Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Top Ten Books I've Read Since Starting Blogging


What a great topic this week over at The Broke and the Bookish.  We're supposed to think back over all the books we've read since starting our blogs and select the best ten.  I enjoyed looking back over my review collection but found it very hard to narrow it down to only ten.  I've read over 200 books since starting blogging and many of them have been excellent.  My top ten isn't ranked or in any order, and clicking the title of the book will take you to my review.

Without further ado:


1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - This is a fiction book about the Nigerian civil war told through several different narrators.  Although this novel is brutal in parts, it's beautifully written and was my first introduction to Adichie, now one of my favourite authors.  I've since read and loved Purple Hibiscus and The Thing Around Your Neck.



2. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber - This gothic story is set in Victorian London and recounts the rise of Sugar, a prostitue who is determined to make something of herself.  A chunkster at 600+ pages it's a real epic full of memorable characters from all classes in London.  I loved the grotty realism of it and how panoramic it was.



3. The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski - Kapuscinski is a Polish journalist and this book is a collection of dispatches written from Africa from the 1950s through to the 1990s.  He has a knack of being in historically important places at the right times and the book is full of coups, key players like Mugabe and also adventure and danger.  There's a good balance of fact and personal impressions and the whole book is full of Kapuscinski's admiration of Africa.



4. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See - I am a big historical fiction fan so was happy to discover Lisa See through recommendations on blogs.  Although most people seem to prefer Snow Flower and the Secret Fan I like Shanghai Girls, the story of two Chinese sisters fleeing to America during the war with Japan.  It's got more grit that you would expect and the two main characters, May and Pearl, are full of flaws and so feel very real.  The sequel, Dreams of Joy, is worth a read too.



5. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - I picked this one up somewhat reluctantly as I was working my way through the Orange longlist earlier in the year; I didn't think of myself as a fan of classics (Greek and Roman).  A retelling of the Trojan war had limited appeal.  But, as regular readers will now, I fell in love with the love story in the book and the beautiful writing and spent months pushing it on my real life and blogging friends.  I was so pleased to see this win the Orange Prize this year.



6. Carmilla by Jospeh Sheridan Le Fanu - I love gothic classics and I love old-style vampire books so I was always going to enjoy Carmilla.  Set in a deserted castle in dark woods in Austria, Carmilla is a short book packed full of atmosphere. One for fans of Dracula.



 7. Small Island by Andrea Levy - I read this very early on in blogging and loved it.  Set in post WW2 London, it's the story of Jamaican immigrants Gilbert and Hortense and British residents Queenie and her soldier husband Bernard.  It's a fantastic examination of the immigrant experience and subtle prejudice.


8. In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner - I read this one only last week but it's destined to be a favourite.  It's about the Cambodian genocide through the eyes of a child and it's heart-breaking and beautiful all at the same time.



9. Lords of the Horizon by Jason Goodwin - I love history and have always been fascinated by Asian/Middle Eastern history.  This history of the Ottoman Empire is simply the most well written history book I have ever read.  Full of interesting little facts (I loved the Sultan who named his children after major religions), it's both excellent history and excellent writing - a rare combination.



10. Annabel by Kathleen Winter - In my opinion, this is a seriously underrated book.  It's about a hermaphrodite baby raised as a boy in rural Canada in the 1960s and it's stunning.  It's about rural communities and self-identity and what it means to be a girl or boy.

So there you go, the top ten books I've read since starting blogging.
What's your top ten?

46 comments:

  1. A fantastic list - great to see lots of different suggestions (I get a bit tired of seeing all the same old-same old titles popping up over and over again). Have lots to check out now, thanks.

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    1. It's always good to see different suggestions, I've seen lots of things new to me on blogs today too :)

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  2. Excellent list of books. I almost put Half of a Yellow Sun on my list. Thank you for your recommendations.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Half of a Yellow Sun too, have you read either of her other books?

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  3. I am tempted to add everything I haven't read from this list to my TBR list - they all sound fantastic!

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    1. If you do read any of them, let me know what you think of them :)

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  4. I'm excited to check out some of these titles. Thanks for the list!

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  5. Some really great books on this list. Half of a Yellow Sun is amazing! And I really want to Annabel and The Crimson Petal and the White! Now I'll try and make my own list...

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    1. Adichie is such a talented author. Both Annabel and Crimson Petal are amazing. Good luck with your own list!

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  6. Interesting list. I want to read Song of Achilles more and more every time I read a review.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to read it. Let me know what you think if you do!

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  7. I've had Small Island sitting on my shelf for ages and never actually knew what it was about until just now. Note: I bought it because I loved her most recent work (the name escapes me at the moment), so I picked it up at a thrift store for a dollar. Good to know!

