Top Ten Books I Recommend Most Often

  1. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel. Station Eleven is SF for book club readers (which sounds a good deal less positive than I meant it to). It’s an inoffensive and quietly touching book, and its focus is on people not setting.
  2. Sabriel – Garth Nix. I have had something of an awakening to just how good the Old Kingdom books actually are in recent years: strongly-characterised heroines who are moral but strong, subtle sex positivity, really solid worldbuilding and a sarcastic cat. In a publishing scene awash with high fantasy that can often barely summon up a female character not defined by romantic relationships, these are a breath of fresh air and I’m so grateful to have grown up with them.
  3. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett. Does this really need saying? Pratchett’s books are an Old Favourite: humane and funny and so lovely to return to like a comfort blanket and I’ve met very few people who don’t like them.
  4. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley. Everyone should read this. Everyone. Firstly because it’s nothing like popular culture tells you it is. And secondly because it is a warning about the perils of forgetting the dispossessed and the downtrodden, the terrible power of the disenfranchised.
  5. The Gunslinger – Stephen King. I don’t recommend this as often nowadays, but I used to plug it to absolutely anyone who would listen. I still think the first three books are astonishing, understated, fresh pieces of epic fantasy; my love for them is just a little tarred by the bloat of, especially, Wolves of the Calla and The Dark Tower.
  6. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens. I have a special place in my heart for Our Mutual Friend, and I always recommend it to people asking about Dickens. This is probably a bad idea, since it’s a sprawling, dense novel which I imagine turns a lot of people off. But I can’t help it: it is my fave.
  7. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski. I do hesitate to recommend this sometimes: I think it’s a book that only certain people will like. But if I think you are certain people? Then I will recommend the heck out of it.
  8. The Madwoman in the Attic – Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Yes: it is an academic tome. Yes: it was first published thirty years ago and is extremely very hectoring and feminist-ragey. But I maintain that absolutely saved my life in university and every English student should read it and it is totally badass and awesome.
  9. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers. I read this only quite recently and have therefore had limited time to recommend it; but it is a breath of goodwill and hope in a post-Brexit, terror-scarred, shifting-to-the-right world.
  10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. A book whose relentless optimism about the power of community bears down on the horror of German-occupied Guernsey and flattens it. Just universally agreeable.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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