Top Ten Tuesday – Jobs I wish I had

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday, a new list is posted.

Today’s list is jobs I wish I had. I’ve gone more for jobs I find interesting or are in some way integral to the plot.

  1. Complicity – Iain Banks (1993) – Job: Journalist. How far would you go to get the scoop of a lifetime? How responsible is a journalist for the trouble caused by the stories he writes? This twisty thriller analyses these questions. (See also Quite Ugly One Morning – Christopher Brookmyre)
  2. The Noise of Time – Julian Barnes (2016) – Job: Musician. An unconventional fictionalised biography of the musician, Dmitri Shostakovich set around three key events in his life. It looks at the effects of totalitarianism on creativity and is one of my favourites of Barnes’ novels. (See also Espedair Street by Iain Banks)
  3. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? – Henry Farrell (1960) – Job: Actor. A bit of a potboiler, this one but great nonetheless. It’s impossible to read without imagining Bette Davis and Joan Crawford but it’s none the worse for that. Ridiculously enjoyable. (see also – The Understudy by David Nicholls)
  4. A Disaffection – James Kelman (1989) – Job: teacher. Okay so this is my job so not especially interesting as such but it does sum up nicely some of the issues with the educational process. It also contains one of my favourite openings – ‘Patrick Doyle was a teacher. Gradually he had become sickened by it.’ (See also – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks)
  5. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (2011) Job: Magician. I love a bit of magic realism and this book of two duelling magicians supplies it in spades. It’s not fast paced by any stretch but beautifully written and compelling just the same. (See also Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke)
  6. Mort and Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett (1987 and 1991) Job: Death. Not an obvious job maybe but Mort is death’s apprentice and in Reaper Man Death is sort of retired so it would seem to count. Also, Death is easily my favourite Pratchett character with his attempts to understand humanity and his horse called Binky. (See also – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)
  7. Rebus Series – Ian Rankin 1978-date) Job: Policeman. I love John Rebus. He is a policeman who does not see the harm in breaking the rules if necessary. He has his own personal morality that often does not match that of his superiors. Definitely my favourite cop series. (See also Shetland books by Ann Cleeves, Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson.)
  8. The Interpretation of Murder – Jed Rubenfeld (2006) Job: psychoanalyst. Based around Freud’s first trip to America in 1909, this is a murder mystery with a psychoanalyst for a detective. Lots of Freudian analysis obviously. Clever and satisfying.
  9. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – Patrick Suskind (1985) Job: perfumer. Baptiste Grenouille is born with an astonishing sense of smell. He is apprenticed to a perfumer and learns the tricks of the trade but he wants more than that and starts to try to pin down the smells of everyday Paris. This builds to one of the most dramatic conclusions of any novel I’ve read.
  10. Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas (2013) Job: Swimmer. Daniel Kelly is training to be on Australia’s national swimming team. He is very good but his sense of shame at being working class and being gay cause him to lose the thing he wants the most.

Top Ten Tuesday – Mardi Gras Colours

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks Top Ten is purple, yellow and green book covers in honour of Mardi Gras. I don’t really take much notice of book covers and I wasn’t sure what to go for so I decided to make it books with those colours in the titles or author’s name.

  1. Half a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006) This was an interesting read about the struggle to establish the state of Nigeria. It is both an epic and personal history of a country.
  2. Come Unto These Yellow Sands – Josh Lanyon (2011) This was my first Josh Lanyon. A romantic thriller with an ex bad boy professor and his policeman boyfriend trying to solve the mystery of the dead father of one of the professor’s students. Very enjoyable.
  3. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892) This is a chilling tale of one woman’s descent into madness, made worse by her husband’s controlling behaviour. It may be over 100 years old but it’s themes are sadly just as relevant today.
  4. Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003) This was the first Adichie I read and I loved it. The brutal world of Kambili is poignantly described and this is a very emotional read.
  5. The Color Purple – Alice Walker (1982) I first read this in university some thirty years and it has stayed with me. I’ve never read anything else quite like it before or since.
  6. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury (1962) (Set in Green Town) I love a fantasy story set at a carnival. They are so creepy anyway. Bradbury doesn’t disappoint with this fable about what happens when wishes come true.
  7. Turtles all the way down – John Green (2017) I do enjoy Green’s novels – and this one in particular was fun and quirky but that is my main issue. I always feel they are trying a bit hard. I’m sure if I was fifteen I’d appreciate them more.
  8. Brighton Rock – Graham Greene (1938) This is my favourite of Greene’s novel. With gang warfare, murder and the strange and malign Pinkie, I found I couldn’t put it down.
  9. Black Swan Green – David Mitchell (2007) This is probably the most straightforward of Mitchell’s novel – at least of the ones I’ve read and I think that is why I love it so much. There are still fantasy elements but the main narrative thrust is the coming of age of the narrator, Jason.
  10. Anne of Green Gables – L. M/ Montgomery (1908) This book was a big influence on me growing up. I really identified with Anne who is always getting into trouble because of her temper or saying the wrong thing. Like Jo from Little Women, she helped me realise that not all girls were feminine and quiet.

