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Tag: top ten tuesday

Ten Favourite Books I Read in 2019

I saw someone post a list of their favourite books of the decade and while I would love to write a post quite as grand as that, it seems like an impossible task. I was 17 a decade ago and I honestly couldn’t look at the books I read at 18-19-20… now, through the same lens as I did then. So I’ll go with the Top Ten Tuesday standard, Ten Favourite Books of the year 2019 (how convenient that the last day of the year is a Tuesday.) I will be writing a detailed year in review post next week (yes, another new year’s attempt at blog revival as it were.) So today’s just a plain and simple list.

1.  Girl at War by Sara Novic: This is a book written by a Croatian writer about a young girl who loses her family in the Serbo-Croatian War. It exposed me to a part of the world I knew nothing about and with the glaring honesty of a ten-year-old narrator. Ana Juric, the main character, is rescued out of the war zone and adopted by an American family when she is ten. She grows up American, in denial and finally, mid-way into the book, unravels her past even as she comes to terms with it herself. A scene that still haunts me: this tiny little girl, convulsing in pain and vomiting as she has her first dinner with her new American family – she’s never known what it is to have a full stomach. She can’t bear it.

2. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien: Oh yes, it took me 27 years to pick this up and I’m not unashamed to admit it. Where do I even begin with this? I don’t know what I was waiting for. Reading The Lord of the Rings sometime in May and and binge-reading up on Tolkien for the rest of the year has sufficed to transform my entire outlook on fantasy fiction — one of my favourite genres at that. I don’t think there is a greater quest in fiction nor a greater character than Sam. But that deserves more than a mention on a list, doesn’t it?

3. What the F*: What Swearing Reveals about Our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves by Benjamin K. Bergen: It’s not often that a non-fiction makes it to my list of favourite anythings (aside: it’s fascinating how favourite is underlined in red for its UK spelling, but ‘anythings’ isn’t.) I’ve annoyed everyone I know and would care to listen to exasperation singing praises of this book, so all I’m going to do is copy the book description from Goodreads. “Swearing is useful. It can be funny, cathartic, or emotionally arousing. As linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen shows us, it also opens a new window onto how our brains process language and why languages vary around the world and over time.” There’s no scope for being prudish while reading this one.

4. Columbine by Dave Cullen: Another non-fiction… what is happening to me. Now for the record, gun violence is as distant a reality to me as possible and that gives me the luxury of taking this book in a different vein than many other readers would. Takeaways for me, from this critical reporting of the Columbine massacre: compassion fatigue, misrepresentation of facts in the media, the celebration of a school spirit, urban myths and people juicing the tragedy for personal propaganda. The biggest trigger for me, as a school teacher, was just how much “in charge” a teacher is of her students’ safety. Foremost, I think we, as a thinking and feeling society, must read this book to see how a small twist of facts can colour an entire story; and how important it is to look for facts in the face of compelling emotion.

5. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: I rarely pick up series, and even when I do, I hardly ever like the first book. Seraphina is a glaring exception to this rule. The beautiful medieval/steampunk story redeems its genre of young adult fantasy. Seraphina is the story of a girl who is part dragon, and her attempts to fit into the class ascribed to her by a society which doesn’t understand or accept her full potential.

6. The Elephant Whisperer by Laurence Anthony: This was my first book of the year, and a memorable read. This is the true story of an Australian-African conservationist and his efforts to to rehabilitate a herd of wild elephant in the Thula Thula nature preserve in South Africa. Laurence Anthony loves elephants, that much is clear from the first chapter; but what becomes increasingly, and amazingly, evident over the course of the book is that these elephants love Laurence Anthony too. What we get is a strange tale of patience, hard work and the careful and precarious bonding between one man and one alpha female elephant, who work together to protect the lives of her precious pachyderm family. It’s unforgettable. You learn about the intricate nature of elephant societies, their unmistakable intelligence, South African jungle laws and most importantly, the power of family.

7. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue: It’s becoming increasingly hard to pick favourites in a year that was so rewarding in terms of reading. Yet, I cannot forget this particular book that had the most compelling set of characters of all the books I read this year. It’s the story of a Cameroonian immigrant couple and their struggle to settle down in New York city. It is also about the American family they work for, and how the financial crisis of 2008 shakes their perfectly built world to the core.

