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?