Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week is the top ten books I've read in the lifespan of this blog, on which I first posted on 14th October 2010 (looking at this date makes me realise me that I really need to post more). That is nearly two years and 200+ books to choose from, so this has been interesting but here goes:
1. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (18/3/11) - I've spoken about my love of this book before and it remains the best book I've read in the last two years. It is awesome in every sense of the word: vivid setting, depth of detail, fantastic characters, labyrinthine plot - so many things I adore and on top of all of this the prose is beautiful and dense. I've now managed to track down the rest of the series, so I need to set aside a block of time to wallow in the world and deal with the fact that future events are no doubt going to hurt me to the depths of my soul. This is the sort of book in which you want everyone to be happy and safe but the writing is so good that this rarely happens.
2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (30/6/12) - I reviewed and expressed my love for this book here. I can't take things much further than I did there except to say that it is a wonderful book and I recommend it completely, even for people who don't already know the story. I would actually be interested to know how not knowing what happens alters the experience of reading it: I knew how it would end and was still in floods of tears, which is surely the sign of a good book.
3. The Player's Boy and The Players and the Rebels by Antonia Forest (9/3/11 ) - cheating a little and counting this as one book (as it was originally written, only the needs of publishing led to it being split in two). I love all of Antonia Forest's books and here she turns to historical fiction, setting the story around the death of Christopher Marlowe and the Essex Rebellion. There are elements of espionage, treachery and lots of fun with Shakespeare.
4. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (23/10/11) - I read two books in 2011 which pretty much confirmed all my thoughts on feminism and this was one of them (the other was How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran). It is a satire on the modern world which made me consider things I often don't think about, and featured some utterly mad moments which I adored.
5. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (11/5/12) - I posted a mini-review of this in May in which I spoke of how funny, clever, true and wonderful the book is. And it is - it's up there with Nick and Norah in terms of how much I love it; I just want to hug the book. And then reread it. And then read the books that are referenced within it. And then go The Strand and attempt to live there.
6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (6/12/10) - I love Lola as well, and this was a toss up between which I'd put in the list but I went with Anna because it was first and that seems like the simplest way of picking. Though it also features a mini-battle between two places I really want to go (Paris and San Francisco) but I think Anna wins because I read it in one sitting - it literally arrived, I opened the parcel, sat down and was lost for a few hours - and because of all the Paris and St. Clair you get. And unlike a lot of people, my main reason for loving him is that he uses proper British slang! Huzzah! This is a big reason for my love of this book, but I can also say: funny, warm and awesome, read both.
7. The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (4/8/11) - my first Rosemary Sutcliff and still my favourite. It features one of my personal most liked story events: people on the run in difficult terrain, particularly Scotland (this is also my favourite part of Kidnapped). In some ways it makes me think of Dorothy Dunnett's work: good characters, tricky issues of duty and loyalty, and brilliant prose.
8. The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh (16/8/11) - again I like both books I've read by this author, but in this case I have to give it to the second for being bigger: the plot, the characters, the complications and the horror are all upped in this book. There are certain moments which have stuck in my mind because they are so creepy. And there are angels, demons, ancient gods and fey all linked together in a world that works. And it's set in a medieval abbey. So many elements I love. Can't wait for the next one.
9. Nation by Terry Pratchett (1/7/11 ) - probably the book that made me think most, and which filled me with the sort of slow burning anger at injustice that Terry Pratchett frequently manages to invoke in me. The ending is the height of bittersweet and so perfect it made me want to cry. Not a Discworld and set in a parallel universe to our own, it nonetheless has a lot to say about our world and past.
10. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (12/4/11) - feminism, dystopia, genuine horror and that ending - I need to reread this book and finish the series, even though I know that it will probably destroy me a little. The first one dragged me through the emotional wringer, so Lord only knows what the second and third will do. Up there with Nation in terms of how much it made me think, wonderfully written and cruel in a good way, this gave me a new author whose books I need to read.
Honourable mentions for complete series - because I wasn't sure I could get away with putting series in my Top Ten, I also really enjoyed reading: the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr (complicated relationships between the various courts, the awesomeness of Irial and Niall, and a fully realised world) and the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockart (painfully accurate observations of what it's like to lose all your friends and generally just be a teenager).