8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Let’s be perfectly honest, I did not expect to love this book. It proudly proclaims to be a “YA” book and I have my biases about that. It also takes a line with so much power and cultural connotation as its title, I was certain it would be difficult to live up to the name. I was wrong. The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter, a sixteen year old girl who at the very opening of the book, witnesses a police officer shoot down her best friend Khalil. As the whole nation is taken up in a speculation game, the only person who knows the truth is afraid of getting involved. This is a complicated story of race, identity, violence, friendship, and risking the facade of normalcy to protect and celebrate your roots.

8. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie: Oh, but this book is an epic, a story spanning nations and generations. The surprised outrage of America at the time of 9/11. A young Muslim couple in love facing the Partition of two nations in an old, old Delhi. The bombing of Nagasaki and the far-reaching injuries of this war on the minds and bodies of the people. It’s set in Pakistan, and Japan, and Afghanistan too, and sheds light on war from any and every perspective, every generation and language. The storyteller is intelligent, unbiased, and compassionate and demands the same of her reader.

9. Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly: So, this may seem misplaced in an increasingly more serious list, but I abso-freaking-lutely loved this book. This is the premise: it is the greatest bounty hunt in history. The targets are the finest warriors in the world-commandos, spies, terrorists. And they must all be dead by 12 noon, today. On this list is the name of the US Marine Shane Schofield, who is not only a target but also quite possibly the only man who can stop this bounty hunt, if he doesn’t get killed first. Reading Matthew Reilly’s book is like watching a well made action movie. What Reilly lacks in terms of language or depth of character, he makes up for in speed and a kind of detail that is almost screenwriter-ish but in a good way. I won’t be able to read these books one after the other, but it’s perfect if you’re in the mood for some entertainment.


10. The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
: The hardest pick of all that brings the list to a close. The Hired Man is yet another book set in Croatia, and a psychological dissection of war, when it comes unannounced and alters reality as you know it. This book takes you in the mind of a man who has suffered mysterious evils at the hands of an unnamed war, and the lifelong repercussions it has on his psyche. It’s the story of a small town and its culture being silently rewritten by its scant inhabitants to account for the damages that were caused to them, about how the world has somehow moved on to the future while they’re still grappling with a new present. An American woman and her two kids move into a house in small town Croatia. The woman hires a local man to help out with the refurbishing of what she wants to turn into a holiday home, and this man, our narrator, tells us the history of the house. A haunting read. The author hammers into your mind and turns the screw just when you least expect it.

That’s it for now, which were your favourite reads of the year?

Books by my Favourite Authors I Still Haven’t Read

This list includes book I’ve been meaning to pick up, books I have no intention of reading, and books that I’ll eventually get around to reading. This does not (I repeat, does not) make me any less of a fan, mind you. (Sorry.)
1. Pelican Brief by John Grisham – I have
wanted to read this book for an eternity. I was on high school when I
first picked it up, but for some reason or the other, had to return it
to the library. This topic is a happy reminder to pick it up. 

2.
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
– The other day a certain someone
told me I’m not a true SK fan until I read his “magnum opus.”
Naturally, I bristled. I like King for his characters, naturally, but I am somehow more drawn to horror.
3.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
– My book club had a Gaiman-themed meetup once
and that was the first time my curiosity about Sandman was piqued.
Otherwise, I really don’t consider myself a graphic novels-person.
Appreciate the art, can’t get into the read. 
4. 
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
– When I saw the topic, I
thought to myself, surely there must be some Cormoran Strike novel out
that I haven’t read yet. Somehow these books never produced that urgency
in me to pick up and read them. I will eventually read it. Meanwhile, desperately awaiting the Fantastic Beasts movie.
5. The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter – I have read about 35 of Pratchett’s Discworld books (of around 50.) I read some non-Discworld stories before his death, including the beloved Good Omens. I do plan on finishing the series, am slowly relishing it. But now, since we lost him, I just can’t bring myself to read a collaboration with another author.. in fact, part of which was published posthumously… there’s something unsettling about it.
6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – This is a little silly of me. I love Mark Twain, have read quite a few of his books. I also enjoyed The Adventures of Huck Finn.. I just think I’ve crossed the window of life when I would have actually appreciated this book. There are other books by Twain I have yet to read, which I would like to (like Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc), and I don’t see myself ever going back to Tom Sawyer.
7. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro – I keep meaning to pick this up. I love Ishiguro’s style. I think his Englishness makes his Japanese-ness a tad less incomprehensible for me.. I’m more suited to his style of writing than any proper Japanese translation for instance. I would highly recommend An Artist of the Floating World to get a good taste of this mixed style I’m talking about… and Nocturnes (short story collection) for a snippet.


8. Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft – This one makes me laugh! I have no clue how I could have read so many stories by Lovecraft and somehow missed this. I know the story, naturally. In fact, you know what, let me go read it right away. This is awfully embarrassing.
9. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – I’ve read his novels, his short stories, his book on writing advice and a fantabulous review of Dandelion Wine – but I have not been able to read beyond five pages of this book. I found it a bit to esoteric and lacking in those elements that I personally admire about Bradbury, but mostly, the book left me feeling in “the wrong place, at the wrong time.” Have you ever felt that about a book? You can tell it is great, but exactly how is just out of reach… like it wasn’t written for this version of you.
10. The Sundial by Shirley Jackson – I am not sure I get to claim Jackson as a favourite author when I have only read two of her books (but how delicious they were.) I really want to read The Sundial… I am convinced that it will leave as great an impression on me as We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
And that’s it for today. If you haven’t figured out, this post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme. Feels good to be back to blogging! Any books by favourite authors that still haven’t made it to your shelf?

Ten Questions You Must Stop Asking Book Lovers

(Reposting with minor edits a post from early last year, because it really fits this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt and because I love it.)

Excuse the generalization. The title could be misleading; I’m not talking about all book lovers here, but me. Which means it’s perfectly fine if you aren’t annoyed by these questions. But I do think some of you book bloggers and avid readers out there would agree with me on at least a few of these.

1. *Gawping at my bookshelf* But have you read all of these? These askers almost always relax with immense satisfaction when I say no.
Of course not. I have read about half of them and that is the point of owning books: I do not want to run out of reads. It is not as if I have only read three from the three hundred. Like Umberto Eco said, what is the point of stacking your shelves with only books that you have already read? (Not verbatim, naturally.)
2. Which is your all-time favourite book?
I don’t really hate this question so much as find it difficult to answer. Um, my favourite horror is The Shining by Stephen King, my favourite romance is Possession by A. S. Byatt. If you catch me on a Wednesday, my favourite fantasy would be Discworld by Terry Pratchett, but Sundays generally see me raving about Harry Potter. So yeah, there is no single all time favourite book.
3. Why do you read?
Okay, tell me this: why do you breathe? Can you help it? Because you would die if you didn’t? Right. That pretty much applies here too.
4. What is the point of fiction? / What do you gain from reading novels? / How can reading about imaginary things be useful?
These questions depress, infuriate and amuse me all at the same time. I could give you a hundred instances of fiction being pointy(?) and useful. But the fact is, you can come up with a hundred reasons to eat pizza too or start wearing hats, very logical reasons, but I will do either only if I want to – and no one is making you read fiction unless you want to. All I ask is, do not expect justifications or explanations from those of us who do and stop being so damn pompous about reading useful knowledge-providing non-fiction only.
5. How do you read so fast? Do you skip pages? 
Hey. How dare you accuse me of that. No, I don’t skip pages. And I don’t speed read either, so don’t you go telling me how quality is more important than quantity. Yes, I have a lot of free time on my hands, and when I don’t, I make time. No one gets to make me feel guilty about missing a few socializing sessions and other dull chores to finish a book. And after years spent reading, you don’t have to aim to read fast – it just happens.
6. No, but seriously, how could you have finished … in two days?
Fine. I skip pages. Whole chapters, when I am bored. Then I read the SparkNotes summary and scan the Goodreads reviews, rephrase them, throw in a couple of Priya-isms and voila! Review done. Pretending to love reading, skimming through books, all so I can write a book blog is super-rewarding. There. Happy?
7. (so this is more reviewer-centric rather than book-lover related) Are you scared of writing critical reviews? Why are all your reviews so safe and “politically correct”?
No, I just like to make the most of what I read. I am a book lover not a critic. And in all fairness, there is no such thing as a good or bad book, only a certain type of reader. When I don’t like a book, I rarely spend precious time ranting about it, never without giving reasons. If I am required to write a review, instead of “Ugh, what a horribly mushy book”, I would rather say, “I don’t like it, but fans of heart wrenching sagas might.” Sarcasm may slip in, but come on, nobody is perfect… at least I try.
8. What do you prefer: ebooks or physical books?
Am I the only one who finds this particular topic over-discussed?  Sure, I like the smell of a physical book and love libraries, but I also like carrying along a teenie device full of books that would have otherwise weighed a couple of kilos. I mean, I like reading. The stories matter. If Rowling publishes her next book only on like eggshells, that is where I’ll read it. 
9. You read so much. Is that why you have glasses? / why you are tired all the time (because of no activity, apparently) / why you never call? / why you are such an introvert? / why you *insert unrelated “issue”*?
No, at least… I don’t think so. No, I am pretty sure that is not the reason. Maybe I should not read so much, what do you thi…? Wait a minute, you cannot scare me into reading fewer books. What do you know about getting glasses or being an introvert, anyway!? The last I checked, you aren’t exactly a doctor. Reading is not a problem, thank you.
10. Do you even have any other hobbies, besides reading?
Erm… Yes?

