something unpredictable. It was my last read of 2020, allowing me to end the reading year on a pretty good note. It also made me want to see what else Sager could do when I wasn’t guessing his plot twists.

While I don’t consider him to be a favorite author, I have enjoyed his books and I think he does a pretty good job of creating interesting twists. Particularly in this case, I had no idea what to expect. It was only after this that I learned his writing formula, which has remained true for the three other books of his that I’ve read.

At the very least, I consider Sager to be an author whose work I can follow on an annual basis. It would be nice to see him write something more original again, along the veins of The Last Time I Lied, which I think is his best book yet.

Read my review.

A - Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

For years, this has been one of my favorite classics. I first read it at my second cousin’s house, then listened to it many times as an audiobook. I loved watching Anne grow up and finding the ways in which I related to her. We’re both hot-tempered, impatient, imaginative people who tend to get in trouble because we speak before thinking.

There’s so much about this book that I continue to learn from. Having read the first three books many times, I find that something new stands out to me each time I pick them up. For one, they’ve taught me to appreciate the little things. I will never have the whimsical nature that Anne has, but sometimes I find myself repeating things she says during her early days at Green Gables when things go bad.

Plus, this is the origin of me loving a slow-burn romance that counts as both enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers. I would love to find a Gilbert Blythe of my own one day.

Read my review.

R - Rebel by Marie Lu

Ahh, the ending to one of my favorite YA dystopian series ever. My love for these books and characters know no bounds. I will protect them for the rest of my life and seriously need to de a re-read sometime this year.

It was so much fun to have June and Day be part of my teenage years. Specifically, Day was the first time I’d really read about an Asian main character who was also an incredibly attractive love interest. Technically, he’s half-Asian, but it was a kind of representation I’d never seen before. It wasn’t until these books that I believed Asian characters could be the lead.

Marie Lu has also solidified herself as an author I admire. She was the first Chinese-American author I discovered. Seeing her name and picture on a best-selling book made me believe that I could see my name on a book in stores one day. It was a realization that Asians could make it in the industry and be considered successful. To this day, I am immensely thankful for that.

Read my review.

M - My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

I’ve only heard a single person talk about this and that is Cat from LittleBookOwl. She recommended the book and I knew I had to find it somehow. That day came when I was browsing a library with Maggie, my friend and former roommate, one day. I checked the book out that day and read it over winter break at Maggie’s house.

To this day, it’s one of the best YA thrillers I’ve read. It’s the whole idea that you know something you can’t prove, but no one believes you. And nothing is more interesting than the idea of a child psychopath, especially because psychopathy (Anti-Social Personality Disorder, if you’re really wanting me to be technical) is undiagnosable until an individual turns 18.

I still say that I want a physical copy of my own so I can re-read it. Writing this blog post gives me half a mind to go buy a copy right now. I really might do it…

Read my review.

A - A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Can I write any list without including a V.E. Schwab book? Am I really a fan of hers if I’m not raving about her all the time?

Okay okay, so I’ve only read the first book in this trilogy because I’m - say it with me - bad at finishing series. Still, it counts because I love anything Schwab writes. They have a way of building worlds and characters that feels so real. After attending their recent author chat for Gallant, I have a better understanding of what I love her work.

But back to this book - I love Lila. That’s basically my reasoning for this. I love Kell too, but Lila is my girl and I would do anything to be more like her. But also maybe Kell could be my boyfriend and I would be okay with that.

(Apparently I don't have a review for this but I could have sworn that I did)

I - I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

If you didn’t go through a phase of desperately wanting to be a secret agent, we can’t really be friends. I DEVOURED these books, wishing that I’d end up being a late bloomer who could make it into a secret spy school and end up with all sorts of special talents and speak 19 different languages.

Even now, I think about these books a lot and want to do a re-read of them. I still aspire to end up being a spy at some point in my life. There’s still a huge part of me that wishes I was some kind of prodigy that could get recruited. In fact, I wish that so much that Project GHOST was partially inspired by my immense love of spy stories in general.

N - Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

It feels so weird to think about how recently I read this trilogy, but it feels like I’ve loved it for years. I had a copy of the first book - Shadow of the Fox - because my sister accidentally bought two copies without realizing it. She made me take the extra copy and I decided to read it for #AsianReadathon2020. Then I fell in love with a broody yokai hunter and the rest was history.

Okay maybe that’s not entirely right, but I do love Tatsumi a lot. The world-building and storytelling were everything I needed at that time. Something so immersive that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Pretty much right after I finished it, I texted Maggie that she needed to read it because it was the kind of fantasy we both loved. And we do both love it a lot.

