This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X”. This is kind of a tough one, because I’m not really sure what to go for. My taste is pretty broad, but I know most people’s isn’t, so… (On the other hand, if I picked comics, it’d be Batgirl, Captain America, Spider-man and Young Avengers, and then I’d be running out.) So instead I decided I’d go for ten different values of X.
- Regency romance: The author is unquestionably Georgette Heyer, but which book…? Well, I started with The Talisman Ring, and adored it: I was a convert on the spot. I also enjoyed The Grand Sophy very much.
- Superhero comics: Ultimate Spider-man. It’s fun, you don’t need to know any back story, and it does start to bring you into the Marvel universe, with appearances from other characters like Daredevil, the X-men, Human Torch, etc.
- LGBT YA: David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. So bloody adorable.
- Medieval-ish fantasy: While I love Tolkien, I think I have to award this spot to the more accessible Robin Hobb. She has a great narrative voice and a knack for characters you will love. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice; you may wish to skip the Liveships trilogy entirely, as I found that more uneven and full of characters I didn’t want to spend time with.
- Renaissance fantasy: Yep, ha, a technicality. Scott Lynch is my recommendation here, especially if you like the loveable rogue. Main downside is how long it takes for us to even see the most important female character of the series: she isn’t in the first two books.
- Golden Age crime fiction: Dorothy L. Sayers is my pick, without a doubt. I found that I needed to read a few books to get really into the character of her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, which may be a problem. I might almost suggest beginning with a later book, perhaps Strong Poison. But if you’re willing to let a character grow on you, start at the beginning with Whose Body?
- Alternate history: Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy wins hands down. Farthing is, for bonus points, a loving pastiche of Sayers’ work, although it is also a serious and harrowing tale of appeasing the Nazis and the world that creates.
- Speculative fiction: I’m going to go for something a little off the beaten path here. Try The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach. It completely enchanted me.
- Cheesy space opera: Philip Palmer. Or at least, Debatable Space, Artemis and Version 43. High octane fun! I found a lot of fault with these, but I also had a whale of a time.
- Non-fiction (science/history): The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The ethical issues this raises are well worth grappling with.
Somewhat random list, I know…
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “how many books do you own the most from”. I’m gonna be totally unscientific here and just take some wild guesses.
- Jo Walton. I own all her books, often in several formats. I think this one’s a safe bet.
- Ngaio Marsh. I have all those omnibuses. Omnibii?
- Robin Hobb. I’ve been reading everything she writes since I was, uh, thirteen ish?
- Guy Gavriel Kay. Again with the multiple formats.
- Ursula Le Guin. I don’t own everything she’s done, and I don’t usually have multiple copies, but I think she might still outnumber eveeeryone else. She’s just so good, I’m willing to try anything she’s done.
- Steven Brust. This is Jo Walton’s fault. I haven’t even read most of them yet.
- Tanya Huff. This is a guess, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ve bought most of her books, though I haven’t read them all yet.
- J.R.R. Tolkien. Everything bar the twelve volume history of Middle-earth, I think. Multiple editions.
- The Gawain-poet. Whoever he (or she?) was. I own so many translations — probably at least nine?
- The Beowulf-poet. I’m not quite as big a fan as I am of the Gawain-poet, but still. I’ve got a facing translation one, Heaney’s, Tolkien’s… the list goes on.
So, what about everyone else? Strangely, Dorothy L. Sayers does not make the cut, because I borrowed my copies to read.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the kind of thing I’m usually bad at, but I’ll have a go. “Top ten characters I’d want with me on a desert island”, gogogo. Including comics characters in this list because I review comics here too!
- Aragorn, from The Lord of the Rings: Because he has all the camping skill and life experience. He’d totally be able to find us shelter and figure stuff out. If he can manage hobbits, he could take care of me. For one thing, I don’t eat as much.
- Tony Stark, from Iron Man: Because he’d think of a way off the desert island, using random scrap if necessary.
- Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games: Again, she knows her survival stuff. And she can hunt, if the island is big enough.
- Will Stanton, from The Dark is Rising: Because then I’d never be lacking a conversation partner, at least.
- Cath Avery, from Fangirl: Because, well, fangirling. And we could bond over social anxiety.
- FitzChivalry Farseer, from Assassin’s Apprentice: He’d be able to make sure we didn’t poison ourselves, he could communicate with animals for us, and my mum would be totally jealous.