Written for IndiSpire, a nice little initiative by IndiBlogger, which I can rarely take part in because of the very specific theme of this blog. 

Seven Fairytales I Want Retold

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (The Broke and the Bookish) topic is wonderful. As usual, though, my top ten list has fewer than ten items. In today’s post I talk about the seven popular fairytales I want retold and how. To be honest, I haven’t had time to look up and reread each of the fairy tales, so I can only hope the details match up. 
The lovely image below is from the portfolio of “jannoon028” at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
1. Rumpelstiltskin from the point of view of Rumpelstiltskin – The eerie story of the dwarfish creature who helped a young woman turn hay into gold in exchange for her first-born baby as the future Queen was a favourite childhood fairytale. But he was so mysterious, we never found out why he did what he did, how he knew the woman would become Queen, whatever he wanted the baby for and why on earth he was called Rumpelstiltskin. It would be great to find some answers.
2. The Little Mermaid with the prince giving up his legs – That’s right, I want Disney’s Ariel with a happily ever after that not only has no sacrifices but I want the prince to become a merprince for her. Andersen’s ending for the little mermaid is beautiful, her sacrifices and the gift she receives for not killing her prince are all magical. But this way, the fairy tale will still be beautiful, and modern and much happier.
3. Red Riding Hood where no one dies – This was my least favourite of Grimms’ fairy stories. It has no concept of redemption. In some versions the girl dies, in others, the wolf is killed. I want a retelling where both Red Riding Hood and the wolf are taught their lessons without any bloodshed and maybe someone tells Red’s mother not to send her alone through a freaking forest and visit the grandma herself instead. 
4. The Ugly Duckling the other way around – All of Andersen’s fairy tales have nice moral endings, without much open-mindedness. I mean, of course, the swan realized it was beautiful, that’s because it was. I want a story of a duckling who finds himself with swanlings and is convinced he isn’t beautiful until he finds his true family. Now that will be a much more satisfying story about misfits.
5. Beauty and the Beast with a better father – Fairy tale fathers are always conspicuously absent, either dead or too weak to care, and the princesses are inevitably completely attached to them nonetheless. Like in Rapunzel, Beauty’s father enters the Beast’s palace to pick a pretty rose for her, but when caught, he exchanges places and abandons her with the Beast. This is my favourite fairy tale, for its surprising character depth and all the elements of the Cupid and Psyche myth, but we need better fairy tale fathers. Father rescues Beauty, but she must go back as she is in love with Beast – something of that sort.
6. Hansel and Gretel with an alternate ending – Does it ever occur to anyone that Hansel and Gretel are two spoilt brats who never learn a lesson? I mean, even their father abandons them and all they do is go eat this woman’s house, eventually drive her away from it and finally steal her treasures. And all this mischief when the witch is just minding her business in the middle of nowhere.
7. Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of Sleeping Beauty – This one is probably the hardest and most curious one on my list. But it is the only fairy tale that has an ending that brings so many questions to mind. I would love a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that focuses on either her lost years – was she dreaming? Whatever was it like to be asleep for all those years?
Which fairy tales would you like retold? Any fairy tale retellings you’d recommend?

