Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. This week we are looking at my all time favourite books, so here they are (in no particular order).
10: Harry Potter and The Many Books
I’ve lumped all of the HP books together, because while they were all different and I enjoyed them in different ways, I enjoyed them all immensely. I think of all the books on this list Rowling’s opus has had the greatest effect on me as a person. Like many from my generation, I learned so many life lessons from these books; I think the lesson I took the most from was not judging a book by its cover (for example, Snape isn’t the horrible person we think he is, and Dumby isn’t as saint-like as he’d have you believe).
9: The Abhorsen Trilogy
Garth Nix has influenced my writing a lot, and Sabriel was (and still is) one of my favourite books. I’ve always found his world-building to be immensely deep and thorough, whilst refraining from those awful info-dumps that many fantasy works suffer from.
8: His Dark Materials
They kill God. Enough said.
I will say more, however. The novel I’m working on is, I think, quite similar to His Dark Materials, especially in the many-worlds theories and the religious motifs. Pullman is a brilliant writer with an astounding imagination, and if my writing could be half as good as his I’ll die a happy person.
7. The Magician’s Guild
Trudi Canavan’s Magician’s Guild trilogy was my favourite book(s) for a very long time. I had never really been excited about them, had never really sung of their virtues. They were always my quiet favourites, books that grew on me over time until I realised that I had grown to love them more than any other. They’re an excellent example of what I feel High Fantasy should be. A new but recognisable world, a deep history, winding descriptions and deep prose. One of my favourite things about Canavan’s world is her system of Magic. The way she describes it, as visualisation techniques and tapping into that almost imagined well of energy inside, really allowed me to connect to the magic and feel like maybe I could do this too. She also adapted the mind-palace technique (recently made famous by Bendyback Crumblesnatch’s Sherlock Holmes) to become something actually magical.
6. Cry of the Icemark
I tried to re-read this trilogy recently. It felt a lot simpler and less magical than I remember, but I did recapture some of the feeling of why I loved these books. I read them when I was around 13/14 (I think), and absolutely loved them. They’re like Lord of the Rings plus talking leopards plus vampires, for kids. Stuart Hill also based all of the nations in the book on real-world civilisations (The Icemark are an Ango/Viking nation, the Polypontian Empire is based on Rome etc), and this led to a great sense of simultaneous discovery and familiarity. He also wrote some amazing battle scenes, with troop movements so well-described that I never found myself confused.
5. Keys to the Kingdom
I wasn’t sure whether to put Garth Nix on this list twice, but then I went ‘hey it’s my list I’ll put what I want on it’. So The Keys to the Kingdom made it on here too. These books encaptured my love of Low Fantasy, just as Abhorsen did for High Fantasy. Arthur’s adventures mirrored a lot of those I had in my imagination as a child. A wildly bizarre world filled with impossible places and Alice-esque chess boards. The quest for those all-important MacGuffins, which ended up being far more useful than expected. I love it.
4. God Is Dead
This is definitely the most serious book on the list, and even it is a comedic satire. This is Ron Currie’s debut book, told through a series of short stories. I shan’t go into too much detail on it, because I’ve written a review which I intend to post on here at some point. But it is a brilliant, funny, terrifying and clever book that more people should read.
3. Station Eleven
I only read this book recently, but I’m glad that Emma reccomended it to me. I normally don’t go for standalone books; as a reader and writer of Fantasy and Sci-Fi I enjoy the depth of story and world that can usually only come from a series of books. But Emily St. John Mandel did an excellent job of tying up all of the elements of this story. She uses a recognisable, feared, disease (swine flu) as the basis for her civilisation-destroying pandemic. The story jumps around between several plotlines, set years apart, but I only found myself confused once or twice. Mandel creates so many story threads that I was sceptical as to whether she could collect them all back up at the end of the story, but collect she did, and the stories all came together brilliantly. Definitely worth a read.
2. The Hunger Games
Look, what is there to say?
I read these books after seeing the first movie. I had never actually even heard of them, but when the film came out and everyone was going on about how good the books were I figured it would be worth a watch. I loved the completely fucked up premise, and after seeing it I sat on my couch on the porch (yeah we had a couch on the porch for some reason) and I ate up all three books in about fifteen straight hours. I regret nothing, and have read them all again, slowly, since. I shan’t tell you anything about them because if you haven’t read them what are you doing reading this post? Go read them. Now.
Go on, I’m not joking. Turn off your screen and go buy a copy of The Hunger Games.
1. The Rook
I know I said ‘in no particular order’, but Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is at the number one spot for a reason. This is my favourite book ever. Ever since I got it for $2 at a second-hand book fair I have been reading it on a loop more or less constantly. It’s a brilliant supernatural thriller that’s somewhere between Torchwood and Monty Python. It’s unique and hilarious and utterly brilliant. It features a person with four bodies, a fortune-telling duck and mad Belgian scientists. I cannot reccomend it enough.
Thanks for reading