- Nighteyes, from Assassin’s Apprentice: Who knows when a wolf might come in handy — and besides, you wouldn’t want to separate Nighteyes and Fitz; they’re a package deal.
- Sabriel, from Sabriel: Again, she’s competent, capable of looking after herself, she might be able to whistle up a Paperwing to fly some of us out of there or go into Death to send a message for help or something, and in the first book at least she’s close-ish to my age — younger, but mature. So we’d have stuff in common, I think.
- Billy Kaplan, from Young Avengers: He can alter reality with his mind. ’nuff said.
- Gwaihir the Windlord, from The Lord of the Rings: I’m sure if we were nice to him he’d fly everyone off the island, or at least go for help. Maybe he should’ve been my #1.
Well, that’s… probably a fairly unusual list, though I bet other people have said Katniss!
Top Ten Tuesday is a bit different this week — top ten movies or TV shows. Hmmm. I don’t actually watch much TV, and getting round to watching films is hard for me, so you might find this list surprisingly outdated.
- Iron Man 3: Tony Stark has panic attacks. Pepper gets superpowers. I love the way they handle the racist trope of the Mandarin.
“How can you tell?”
“Because we’re connected.”
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: On your left! Because I love the comic, I love the way they adapted it, I love the politics of it, and I love what the MCU does with Steve’s character. He can be a dick in the comics, but in the film, he’s a good guy struggling to reconcile his morals with a drastically changed world, and he does it while making me want to hug him. Also: who the hell is Bucky?
“Can any of you boys direct me to the Smithsonian? I’m here to pick up a fossil.”
- Howl’s Moving Castle: It cuts a lot of aspects I like from the book (like the whole fact of Howl being Welsh), but I still really love it. It’s one of my comfort films. Calcifer is just… <3
“She likes my spark!”
- Spirited Away: I don’t think I have a pithy quote from this one, I just love it all.
- due South: Childhood nostalgia. Fraser was my first squish. And just… <3 Also, one of the few successful major actor-swaps between seasons I know of.
“She shot me in the hat, Ray.”
- Stardust: Again, it’s not a perfect translation of the book, it definitely changes things, but it makes a great adaptation.
“Would I be correct in thinking that you can neither see nor hear me? Then I’d like to tell you that you smell of pee. You look like the wrong end of a dog. And I swear if I don’t get my Tristan back as he was, I’ll be your personal poltergeist!”
- Apollo 13: I have a lot of feelings about this film. The first time, it made me cry, even though I knew they were going to get safely home.
“We just put Sir Isaac Newton in the driver’s seat. “
- Firefly & Serenity: Yeah, of course they’re on this list. I love the crew, I love everyone, and I hate Joss Whedon. Understood? (Well, really, I hate Fox.)
“I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.”
- Castle: More Nathan Fillion! Also, best father-daughter friendship in the ‘verse. Beckett’s kickass too, but for me, the relationship between Rick and Alexis is centre stage.
“He’s like a 9 year old on a sugar rush.”
- NCIS: This is part because it’s awesome, part because Grandad loved it and now when I watch it I think of him. His favourite character was Abby. “She’s crazy,” he’d say. “I like her.”
“I’ve never experienced Gibbs without his morning coffee. We’re in uncharted waters here, Kate.”
And now I should get ready for my volunteering shift, but I’ll be back later to see what everyone else’s talking about!
I was bad at participating in this one last week — I did my own post, but I don’t think I commented on any others. I meant to, but stuff kept happening. I feel like a bad book blogger! And on that note, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “top ten blogging confessions”.
- I’m starting to have trouble getting round to reading longer books/series because I feel like I should be reviewing more often. This was totally encouraged by GR’s reading challenge and stuff like that. I’m trying to be more sensible about it, but it’s strange; I used to rip right through even really long books, but now that I worry about not being able to do so, somehow I have a problem.
- Sometimes I equivocate far too much writing a review because people whose opinions I respect liked the book, and I just didn’t. Or an editor/publisher I normally think is great, or want to support, put out the book. Or I know the author a bit on twitter and I’m afraid they’ll find it. (N.B. In that case, I usually go with rating it with my gut feeling, but the review will probably talk about why it wasn’t my thing instead of me saying anything bad about the book itself.)
- I find it hard to be social with other book bloggers. I have a pretty broad range of interests, so that makes some meme posts and so on really weird — I might know some of the books they’re reading, but often they won’t know any of mine, or they don’t even venture into whatever genre I’m currently most into. Then I feel awkward and not sure if I’m really having fun interacting, or just doing it to get page views. (Given the number of books I’m finding through blogs, though, I’m pretty sure it’s the former.)