Five Fantasy Books I’d Like to See As BBC Miniseries

For Top Ten Tuesday @ The Broke and the Bookish. I say miniseries, because, while movies generally prove too short to include all the details, actual TV series are way too long and you end up only watching the first season and wishing it had ended there. (I’m looking at you, Under the Dome.) BBC is good, so so good. If it hadn’t been for BBC, this list would just be a lot of squealing… Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell! Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell!!!
(A little purple but I like it.)
1. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – I know BBC Radio did it, but I want to be able to look at Crowley when I at once smirk and laugh and swoon and turn into a generally happy puddle.
2. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – So vivid, so magical, this would be good on screen. There is also a wide cast of characters and a myriad stories. Here is my review.
3 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This is one instance where I don’t particularly like the book but I think an adaptation can make something really worthwhile out of it. My only problem with the book was that it focused too much on the marvellous descriptions and lost the story along the way. This could be remedied over time in a TV series or it might as well cease to matter if they get the stunning circus imagery right…!
4. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – Let’s face it, the movie was not good. (Update: God – BBC One – heard me!
5. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones – The whole series, episodes from it, anecdotes of Christopher Chant growing up, I don’t care which parts of the books. Diana Wynne Jones’s writing would be intensely enjoyable to watch. The Howl’s Moving Castle movie, which did not even attempt to be accurate, proved this already.
I have stuck to fantasy, because when it comes to genre fiction, the argument for making movies is very strong. If done well, fantasy movies can be a thrill to watch. If.
Now, consider this like a sneak preview post. A trailer for some of the things you are sure to find on Tabula Rasa in the following months – movie reviews, musings on book to screen adaptations, rants about genre and popular culture; along with of course, reviews of non-fiction and fiction, feature posts on libraries, books clubs and so on. Maybe a guest post, who can say. Meanwhile, here is a five-year anniversary giveaway for you to enter. Just follow the link and leave a comment on the post to win. Happy reading! 

Top Ten Favourite Songs about Books and Reading

When Delia @ Postcards from Asia wrote a post on the kind of music she likes to listen to, I was inspired to write something about music. I am still not very comfortable straying from the topic of books here on Tabula Rasa, so for today’s Top Ten Tuesday freebie, I give you, my top ten favourite songs about books and reading:

1. You, by Steeleye Span – This English folk-rock band collaborated with Sir Terry Pratchett to produce an album based on his book, Wintersmith. Wintersmith is the third of the YA books of the Discworld series starring a young witch, Tiffany Aching. In this book, the wintersmith falls in love with Tiffany, and to be with her, winter turns itself into a human. You is about just that sort of obsessive love.

Favourite lines: “A statue of your likeness, floats through my dream, carved in ice and glacial blue. You’re in my heart forever, or so it seems, now everything I dream turns into you.”

2. Moon Over Bourbon Street, by Sting – This song was inspired from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and it certainly brings out the mood of the novel. It was the duality of Louis’s character, so says the singer in an interview, that interested him; the idea that there is this wretched soul that must do evil yet wants to stop. A song about wanting to belong, I want to reread the book every time I listen to Moon Over Bourbon Street. 

Favourite lines: “The brim of my hat hides the eye of a beast, I’ve the face of a sinner but the hands of a priest. Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my feet, while there’s a moon over Bourbon Street.”

