Ten Favourite Books

A quick explanation- In late 2012 I took part in a local exhibition/celebration of books. Fifty local people chose their ten favourite books and exhibited them. The books were there to be picked up, browsed, read through and discussed by anyone visiting the exhibition. There were lunch time talks every day from authors, poets, print-press workers and many others, which I regrettably missed due to work. For those wanting to know more about the celebration, I think this link still works: http://bookcelebration.org/

I was one of the local people asked to display my favourite books, and I spent literally days trying to pick ten. Looking back over my list, there are a lot that I would now change. However here it is, unedited, for your perusal. I would be very interested to hear other people’s favourite books, if anyone wants to comment.

ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE – TAMORA PIERCE

I have always been a lover of fairytale and fantasy, and this was one of the first novels that really drew me away from the “damsel in distress” theme that is so common in these genres. Tamora Pierce opened my eyes to a rich seam of fantasy populated by strong women who built relationships as equals and were capable of kicking arse. The Tortall universe introduced in this book (now spanning 17 and counting!) remains in my opinion one of the best built fantasy worlds, and Alanna is one of my favourite characters for her sheer determination.

 

TITUS GROAN – MERVYN PEAKE

I fell in love with this book as I read the first sentence, and slowly worked my way through it over a year with lots of breaks for less dense books. Everything about it intrigues me; the pure esoterica of Gormenghast’s rituals, the irredeemably bizarre characters and the rambling decrepit castle that imprisons them. The book is like a portrait of a ruin, and no single character is the centre. It is a work of vast imagination.

THE WORLD’S WIFE – CAROL ANN DUFFY

Each poem is self contained; sharp, funny, tragic, angry. As a collection it is like a tiny, alternative telling of some of the western world’s more famous stories. I love the variety of the rhymes and rhythms and the way that each voice is distinct. The imagery is so vivid, and every time I read this, whether I go for whole poems or just dip in and out, I am always left with a kaleidoscope of pictures.

 

THE MISTS OF AVALON – MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY

An epic Arthurian re-telling; a story of love and loss and the ending of eras. Each personal flaw, virtue and foible described with stunning realism and told in the most fluid of voices. The imagined Britain lives and breathes through the pages, and the wonderful slant of narrating the tale from the point of view of Morgan le Fay (known in the book as Morgaine) is priceless.

 

THE RED TENT – ANITA DIAMANT

A book much loved in my household, and consequently held together with sellotape and hope, this is another re-telling. Written in the voice of Dinah, only daughter of Jacob in the bible, it charts the stories of her mothers and her own life. It passionately evokes the hopes and dreams that its characters hold, along with their resilience (or not) in the face of tragedy. I love the scope of the story.

 

THE CHILD GARDEN – GEOFF RYMAN

I love the ideas in this book; the photosynthesising people, the importance of cancer and the standardisation of knowledge. There was almost too much to absorb (organic spaceships!). The pure relentlessness of a society that believes it can “cure” childhood struck me as uncomfortably close to the truth. I enjoyed how much this book made my brain work.

 

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER – CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILLMAN

Absolutely chilling. The story crept under my skin like the wallpaper sliding into the unnamed protagonist’s mind. I love it for its devastating simplicity and the way that I am always on tenterhooks by the end.

 

THE LAST HERO – TERRY PRATCHETT AND PAUL KIDBY

Hilarious. Simply hilarious, beautifully illustrated and revolving around a band of heroes in their eighties. Where else could I find a group of octogenarians storming the citadel of the Gods, dragging a whimpering minstrel with them and opposed only by a useless wizard, an absent-minded genius, an orang-utan and a dedicated policeman? All set on a disc-shaped world resting on the backs of four elephants that stand on a giant turtle swimming through space. I love it.

 

MERLIN DREAMS – PETER DICKINSON AND ALAN LEE

There are so many layers to this book, stories folded inside each other so that every one must be unwrapped to reveal another. Merlin is trapped beneath a stone and he remembers, and remembering drifts off to sleep and dreams, the dreams and remembrances influenced by one another until they cannot be told apart. I always want to read these stories aloud, by a fire.

 

BONESHAKER – CHERIE PRIEST

A wonderful steampunk adventure fuelled by zeppelins, heavy gas and zombies (only actually referred to as rotters). I love the dry and earthy characters, the names (Leviticus Blue), the clockwork science and the lack of gratuitous corset ripping or indeed corsets. One of my favourites because of the action, the realistic motives that drive the two protagonists and the plot that keeps a person forever on their toes. I have to admit to first picking it up because I noticed the unusual colour of the type (it is all a sepia sort of brown-surprisingly nice to read).

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Recent Reading – catch-up reviews | Meredith Debonnaire
  2. Trackback: Book Review: Ganymede by Cherie Priest | Meredith Debonnaire

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