Top Ten Tuesday: Books My Bookclub Have Read

Posted August 11, 2020 by Nicky in General / 31 Comments

This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is books you love and haven’t reviewed, but I’ve been reviewing every book I’ve read for fifteen years now. So I’m going off-piste with a retrospective on my “book club”. I run it on Habitica, with a book each month, and I pick all the books based on my whim in that moment. I don’t guarantee the books’ quality or literary value or anything like that; it’s literally just a book I want to read, probably one I already own. It’s been a nice way to get some accountability for reading books from my shelves, and read alongside other people… without having to put up with anyone else’s taste in books. 😂

So here’s a shortlist of ones I’ve enjoyed discussing with the group…

Cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon Cover of Seeds of Science by Mark Lynas Cover of Pale Rider by Laura Spinney Cover of The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard Cover of Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac

  1. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon. I’ve actually not finished this one yet, since I’m also reading it with my Beeminder coworkers at a nice conservative rate everyone can stick to. We’re near the end now! I’ve really enjoyed it, and even enjoyed reading it in this really slow drip-wise fashion, because it was something I could always manage, no matter how crappy I was feeling about reading (or how daunted by the size of the book).
  2. Seeds of Science, by Mark Lynas. This is by someone who was previously really anti-GM, and came to change his mind. He picks away at some of the myths and lies around genetically modified food, and makes an excellent case for a rethink.
  3. Pale Rider, by Laura Spinney. I’ve read two books on the 1918 flu pandemic, and I honestly couldn’t choose one over the other; both looked at it from slightly different angles, though I think perhaps Spinney dug a bit further on the social and cultural effects.
  4. The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. I kept thinking this wouldn’t be my thing, and then picked it for the book club to encourage me to give it a try. Lo and behold, I inhaled it! Such a fascinating mixture of mythologies, and a fantastic setting.
  5. Murder by Matchlight, by E.C.R. Lorac. I’m not sure if this was the first book I read by E.C.R. Lorac… it might have been. Either way, it was the one that switched her work from the “it’s a British Library Crime Classic, so I’ll probably get it and try it” to “I’ll pick up anything I find by her”. Her mysteries are often deeply rooted in a place, so that you can almost smell the farms or the fires of the Blitz.
  6. The Bell at Sealey Head, by Patricia McKillip. Pretty much anything by McKillip is going to be interesting, though I sometimes find the conclusions to her stories a bit difficult to follow. The Bell at Sealey Head was one I tore through, though.
  7. Provenance, by Ann Leckie. I’d have read this one anyway, and the Habitica challenge might actually have been for a reread for me. I love Provenance a lot; it’s not doing the same things as the Imperial Radch books, and it doesn’t feel the same in terms of narration or characters or plot. I think that led some people to be disappointed in it, but I wasn’t.
  8. Hild, by Nicola Griffith. Confession: I still haven’t actually finished this. But some of the descriptions are just perfect and beautiful, and I still mean to come back and finish it.
  9. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. I probably wouldn’t have read this one without a book club, because YA with a contemporary setting isn’t normally my thing. I’m really glad I did, though; this book deserves all the hype.
  10. Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart. I should really read the second book in this series, because I read the first book sooo fast. As I recall, it wasn’t a universal win in the book club… but I really enjoyed the story, and appreciated learning about the real Constance Kopp as well.

Cover of The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip Cover of Provenance by Ann Leckie Cover of Hild by Nicola Griffith Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Cover of Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

One thing I want to do going forward is diversify the picks a bit — there have been authors of various marginalisations in the lineup, but I can do better. Luckily I’ve been picking up plenty of books that will qualify for that, in the past year!

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31 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Books My Bookclub Have Read

  1. Wow! I’m seriously impressed that you’ve reviewed every book you’ve read for fifteen years! I am always playing catch up with myself! Do you write them as soon as you finish the book?

    Great list too, by the way. I also enjoyed Girl Waits With Gun and I really want to read The Priory of the Orange Tree so I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it! 😀

    • I used to! I’m slow now and they’re not always posted somewhere because my organisation is bad, which is a bit of a shame. I got into the habit with using Goodreads, and never really lost it!