3. Jacob Marley’s Chain, by Aimee Mann – Aimee Mann is one of my favourite singers all thanks to Buffy, so my favourite song by her remains Pavlov’s Bell. But her simple lyric never fails to charm. This song is based on a character out of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Watch the video for to find out what inspired her and listen to the song.
Favourite Lines: “But it’s not like life is such a vale of tears. It’s just full of thoughts that act as souvenirs, for those tiny blunders made in yesteryears, that comprise Jacob Marley’s chain.”

4. Never Let Me Go, by Judy Bridgewater (Jane Monheit) – This is the fictional song that gives its title to the poignant novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. One of the key scenes in the story is about the heroine Kathy secrets dancing to the song, as a young girl, wishing she had a baby, or someone to call her own. The fictional song was realized beautifully for the film adaptation of the book. I’ll admit, I like the scene more than the song.

5. Rocket Man, by Elton John – The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, a collection of science fiction short stories, includes a small piece called The Rocket Man, which is about a man leaving his wife and son to go off in his rocket for three months only to return to his family for three days every time, leading a half-life, belonging neither here nor there. I had listened to the song before, but the story really left an impression on me, and I have loved the song since.

Favourite lines: “And I think it’s gonna be a long long time till touch down brings me round again to find, that I’m not the man they think I am at home.”


6. Paperback Writer, by The Beatles – Surely you expected to find this on a list of songs about books. It is so catchy!

7. Rebecca, by Meg & Dia – I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I found this song very recently and liked that it retold the initial scenes, of the narrator falling in love with Max de Winter and was not some ode to Rebecca instead. It is a very soft song, easy to go unnoticed, but I like the piano. And I love that she calls him Mr. Summer.

Favourite Lines: “Rushed down the stairs to that man, Mr. Summer. He nodded his head, with laughter in his eyes, a smirk followed close behind.”


8. Du Riechst So Gut, by Rammstein – Based on lead singer Till Lindemann’s favourite book, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, this is one of my favourite songs by the band. It describes a predator following the scent of its prey. The book is known for having inspired Nirvana’s Scentless Apprentice, but I’ll always associate it with this. I both read the book and became crazy about Rammstein during my German-learning years. Another Rammstein literature-related favourite (they do this a lot) is the ballad-like Rosenrot, which is a play on Goethe’s Heidenröslein.

Favourite Lines: “Der Wahnsinn. Ist nur eine schmale Brücke, die Ufer sind Vernunft und Trieb.” “Madness. It’s just a narrow bridge, (between) the banks of reason and desire.”

9. Cassandra, by Abba – Fine, so this is not exactly book-based, but I did recently read The Iliad, does that count? I have always loved the tragedy of Cassandra, the prophetess no one believed, and I have always liked this song.

Favourite Lines: “But on the darkest of nights, nobody knew how to fight. And we were caught in our sleep. Sorry, Cassandra, I didn’t believe, you really had the power.”


10.  I’m Reading A Book, by Julian Smith – I discovered this song right when I started the blog, around the time it came out, and I have listened to it to the point of “stop-driving-me-crazy”-irritation and back since. It was a book blogger-favourite for the longest while, cropping up just about everywhere. This list would be incomplete without it.

Favourite Lines: “Why are all these people always interrupting me, what I gotta do to make them see? Don’t you ever interrupt me while I’m reading a book…”

Do you like any songs about books and reading? Do share in the comments!

Side Characters Who Deserve Their Own Books

1. Ollivander from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling – His first name was apparently revealed to be Garrick on Pottermore. I have always found him one of the most fascinating “minor” characters in the books. Anyone who is that charming in a supporting role deserves a book of their own. Wand-making adventures, imagine that.

2. Dick Hallorann from The Shining by Stephen King – Oh, we do see more of this guy in Doctor Sleep, but that wasn’t nearly enough. He is one of my favourite Stephen King characters, because he makes few appearances and still leaves an impact. I’m sure you’d agree he needs a book of his own, about how he discovered his shining, how learned to use it, or his life after the Overlook incident.

3. Francis Adirubasamy (Mamaji) from Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I love this book. And Mamaji, the swimmer responsible for the tragic French naming of Piscine Molitor Patel, is one of the most eccentric, brilliant characters ever. Pi does tell us a lot about him in the earlier pages of the book, but I’d love to read a book about the man, even if written in a vastly different vein from Life of Pi.

