Top Ten Tuesday: One-Sitting-Reads

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish is all about quick reads: those wonderful books you can read in one sitting, possibly with a short break to gather supplies.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
This is possibly the saddest book I’ve ever read and, while it is very short and possible to read in one go, that is probably the most psychologically damaging thing you could actually do.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Short but astounding, this is an obvious choice but a perfect one. Merricat is only with you for the few hundred pages of the book’s duration, but she’ll stay in your head long after.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Under 100 pages and completely bonkers, this African sci-fi is brilliant.

One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun
I saw this mentioned on a blog about weird books, and that it certainly is. Something to do with shadows lifting? I can’t exactly remember, but it’s definitely a one-sitting read.

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
This isn’t actually particularly short – about 300 pages – but I read it in one sitting the other night, so it counts. It’s a story about a computer game-obsessed teenage boy in 1987, and it’s beautifully nostalgic.

Iron to Iron by Ryan Graudin
This novella goes back to the Axis Race prior to Wolf by Wolf, and is ace because it’s all about Luka and he is my favourite.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Completely different to the better-known House of Mirth, this novella is about a simple, rural man beset by complicated relationships and tragedy.

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie’s letter to a friend, advising on how to raise her daughter to be a feminist. A lot of it is quite obvious, but Adichie’s style is always irresistible.

One by Sarah Crossan
A quick read because it’s written in verse but another deeply emotional one, Crossan’s story of conjoined twins facing the reality of being separated is life-changing.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
This quick read concerns a teenage girl and a coming-of-age story. It’s a classic.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is back! Hurrah, and thanks to The Broke and The Bookish, as always, for hosting it. This week’s topic is an easy one: Books on my Spring TBR. I say “easy,” but obviously trying to list only 10 books I’m planning to read in the next 3 months is actually a horrific task. But never mind.

The Lights of Pointe-Noire by Alain Mabanckou
I’ve read two of Mabanckou’s books this year and really enjoyed them, so I’m looking forward to getting started with this one. I think it’s a non-fiction account of his return to the Congo after living in France for many years.

The Old Man and The Medal by Ferdinand Oyono
I’m on a mission to read novels set in or by authors from all the countries of Africa; Oyono is from Cameroon and this book is about colonialism and its effects.

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
The Baileys Prize longlist came out last week and I’ve only read 5 of the books on it, so I’ll be reading this as part of my mission to rectify this. It sounds amazing, actually; it takes place in Kentucky and sounds like an epic family saga with horses.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This has been getting so much hype but doesn’t actually come out in the UK till the start of April. I’m really excited to finally read it.

A Book for Her by Bridget Christie
I saw this on a list of suggested reading for International Women’s Day and I do love a feminist-hued memoir/rant.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Another book I’ve been looking forward to for ages and I actually have an advance copy – woohoo! It’s about a young woman who returns home to care for her ill father and finds that things are even worse than she thought.

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
This is a coming-of-age  novel about first love and a heist, set in 1987. It looks really cool.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone a few months ago and am looking forward to cracking on with Taylor’s new book before returning for the rest of that series. I’ve got an e-ARC of this but the physical copy looks so beautiful, I may have to buy a copy too.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint
Another Baileys Prize longlistee, this sounds pretty harrowing; it’s about the murder of two children and the police investigation into their mother.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
I read O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night last year and loved it, so I’m looking forward to reading this, another book longlisted for the Baileys Prize.

Are you reading any of these books? Or have you already? Please let me know in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: Surprisingly Brilliant Books

This week’s TTT, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, is about books we’ve either loved more or less than we expected. I’m not in the mood for slagging off ten poor, innocent books (except Norwegian Wood, which I am always happy to insult), so I’m going for ten books I liked more than I anticipated.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
I didn’t love Beautiful Broken Things, but Barnard’s second novel, about a mute girl and a deaf boy, appealed to me far more. It was sweet without being sickly, and I felt like it was more realistic.

Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou
On opening this punctuation-free book, I thought, ‘there’s no way I can read this,’ but I’m glad I stuck with it because it was darkly humorous and very engaging.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
As a self-confessed book snob, I wasn’t going to read something that other people actually like. But it was £4 in Morrison’s, so I bought it and did enjoy it a bit, although I did guess the big reveal pretty much straightaway. This is very unusual for me. Review here.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Another book I pre-judged because I wasn’t a huge fan of the author’s previous work, I found myself really enjoying this historical novel about a young Irish girl who claims not to have eaten in months. Review here.

