Top Ten Books That Would Make Good TV

  1. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens. I think this is actually already a TV series – I mean, I doubt there’s a single Dickens novel that isn’t – but I haven’t managed to get my hands on it. It’s almost a truism to observe that Dickens is perfect for a TV series’ episodic, sprawling structure – certainly Our Mutual Friend needs more space than a film can give it.
  2. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien. I had to think about this one a bit (and it’s never going to happen in any case, the Tolkien Estate being notoriously tight-fisted with the rights), but it’s an episodic narrative with a vast cast of characters and a number of narrative strands. It would be like Game of Thrones but without all the rape.
  3. Perdido Street Station – China Mieville. I cannot imagine any TV producer being brave enough to take on Perdido Street Station, with its particular brand of squicky violence and unromanticised reality, but I wish they would. The pulpy plot elements, the rambly narrative, the overbearingly Gothic-steampunk city of New Crobuzon? Yes, yes, yes.
  4. Saga – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I don’t know why, I just think the high-speed zaniness of the graphic novels would transfer well to TV. (Maybe like Doctor Who but without all the sexism?) It makes a lot of play with different kinds of pop culture and the role they play in public dissent, too, which would be interesting to consider in a TV show.
  5. Bleeding Edge – Thomas Pynchon. Obviously, there’s a lot in Pynchon that couldn’t be captured visually, but that’s the case with pretty much everything else on this list too. But I can see a TV version of Bleeding Edge playing out like Dirk Gently, almost.
  6. Paradise Lost – John Milton. What? Paradise Lost would look fantastic on TV, all fire and brimstone and war in Heaven, and it has some pretty compelling characters too. If you can have Shakespeare on TV, you can have Milton.
  7. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers. Yes! It would be like Firefly but with aliens and fewer guns.
  8. Palimpsest – Catherynne M. Valente. I just read this, and it would make a terrible film but a great TV series (though I suppose it’s quite short). You could do a lot with the city of Palimpsest itself, and intertwining that with the characters in the real world would work really well on TV.
  9. Robot Dreams – Isaac Asimov. You know what would be good? A Twilight Zone-style anthology series featuring Asimov’s short stories, which all have that kind of conceptual twist you got in Twilight Zone episodes, when it turned out the person narrating the story was dead or something. Obviously, not that tone of twist, but structurally it’s the same thing.
  10. Temeraire – Naomi Novik. All the Regency society manoeuvrings are like a soap anyway. It would just have dragons in it too.

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

Top Ten Books I Read Before I Was a Blogger

  1. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m currently re-reading this, and I think one of the things I love about it is how autumnal it is: that gentle, gorgeous sadness.
  2. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett. Or, all the Discworld books. Going Postal is one of my favourites, though: I’m fascinated by showmen, and if Moist is anything he’s a showman.
  3. The Gunslinger – Stephen King. Apocalyptic and vast, a story of truths half-told, of men in black and way stations and mutants under mountains: in many ways this is just perfect fantasy. I’ve never read anything like it since.
  4. Sabriel – Garth Nix. I read and re-read this, and its sequels Lirael and Abhorsen, endlessly. It’s got an awesome heroine, a sarcastic cat, a vast and wonderful library (in Lirael), and an invented world with a lot of depth.
  5. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens. This was my first Dickens, which I read when I was in school: I fell in love with its sprawling sentimentality.
  6. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova. Another novel that features libraries: its main characters track down Dracula through a paper trail of pamphlets and books from across time. It made me want to go to university; not that I hadn’t wanted to go before, but this made me want it concretely.
  7. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams. Dirk Gently is one of the great comic creations of English literature: irreverent, off-beat and ironical.
  8. Persuasion – Jane Austen. Another wonderfully autumnal novel: I read it for my A-level course, and it was just so rewarding to study.
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling. This was the first Harry Potter book I read (don’t ask) and I’ve had a soft spot for it ever since. I think it strikes a great balance between worldbuilding and plot, a balance that the later books don’t ever really achieve.
  10. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman. I just really, really loved the idea of daemons, and the fact that it was a huge, dense book to get stuck into. Reading it back now, it’s also full of quite complex ideas about science and metaphysics and philosophy.

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

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.)

