Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Numbers In the Title

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

With the start of the new school year – and the last week was a wake up call, as always; and today began at 0815 without a break until 1630! – these title-based themes are quite a relief: fun and quirky lists. I did already do a couple of posts on this theme in October 2019 and May 2020 so I will try to avoid repeats and focus on more recently acquired books…

And for the sake of variety, let’s include ordinal numbers in this list, too

The First Woman, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

As Kirabo enters her teens, questions begin to gnaw at her – questions which the adults in her life will do anything to ignore. Where is the mother she has never known? And why would she choose to leave her daughter behind? Inquisitive, headstrong, and unwilling to take no for an answer, Kirabo sets out to find the truth for herself. 

Her search will take her away from the safety of her prosperous Ugandan family, plunging her into a very different world of magic, tradition, and the haunting legend of ‘The First Woman’.

This is a great reminder to me to actually get on and read this one which I was really excited about, but NetGalley deadlines, work and Booker / Women’s Prize longlists got in the way. This one won the Jhalak Prize this year and was longlisted for the Diverse Book Awards.

Three Parts Dead, Max Gladstone

A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

I got this on the strength of reading This Is How You Lose The Time War and seeing it highly praised on a couple of articles… The other books in the Craft series, Two Serpents Rise and Full Fathom Five, Last First Snow and Four Roads Cross could all also appear on this list.

Also, I love this cover!

Second Place, Rachel Cusk

A woman invites a famed artist to visit the remote coastal region where she lives, in the belief that his vision will penetrate the mystery of her life and landscape. Over the course of one hot summer, his provocative presence provides the frame for a study of female fate and male privilege, of the geometries of human relationships and of the struggle to live morally between our internal and external worlds. With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, Second Place is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons.

I was not grabbed by this one: pretentious and taking itself too seriously in my view, but I read it because it was on the Women’s Prize longlist.

No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood

This is a story about a life lived in two halves.

It’s about what happens when real life collides with the increasing absurdity of a world accessed through a screen.

It’s about where we go when existential threats loom, and the high stakes of reality that claim us back.

It’s about living in world that contains both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.

No one… is this pushing it a little? I have been putting this one off a little – I mean it didn’t win the Women’s Prize (well done Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, by the way!) and something about the premise puts me off just a little.

Box 88, Charles Cumming

1989: The Cold War will soon be over, but for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency, the espionage game is heating up. Lachlan Kite is sent to France to gather intelligence on the Lockerbie bombing. What he uncovers is terrifying…

Now he faces the deadliest decision of his life…

2020: Kite has been taken captive and brutally tortured. He now has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier – or watch his family die.

I do enjoy a nice taut thriller, and I am holding this one back, possibly until the Christmas holiday.

First Person, Richard Flanagan

Young and penniless, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal: $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghostwrite his memoir in six weeks.

Kehlmann accepts but soon begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. Is he ghostwriting a memoir, or is Heidl is rewriting him? As the deadline draws closer everything that is certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Ziggy Heidl – and who is Kif Kehlmann?

This one looked interesting – and I do love Flanagan’s prose – but has somehow languished on my TBR.

One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane.

I loved this one, perhaps a little more than Red, White and Royal Blue: I was drawn to the sci-fi time-travel elements more than the politics, and found that Mcquiston seemed more comfortable with the physicality of lesbian than gay sex – this one was charged!

Their Finest Hour and a Half, Lissa Evans

In 1940, every draft of every film script had to be approved by the Ministry of Information. Cast and crew were waiting to be called up at any moment, travel was restricted and filming was interrupted by regular bombing raids. And so it is that we find a disparate group of characters whose paths would never have crossed in peacetime.

This distinct group find themselves thrown together in the wilds of Norfolk to ‘do their bit’ on the latest propaganda film – a heart-warming tale of derring do, of two sisters who set out in a leaking old wooden boat to rescue the brave men trapped at Dunkirk. All completely fabricated, of course, but what does that matter when the nation’s morale is at stake?

I only know Evans through her (rather young) Young Adult fiction: Small Change for Stuart and Wed Wabbit. One day I will get around to this one, I am sure. It looks like an interesting and different take on World War Two narratives which I can often find… too grim and a little too worthy.

Three Days and a Life, Pierre Lemaitre

Antoine is twelve years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother in Beauval, a small, backwater town surrounded by forests, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and nothing much ever happens. But in the last days of 1999, a series of events unfolds, culminating in the shocking vanishing without trace of a young child. The adults of the town are at a loss to explain the disappearance, but for Antoine, it all begins with the violent death of his neighbour’s dog. From that one brutal act, his fate and the fate of his neighbour’s six year old son are bound forever.

Lemaitre is one of my favourite French thriller writers and his novels are deeply intricate and personal – Blood Wedding was exceptional, in my humble opinion. And this standalone novels sounds great: I ama sucker for little insular villages harbouring (probably very dark) secrets!

First Person Singular, Haruki Murakami

The eight masterly stories in this new collection are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From nostalgic memories of youth, meditations on music and an ardent love of baseball to dreamlike scenarios, an encounter with a talking monkey and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator who may or may not be Murakami himself is present. Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides.

Last One at the Party, Bethany Clift

It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

I do pity Bethany Clift: 2021 for me was not the year I wanted to read about fatal viruses! For many others though a safely fictional virus may have been pandemic-perfect! But it is the reason I have kept this one on the back burner…

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps the House, Cherie Jones

In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers.

For Wilma, it’s the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result.

When Lala grows up, she sees it offers hope – of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man.

And, like the first book on this list, this is a reminder that I should return to my tbr and unearth this one when I can – because it was a book I was so excited to get!

So, a dozen books – so sorry to keep ignoring the concept embedded in the title of these posts of a top ten! – with numbers in the title. Many of which I have let slide down my tbr list farther than they should have done!

As always, I love receiving your comments and reading your posts, time permitting with another full day tomorrow, so please do take a moment to say “Hi!” and join the conversation in the comments. It really does make my day!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

  • September 21: Books on My Fall 2021 To-Be-Read List
  • September 28: Freebie (Come up with your own topic or do a past TTT topic that you missed or would like to do again.)
  • October 5: Bookish Pet Peeves
  • October 12: Favourite Book Settings
  • October 19: Online Resources for Book Lovers (what websites, podcasts, apps, etc. do you use that make your reading life better?)
  • October 26: Halloween Freebie

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