Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday | Books with numbers in the title

Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday! I love these creative themes and they always get me remembering books I’ve not thought about in forever. This one is pretty self-explanatory, so here we go…

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Since I recently read and adored The Kite Runner, this has just been bumped up my TBR.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

I so enjoyed this journalistic tour de force, a deep dive into the love and sex lives of three real women. Check out my full review here.

One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David Nicholls

I know I’ve found a way to fit this into a top ten tuesday more than once, but I can’t help it. It’s so charming and moving and funny.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Back at the start of the pandemic, I was on a pandemic-book-themed reading sprint, and this was a very good addition to that oeuvre. Full review here.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 – famously the temperature at which books burn (cannot confirm). Not a book that I loved like I’d hoped I would, but a worthwhile read none the less. Full review here.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult’s books were the background to my mid-teen years, and while she doesn’t always get it right, she doesn’t shy away from heavy topics. And boy does that woman know how to write a page turner.

Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

Is this pushing the boundaries of the theme? Quite possibly. But it’s close enough. I don’t remember all that much about this book, which I read over 10 years ago, but I enjoyed the film (if enjoy is the right word).

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I’ve not read this nor do I really want to watch the TV adaptation, but I know it’s hugely popular and it fits the tag so here we are.

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Rachel Cusk, and I think I would enjoy her writing, but I’ve not yet summoned up the strength to give it a go.

Thanks for reading!

9 Titles That Made Want to Buy the Book

This is another Top Ten Tuesday, but since I am at the mercy of these WordPress layouts I’m resigned to just go with 9. Have you read any of these? What books have you bought on the basis of their title alone?

Books I’ve read with brilliant titles

Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory

The title was 100% the reason why I picked this otherwise slightly obscure short-story collection off the shelf – and boy am I glad I did. Equal parts tragic and funny, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – perhaps the best short story collection I’ve ever read.

Full review here

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

A stunning story that begins in 1940s Ireland and takes us through the decades of the life of Cyril Avery, a young man desperate to discover his identity.

Full review here.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

I could have equally picked Vuong’s poetry collection – Night Sky with Exit Wounds. This is his first novel, suffused with poetic detail, pain, pleasure and heartbreak.

Full review here.

And now on to the ones I’ve not read yet and what the critics have to say about them…

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

“A symphony of a novel. Sunil Yapa inhabits the skins of characters vastly different to himself: a riot cop in Seattle, a punk activist, a disillusioned world traveler and a high-level diplomat, among others. Through it all Yapa showcases a raw and rare talent. This is a protest novel which finds, at its core, a deep and abiding regard for the music of what happens. Yapa strives forward with a literary molotov cocktail to light up the dark.” — Colum McCann

An Artist of the Floating World

“In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro offers readers of the English language an authentic look at postwar Japan, “a floating world” of changing cultural behaviors, shifting societal patterns and troubling questions.” — Amazon

My Wild and Sleepless Nights

“The best evocation of the all-consuming, self-eroding reality of motherhood, while also being luminous with love.” — Sunday Times

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Okezi

“Ozeki weaves together Nao’s adolescent yearnings with Ruth’s contemplative digressions, adding bits of Zen wisdom, as well as questions about agency, creativity, life, death, and human connections along the way. A Tale for the Time Being is a dreamy, spiritual investigation of how to gracefully meet the waves of time, which, in the end, come for us all.”
—The Daily Beast

Cities I’ve Never Lived In

“Majka brings the reader to startling places. . . . From certain angles, it’s a kind of New England gothic, where the lost children and dead women and doppelgängers serve to add atmosphere and meaning to the narrator’s past peregrinations, her dalliances and uncertainties. It turns out in the end that this is in fact a book about an arty person with a complicated personal life. But it’s a lovely one, written in a moving and uncanny register.”―The New York Times Book Review

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

“A story about the dogged survival of hope when all else is lost . . . Messina shows us that even in the face of a terrible tragedy, such as an earthquake or a loss of a child, the small things – a cup of tea, a proffered hand – can offer a way ahead. Its meditative minimalism makes it a striking haiku of the human heart.” ― The Times (London)

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6 Books I Read In One Sitting

You may notice that this topic looks awfully like yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday, and you wouldn’t be wrong. I half drafted this weeks ago, and since then work has been very busy (I start my new job on Monday), then Tuesday came and went, so this is where we find ourselves…

The days of curling up with a book and reading non-stop now seem to be few and far between – but over the years I’ve had delightful read-in-one-sitting experiences. These are some of the most memorable.

