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
- May 4: My Ten Most Recent Reads
- May 11: Books with Nature on the Cover
- May 18: Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences
- May 25: Book Quotes that Were Nominated for the Bad Sex Awards
- June 1: Freebie: The Last Ten Books I Acquired
This is a rather circuitous title so let’s look at Jana’s helpful advice:
The wording is weird here, so if you have a better way to say this please let me know! What I’m thinking is… you read a book and immediately wanted more just like it, perhaps in the same genre, about the same topic or theme, by the same author, etc. For example, I once read a medical romance and then went to find more because it was so good. The same thing happened to me with pirate historical romances and romantic suspense.
So this is a topic about inspirational books: books that inspired me to keep reading in a certain direction. What a great way to spend an evening thinking of those great books. Some from childhood that inspired me to read at all; some that have guided my reading more recently.
Books that made me want to read
Let’s begin with those books that I remember sparking that love of adventure, of escape, of empowerment that reading gives – the chance to escape to another world.
Here we would include
The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and The Adventure series, Enid Blyton
It is said that reading is a form of wish fulfillment, isn’t it? And the idea of slipping into an adventure, an island full of villains, evading criminals and finding clues – whilst accompanied by friends, dogs and faithful parrots of course – was such a draw for me as a kid. And it says a lot about what was missing from my terribly safe middle class life!
Stig of the Dump, Clive King
Finding a friendly neanderthal in a local quarry – was it a quarry? – and caring for and befriending him.
Who wouldn’t want to discover that?
Looking back on it now, I cannot recall whether it was first or third person narration… and whether it was my first unreliable narrator. After all, no one else ever seemed to see Stig, did they?
Books that made me want to read fantasy
The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
I mean, it is iconic isn’t it.
I was reading this towards the end of Primary School and it was the first book to truly catapult me into a fantasy adventure.
Elves, dwarves, dragons. Treasure. Spiders. The highest of high fantasy.
From The Hobbit I drenched myself in Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion… and eventually, at University, found the gem that is Gawain and the Green Knight which Tolkien translated.
Because of Tolkien, my teenage years were spent in the company of necromancers and magicians, quests and adventure, from David and Leigh Eddings’ The Belgariad to Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician series to – significantly out of my teens now – George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice and Neil Gaiman and China Miéville.
Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
This was my first Gaiman novel and I adored it! The colour of the characters, both the sinister Messrs Croup and Vandemar and the wonderful Marquis de Carabas, as well as our everyman character Richard Mayhew.
And now Gaiman is a shared joy for me and my daughter. The Wolves in the Walls is fantastic, as is Fortunately the Milk!
Perdido Street Station, China Miéville
Moving back to High Fantasy from Low, Perdido Street Station was a glorious and vivid read – populated by such a cast of exceptionally created species, a far cry from Tolkien’s.
The three novels of the New Crobuzon series play with urban, maritime and western genres as these familiar – and less familiar settings – are transformed in Miéville’s prose.
If you fancy some sentient cactacae, waterbound vodoyanoi, the bug-like khepri, winged garuda, slakemoths and avancs, the Remade and the fReemade, truly terrifying ganglords, pirates and mermaids and vampires, please try out these sprawling wonderful novels.
Books that make me want to read more detective fiction
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I recall a day when I was a child, I remember the cold of winter and the sense of it being the morning after the night before… perhaps a Boxing Day or New Year’s Day when my parents were still in bed and I curled up downstairs and came across the film of The Hound of the Baskervilles – the old Basil Rathbone one with the luminous dog… and I was enthralled.
Of course, the novel followed and a love affair with Holmes and Watson and the whole genre of crime and detective fiction began.
But for me, The Hound remains the pinnacle and the model of what detective fiction should be.
Broken Harbour, Tana French
I am cheating a little here: this was not my first novel from Tana French – that was The Secret Place which pales beside this one.
This is the star of her Dublin Murder Squad series for me, and a great companion read to cite alongside the Holmes. Both draw on the gothic alongside the detective: they feature a mysterious creature (here, hiding in the walls of the house), empty and isolated settings (a desolate abandoned housing development, rather than the moors), and fantastic complex characters.
This is the Tana French novel I wish I had read first!
Books that make me want to read more maritime fiction
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I adore this poem!
It is mad and literally off-your-head bonkers! Its pages are haunted by dead albatrosses, dead and reanimated sailors, Death and Life-in-Death.
And the mariner himself, the “grey-beard loon!” doomed to tell and re-tell his story, haunted by his own survival and guilt.
Books that make me want to read more Young Adult fiction
A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness was a reminder to me that YA fiction was more than Harry Potter!
His A Monster Calls is a sublime read and for anyone who wonders why a forty-something year-old man is reading Young Adult fiction, this novel is the answer – there is so much great fiction under that “YA” banner!
And the story of Conor O’Malley, struggling with an absentee father and a terminally ill mother and being bullied at school, finding solace and strength in the monster that comes walking for him is exquisite.
Be warned, though: this is a novel that tugs on every heart string that you have! It is an emotional roller coaster and one of the few books that have genuinely brought me to tears.
Books that make me want to read more historical fiction
The Wolf Hall Trilogy, Hilary Mantel
These are simply exquisite!
Historical fiction for me can get bogged down in unnecessary research or disquietingly anachronistic characters, But Mantel’s depiction of Tudor England and the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell is utterly credible and deft, her use of dialogue is sublime and her characters breathe like few others.
Books that make me wish I could read it for the first time again
Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi
I was struggling with choosing the final books for this list….
But this novel, a relatively recent read compared to the rest, actually really fits the theme: on finishing this novel, I genuinely laid it down and thought “I want to read more like that”.
It was a challenging read in so many ways – the tale of a girl inhabited by Nigerian Igbo ọgbanje spirits, it is a remarkable tale of identity and strength and courage… But oh so rewarding! As is her Young Adult novel Pet.
Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith
Oh I adored this!
Mythic, personal, charming and written with a wonderful wit and style, with erudition and pathos and playfulness.
Reading this made Ali Smith a must-read author for me and I devoured her Seasonal Quartet over the last couple of years – and what a couple of years they have been from Brexit to Covid!
So I hope that I have interpreted Jana’s theme appropriately – even if my categories were a little more broad than her pirate historical romances!
As always, please do drop me a comment and let me know how you respond to my choices!
Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes
- June 15: Books On My Summer 2021 TBR (or winter, if you live in the southern hemisphere)
- June 22: Bookish Wishes (My birthday is today, so celebrate with me by granting the wishes of your friends! This is a popular thing to do on Twitter, but today we’re blog hopping. List the top 10 books you’d love to own and include a link to a wishlist so that people can grant your wish. Make sure you link your wishlist to your mailing address [here’s how to do it on Amazon] or include the email address associated with your ereader so people know how to get the book to you. After you post, jump around the Linky and grant a wish or two if you’d like. Don’t feel obligated!)
- June 29: Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2021
- July 6: Reasons Why I Love Reading