Monday, 1 October 2012

Top Ten Books I Want To Stay In The Spotlight

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is as follows: 
Top Ten 'Older' Books You Don't Want People To Forget About
(You can define older however you wish.  Basically just backlisted books you think are great.   The point is to share books that could be forgotten about in the midst of all the new releases...)
Time to consult my trusty LibraryThing catalogue, methinks...  Here's my ten, in no particular order!
The Secret History by Donna Tartt - If you haven't already read this book, then get on it.  Really.  It's a bit gothic (check), the characters are part of a strange academic clique studying the classics (double check), there's a mysterious death (check, check, check) and the writing is wonderful.  I read it for a book club, and would never have picked it up myself otherwise - now it's one of my favourite books.  I've read it twice, am well due another reread, and heartily recommend it to my customers on a regular basis - now it's your turn!

The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr - Published in 2010, I think this book is going to get ever more relevant as more and more people switch to e-readers, and more schools and libraries throw out swathes of their physical books in favour of computers, e-books and online learning.  I identified with much of what Carr says about changing concentration levels and comprehension styles, and his research is fascinating.  It's a balanced book that will have different implications for different readers; for me, it convinced me to stay firmly in the 'paper and ink' camp for the time being... (My review)
Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore - In the sea of classics, certain names stand out as being the most popular: Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Hardy... their novels sell by the bagload, particularly as the cold weather draws in.  Sadly, Lorna Doone seems to be regularly overlooked - and it's such a shame, because it's a wonderful novel!  A plucky heroine, a swoonworthy love interest, land war, family betrayal, lies and love and violence, all done with a broad Exmoor accent.  Oh, and the BBC's adaptation is fantastic too!
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - People rave about March and People of the Book - but what about Brooks' first novel?  It's a fictional version of events in a Derbyshire village very close to me, Eyam, which went into voluntary quarantine during the plague of the 1660s in an attempt to stop the disease spreading any further.  It was an incredible act of courage, and the book is so compelling - I've read it three times and I'm not tired of it yet!

Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs: The Left Bank World of Shakespeare and Co. by Jeremy Mercer - Yes, yes, this book appears on every bookish list I've ever made - but seriously, every book lover should read it!  Shakespeare and Company!  Modern bohemian literary life in Paris!  Living in a bookshop!  Storytelling and wine, pancakes and poetry, pretty girls and eccentric occupants, it's all here!  READ IT ALREADY!  Oh, and watch this video too.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella - Most of Kinsella's books come through the shop regularly, but we rarely see a copy of this one.  It's about a lawyer who makes a serious mistake in her professional life and runs away to the country, where she accidentally falls into a job as a housekeeper for a 'nouveau rich' couple, despite her complete lack of domestic skills.  Oh, and she falls in love, of course...  Funny, clever and very uplifting!

Plague by Malcolm Rose - As a teenager I read this multiple times, but it seems to have been completely eclipsed by his two popular mystery series since then.  It's a YA thriller about a mysterious ebola outbreak, a town in panic, and a medical team's attempt to find a cure.  It's fantastic and terrifying and hit the spot way before zombie and dystopian novels took over the 'plague fiction' theme...  I'd love to find a copy again!

Deric Longden's cat books - These days cat memoirs are everywhere, from Dewey to A Street Cat Named Bob, but for me the original and very British best are still Deric Longden's books.  His tales of life with his blind wife (writer Aileen Armitage) and their evolving feline family (especially Thermal, the small white kitten) are warm, wryly observed and very funny - they've been my comfort reads since I was about eleven and I love 'em!  Start with The Cat Who Came In From the Cold...  :)

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison - Misery memoirs are all the rage these days - but what about a book about surviving mental illness that ISN'T all doom and gloom?  Jamison's account of her life with bipolar disorder is emotive and compelling, but never drifts into mawkish sensationalism.  She is a clinical psychologist so her book is underscored by her professional interest, and her books are fuelled by hope and insight.  I'm certainly not letting my copy go anytime soon!

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli - I adored this book when I was at school, and rightly so!  It is a love song to individuality, a quirky story about a spirited girl who follows her heart and a young boy who finds himself falling under her spell.  Stargirl is such a unique character (she taught me what a ukulele was long before Amanda Palmer zoomed onto my radar) and reminds girls that it's okay to be themselves, however unusual their interests and ideas may be!