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    1. Was it Long Song? If it was, I liked it but not as much as Small Island so you must read Small Island! There's a good BBC dramatisation of it too...

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  8. Great choices - I have to admit that I have only read Annabel and it was quite enjoyable, so I will certainly try to check out the others on your list. Thanks for sharing!

    Steph @ SteppingOutOfThePage.co.uk

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    1. I'm glad to see someone else has read Annabel, considering it was on the Orange shortlist I think it went a bit under the radar?

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  9. I love your list! It's so eclectic and has some unique titles I'm not familiar with. I'm already off to look up some of the books and add them to my TBR!

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    1. I try to read eclectically but it's hard as it's so easy to get swept up with review requests and new books. Hope you find something you like the look of :)

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  10. I haven't read any thin on your list, but some books sound intriguing, such as Small Island.

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  11. I think I may have heard of The Song of Achilles on your blog. I'm on the hold list for it. Annabelle I haven't heard of, but I immediately added it to my list.

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    1. You're in for a treat when it's your turn for Song of Achilles :)
      Annabel is quite a slow paced book, but very thought provoking.

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  12. What a great list! I enjoyed Half of a Yellow Sun and The Song of Achilles too, and I also preferred Shanghai Girls to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I haven't read any of the others you've listed but they're all books I'm interested in reading - Lords of the Horizon sounds fascinating.

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    1. If you like history books in general, you can't go wrong with Lords of the Horizon. I've been planning to read some of his fiction books ever since reading it but haven't got around to it yet. One day!

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  13. Small Island is one of my favorite books, but I read it before I started blogging so, sadly, couldn't put it on my list this week. I liked Shanghai Girls, too, except for the "leave you hanging" sort of ending it had. Maybe finally getting around to reading the sequel will help me out with that.

    Great list!

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    1. I was a bit hesitant to read the sequel as I loved Shanghai Girls so much, but Dreams of Joy is actually very good, almost as good as the original. You might want to shake Joy a few times though!

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  14. Holy moly! I have a hard time choosing a top ten every year never mind a top ten over all. I'll have to think about this for me.

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    1. I know, it was very difficult and I've not reviewed as many books as you! :P

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  16. Impressive list! I will have to check out a few of these myself. Another one that you may want to add to your list is a new one by Curtis D. Carney titled, "Kincaid and the Legal Massacre." I think you might really enjoy it given the books on your list.
    http://www.insightpressbooks.com/

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation Becky, I will check it out :)

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    2. You are welcome. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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  17. Wow. I love your list. Although I haven't read any of them, many sound fascinating. Thank you for the suggestions. New follower via GFC.

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  18. Glad to know you liked "Lords of the Horizon", it's been on my TBR for a while, ever since I first visited Istanbul and became completely fascinated with the place. I think you're the first book blogger I follow that has ever reviewed it.

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    1. I think you will enjoy it Alex, especially as you read a lot of history anyway. And I'm so jealous of your trip to Istanbul, I need to go there one day!

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  19. Should say that you have a very much different list of favorite books..to be frank, I haven't read even one book in this list. But I did checkout Half of a Yellow Sun from library and then returned it without reading :(

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    1. It's always good to have a bit of diversity! :P

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  20. What an amazing list! I've read none of these books -- but I've heard of a good number of them -- so I'm definitely going to add all to the TBR. I might go for Small Island first -- I love the premise!

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    1. Small Island is one of the best on the list, good choice. I'd be really interested to see what you think of it.

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  21. I (like many above me) am going to have to check out Small Island. It's nice to find another list with mostly adult titles on it - so thank you!

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  22. It's a daunting task to pick the best ten out of so many books. It looks like you've chosen some great ones. I've only read The Song of Achilles but I really loved it. I'll look into some of these others, although you're not helping me whittle down my TBR pile!

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  23. I'm a little worried to see I haven't read any of these books, but there are a few on my TBR list that I'm looking forward to

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  24. The last time you did a list like that I thought it look like my own list and we got into reading A Suitable Boy together. Now you produce this list and again it looks like my own list! I have read 4 out of 10 books up there Half the Yellow Sun, Shanghai Girl, The Song of Achilles, Annabel, of which the last 2 is my favourite. and the other 6 books are books that I own but yet to read, and I have Shadow of the Sun from the library with me now. The 2 I haven't heard of is the Lords of the Horizon and Camilia but since we seems to love and read similar books, I have to check these two out! :)

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  25. Agree with your choices - I have several of these still on my TBR list, better do something about it!

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  26. Fantastic list! I've read some of them, and will now be looking for the others :) I'm actually in the middle of In the Shadow of the Banyan right now :)

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