Top Ten Books I Didn’t Choose for Myself

  1. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever – Stephen Donaldson. A present from the Resident Grammarian, this is high fantasy, which I really would not have picked out for myself, but its ragged emotional darkness kind of got me.
  2. Paradise Lost – John Milton. This was a university text. It’s fantastic, and surprisingly accessible for a seventeenth-century poetic epic.
  3. Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl. Another one picked by the Resident Grammarian, featuring a bookish and unreliable heroine. Just perfect.
  4. Lud-in-the-Mist – Hope Mirlees. The Circumlocutor lent this to me. I love the way Mirlees manages to keep the atmosphere of Faerie alive throughout this strange little book, which is a rare achievement: too often the wonder of fairyland is punctured when you look too closely at its rules.
  5. The Clockwork Rocket – Greg Egan. A present from the Circumlocutor and a very clever look at the ways in which science and culture interact and clash.
  6. A Face Like Glass – Frances Hardinge. This was lent to me by a TolkSoc friend who thought I would like it, and I did. Hardinge creates this lush dystopian world in her underground city of Caverna, told in her whimsical, hypnotic prose.
  7. The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro. I actually won this in a giveaway, but I enter giveaways willy-nilly so I didn’t exactly choose for myself. Anyway, it’s a really interesting and heartfelt look at Arthurian mythology.
  8. Persuasion – Jane Austen. I studied this at school: it’s gentle, sad, autumnal, and yet full of Austen’s savage, angry wit.
  9. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab. This was a present from the Circumlocutor. I love the steampunk vibe to it, and the fact that it’s a bit different from most run-of-the-mill fantasy.
  10. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones. I just remember being really impressed by this tale when I read it for a Children’s Literature course at university. It starts as a vaguely Celtic story, of a little people living in mounds on the edge of a harsh moor, and widens its perspective until it becomes something quite different.

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

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