4. Professor Van Helsing from Dracula by Bram Stoker – If we count all the Dracula fan fiction ever created, I’m sure there are books on Van Helsing. I have seen the Hugh Jackman movie, which in all honesty, sucked. But I just wish Stoker had written something on his history. He is such an interesting character.

5. John Uskglass (the Raven King) from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – God, I wish she’d write a book on the Raven King, already. You just can’t create such a big, legendary character and basically only look at him from the points of view of two stuffy Englishmen. It’s not fair, the ruler of Faerie deserves more. 

This is the topic for Top Ten Tuesday today, over at The Broke and the  Bookish. Hop on over to participate! Which minor characters would you like starring as leads?

Top Ten Books On My Summer (sort of) TBR List

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic requires a little revising around here. I should call it Top Ten Books On My Monsoon TBR List, because summer is finally dwindling to that much awaited end. When it stops being so excruciatingly hot and at last rains, I’d cuddle with a blanket and a cuppa, and spend my time reading:

Books I’ve bought recently, but haven’t got around to reading:

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – The book is apparently about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. I’m a sucker for Troy retellings. When I read that Rowling recommended the book, I had to buy it!

2. Farthing by Jo Walton – After I read Tooth and Claw by Walton, I was recommended this, and I jumped at the chance of reading an alternate history novel.

3. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett – I have loved the Moist von Lipwig books so far (Going Postal and Making Money) and can’t wait to read about the new trains in Discworld.

Classics that would make the perfect rainy weather + stuck inside the house reads. 

4. Persuasion by Jane Austen – I just got this from the library. I’ve only read one Austen and I can’t wait to be surprised by her all over again.

5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I want to tackle this monster this year, before I start college again, and now seems like the perfect time. I read Anna Karenina in a month, so two should do for this, what do you think?

New-ish books that seem promising

6. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith – Does she still really keep up with the penname? Either way, anything by J.K. Rowling is a auto-buy for me. Cuckoo’s Calling was interesting, and I can’t wait to meet the Strike + Robin duo again.

7. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – I’m on the fence about this one. While Stephen king is one of those authors I have to buy, I have quit gory horror, so I might just buy it and put it away for next year. Though I probably won’t be able to resist reading it once I have it .

8. A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie – When this came out a couple of months ago, the publisher’s Facebook page kept bragging and swooning about it and I’ve been meaning to get this book ever since.

Books everyone else has read that I really need to catch up on. 

9. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Okay, there’s only one book here. Honestly, with books that have so much hype, it’s an effort to keep no expectations, but I’m going to try.


Short Stories

10. Short stories – Collections, anthologies and e-zines as many as I can read. This is a genre(?) I haven’t explored nearly enough, but am very interested in.

What about you? Which of these have you read and liked? And what are your reading plans for the next few months?

Top Ten Books that Make Me Laugh Out Loud

Last Sunday we discussed Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the book club (yes, on Towel Day, though I do still prefer the glorious 25th of May as Wear the Lilac Day, because well, Discworld trumps everything.) But discussing Adams’ zany brilliance was fun and since humour has been on my mind, I decided to list the Top Ten Books that Make Me Laugh Out Loud for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday Freebie!
Clicking on the titles will take you to the Goodreads pages. Instead of posting summaries, I’ve posted some of my favourite dialogues – let me just say, though, these are all books I’d recommend you to read. Delightful, witty (some more than others) and the kind that deserve to be taken a lot more seriously than you’d think!

1. Good Omens – The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

2. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Poets have tried to describe Ankh-Morpork. They have failed. Perhaps it’s the sheer zestful vitality of the place, or maybe it’s just that a city with a million inhabitants and no sewers is rather robust for poets, who prefer daffodils and no wonder. So let’s just say that Ankh-Morpork is as full of life as an old cheese on a hot day, as loud as a curse in a cathedral, as bright as an oil slick, as colourful as a bruise and as full of activity, industry, bustle and sheer exuberant busyness as a dead dog on a termite mound.

3. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it? 
Ford: We’re safe. 
Arthur: Oh good. 
Ford: We’re in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet. 
Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn’t previously aware of.

4. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when I’m travelling, and makes my life a misery.  I dream that I haven’t packed it, and wake up in a cold perspiration, and get out of bed and hunt for it.  And, in the morning, I pack it before I have used it, and have to unpack again to get it, and it is always the last thing I turn out of the bag; and then I repack and forget it, and have to rush upstairs for it at the last moment and carry it to the railway station, wrapped up in my pocket-handkerchief.

5. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Authors, she soon decided, were probably best met within the pages of their novels, and were as much creatures of the reader’s imagination as the characters in their books. Nor did they seem to think one had done them a kindness by reading their writings. Rather they had done one the kindness by writing them.

6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C. when Saul and Delilah Korn’s inadvertent discovery swept across Western civilization. (Before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy, because although everyone agrees with the formula of affection times purity times intensity times duration, no one has ever been completely satisfied with how much weight each element should receive. But on any system, there are five that everyone agrees deserve full marks. Well, this one left them all behind.

7. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Lady Bracknell: I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.

8. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

She was used to apologizing for her use of language. She had been encouraged to do a lot of that in school. Their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn’t love or understand incomprehensible novels and poems and plays about people long ago and far away, such as Ivanhoe.

9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.

10. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. I really think that the people who buy these books have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask for their money back.

I had an amazing time making this list. Mostly because I went through all the quotes on each of their Goodreads pages and was laughing all the way through. I’m sure I’ve missed some and do encourage recommendations. Which books make you literally laugh out loud?

Top Ten Books About Friendship

The first book that I thought of for this topic was Ich nannte ihn Krawatte by Milena Michiko Flašar, and it is about finding emotional comfort in a stranger, but it’s German and hence not on the list. The ones I thought of next were all those Enid Blyton series I loved as a kid, The Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers.

I’ve tried not to include books about friends who fall in love, for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, Books about Friendship topic. Because, really, while a couple who are the best of friends make a really good couple, it isn’t exactly their friendship that we love.

(Edit: 0.5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – I just remembered how much I loved Ernest and Algernon together, and had to edit them into this list. While the play isn’t about friendship, I do love how they’d go to any lengths to have each others’ backs, and how it only adds to the confusion.)

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling – The first book is about making friends. But I like the Prisoner of Azkaban the most, because it is about sticking by the friends you’ve made, loyalty that lasts a lifetime and more. Sirius, James and Lupin were the best!
2. Watership Down by Richard Adams – Granted, these are rabbits not people who are friends, but it’s a classic adventure, where by the end you see the band of rabbits resolve all their conflicts and stand united against all odds. If that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Of course this is here, this had to be here. Rudy loved her like no one else, so of course, I’m referring to Liesel and Max; I’m one of those people who don’t think she ends up married to him. 
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – This book is for those people who like to tell kids, “You’ll get it when you’re grown up.” As if kids aren’t just smaller sized versions of people; it’s amazing how most adults forget what it was like to be a child, and couldn’t possibly comprehend what a child can understand. And that’s the thing that makes childhood friendships unforgettable – the rare kinship. Before I spiral into a whole post about this, I’ve two words: Lettie Hempstock. 
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – Now this book really is simply and most beautifully about two friends and how their friendship lets them overcome all the struggles of their life, together. 
6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – How could this not be about friendship? 
7. Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones – My favourite in the Chrestomanci series, this book is about how fifteen-year-old Christopher Chant becomes friends with Conrad Grant and together the solve a mystery, to save both Christopher’s friend Millie and Conrad himself. I just love the fun these two have, especially how Chant keeps teasing Conrad about his alias ‘Grant’. 
8. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – I’m talking about the relationship between Ruth and Kathy & Tommy. It is rocky to start with, and eventually grows and matures as they do, and that’s what makes their friendship so real.
9. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – I just finished reading this trilogy and I only have to say this: Lyra and Roger. 
10. IT by Stephen King – Yes, technically, it’s about the crazy scary clown. But it’s also about six childhood friends, who face the ultimate danger together and reunite years later to tie up loose ends. It’s about this:
 “Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”