- My mother reads my blog. You see “alc3261” commenting? Yeah. Hi, Mum.
- I am way, way behind on reading/blogging about ARCs. I really need to have a ban on asking for any more, but as soon as I make that resolution, something awesome shows up.
- I don’t like anyone else trying to dictate the content of my blog. So if someone’s publicist sets up an interview with them or something on my blog, I get pretty twitchy when they start saying that I have to link to certain things, say certain things, not say others. Sometimes I’ll work around that (it’s natural to remind me to link to a pre-order page or something!); other times, it might end up making me not want to work with the company again.
- I keep starting new books before I’ve finished the old ones. And buying new books, too. Ahem. I’ve been trying to work on this, but honestly having the full list of books I technically have in progress might be putting me off. Time to weed it out?
- I have no idea what people will find interesting, most of the time. Like, memes, well, people are doing those, so maybe they’ll provide some relevant content. But when I write about the stuff that really matters to me (mental health, access to reading after sight loss, or my interview with Carrie Patel, just for example), I get fretful about whether it gets hits/comments, etc.
- I rarely have more than one post scheduled. I could get really organised and sort out some of my meme posts weeks in advance, but I’ve always been more one to play it by ear. Although I’m doing better at remembering to do this stuff than I ever did at remembering my homework.
- I go through phases. I tend to have a fairly cyclical approach to my hobbies. The main five, I guess, are reading, writing, gaming, running, and crochet. I’ve been on more of a reading phase for quite a while now, but writing and gaming are in the ascendent right now. This may mean fewer posts… It probably won’t, though, because reading is always my dominant hobby.
Don’t forget to link me to your TTT posts, people — or anything you’ve written in the last week that you think is interesting and would like some eyes/comments on!
This is gonna be a really quick Top Ten Tuesday post, because it’s now very early on Wednesday, and I’m a very sleepy Nikki. I’ll be commenting on other people’s posts tomorrow; for now I’m just turning in my work, doing this post, and going to bed!
So this week’s theme is ten classic books, either favourites or going to read. I’ll go with ‘going to read’, and pick from the Fantasy Masterworks series by Gollancz, because I actually a) own a bunch of those already and b) need to finish reading them.
- The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe. I already know I enjoy Gene Wolfe’s work, even if it’s prone to making my head spin with the complexity/weirdness. I’ve had these books for a while now, since I read some really good reviews of them; now it’s just getting over the fact that I know it’s going to make my head spin!
- Little, Big, by John Crowley. I’ve been meaning to read this for even longer than I’ve been meaning to read Gene Wolfe. I think someone recommended it to me back when I read Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I’m not sure if it’s actually similar, or if there’s just similar themes, or if this person just knew I read a bit of everything anyway.
- Suldrun’s Garden, by Jack Vance. Yet another that I’ve been meaning to read forever. I think I originally picked it up just because of the reference to Lyonesse, wondering if it was Arthurian at all. Since then I’ve just heard it touted as some of the greatest fantasy ever. I doubt it’s going to topple my favourite (go on, guess), but that’s a promising lead-in.
- Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirlees. This list is mostly showing me how far behind I am on my reading list, since this is another I’ve been planning to read for ages. I’ve actually glanced at the first few pages before, and it looks like fun…
- The Compleat Enchanter, by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. This hasn’t been on my list that long — just sense I read 100 Must-read Fantasy Novels, I think. I like parallel world stories.
- The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison. Tolkien was a fan. Next?
- Was, by Geoff Ryman. I keep looking at this and feeling unsure. It being based on linkages between people based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz books gives me pause.
- The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia McKillip. I love Patricia McKillip, I don’t care what she writes about, I’m gonna read it. She writes so beautifully, and creates really interesting worlds.
- Replay, by Ken Grimwood. This intrigues me because when I was a young teen, my mother prompted me for a story with a similar plot. I’m wondering if she ever read this and the idea just stuck in her mind, or if it was a coincidence.
- Time and Again, by Jack Finney. Time travel! And an author I admire recently mentioned this on twitter — I can’t remember who, but I know it brought the book to mind again. I think I already own a copy, so that’ll shuffle it up the list.
This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “top ten books on my TBR list this summer”. I don’t pick them for any particular summeryness, so it’s not especially topical: this is just a bunch of the books I really hope to get through this summer. I’ve split it into two sets of five, too; five new books, five rereads.