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
I downloaded this in a Kindle sale and left it neglected for months, but when I finally read it, I was enthralled. I now want to do a PhD in geopolitics. Review here.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
I didn’t expect to like this, but read it anyway as I was on a mission to read everything on the Booker shortlist in 2016. It turned out to be my favourite from the list; I liked the unusual story-telling style and the many plot surprises. It was delightfully dark.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallero
I was apprehensive about this Sherlock Holmes retelling because I hadn’t seen much chat about it in the usual places, but I liked it a lot; the teen descendants of Holmes and Watson have an enjoyably snarky relationship and the book makes clever use of the original stories. Review here.

The Fireman by Joe Hill
This book is 747 pages long. I assumed it would be a slog. It wasn’t. Review here.

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
I think I mention this book every ten minutes. I don’t even like dogs, so how did a book about them end up being one of my favourites of 2016? Review here.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Shamefully, the first time I sat down to read this, I couldn’t get into it. Oddly, I blame the fact that I was reading it on my Kindle. Once I got a paperback, I completely loved it and it was one of those rare books that I didn’t actually want to end.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know if you have, or if I’ve tempted you to pick them up.

Top Ten Tuesday: For the Love of God, Let’s Punctuate, People

This week’s TTT is a pleasingly vague one: books that need more X. I’m an English teacher and grammar pedant, so welcome to my list of books that need more punctuation. Thanks, as always, to The Broke and The Bookish, for hosting this weekly list extravaganza.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
I’ve picked this book, but really any McCarthy novel would fit. Why does the man not use speech marks? I find his books basically impossible to read at the best of times, and the lack of proper punctation does not help.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Clearly, I am not going to criticise Maggie A, my chief goddess of literature. But, sometimes there are speech marks in The Handmaid’s Tale, and sometimes there aren’t, and if I have to invent an explanation for this to deliver to a class again, I might cry.

Hotel World by Ali Smith
There is a whole section of this book with no punctuation. None at all. As I recall, there also aren’t any spaces. WHY?

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
This is a bit of a cheat because the weird punctuation in this book (girls’ names not being given a capital letter) is actually very relevant to the plot of female subjugation. Also, have you read this book? It’s brilliant.

Broken Glass by Alain Mabankou
I was almost put off reading this book because it has no punctuation or even paragraphs. What I found was that, once I got into it, I didn’t really notice and it was an excellent read. I’ve just picked up another Mabanckou book, Memoirs of a Porcupine, from the library and seen that the style is the same. I am brave enought to cope with this now.

All recent poetry (yes, this is a broad generalisation)
Look, I’m all for messing with the form and pushing boundaries. But I can’t help but feel that one of these 21st century confessional poets (most of them, as far as I can see, women – look, everyone, I’m not sexist; I criticise girls too) decided not to bother with full stops or, you know, actual meaning, and now they’re all at it. People, you are not e.e. cummings, so just stop trying.

Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll
Don’t get me wrong: I love Meg and Mog. And so does my daughter, and that’s the main thing. But the lack of full stops is something I find disproportionately annoying. How am I supposed to know when to take a pause? Come on, Meg; sort it out.

Gertrude: The Cry by Howard Barker
Confession: I haven’t actually read this, but I was alerted to its existence (and reprehensible lack of punctuation) by Seb from my year 13 class (hi, Seb, if you’re reading). Obviously, plays are meant to be watched rather than read so the lack of punctuation here is less appalling, but still surely quite annoying; if I was an actor, I know I’d want to see semi-colons to help me get into character.

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
I really want to be the kind of hipster who genuinely likes Faulkner (or can at least convincingly lie about it) but I just find his books impossible to read. The odd punctuation mark would go a long way, Mr Faulkner.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
This is not actually Williams’ fault, but in my copy of the play there’s a formatting error which means there’s a double exclamation mark at one point and I. Just. Can’t. Cope.

Do you share my obsession with accurate use of the semi-colon? Perhaps you have another book that could be added to my list? Say “hi” in the comments; then I won’t feel so alone in the world.