Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall / Autumn 2021 To-Be-Read List

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.

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How are we this far into September already? Where did the long lazy days of the summer holiday go? Although, to be fair, autumn is probably my favourite season: the weather is cosier, encouraging us to take brisk walks in the wind, kick up leaves – and oh! the gorgeous colours as the leaves turn – or curl up on the sofa in front of the fire with a cat and a good book!

Before we look at the books on my TBR for the coming months, let’s make a quick review of the past few months Summer TBR

Books from my list acquired: 11/11

Books from my list read: 2/10

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Isihiguro ★★★★★
Started Early, Took My Dog, Kate Atkinson★★★★★

Books from my list reviewed: 0/10

That doesn’t seem like a terribly successful approach to the TBR in hindsight; but on the other hand I have made inroads into my NetGalley requests, which started piling up around August and the start of September.

And the books that I am currently reading, and which seem to fall between the Summer and Autumn TBR lists but which absolutely deserve a mention are

  • The Mermaid of Black Conch, Monique Roffey
  • As Good As Dead, Holly Jackson
  • Bewilderment, Richard Powers

Now, let’s turn to those books that are part of and – currently – towards the top of the pile. The first three are currently on my reading list from NetGalley again

April in Spain, John Banville (7th October)

When Dublin pathologist Quirke glimpses a familiar face while on holiday with his wife, it’s hard, at first, to tell whether his imagination is just running away with him. Could she really be who he thinks she is, and have a connection with a crime that nearly brought ruin to an Irish political dynasty?

Unable to ignore his instincts, Quirke makes a call back home and Detective St John Strafford is soon dispatched to Spain. But he’s not the only one on route: as a terrifying hitman hunts down his prey, they are all set for a brutal showdown.

I mean, this is John Banville: he is a gorgeous writer and I adored his Snow and the Quirke novels under the pen name of Benjamin Black. Here, is seems that Banville has erased that distinction between Banville and Black because Banville’s St John Strafford seems to be about to team up with Black’s Quirk. Will the move to Spain rather than Ireland impact on it? That remains to be seen!

Oh William! Elizabeth Strout (21st October)

Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante.

Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. ‘This is the way of life,’ Lucy says. ‘The many things we do not know until it is too late.’

Strout is a writer I have been meaning to – but failing to – read for a while now and the fact that this was available on NetGalley seemed to be good timing.

Medusa, Jessie Burton (28th October)

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love and betrayal.

Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill, this astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation.

Mythic retelling… from the author who can create the gorgeous worlds of The Miniaturist and The Muse… yes please on all counts. And Medusa is a character who deserves her own voice just as much as Ariadne or Briseis or Circe…

Beautiful World, Where Are You, Sally Rooney

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.

Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

NetGalley only let me have a sample of Chapter One of this and there was much there to intrigue and to want an extra look… and Rooney has certainly garnered a huge profile following Normal People‘s success.

The Island of Missing Trees, Elif Shafak

It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. This is where one can find the best food in town, the best music, the best wine. But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.

In the centre of the tavern, growing through a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, their silent, surreptitious departures; and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart.

Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden of their home.

I love the idea behind this novel, a broken world bridged by a cafe and food and love. And Shafak is a writer whom, after reading 10 minutes and 34 Seconds in this Strange World, I have faith in creating a tender, violent world and an exquisite sense of place.

An Island, Karen Jennings

Elleke Boehmer Samuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude… A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by no one but Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper.

Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history. In this new man’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?

My attempts to follow the Booker and Women’s Prize were derailed a little by life, NetGalley and stumbling into other books I wanted to read… but Jennings’ novel was one that stood out to me.

Exposure, Helen Dunmore

London, November, 1960: the Cold War is at its height. Spy fever fills the newspapers, and the political establishment knows how and where to bury its secrets.

When a highly sensitive file goes missing, Simon Callington is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested.

His wife, Lily, suspects that his imprisonment is part of a cover-up, and that more powerful men than Simon will do anything to prevent their own downfall.

She knows that she too is in danger, and must fight to protect her children. But what she does not realise is that Simon has hidden vital truths about his past, and may be found guilty of another crime that carries with it an even greater penalty.

Helen Dunmore is an exquisite poet, and that is the genre I know her from. I did not even know she was a novelist too! So I am hoping for an intelligent and thoughtful thriller here – perhaps something akin to Kate Atkinson’s Transcription.

The Secret Guests, Benjamin Black

It is 1940 and the bombs are falling thick and fast on London. The royal family must do all they can to assure the British public of their solidarity. But what of the two young princesses – Elizabeth and Margaret? How can they be kept safe without jeopardizing morale in the capital?

Meanwhile Celia Nashe is delighted when she finally gets her long-awaited transfer to MI5. But whatever she was expecting of her mission for the war effort, it wasn’t this. A crumbling castle in remote, rural Ireland, playing nursemaid to two pampered young girls.

But her posting soon turns out to be very far from tame. Questions are being asked by the locals about the identities of Celia’s secret charges. And when a dead body turns up at the castle gates, it will take every effort to uncover the truth, and to stop it from coming to light.

A second novel by Black / Banville on the list, and again I am hoping for something careful and throughtful and intelligent from this, as I am from the Dunmore. And to be honest, I had never hear of this book before I stumbled over a review of it by a friend about two weeks ago!

Empire of the Vampire, Jay Kristoff

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise.

For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León, half man, half monster and last remaining silversaint – a sworn brother of the holy Silver Order dedicated to defending the realm from the creatures of the night – is all that stands between the world and its end.

I have been looking around for a good gripping fantasy novel to get my teeth into – awful pun, so obvious, so sorry – for a while and maybe Kristoff’s Empire of the Vampire will be that. I do love the detailing on the cover as well – as well as Kristoff’s caveat review on Goodreads:

EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE is not a book for children.

This Poison Heart, Kalynn Bayron

Ever since she can remember, Briseis has had power over plants. Flowers bloom in her footsteps and leaves turn to face her as though she were the sun. It’s a power she and her adoptive mothers have spent her whole life trying to hide. And then Briseis inherits an old house from her birth mother and suddenly finds herself with the space and privacy to test her powers for the first time.

But as Briseis starts to bring the house’s rambling garden back to life, she finds she has also inherited generations of secrets. A hidden altar to a dark goddess, a lineage of witches stretching back to ancient times, and a hidden garden overgrown with the most deadly poisonous plants on earth. And Briseis’s long-departed ancestors aren’t going to let her rest until she accepts her place as the keeper of the terrible power that lies at the heart of the Poison Garden.

I have heard nothing but great things about Bayron, and am looking forward to finding my way into her writing.


So there we have it, ten books that are on my current TBR… I wonder whether I will get to reading more than 2 of them this time?!


Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

  • 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

11 comments

  1. You’ve got great books on this list, I particularly enjoyed Klara, Record of a Spaceborn Few, and The Vanishing Half. And everything I’ve read by Kate Atkinson and Silvia Moreno-Garcia has been great. Enjoy your reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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