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.
PREVIOUS TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:
- March 3: Books With Single-Word Titles (submitted by Kitty from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner)
- March 10: Authors Who Have a Fun Social Media Presence
- March 17: Spring 2020 TBR
- March 24: Genre Freebie
- March 30: Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover
- April 7: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because…
- April 14: Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About
- April 21: Book Titles That Would Make Good Band Names
- April 28: Books I Wish I Had Read As A Child
- May 5: Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party
It takes a lot for me to abandon a book… even a book series! I am a determined and tenacious reader with a completionist tendency! And a slight guilt complex about not finishing them. Or at least not finishing them yet… I find I often put a book aside for a while and regardless of however many weeks or months later I come back to it I can pick it up again, so the following books generally fall into the category. Not so much abandoned as paused.
So, the following list are books which I have technically not finished… for most of them (all except the last two) this is no reflection on the quality of the book or writing! Life generally got in the way. A lot of them are also audiobooks where the additional issue of the narrator’s voice can get in the way.
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel DeFoe
This was a University read – something I think I looked at (looked down on) rather snootily as a children’s book.
And possibly life (beer, parties) got in the way as well.
I remember writing an essay on what I had read because, well, I had to each week and my tutor saying terribly politely and passive aggressively “I’m surprised you didn’t bring the final chapter in at this point…”.
Maybe this is one reason why I do tend to finish my books… the quiet, intense sense of shame he generated!
The Glorious Heresies, Lisa McInerney
This one was a book I loved – or at least was loving! – as an audiobook on my drive in and out of work each day.
Just at the point that I agreed to car share on that journey and it felt … rude to just whack the book on when they got in car.
It was a wonderful book: comic – genuinely laugh out loud comic – in a deliciously dark way. A genius level depiction, without a trace of romanticism, of the trials and dangers and violence of the dispossessed in Ireland
Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan
I love McEwan! Atonement, On Chesil Beach, Nutshell… I love his irreverence towards the most intimate of physical acts!
I quite like spies, for that matter so this novel advertised as “The year is 1972, the Cold War is far from over and Serena Frome, in her final year at Cambridge, is being groomed for MI5…” really should appeal. It should. It did. It still does
I cannot remember, if I am honest, why I put this one down. Holidays. Family. Life perhaps.
Maybe one of the joys of this list will be reminding myself of why I picked these books in the first place and using time in lockdown to return to them.
MacBeth, Jo Nesbo
Like Sweet Tooth, everything about this book should be great: it is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which are usually reliable alongside Howard Jacobson, Margaret Atwood, Tracy Chevalier… And whilst the Harry Hole series were a little Scandi-noir for my taste, Blood on Snow was wonderfully lyrical. This should be great!
It was an audiobook – many of these are – and perhaps the combination of voice and pacing just didn’t gel for me.
“When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess. He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.
Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his. Unless he kills for it.
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
Again, another audiobook in the list and I did find something about the voice of the narrator, Oliver Wyman, perhaps, or maybe the huge 32 hour investment which didn’t fit in with the commuting drive…
But I found the characters a little hard to keep track of and not actually that likeable.
Maybe that format and my working patterns just did not work together because the summary where the characters come to realise that their greatest challenge is one of their own, Jude, “a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome but that will define his life forever.”
The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood
This starts to sound a little familiar: I got this as an audiobook and it just didn’t work despite all the positive appeals – a post-apocalyptic setting, perhaps more relatable and close to our own world than The Handmaid’s Tale, and, well the name Atwood!
“Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. Living in their car, surviving on tips from Charmaine’s job at a dive bar, they’re increasingly vulnerable to roving gangs and in a rather desperate state.”
The City of Mirrors, Justin Cronin
This is the third in a series that began at a stellar level with The Passage – Amy Harper Bellafonte is a wonderful character, the uncanny, unheimlich knowing child before the apocalypse; the same uncanny child after the apocalypse. It is rare to find a genuinely fresh approach to something as familiar as vampire and zombies but this was wonderful.
The Twelve was decent enough but paled in comparison to The Passage.
This is a sequel too far, and it seemed to reveal the limitations of the minor characters… those who were not Amy Harper Bellafonte!
“Prompted by a voice that lives in her blood, the fearsome warrior known as Alicia of Blades is drawn towards to one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York. Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and last of The Twelve. The one who must be destroyed if mankind is to have a future.”
Christine Falls, Benjamin Black
Once again, an audiobook! Pacing and life did not match… Again, reminding myself of the novel, there is nothing here that I shouldn’t like: the writing skills of John Banville, Dublin, detectives… I really must find this in a print form and try again!
“Quirke’s pathology department, set deep beneath the city, is his own gloomy realm: always quiet, always night, and always under his control. Until late one evening after a party he stumbles across a body that should not be there – and his brother-in-law falsifying the corpse’s cause of death.”
Fifty Shades of GrEy, E. L. James
No. Just no.
This was a definite abandonment never to be picked up again.
I submitted to the hype, but the writing style is dull, tedious and pedestrian – and very strained – which perhaps, I could have overlooked. The characters are dull and insipid. But the issues of consent, the representation of the BDSM Community… just no!
My view, for what it is worth is that this is a dangerous book celebrating rape and out of date abuse.
Twilight Saga, Stephanie Meyers
It is no surprise, I suppose that these two entries go together: 50 Shades was fan fiction of Twilight! And I did complete Twilight because, as a teacher, I wondered why so many students were writing stories about moving to a new school and meeting a beautiful boy…
Oh it was so boring! And one of the few books I have ever had to google just to see whether anything actually happens! And the ending! Oh God! Let’s knock our narrator out so she cannot describe the big final battle!
The relationship between Bella and Edward is just as (nearly as) difficult and unhealthy as that in Fifty Shades. It is terrifying to think that these two became a role model for relationships in out teenagers.
So, there we go. For the main part (a clear 80%) this has been a delightful list to compile because, having set these aside at one point, I am now really keen to enjoy the current sunshine and use the time of the lockdown to return to them. But those last two – I know they have their fans and followers who love them – but, for me, just no!!
I am really looking forward to hearing your comments on these!
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!
FORTHCOMING TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:
- May 19: Reasons Why I Love [insert your favorite book title, genre, author, etc. here]
- May 26: Opening Lines (Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc.)
- June 2: Books that Give Off Summer Vibes (or winter if you live in the southern hemisphere) (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)
- June 9: Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why (stolen from Louise @ Foxes & Fairy Tales)