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
- 7th June: Books With A Unit Of Time in the Title
- 14th June: Books I Wish Had An Epilogue
- 21st June: Bookish Wishes
- 28th June: Books on my Summer TBR
- 5th July: Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022
- 12th July: Book Covers that Feel Like Summer
A freebie… as England wilts under unseasonably hot weather, as our roads and runways melt in the heat, as schools close again, as the smoke from fires close off roads – all of which is as nothing compared to the tragedies so many other communities worldwide face – I wonder what topic to choose. Today’s heat is such as obvious inspiration but last week’s topic was oh-so-summery! Books about heat, books about weather, books about sunshine… they are all going to touch on the same books from last week!
So, instead, I shall focus on opinions and take this as an opportunity to vent some my biases and views on the world! I’m not sure whether these opinions are controversial or unpopular or not… but they are, well, mine and therefore by definition a truth if not a fact.
Spoilers, I really don’t care!
I know I try to warn others if there are spoilers in my reviews but for me, I’m not really bothered: the journey and the characters who keep you company on it are more important than the destination.
Did I know that the hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles was a fraud? Of course but I still loved reading how Holmes uncovered it. Did I know that Rochester was already married? Certainly, but that just added to the frisson of Jane’s suspicions.
I love my Kindle!
This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me – it is always with me! Heading to work? Heading to the pub? Heading to the kitchen? Kindle will be with me!
I even turned around to retrieve my Kindle when I left it accidentally at my parents adding an extra two hour round trip to an already long four-hour journey home!
But there was a time when I railed against it: it’s not the same, I feared; I love the smell of the page and the touch of the paper, and I do; data will get corrupted, it won’t be reliable… And it is not the same as a paper book – of course it’s not – but different does not mean lesser or inferior or invalid. And the convenience! Yes, I am one of those people with a full kindle, carrying an entire library with me.
Am I entirely happy being caught in the hegemony of Amazon? No, not really… but other ebook providers exist and Calibre is a Godsend!
IQ84 by Haruki Murakami was my first audiobook ever, purchased for the absolutely worst reason: it was long and therefore good value for money on a pound per minute basis!
Fortunately, I have made better and smarter choices since then and there are some wonderful narrator-book marriages: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s narration of the Rivers of London series is wonderful and Fenella Woolgar’s narration of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life exquisite!
I never thought I’d say it but Romance novels are great!
I never thought romance was a genre I would enjoy.
I don’t know where that prejudice comes from – outdated gender stereotypes? Being force fed Jane Austen at University?
It was the 2020 lockdown that led me into a gentle dipping of my toe into the romance genre and I found that I loved the soft warmth of it. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, T J Klune, Red, White and Royal Blue…
I never enjoyed science fiction, until recently.
Sticking with those genres I dismissed, for some reason I just never read science fiction, even though I do watch a lot of science fiction movies!
This year I made a real effort to discover more in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series and Tchaikovsky’s Shards of Earth and the riotous fun of Gideon the Ninth… what have I been missing all these years?1
I almost never re-read books.
My daughter has her favourite books that she will read over and over again. It is a comfort thing for her, and possibly part of her finding a way to feel safe within her autism: if you feel anxious, discovering a new and unpredictable world can be intimidating.
For me, though, when I have tried to re-read books, I find myself too familiar with them. They are too predictable. I find I can even predict where on the page phrases will be. Perhaps this is a side effect of so many years spent studying and now studying-to-teach stories…
And of course, there is the flip side: books I treasured from my formative years may not have aged well. I did aim for a nostalgia re-read of some fondly remembered novels and … was rather disappointed!
Studying books for exams… is a good way to destroy a love of reading
Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely loved studying books.
I am one of those people who will fill a novel, drama or poem with post its, annotations, cross references, underlinings, jottings and other marginalia. I love to both bathe in the joy of the language and, at the same time, unpick that language and explore how it works and how it connects.
But I had the privilege of an education that championed the personal response and the individual. Was I ever taught how to write an essay? How to deconstruct a metaphor? How to unravel the tapestry of a writer’s grammar? No, but they were tools that I was given the time to allow to evolve.
As a teacher of literature, that gift of time is a luxury we cannot offer. We trot out mnemonics and acronyms as we TIPTOP our paragraphs and PEE or sometimes PEAK or PEEL a text, perhaps using SMILE or SLIME to explore a poem, or the current en vogue structure of What-How-Why. Technical terms, shoe horned into every essay. Yes, this writer uses a lot of verbs…
Of course this scaffolding is wonderful for some of our young people and obviously we encourage others to approach tasks more holisitically and individually… but there is so little time in the little six or twelve week blocks that are apportioned to each unit.
And don’t get me started on the unambitious dead-white-male-middle class canon that is offered to our young people at GCSE level.
Libraries are wonderful!
We visit our local library as often as we can with my daughter – it was one of the first places we took her to where she ran around and jumped on soft toys and found books. Just last weekend, she asked to go there to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge and found her own book.
And they offer so much to the community and there are so many wonderful stories of they way that libraries support and help those at most risk of falling through the cracks in society.
Classics are wasted on the young.
I shall start with a caveat: I’m not sure I know what the “classics” are or what the term means, and I am very far from being sure that I am comfortable with the term.
However, that said, there are those pillars of our literature that find their way onto GCSE, A-level and even degree level courses that raise fundamental questions about the human experience and our place in the world, that offer so much of the sublime and the absurd and the intellectual… and it was assumed that the minds of fifteen year old me was somehow capable of ‘doing’ Shakespeare and imbibing all that; or that eighteen-year old me could grasp The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock or The Four Quartets; or that nearly-nineteen-year old me would ‘get’ Middlemarch…
Yes, something was taken from those texts, but I do wish I had been older and had had – well – a life before being asked to grapple with them. When I return to the classics now – and perhaps the only definition of a classic is one that you can return to – they speak so much more openly and powerfully to me and with me than they ever could as a teenager!
And there we have a number of – I think nine rather than ten – bookish opinions for this week. Let me know whether you agree or disagree with any of them and have a great TTT!
Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes
July 26: Books From My Past Seasonal TBR Posts I STILL Haven’t Read (Submitted by Dedra @ A Book Wanderer)
August 2: Books Set In a Place I’d Love to Visit (real places or fictional)
August 9: Hilarious Book Titles
August 16: Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago
August 23: Completed Series I Wish Had More Books
August 30: School Freebie (In honor of school starting up soon, come up with a topic that somehow ties to school/education. The book could be set at school/college, characters could be teachers, books with school supplies on the cover, nonfiction titles, books that taught you something or how to do something, your favorite required reading in school, books you think should be required reading, your favorite banned books, etc.)