The trilogy taught me more about Japanese mythology, which has interested me since I started seriously watching anime in my early teens. There’s something about how Japanese culture and language are perfectly infused in this story that makes it so much fun to read. I’m upset that it’s barely ever talked about, but at the same time, I’m happy that I don’t have to share this with a lot of people.

Read my review.

E - Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I kick myself a little for not reading my ARC of this right when I got it. This was during my early days of blogging and using NetGalley. The premise sounded interesting and I got approved, but didn’t read it before the release date. Then it came out and there was so much hype around it in the first 24 hours that I couldn’t believe I didn’t get to be one of the people who was early in the hype train.

More so, this was the beginning of my love for Nicola Yoon’s work in general. I have no idea how she’s only released three books so far, but her books are among the few contemporaries I’ll definitely pick up when they’re released. I enjoy the way she develops characters and spins a story together. It’s effortless and fun, making them quick and easy reads.

Plus, all her books have stunning covers that make for some of the best photos I’ve taken on my Bookstagram. While I don’t own this book of hers, I’m lucky to have the Barnes & Noble Collector’s Edition of The Sun is Also a Star and the signed edition of Instructions for Dancing on my shelves.

Read my review.

While going through this list, I debated whether or not I’d add my last name. As I had to pick out the books I wanted for each letter, it became clear that having my last name would allow me to sneak in a few more books that make me who I am.

L - Locke & Key by Joe Hill

Horror is not a genre I read much of, but I have always been intrigued by Hill’s stories. Even before I found out that he’s Stephen King’s son, I thought there was something interesting about the books he published. I never fully worked up the courage to pick up one of his novels, but I was very interested in trying this graphic novel series.

These were some of the last books I read in 2020. Graphic novels aren’t usually a part of my reading line up, but I had a really great time with these. They were easy to get through, the story was incredibly captivating, and there was so much for me to look at in the art. They’re not explicitly horror, but there are enough creepy moments to fall under the genre.

Having read these, I think I could pick up one of Hill’s books in the future. The ones that interest me the most are NOS4R2 (which I didn’t realize was pronounced “Nosferatu” until someone said it) and The Fireman. We’ll see what my bookshelves say about adding some horror to the lineup.

Read my review.

I - I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Is it a list of mine without actual true crime on the list? I didn’t think so.

I’d heard really great things about this book and McNamara coined the Golden State Killer name. As someone who has always dreamed of stumbling across unsolved crimes and finding the culprit, this book called out to me deeply. I got it as an audiobook and spent the last of my 2018 summer break listening to it as I cleaned bathrooms.

Something about hearing McNamara’s story come to life, her obsession with finding a killer who had gone free for over four decades, made me wish that I could find my way into investigative journalism. Of all the branches of journalism, I think that’s what I would have enjoyed the most. I was fascinated that the GSK had evaded authorities for so many years, that he managed to go silent for 30+ years after 12 years of crime.

To this day, I wish McNamara was able to see the success of her book. To know that the GSK is safely behind bars. I cried while listening to the afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt. Truly, this book has inspired me. If the day ever comes that I chase an unsolved case, I hope to do it with the same determination McNamara had.

Read my review.

M - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Lastly, we can’t forget the importance of the Hunger Games series. It was what got me back into a voracious reading habit. I flew through all the books in the matter of a week and threw myself into finding out everything I could about the world and the movie that had just started filming at the time. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve always favored Gale over Peeta.

I thank this trilogy for introducing me to YA as a term, for being the reason I found BookTube and started blogging. So much of who I am as a reader and content creator now would not have happened if I hadn’t picked up these books back then. This blog, my Instagram, it probably wouldn’t have existed. I don’t think my bookshelves would be this extensive either.

Finding the online book community because of this trilogy showed me that there were other avid readers out there. That there was a way to find and track book releases. For the first time, I knew of other people who loved books as much as I did, who had far bigger book collections that I did. It was a whole new space that I fell in love with. I owe it all to The Hunger Games.

Well? I think that was a lot of fun. I think it gave quite a bit of insight into who I am as a reader, what my tastes are, and the things I’ve enjoyed since I started expanding my reading in 2014.

Many of the books I’ve chosen are ones I think about quite often. I’m happy to be reunited with so many of them after five long years away, and it’s nice to have them all on display again.

Were there any books that surprised you on my list? If you had to spell your name in books, would we have any in common?

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  • Jemi :) says:

    This is so cool! Makes me want to do it too 😀

    • Charmaine Lim says:

      You should! IDK where you'd post yours though unless you just make a list for yourself.

  • Joseph Lim says:

    Wow. I should try this too. Just that I have given or sold away so many of my books before coming back to Singapore.