Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recommend to Others the Most

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


I’m not the sort of person to recommend books to other people. Of course not. *Ahem!

Ok, of course I do. It is part of my DNA! I have been known, when browsing Waterstones and overhearing shop assistants offering up a book recommendation, to feel obliged to butt in and offer a different one. My blog is broadly speaking just a list of book recommendations. I have had long conversations with colleagues that never go far beyond “Have you read…? And you haven’t read…? You should read…” It is, to be fair, pretty much part and parcel of my job as an English teacher, though – and that’s my excuse!

So, there are not likely to be many surprises on this list: I doubt the books I offer here will not have appeared elsewhere on the blog. Whilst I will select specific books, anything by these authors is amazing!


Young Adult Recommendations

As I said, I am an English teacher and am regularly asked to recommend reading for students and there are three authors whom I regularly recommend.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. 

Chaos Walking, Patrick Ness

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets. Then Todd Hewitt unexpectedly stumbles on a spot of complete silence. Which is impossible. And now he’s going to have to run…

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.

Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest to find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late . . .

Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the “Wilhelm Gustloff.” Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people adults and children alike aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.


Fantasy Recommendations

Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson

A world of ash and pain. A world subjugated. But a world where magic can be drawn from metals. A world waiting for a new heroine, a new hope.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Against the grey sky the towering tents are striped black and white. A sign hanging upon an iron gates reads:

Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

Celia and Marco are two young magicians who have been trained since childhood for a deadly duel. With the lives of everyone at the Circus of Dreams at stake, they must test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke

The year is 1806. Centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell, whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms that between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon, now find themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

Lords and Ladies, Discworld, Terry Pratchett

On Midsummer Night, dreams are especially powerful. So powerful, in fact, that they can cause the walls between realities to come crashing down. And some things you really don’t want to break through.

The witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick return home to discover that elves have invaded Lancre. And even in a world of wizards, trolls, dwarfs, Morris dancers – and the odd orangutan – they’re spectacularly nasty creatures.

The fairies are back – and this time they don’t just want your teeth . . .

Crime Recommendations

The Dublin Murder Squad, Tana French

When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood.

Exit, Belinda Bauer

When Felix lets himself in to Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath . . .

But just fifteen minutes later Felix is on the run from the police – after making the biggest mistake of his life.

Now his world is turned upside down as he must find out if he’s really to blame, or if something much more sinister is at play. All while staying one shaky step ahead of the law.

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet – Lost on the left, Found on the right – and the two never seem to balance.

Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, Jackson attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected…

Historical Fiction Recommendations

Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.

Neither parent knows that Hamnet will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright: a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell is Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes having risen with those of Anne Boleyn, the king’s new wife. But Anne has failed to give the king an heir, and Cromwell watches as Henry falls for plain Jane Seymour. Cromwell must find a solution that will satisfy Henry, safeguard the nation and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge unscathed from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.

Shrines of Gaiety, Kate Atkinson

1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

At the heart of this glittering world is notorious Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.


Apologies that I’ve not added much in the way of discussion or explanation with these – feeling a little under the weather at the moment so I am off to bed for a not-exactly-early night but earlier than usual when I blog, and try to prepare myself for a somewhat tense day back at work tomorrow.


Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes


May 16: Things Getting in the Way of Reading (what’s taking up your time right now?) (lovingly stolen from A Cocoon of Books during freebie week)
May 23: Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book (these can be auto-buy authors, tropes you love, if an author you love blurbed it, settings, genres, etc.)
May 30: Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book (what are your immediate turn-offs or dealbreakers when it comes to books?)

22 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recommend to Others the Most”

  1. Some excellent choices there. Good Omens was the first Pratchett (and Gaiman of course) and I’ve read many of the Discworld books since then even though I don’t generally read fantasy! I really enjoyed Case Histories too and have Shrines of Gaiety waiting on the bookshelves. I included a Maggie O’Farrell in my list too but went for The Marriage Portrait. https://portobellobookblog.com/2023/05/09/top-ten-tuesday-9th-may-books-i-recommend-to-others-the-most-toptentuesday-tuesdaybookblog/

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that’s really annoying. I think mine might have been similar actually. Although it was an early review copy and they are often oddly formatted.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an awesome list! You’ve got a good mix of books I’ve never heard of (but am interested in now) and books from my TBR. Although the one book I read from this list, The Night Circus, was not a big hit for me. But hopefully the others will be!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only read The Night Circus from your list, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. Several others are on my tbr. I especially would like to get to The Dublin Murders someday. I own almost the whole series but I haven’t read them. 🤦‍♀️ And I’m impressed that you reach out to people in bookstores. I want to do that all the time. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like how you broke your list into genres. I love A Monster Calls and enjoyed the film as well. I read Good Omens years ago and I remember it being a favorite at the time. I read Into The Woods and enjoy Tana French’s writing, I need to read more by her.

    Liked by 1 person

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