Top Ten Tuesday – Valentine’s Day / Love

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is love – in honour of Valentine’s Day. I must admit I groaned when I saw it. I’m sure my husband would agree that I am not a romantic person. I do not read romance very often. I read Normal People last year and unlike almost everyone else I’ve spoken to about it, didn’t like it very much. I had a go at reading a Cecelia Ahern a few years ago but found that tedious. (How to Fall in Love for anyone who is interested.) Similarly, classics such as Pride and Prejudice or A Room with a View do not rank among my favourites. So I was very tempted to skip a week. However, I decided to have a look at Goodreads and see if I could find ten books that counted as romance and here they are.

Top Ten Romance Novels from the Shelves of a Unromantic Soul.

  1. The Only Story – Julian Barnes (2018) I love Barnes. He is one of my favourite writers. This is the story of Paul who never quite recovers (and never really understands) his first love. As ever with Barnes, the reader is required to read between the lines to get the whole story. See also: Talking it Over and Love Etc.
  2. Possession – A. S. Byatt (1990) I need something more than romance to really love a book and here you have the uncovering of the past through the correspondence of two Victorian poets. Byatt’s prose is clever without being difficult. Very enjoyable.
  3. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)– This is one of the only classic romances that I do actually like and could imagine re-reading. The depiction of the ‘Jazz Age’ is beautifully done. Also the tragedy of it is quite appealing.
  4. The Fault in our Stars – John Green (2012) Okay, this is pretty much a straightforward romance but the writing is lively and the tragedy of it is hard to resist. Green’s style can be a bit annoying and I always wish I was a sixteen year old reading so I could appreciate it less cynically but overall a good read. See also: Looking for Alaska, another unconventional teen romance.
  5. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby (1995) To my mind, this is Hornby’s best novel but that may because I’m a big music fan. I also live with a man who is fond of making lists. Very enjoyable as long as you don’t take it too seriously.
  6. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) More unrequited love than actual romance, this really touched me when I read it last year. I found the inability of Stephens to see what was under his nose quite heartbreaking.
  7. Fatal Shadows – Josh Lanyon (2000) I loved this series. More romantic suspense than straightforward romance, the relationship between Adrien and Jake is as important as the crime fighting element. Also nice subversion of the tropes of detective fiction. See also: Come Unto These Yellow Sands and Snowball in Hell.
  8. The Dreyfuss Affair: A Love Story (1992) – Peter Lefcourt A tale of two baseball players who fall in love and the scandal that ensues when they are caught in the act. There are a lot of different viewpoints and hypocritical attitudes are shown. Plenty of baseball as well.
  9. Atonement – Ian McEwan (2001) I do have issues with the ending of this book – which I won’t disclose because major spoiler – but other than that, it is a very good read. Of course, there is the war to distract from love which certainly made it more interesting for me.
  10. The Understudy – David Nicholls (2005) I’m not a massive Nicholls fan but this book annoyed me the least of the three that I have read. It was funny, Stephen was relatable – even if some characters are caricatures. Another one not to be taken too seriously.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books written before I was born

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s Top Ten is 10 books written before I was born – either that you have read or on your TBR. I have decided to list 10 books that I have read. I was born in 1972 so I started with the sixties and worked backwards. I tried to make it a varied list – both in time and in genre. I could easily have picked 10 science fiction books. Writing this list has made me want to read some of these again.