One Day by David Nicholls

I took this with me on a 2-month trip to India in 2012, and the host family I stayed with definitely thought I was strange for being so absorbed in this book. Tony Parsons on the cover says it’s totally brilliant, and I can’t put it better myself. A contemporary classic (and I love the film, Ann Hathaway’s accent excepting).

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Holidays. The perfect time to indulge in lying-on-the-sofa-reading behaviours for days on end. I read Such A Fun Age during Thanksgiving 2019, and was so engrossed it even distracted me from shopping in the Black Friday sales.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

This was published on the 21st June 2003 – how is that a whopping 18 years ago? But I remember the day like it was yesterday – chasing the postman in his red Royal Mail van around the village so that I could get my hands on it as soon as humanly possible. I think my first read was over 2 days, and then I promptly started it all over again and finished it in 24 hours.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Everything I Know About Love accompanied me for a full cosy winter’s day in 2018 where I read it in one sitting, apart from breaks for tea and snacks. It feels like a chat with your best friend and is highly recommended millennial woman reading.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

One of my favourite books of all time from the greatest Modernist writer VW – I’ve read this in one sitting on multiple occasions. It’s a short one, too – so if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This may be cheating a little, as took me about a month to get through the first chapter, but after that I was hooked. I read the rest of the novel almost in one sitting lying on the bottom bunk in a hostel on the Chinese island of Hainan, in summer 2015, and I would not stop talking about it.

Thanks for reading! Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

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Top Ten Tuesday - Mardi Gras

Top Ten Tuesday | Yellow/Green/Purple covers in honour of Mardi Gras

Finally, a tangible pay-off for colour-coding my bookshelves! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a showcase of yellow/green/purple book covers in celebration of Mardi Gras, a festival I knew nothing about before moving to the US (we call it Shrove Tuesday in the UK, and it just involves eating as many pancakes as possible in one sitting). In normal times, thousands of people flock to New Orleans each year to celebrate the festival, with much merriment, elaborate costumes, and alcohol consumption.

Yellow

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

A 2020 Christmas gift and one I’m very much looking forward to.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

One of the most powerful books I read in 2020, spanning generations of African-American and Ghanaian history. Click here for my full review.

Olive by Emma Gannon

A refreshing exploration of the decision not to to have children, written with levity, humour and self-awareness. More thoughts in my review here.

Green

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Ava is an Irish millennial adrift in Hong Kong, and beyond that exposition, this is a hard one to describe in a sentence. Click here to see my full review.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is full of her trademark charm and wit, chronicling Nina’s experience dating in her 30s and maintaining friendships admist huge life changes. Full review here.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Gripping and immersive, I enjoyed this thriller-like exploration of Gilead and the fall of the monstrous regime made famous in The Handmaid’s Tale. Read my full review.

Purple

Saltwater to Jessica Andrews

A coming-of-age story told in a lyrical and fragmentary style, I’ve not yet picked up Saltwater but I’ve had my eye on it for a while now. Plus, that cover is my kind of thing.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I’ve still not read this classic piece of American literature, heralded as one of Toni Morrison’s most affecting and powerful novels, but it’s on my list.

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

Published a few weeks ago, this novel is described as having the ’emotional power of Normal People and the reflective haze of The Girls’ – and that’s enough to pique my interest.

Top 10 Tuesday | Books that Should be Adapted into TV Shows/Films

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

I feel like this might be controversial! I’m not a total purist when it comes to book>TV/film adaptations, though I do always approach a new adaptation with some trepidation, especially if it’s a beloved book (e.g. the BBC’s adaptation of YA series Noughts and Crosses, a staple of a nineties/early noughties British childhood, earlier this year). Here are the books that I would love to see adapted – and maybe some have adaptations already in the works…?