      It’s really good! I’m nearly done with it and then I admit I will be a bit disappointed.

    • It has some really great descriptions I keep thinking about (like describing how two different languages sound in just this perfect way)! I recommend it if you like historical fiction, even though I haven’t finished it yet.

    • It’s very useful, too! It’s also fascinating to look back at my original reviews of books I’m rereading. Often I agree with myself, but there have been some stark differences too…

    • It can be great! But there are upsides to book clubs where everyone takes turns, too… I was part of one in Goodreads in my formative years and met a lot of awesome books I might not have tried. I miss that group!

  2. Reviewing for that many years is no easy feat, I actually commend you. The Hate U Give is easily one of my favorite reads of 2020! Seeds of Science looks so interesting and cool yet I’m kind of skeptical because if it’s too much “science” into it I’ll most likely fall asleep while reading it lol.

    Here’s my TTT if you’re willing to check it out! 🙂

    • Sorry for my very late reply, and apologies I won’t be visiting back this time! Super overwhelmed and just trying to get back in control. Normally I would visit in return!

      Seeds of Science was great, and definitely not too scientific — IIRC, the writer is not a scientist. 🙂

  3. Sounds like my kind of bookclub, haha, where I pick the books! Seriously though, The Priory of the Orange Tree is one I may tackle one of these days. I’m super curious about that one! 🙂
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  4. Jo

    I AM IN AWE. A written review (however short) for every single book read in the last 15 years is incredible. I only started writing actual reviews on Goodreads in 2017 I think, around the same time I discovered the wonders of watching people on youtube talking about books (who knew there was such a thing!), but even then, sometimes I start typing away in a blaze of glory and end petering out as I get bored or just run out of steam. Even for some of my most beloved books, I have reviews that started off well enough and have since remained unfinished. It seems I’m a mood reviewer as well as a mood reader, or perhaps I just need to be more self-disciplined considering it is something I chose to do.

    I’m also in awe of the variety of what you read too. I know far too many people who read the same old same old all the time, and I don’t just mean in terms of authors, or even genres, but down the sug-genres and the tropes (esp. in romance which I read a lot of) and they just never stray. I will kind of include myself in that as far as my non-romance picks go because I’ve yet to try so many of the new to me genres on my radar and certainly haven’t picked up anywhere near as much translated and other international books as I would like.

    Your comment at the end of your post about marginalisations and diversifying… you already do so much better than probably 70% of the people I tend to correspond with online, and some of those are people who proudly wave the ‘I read diversely’ flag!

    In terms of the books you mentioned, I will freely admit I’m scared to pick up THUG, not because I won’t enjoy it (I know I will), but because I’m a highly emotive person and get caught up in my feelings easily when reading books, even those that are not particularly good (I love angsty romance lol!), but when that feeling is anger… no rage, I have a hard time with it and that is the emotion I’m sure to feel with that one. I’ve got The Priory of the Orange Tree on my TBR, and a few books each by Aliette de Bodard, Patricia A. McKillip and Ann Leckie. 2020 was the year I was going to try more high fantasy and sci-fi but alas… things fell apart and so I am mostly resorting to romance – although I’m branching out with much more HR, including Regency which I’ve never read before this year.

    Lastly, I’m particularly interested in your take on Priory as I’ve seen it literally ripped to shreds by quite a lot of reviewers and loved by a minority of others but not much in between. Those types of books, even if not ones I’m interested in reading always fascinate me into reading/watching/listening to all the opinions on. And if I am interested because the premise or other things about the books appeals to me like this one, no other opinion will put me off reading it, no matter how bad.

    • Thanks so much for your long comment! I’m super overwhelmed and not doing very well, so I haven’t been able to reply at length. <3 I did recently write my review of Priory of the Orange Tree, if you're still interested!

  5. I couldn’t be in a book club, real life or virtual! I have such specific tastes in books that I couldn’t force myself to read other people’s choices or read at a group speed!

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