  1. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (1868) I first read this when I was about twelve. My mam gave me her copy from when she was a child and it always felt a bit special to be reading it. Jo is still one of my favourite literary characters and was a huge influence on me as a young tomboy.
  2. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov. (1967) I first read this in the early nineties. It was one of the first books I read at university. Bulgakov rewrites Faust and the story of Judas as well as accurately depicting Russian life in the 1930s. This is my favourite novel which surprises me every time I reread it.
  3. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892) I read this at university as well. It’s a disturbing tale which describes the mental breakdown of the narrator when she is forced to rest and not allowed to write or work. Her mental state deteriorates and she becomes obsessed with the wallpaper in the room where is staying. One of the first feminist classics I read.
  4. Diary of a Madman and other stories – Nikolai Gogol (1835) The best stories in this collection are probably the title story which highlights the mental disintegration of a petty official who is struggling for the attention of the woman he loves and The Nose where a colonel wakes one morning without his nose. Later, he finds that his nose has achieved higher rank than him. Excellent satire.
  5. The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith (1955) This was quite a recent read – it had been on my TBR list for quite a long time. A very enjoyable thriller although it was impossible not to imagine Jude Law and Matt Damon as the two leads.
  6. A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood (1964) This is my favourite Isherwood novel. A very moving story about a gay man, George, trying to come to terms with the death of his partner. The action takes place over the course of a single day and we get to see George’s emotional struggles.
  7. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes (1959) This is a surprisingly emotional read considering it is essentially science fiction. Charlie, a mentally disabled young man, and Algernon, a mouse are given a operation that allows them to become extremely intelligent. This allows Charlie to see exactly how badly people treated him before. Then Algernon’s intelligence starts to deteriorate and we see the tragedy of Charlie doing the same.
  8. The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger (1951) This is another of my favourite books. I’ve read it a couple of times and I’ve taught it as a GCSE text to very nonplussed teenagers. I could reread this book over and over and not get bored.
  9. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut (1969) Another science fiction classic here. Also quite an emotional read. Vonnegut takes us from the bombing of Dresden to the story of Billy Pilgrim who has come unstuck in time. Funny, satirical and anti-war, this is an excellent read.
  10. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (1890) One of the best of the gothic novels that I’ve read. Another rewriting of the Faust legend, Dorian wishes for eternal youth, while his portrait grows old and ugly. A beautifully written moral tale.

Top Ten Tuesday – New to me authors I read in 2020.

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks topic was New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020, I wasn’t sure whether I’d read 10 new authors last year but when I looked on Goodreads, I realised that I had actually read 18 new authors. Here are ten of them.

  1. The Book of Evidence – John Banville – This has been on my long list of things I’d like to read for a long time. it sounded exactly like the sort of thing I like to read. Criminal, not particularly likeable narrator, murder of a completely innocent person – it sounded ideal. However, this did not live up to my expectations or all the praise heaped on it. Disappointing.
  2. Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams – I saw this on a BBC programme The Novels that Shaped Our World and it sounded interesting. And it was, in terms of race and how black women are treated, but I did find the narrator’s voice a little irritating. I’m too old now to be able to relate to the issues facing twenty somethings.
  3. Faggots – Larry Kramer – This has been on the TBR for a long time. It describes the lives of gay men in the seventies before the AIDS crisis. Although the novel is about the search for love, there is definitely a lot of sex and bondage. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
  4. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula Le Guin – Le Guin is another author I’ve been meaning to read for a while but on the basis of this I’m not sure I’ll read any others. This was well written but I didn’t really take to the main character or his quest. Not enough tension for me.
  5. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov – This was a strange read. Humbert was a unpleasant and irritating narrator always justifying his heinous behaviour. It was interesting and clever rather than enjoyable.
  6. Born a Crime – Trevor Noah – This was an excellent read about Noah growing up in South Africa where his birth is considered a crime as the relationship between his white, Swiss father and his black mother is punishable by five years in jail.
  7. The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell – O’Farrell creates two very different timelines in this novel and at first they seem to have very little in common. There is Lexi, living in post-war Soho, having left the suffocating morality of her parents house and Elina, and her husband, Ted live in present day London with their new child. As the novel progresses, Ted starts to remember long forgotten events and it becomes clear that there are more links between him and Lexie than were first apparent.
  8. Normal People – Sally Rooney – I decided to read this before the TV programme last year and I can’t say I understand why it has been quite so popular. It’s not badly written but it left me a bit cold.
  9. Contact – Carl Sagan – This was an interesting read because it was such an unusual angle on the subject. As this was written by a scientist, it was a very calm, sensible read with much close detail. A little lacking in emotion maybe but generally enjoyable.
  10. Miss Chopstick – Xinran – I needed to read a author starting with X for last year’s reading challenge. This detailed the lives of three sisters who move to Nanjing at the turn of the 21st century. An interesting look at recent history.

Top Ten Tuesday -Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is ‘books I meant to read in 2020 but didn’t get to’. Having had a look back through my blogs, I only posted one Top Ten Tuesday seasonal TBR list which was in the autumn. I decided not to do it much last year because I never keep to them so they become slightly pointless. As proved by the fact that I only read four books from the autumn one. I’m easily distracted – particularly by books on deal for my kindle and also, I received a lot of book tokens for my birthday, which is in November so again, new books distracted me.

Here is what is left of the Autumn TBR list:

  1. Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris – Not sure why I didn’t read this one. I have intentions of reading more Harris. A couple of years ago I read Different Class which was excellent and I vowed I would read more so I bought three titles for my kindle. However, as I didn’t read them straight away, they will probably sit on the kindle for ages.
  2. Live by Night – Dennis Lehane – I really meant to read this. I allowed myself to be distracted by The Book of Evidence by John Banville (and that wasn’t as good as I’d expected.) Definitely high up the list for the near future.
  3. The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing – I added this to the list in the hope that it would make me read it. I really feel I should read some Lessing but I didn’t really enjoy the one book I have read by her (The Third Child) so who knows if it will ever happen.
  4. Shakey – Jimmy McDonough – I mistakenly thought this was an autobiography by Neil Young (rather than the biography that it is) and added it for Y for last year’s alphabet challenge. When it turned out not to fit I still made an attempt to read it. The style irritated me, however, so I put it back on the shelf.
  5. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks – I’m curious to know what all the fuss is about but part of me knows I’m not going to love this so I keep bypassing it.
  6. Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee – Meera Syal – I’d like to keep this fairly near the top of things to read. It promises to be funny and I’m sorry I haven’t got to it yet.