1) My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (Film)

My Dark Vanessa book review: A feverish post-#MeToo story | EW.com

Powerful and captivating, (not to mention marred in some controversy), this one has been everywhere this year, and for good reason. Telling the tale of a young teen groomed by her English teacher, this adaptation would have to tread very carefully, but if done right, would help bring this nuanced story to a new audience.

 

2) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (TV)

An impressive and affecting piece of historical fiction about two sisters, one sold into slavery in the Americas and one who marries a slave trader, and their subsequent descendants through the next three hundred years. The vast scope and ambition of this book make it best suited to a TV series – perhaps with one episode for each of the generations.

3) The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Film)

1940’s Ireland is not a good time to find yourself unmarried, pregnant, and alone on the sprawling streets of Dublin. What follows next is one of the most achingly funny and achingly sad books I’ve ever read, and while I’d be apprehensive about producers doing justice to this one, I would also love to see it on the big screen.

4) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Film)

The B&N Podcast: Tayari Jones on AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE - YouTube

Racism has always been endemic in American (and British) society. With the renewed spotlight on institutional racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, this would be an opportune moment to see this intimate and searching novel, about a Black man’s wrongful imprisonment in Georgia, US and the impact on his marriage, developed into a film. Highly recommended reading.

5) Our House by Louise Candlish (TV)

It’s no secret that I am a massive fan of a psychological thriller/domestic noir. I love literary thrillers, but I also love the escapism and indulgence of a really good commercial thriller, and Our House is one of those. Fi returns home from a romantic getaway to see removal men coming out of her house – thinking there must have been some terrible mistake. But she’s not mistaken. I can see this developed for a deliciously dark series in the vein of Harlan Coben’s The Stranger or Safe.

6) The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Film)

I say this with some trepidation, knowing the flop that was the adaptation of The Goldfinch last year (I’m no film buff, but I quite enjoyed it). But I love Donna Tartt’s rich world building and clever and creative characters, so I would be excited to see this come to life on the big screen.

7) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Film)

Hidden Gem: Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I don’t think I’ve spoken about it recently, so here we are: a profoundly absorbing, devastating and epic novel, taking us through decades of the life of four friends in NYC from their twenties to middle-age . I’m nervous about wishing for an adaptation here, too, as there is SO much that could go wrong. But I know that Hanya Yanagihara worked with a Dutch theatre company on a critically-acclaimed adaptation in 2014, so as long as she was at the helm, it might work…

8) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Film)

I’m surprised this hasn’t yet been adapted, because it is the absolute perfect novel for the big screen: set in 1950’s Barcelona, it follows a young boy, Daniel, on his obsession to find out more about mysterious writer, Julian Carax. Barcelona’s winding streets and gritty underworld are so meticulously crafted in a way that would be the perfect fit for a film.

9) All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Film)

Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-Winner will present All the Light We ...

I read this book five years ago, and it’s still one that I go back to as an example of near-perfect storytelling. Set during the Second World War and telling the interweaving stories of a French girl and a German boy, written is such an empathetic and lyrical way that it would be difficult for a translation to the screen, but boy, would I want to see one.

10) The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (TV)

I can see this charming contemporary read being the perfect Netflix and ice cream binge. On the surface, it’s a romance – but it also tackles trauma, the justice system, emotional abuse and manipulation, yet retains a deft lightness of touch which make it perfect to devour in a few sittings – in book or TV form.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Books with summer vibes

Out of respect for yesterday’s #BlackoutTuesday, I am posting this a day late. I will be reading, donating, and continuously learning about how I can give my support, and I encourage everyone to do the same: https://blacklivesmatter.com/ 


On a roll from participating in Top 10 Tuesday last week, I’m back at it again with ‘books with summer vibes.’ Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

1. The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls is set during the restless Californian summer of 1969, when our painfully awkward protagonist, Evie, is drawn into a cult living on the breadline in the Californian hills and led the charismatic egomaniac, Russell.

2. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

It’s the hot, languid days of a mid-1980s June on the Italian Riviera – and for Elio, a restless, precocious seventeen-year-old, it’s a summer that he’ll never forget, when Italian-American university professor Oliver comes to stay.

3. Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

In Lie With Me, an escape to Pyros, Greece soon becomes a claustrophobic nightmare for Paul Morris, a place haunted by the ghosts of the past.

4. Atonement by Ian McEwan

The catalyst for this story happens on a hot summer’s day in 1935, where thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses an exchange between her sister and a young gentleman. The way she acts subsequently changes all their lives forever.

5. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

‘Little Dog’ is the son of a Vietnamese refugee, and one summer, when he is fourteen, Little Dog begins working in the tobacco fields. There he meets Trevor, and the two begin an intense relationship. Poetic, elegiac and a window into the immigrant experience.

6. One Day by David Nicholls

St Swithin’s Day, on July 15th, is the anchor in this wildly popular story of Emma and Dexter, who meet at university and who we revisit on July 15th over the course of the years to come. Charming and nostalgic, this is a perfect summer read.

7. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

The sweltering heat of New Orleans is the stage for Tennessee’s William’s phenomenal play that examines madness, sexuality, class, the layers of the past, and – of course – desire.

8. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley

Our young protagonist Leo has his life changed during a summer stay at an estate in the English countryside in the year 1900. The writing is beautifully evocative of a very different time.

9. Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

The only one on the list I’ve not yet read, Heat Stroke looks set to be a dark and gripping literary thriller when a young girl goes missing in the middle of summer.

10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Finally, for some light relief, one of my favourite of all Shakespeare’s plays – fairies, donkeys, a play within a play – what’s not to love?

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What kind of books are quintessentially ‘summer’ for you?

Top Ten Tuesday | Best Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It’s been a looong time since I took part in this tag, but what better time to start again than during an extended period of isolation! Hyperlinks direct to my reviews where available.

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I find that this opening line captures the mood of The Bell Jar so well, evoking the fear, malaise and intensity of Esther’s inner and outer worlds.

‘Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.’ – The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Deliciously dark and subversive, this Korean novel chronicles the breakdown of a marriage with the wife’s decision to stop eating meat, which is seen as a deeply transgressive act.

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we understood the gravity of our situation.” – The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I love that this novel hinges on the why, not the what, and this opening line pulls the reader in to the mystery headfirst.

“Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoloeague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.” – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This beginning firmly routes this stunning novel in its social and historical context, the vice-like grip of the Catholic church and the hypocrisy of its moral superiority.

‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ – The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley 

I only just read this one, but I couldn’t not include this opening line. I’d heard this quote long, long before I ever read the book, and it is what initially drew me to it.

‘Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.’ – Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This first line sets up not only the tragedy of Lydia’s death but also the silence surrounding it – we, the reader, are the first ones to know.

‘It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.’ – Goodbye to all That by Joan Didion

From an essay rather than a book, but a beautifully written, clear-eyed and poetic reflection on Didion living in New York City as a young woman.

‘Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.’ – Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Poignant, timely and essential reading, this opening line interrogates what it means to exist as an African American in a country built on their exploitation.

‘Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky’ – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot

I named my blog after this poem, so it’s no secret it’s one of my all-time favourites. I love the imagery of the evening being ‘spread out,’ and the perfection of the rhyme.

‘After the End came the Beginning.’ – Severance by Ling Ma

I’ve been waxing lyrical about this book all of quarantine. A searing and smart look at a fictional pandemic and what might come after.

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Let me know your favourite opening lines!

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Could Re-read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly featured hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I am the kind of person who, if I find something I love, will want to read it/watch it/eat it again and again. This might explain why I have devoured the whole first season of HBO’s Girls (for the third time since it came out) within the past few days – (re)experiencing something you know you will enjoy is like slipping into a comfortable warm bath, with the added reassurance that it’ll be a worthy investment of your time.

 

  1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  3. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  7. Collected Poems by Philip Larkin
  8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  9. Matilda by Roald Dahl

(I’m only doing nine so as not to mess up the symmetry I’ve got going on with the circles!)