- The Burning Dark, by Adam Christopher. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, it keeps catching my eye, so hey, why not. And since it’s supposed to be creepy, maybe reading it in the bright sunshine will help avoid me getting too twitchy…
- Yendi, by Steven Brust. Because I’ve started it already and really should get on with it!
- Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. I like her style, and this’ll give me something relatively breezy to read. I might end up reading it while I’m ‘on duty’ at the clinic, in the quiet moments: I think it might suit that sort of reading, for me.
- Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean. I’ve had this on the in-progress pile for a little while now, to my shame. And I could do with the nostalgia for college right now.
- The Islands of Chaldea, by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones. I’ve been saving this for a rainy day, and there are plenty of those in Wales.
- The Fire’s Stone, by Tanya Huff. I’ve been meaning to reread this for a while, and Tanya Huff is always fun.
- Sunshine, by Robin McKinley. This has been on my list of favourite books for quiiiite a long time, but I haven’t read it recently.
- Lifelode, by Jo Walton. I’m rereading a lot of Jo’s work at the moment, and Lifelode is pretty special. I’m looking forward to reading it again.
- Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey. Because hey, werewolves! Sorta. And I still haven’t read the second book.
- The Drowning City, by Amanda Downum. I remember really liking this, and I first read it a few summers ago, so it seems like high time.
Hooray, another Top Ten Tuesday post, run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year. Luckily, I have no lack of awesome books that I’ve been reading. I’ll link to my reviews on this blog. These are not in order of awesomeness, I couldn’t manage that! I’m not including rereads, or Jo Walton would swamp everything.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier, by Ed Brubaker et al. I just. All the feels.
- Spillover, by David Quammen. This one was fascinating. Lots and lots of stuff about not just the way animal diseases spill over into humans, but on the way humans interact with the environment, how we come into contact with these kinds of diseases.
- The Universe Versus Alex Woods, by Gavin Extence. I loved this, and really didn’t expect to. The quirky friendship, the bonding over books, and the things Alex ends up doing for that friendship. It’s beautiful and I’m pretty sure I cried. It deals with a topic that’s really important to me, too — as it happens, my tithe this month went to Dignity in Dying, campaigning for the right to voluntary euthanasia in this country.
- What Makes This Book So Great, by Jo Walton. I love this as a resource for more books to read, and as a way to read insightful discussions about books and get a different perspective on them. Also, it’s just a really good read.
- Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. I think this one may have surprised people who know me, but somehow I just adored it. Good building of characters, and I like the way the love story comes about.
- Cuckoo Song, by Frances Hardinge. Got this as an ARC, had it finished before the end of the day. Just captivating. I love that it’s a changeling story, and the story itself doesn’t work out the way you might expect.
- My Real Children, by Jo Walton. Can’t miss this one out. I was uncertain how I felt about the style and structure, and then right at the end Jo pulled everything together and made it work. And despite a certain simplicity about it, I cried — multiple times.
- Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, by J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Christopher Tolkien. I’ve been waiting for this for, literally, years. I always hoped Christopher Tolkien would publish this, and stop holding it back. The translation is interesting, but actually what really excited me were Tolkien’s in depth notes on just about every aspect of the poem, including close reading of the actual Anglo-Saxon words.
- Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues, by Gail Simone et al. I only really knew of Red Sonja as a sexist symbol whose image caused some trouble in the SF/F community. So I wasn’t sure about trying this out, but I’d heard good things about Gail Simone. And it turns out she created a good story with fun characters, full of powerful women who are not perfect, but who are compelling and are not just fan service.
- The Broken Land, by Ian McDonald. I wasn’t expecting to love this one so much, but it fascinated me. It creates a world that’s different to pretty much anything else I can think of, and comments on civil wars and the rifts they can create. It’s not light reading, but I thought it was good.
I haven’t done the Top Ten Tuesday thing for a while, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but I like this topic — top ten books about friendship.
- A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin. The friendship between Ged and Vetch, the quiet solid thereness of it… you know for sure that Vetch would never let you down if he could help it.
- The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. I actually thought of this because they’ve got it in their list, but it’s still true. Frodo and Sam, Legolas and Gimli… even, in a way, Frodo and Gollum, because Frodo manages to reach out with pity and sympathy to Smeagol.
- The Prize in the Game,Jo Walton. Ferdia and Darag. “Your name in my heart,” indeed. (Okay, there’s romantic aspects to that, but I think first and foremost they’re friends.)
