This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, has the following theme: Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About Enough/In A While. As I mention The Handmaid’s Tale and Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda every seventeen seconds, I will make the most of this opportunity to big-up some of the most favourite books of all time.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
I went to my first football match with my dad when I was 12 and, in the days that followed, he presented me with a copy of Fever Pitch and said, “if you’re going to be a proper football fan, you need to read this.” He wasn’t wrong. Fever Pitch is basically the how-to guide for surviving the horrors of supporting a football team; it is one of the truest books I’ve ever read.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
I have read this twice and it scared the b’jaysus out of me on both occasions; it is frankly a miracle that I was brave enough to actually have a child of my own, given how convinced I was that I, too, would spawn a crossbow-weilding maniac. Although the book is psychologically terrifying, it is also astoundingly brilliant. For me, Shriver is quite hit and miss (pun intended); I love Kevin and enjoyed So Much for That and A Perfectly Good Family, but The Post-Birthday World and that one about tennis did nothing for me. This is definitely the one to go for.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
I think I have to concede that I am annoyingly conventional and would have to say Wuthering Heights is my favourite Bronte novel, but I absolutely love Tenant; it’s far more subtle and nuanced, with actual grown-ups instead of ghost-fancying lunatics. The slow-burning sadness of Helen’s marriage breakdown is brilliantly realised. Anne is the best one.
World War Z by Max Brooks
This blew my mind; I was in no way prepared for how good this was going to be. The oral history style of the writing makes it really different; usually, I wouldn’t be a fan of a narrative which is split between so many different stories, but, in the case of World War Z, it only makes it even better. Sometimes I have dreams in which I wrote the bit about the astronaut and these are my happiest moments.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
I can’t believe I don’t talk about this book more; I constantly recommend it to actual humans who I know in real life but it would appear I don’t devote the same amount of time to extolling its virtues online. I love this book; it’s so beautifully written with so many complex characters and relationships. Also, post-apocalyptic world + Shakespeare = a hit.
One by Sarah Crossan
On the YA front, I have banged on relentlessly about Illuminae and I’ll Give You the Sun, but my love of One is a little more under the radar. I reviewed it here, but suffice to say the use of verse in the writing adds to what is already an amazingly affecting book. Every time I even see the cover, it makes me do a small sob.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
This was one of the first books I ever reviewed, and when I say “reviewed,” I mean I drooled all over it and then passed out on my keyboard from all the passionate feelings I experienced. Cathy Ames is basically my favourite ever, even if she is the purest manifestation of evil to be found outside of pantomime evil queens in YA fantasy series.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Thankfully, I read this before having a small person or it might never have happened (I’m sorry, Middlemarch); it is ridiculously long and there are some five page descriptions of stars, but it’s just wonderful, even if you read it without singing the musical soundtrack. I am too old to ship YA couples, but I allow myself to think of a world in which Eponine and Enjolras find happiness together, probably while leading a revolution.
The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler
In real life, I have successfully bullied a number of people into reading this book but I don’t think I have banged on about it sufficiently here. I think I saw this on some kind of Buzzfeed list and bought it on a bit of a whim; consequently, I was completely floored by its brilliance. Everything about it – the bitchiness, Flannery’s cutting narration, the study questions, the ending – is astonishing.
The Chronicles of Narmo by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran is now very famous for her brilliant grown-up books like How to Be A Woman, but when I was a kid, she was known to me only as the author of The Chronicles of Narmo: a semi-autobiographical children’s book about a crazy family which remains one of the funniest things I’ve ever read in my life.
I now want to read all these books again. Oh dear.