Top Ten Tuesday: Genre Freebie

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.



  • March 24: Genre Freebie 
  • March 30: Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover (basically, people know you’re a book lover because… i.e., you’re always carrying a book or two, your library card broke from overuse, etc.)
  • April 7: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… (Fill in the blank. You can do 10 books you bought for the same reason, i.e., pretty cover, recommended by a friend, blurbed by a favorite authors, etc. OR you could do a different reason for each pick.)
  • April 14: Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)
  • April 21: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names (submitted by Michelle)
  • April 28: Books I Wish I Had Read As a Child

If years could be sponsored by words, 2020 has been brought to you by the word “unprecedented”!

There are few days that I would count as historic – especially not on the day itself – but today feels that it is. The UK joining much of the rest of the world in lockdown (although Boris Johnson was very careful not to use that word!), shops shut, police empowered to disperse groups and fine you, only allowed out of the house for essentials… it is remarkable in all the wrong ways!

So for this Top Ten, as we – across the world – languishing inside our homes and feeling isolated – let’s look at books that can take your mind at least out into the world without worries about social distancing.

The List

Let’s get out into nature, feel the sun on our faces and smell the grass.

The Salt Path, Raynor Wynn

The beating heat of full summer in this one, as two elderly people – one of whom is labouring under a chronic progressive and ultimately fatal illness – head out from the home that has been repossessed to walk the South West Coast Path.

It is an informative and endearing tale of hope and faith and love… though I have serious misgivings about the wisdom of their ignoring all medical advice! But some lovely depictions of the area around which I live and visit often!

The Overstory, Richard Powers

This is a book that changes the way you look at the world: a paean to and celebration of all that is forest – forests that communicate and live and breathe.

A twining of stories in and out of each other – like roots perhaps? – the novel contains some wonderful, awe-inspiring writing creating the natural landscape and is, just, breathtakingly achingly beautiful.

The Trees, Ali Shaw

And not all nature is benevolent, as trees burst aggressively through the earth overnight in this novel, destroying homes and houses and civilisation.

And something mysterious and strange is lurking within the woods that now dominate the land.

I do like Shaw’s transformative writing – The Girl With The Glass Feet was wonderful on that count too – and the wildness of this was compelling and dangerous.

Let’s flout the travel bans and head abroad!

My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite

Heading to Nigeria firstly and there were a range of authors I could have chosen: Emezi, Achebe, Okri, Soyinka. But My Sister, the Serial Killer was a moving and compellingly vivid portrayal of life in modern Nigeria full of the sights and smells of the country.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, Elif Shafak

And into Turkey for Shafak’s wonderful novel exploring the death of Tequila Leila, prostitute and victim and above everything else, friend.

Tequila Leila was a wonderful vivid vibrant creation, but perhaps the city of Istanbul is perhaps the most beloved character.

And oh the beauty of those final chapters!

Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie

And then heading into Syria, or at least splitting ourselves between Britain and Syria as Isma, Aneeka and Parvaiz – sisters and brother – struggle with a range of loyalties. When your loyalty to yourself and your own identity is in conflict with your loyalty to your country, your family, your faith, what wins?

The chapters from Parvaiz’ point of view in a jihadist camp is Syria are powerful and visceral.

Let’s get far far away, beyond the stars!

Skyward, Brandon Sanderson

This one seems very apt: the Krell are an alien race – possibly – who are suppressing the last of humanity by keeping them isolated in caverns beneath the surface of the planet Detritus.

The novel revolves around Spensa, a young girl struggling to escape from her reputation as the daughter of a coward, trying to escape the threat of the Krell, trying to escape the debris field that surrounds her planet…

As her father told her before his death, “trapped on this rock. Their heads are heads of rock, their hearts set upon rock. Set your sights on something higher. Something more grand.”

Embassytown, China Miéville

Some of the most alien aliens I’ve come across: crablike, insectile, fan wings and gift wings… and with two mouths.

Mieville is such a fantastic writer – deeply embedded in weird and speculative fiction – that the alien world felt like a homecoming!

A fantastic meditation on language, words, voices, identity; also a cracking science fiction yarn!

And finally let’s just leave this world behind us and love our books!

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Abbi Waxman

Sweet, moving, touching… Nina Hill is anxious without being frail, empathetic without being vulnerable.

And her comfort is books: the books she works with in Knight’s Bookshop, the books that fill her home, the books that she reads with her various book clubs…

In this world that is currently so anxious, take a leaf from her – well – her book!

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern

This is just wonderful and amazing.

Who would not want to find a painted door which opened into a hidden metaphysical subterranean library housing all the books and tales and narratives and stories in the world, both told and untold.

In The Starless Sea, Morgenstern creates her own mythology of the story, bound together by the central tale:

“Once, very long ago, Time fell in love with Fate… This, as you might imagine, proved problematic. Their romance disrupted the flow of time. It tangled the strings of fortune into knots.”

So, my friends, in this time of total chaos and anxiety and uncertainty, please be safe and healthy and travel through the pages of your books, if you can’t travel with your feet. Please do comment and chat here – in this space where social distancing cannot affect us.

Again, a David Mitchell book is an event, and a thing of beauty! But the music industry is not my natural setting and again I was caught between this and another book – Daisy Jones and the Six in this case – and Daisy Jones was read first. This time, because it was nominated on a book club I was part of.

Bonus: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.

Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.

This one has been on my TBR for years. Literally years. I have heard nothing but praise for it, but so far have never quite got around to reading it! Go figure!

So, there we go: a range of books that I got in 2020 – save for the Scott Lynch – and do regret not reading during the year. Is regret the right word? Probably not to be honest: I do not regret the reading that I did do last year at all. But these are books that I would like to find time to catch up with this year – before prize season hits us again!

Pop in the comments below your thoughts on these – maybe let me know which I should read first!

26 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Genre Freebie”

  1. I really should read The Starless Sea, especially since I loved The Night Circus so much but there are SO MANY big books lately?! I don’t even know how I’ll read them all. One at a time, sure, haha.
    I’ve never read anything by Sanderson – ever. Another thing I should remedy…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, that comparison is so.. Yeah, I should totally pick up his books SOON.

        Right?! And there are constantly being more released. I don’t even know how we’ll ever read all the books we want to read. [Let alone me already having three bookcases of unread books and I simply keep adding to them..]

        Liked by 1 person

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