Top Ten Tuesday – Book quotes

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s top ten is favourite literary quotes. No particular theme to these – just my favourite quotes.

  1. “Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.” The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood.
  2. “The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonorably, foolishly, viciously.” Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes
  3. “Would you be so kind as to give a little thought to the question of what your good would be doing if evil did not exist, and how the earth would look if the shadows were to disappear from it?” The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  4. “Out of the frying pan into the fire! What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many? No different!” Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter.
  5. “She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket” Farewell my Lovely – Raymond Chandler
  6. “They faced each other at opposite ends of an illusion” Dancer from the Dance – Andrew Holleran
  7. Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” 1984- George Orwell
  8. “The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.” Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett
  9. “Fuckin failures in a country of failures. Its nae good blamin it oan the English fir colonising us. Ah don’t hate the English. They’re just wankers. We are colonised by wankers. We can’t even pick a decent, vibrant healthy society to be colonised by. No.. we are ruled by effete arseholes. What does that make us? The lowest of the low, the scum of the earth. The most wretched servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat intae creation. Ah don’t hate the English. They just git oan wis the shite thev got. Ah hate the Scots.” Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
  10. “I’m telling you stories. Trust me.” – The Passion – Jeanette Winterson

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Autumn TBR

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks list is the top ten books on your autumn TBR.

Here are the next ten books that I intend to read this autumn.

  1. A Country Doctor’s Notebook – Mikhail Bulgakov
  2. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  3. FIve Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris
  4. Live by Night – Dennis Lehane
  5. The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing
  6. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  7. The Notebook – Nicholas Spark
  8. Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee – Meera Syal
  9. Rabbit Run – John Updike
  10. Shakey – Neil Young

I have five books to read for the Alphabet Soup Author Challenge including the book I’m reading at the minute which is Music and Silence by Rose Tremain. The others are Lolita, Shakey, and Rabbit Run. I’ve left myself a couple of fairly heavy books to read for the end of the year. I also still need an author for X so if anyone has any recommendations, I would be very grateful.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d like to see adapted by Netflix

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Girl. This week’s topic is book you would like to see adapted by Netflix. I don’t have Netflix (I may be the last person in the world to be able to say this.) so I just thought about what I would like to see filmed. I do think that this is a more complicated topic than it might appear. Good books don’t always make good films (The Book Thief, for example) and bad books often make great films (The Bridges of Madison County, for example). Nonetheless, here is my top ten.

  1. Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood
  2. Middle England – Jonathan Coe
  3. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. Different Class – Joanne Harris
  5. Black Swan Green – David Mitchell
  6. Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
  7. Contact – Carl Sagan
  8. Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
  9. Six Four – Hideo Yokajama
  10. Bridge of Clay – Marcus Zusak

Top Ten Tuesday – Most recent additions to TBR pile.

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 was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks list is the ten most recent additions to my TBR list.

I’ve decided to list five actual books and five from my kindle. When I first bought the kindle, I tried to not let it happen – a TBR shelf. I only bought a book when I had finished a book. But that turned out to be unfeasible because it meant a bit of messing around before I could start a new book. Apart from anything, Amazon’s daily emails with potential bargain books soon saw to it that I had a lot of books waiting to be read. Of course, it doesn’t take up any physical space but still, there are books that have been waiting a long time to be read.

Five from my actual bookshelves – I’ve been buying a lot of modern classics lately so most of these are quite old. I’m particularly looking forward to I Robot as it has been on my meaning to buy / read list for a long time.

  1. I Robot – Isaac Asimov (1950)
  2. The Collector – John Fowles (1963)
  3. The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett (1930)
  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (2017)
  5. Choke – Chuck Palahnuik (2001)

Five from my kindle – I try not to spend a lot on kindle books – there isn’t much point when you can get such a lot for 99p. It means that I often buy things that I wouldn’t buy at full price. Paris Echo is probably the next read here. I’ve only ever read Birdsong so it would be interesting to read something else by Faulks.

  1. Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain (1933)
  2. Paris Echo – Sebastian Faulks (2018)
  3. A House for Mr Biswas – V. S. Naipaul (1961)
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (1884)
  5. 20000 Leagues under the Sea – Jules Verne (1869)