- The Grey King, Susan Cooper. Bran and Will. The way they fit together, understand each other better than anyone else, and the way they still hurt each other because neither of them is perfect.
- Captain Marvel, Kelly Sue DeConnick. Carol and Steve! Carol and Jessica! Carol and Monica!
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ed Brubaker. Steve and Bucky. Just, Steve and Bucky. I know this is a movie quote but, “I’m with you till the end of the line.”
- The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay. Paul and Kevin, primarily, although all the bonds between the group are great. Kim and Jennifer, particularly. Just the way there are these deep loves that come entirely out of friendship. Guy Gavriel Kay is also pretty good at this in other books, too, like Tigana.
- The Universe Versus Alex Woods, Gavin Extence. Alex and Mr. Peterson. So unlikely, and yet Extence made me believe in it.
- Sword at Sunset, Rosemary Sutcliff. Arthur and Bedwyr. Ouch, ouch. “I could have cried out to him, as Jonathan to David, by the forbidden love names that are not used between men; I could have flung my arms around his shoulders.”
- Good Omens, Neil Gaiman. Crowley and Aziraphale. Because of course.
I am a little bothered by the fact that almost all of those are male friendships. It’s partly a function of the books I’ve loved since I was a kid, before I was really choosy in any way about what I read, but still. Rec me your books with female friendship!
Some other blogs I follow do this meme, every Tuesday, and it seemed like a good idea. So! This week the top ten theme picked by The Broke and the Bookish is “top ten new-to-me authors in 2013”. This is pretty hard — I’m rubbish at picking top tens — but hey, with this one I just need to use Goodreads and look among my four and five starred books for this year, and hopefully I should be able to figure something out. They will not, I warn, be in any particular order.
- Cassandra Rose Clarke. I loved The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, which reminded me of a more daring, personal The Positronic Man (Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg). All sorts of themes which I love, and there’s something so powerfully sensual about it, too — there’s a physicality to it that surprised me and moved me.
- Georgette Heyer. I think I may technically have read one or two of her detective novels in 2012, but I kept away from her Regency romances, because I thought that was obviously not my thing. How wrong I was! The Talisman Ring, The Reluctant Widow and The Grand Sophy were probably my favourites. Heyer’s romances are actually way more fun (for me) than her detective novels, and often wickedly funny too.
- Karen Lord. I’ve only read part of The Best of All Possible Worlds, but I’m enjoying it, and I really loved Redemption in Indigo. Folk-story type narration and structure, awesome female characters, etc.
- Martha Wells. I’ve only read City of Bones, but I loved it. Non-traditional gender stuff, avoids the easy way out, lots of tasty, tasty world building. I think I’ve bought almost all the rest of her books as a result.
- Franny Billingsley. Oh my goodness, Chime. Just, oh my goodness. I loved the narration, the magic, the things it said about abuse and surviving and living again. I also enjoyed The Folk Keeper and Well Wished — less so, and they’re less touching/heavy subjects, but they’re a lot of fun too.
- Arthur C. Clarke. Yeah, I know, I’m a bit late on this one. But I really enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey. I didn’t realise that I’d enjoy his writing style so much — I had him sort of filed away as maybe like H.G. Wells, interesting for ideas but not quite entertaining. Wroooong.
- Lord Dunsany. Yeah, again, I know. I read Time and the Gods and am determined to spend more time reading his stuff: it’s just the sort of mythic, rich stuff I can really dig into.
- C.J. Sansom. I’ve been meaning to read his stuff for quite a while, but this year I finally got round to it. I enjoy his writing style, and while there are bones I have to pick with the Shardlake books, I do enjoy his way of portraying that time period and his choice of protagonist.
- Chris F. Holm. About time another Angry Robot author showed up, doncha think? I love Dead Harvest, etc: it’s funny, it’s a good pastiche of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett et al., and the covers are amazing. I just had so much fun reading these books.
- David Weber. He and Aliette de Bodard fought a fierce battle for this last spot, but he won. I loved On Basilisk Station, despite many flaws I could find in it. I mean, ten pages of exposition slap bang in the middle of an epic space chase/battle. WHAT. But still. I love Honor and I’m looking forward to reading more of the series.
I’m being good and sticking to the letter of the law: only a top ten. The top ten books I read in 2013 is coming up not next week but the week after: goodness knows how I’ll manage with that. But for now, off I go to bury my nose in the pages of I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Alan Bradley).