Top Ten Romances in Books

  1. Beren/Luthien – The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien. There are so many things wrong with this romance (the age difference, the fact that Luthien gives up literally everything because Beren is such a manly Man, the codependency) but, ugh, it is my fave and will continue to be unto the ending of the world.
  2. Rosemary/Sissix – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. It’s always heartwarming to see characters navigating something other than a conventional hetero monogamous relationship, and Chambers does it with such good humour.
  3. Alana/Marko – Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I love that this is already an established relationship by the time the story starts. I think Saga is doing character work around Being In A Relationship which I don’t see very often in genre, and Alana and Marko feel like a properly strong couple.
  4. Axl/Beatrice – The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro. Another long-established couple, looking back (or trying to) over their lives together. Again, their relationship just feels strong because of, not despite, the shadows that beset it.
  5. Holly Sykes/Hugo Lamb – The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell. From a life-long marriage to a one-night stand. I don’t think I’ll ever stop shipping these two: I really, really hope there’s a fanfic somewhere in which Hugo doesn’t go off to become a soul-sucking immortal.
  6. Beatrice/Benedick – Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare. Beatrice and Benedick have such chemistry: Beatrice is one of Shakespeare’s great female characters, gutsy and witty, and Benedick is perfect as her foil.
  7. Agniezka/the Dragon – Uprooted, Naomi Novik. Again: yes, my fave is problematic. But I love that Agniezka doesn’t even think of pining for the Dragon when she’s away; she just gets on with her life.
  8. Glenda/Nutt – Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett. I just think these two are adorable. Nutt is awkward and geeky and also an orc and Glenda is pragmatic and only very secretly romantic and their romance is quiet but true.
  9. Callanish/North – The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan. I just finished this book, and admittedly it is not a fantastic read, but one thing I do like about it is that it makes absolutely no fanfare about the fact that Callanish and North are both women. It doesn’t even bother making it an issue.
  10. Eugene Wrayburn/Lizzie Hexam – Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. Lizzie is, unlike so many of her Dickensian leading-lady counterparts, sort of a badass. She drags her love interest out of a river after he’s attacked and carries him to the nearest inn. Of course, she could only do that because she is working class (I cannot see Bella Wilfer even contemplating rescuing John from any body of water), but it’s still fantastic.

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

Top Ten Books I’d Give as Gifts

“September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.”

Catherynne Valente

…or, you know, just press into someone’s hands and run off cackling.

  1. A Novel Bookstore – Laurence Cosse. It’s a lovely, atmospheric, gentle book about books, and book-love, and how reading can save us, and it’s a contemporary with wide appeal. Plus, people are unlikely to have run across it before as it’s a translation (from the French).
  2. Jack Glass – Adam Roberts. Murderers and locked room mysteries IN SPACE! I can imagine some people who wouldn’t like this, but NOT THAT MANY.
  3. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell. I think this is pretty much self-explanatory. It’s brilliant, moving fiction that’s also very accessible (well, barring the long stretch of dialect in the middle, which admittedly takes some getting used to), and there’s a genre in there for everyone.
  4. Collected Poems 1909-1962 – T.S. Eliot. I just think the brown-paper Faber edition is beautiful, with its high-quality creamy pages, and Eliot is a classic (if not the easiest of poets to read).
  5. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett. Or, you know, any of the pre-Snuff Discworld books: they are funny and humane and clever and there’s a whole world waiting to be discovered there and I am literally insanely jealous of anyone who gets to discover them for the first time.
  6. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente. Everyone should read this book: it is just such a wonderful, original fairytale, written in luminous, beautiful prose, casting sharp shadows against marshmallow brightness.
  7. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier. Another classic, hypnotic, disturbing and involving, an apparently realist novel with a darker undertone.
  8. Temeraire – Naomi Novik. A solid fantasy novel, exactly the kind of thing you want to give as a gift: well-characterised, carefully period-specific without being dull, full of adorable baby dragon, and not too weird.
  9. The Gormenghast Trilogy – Mervyn Peake. You can get some beautiful editions of Peake’s work, and they’d make great gifts to the right person – heady, all-encompassing and intensely compelling Gothic fiction.
  10. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens. As we all know, a good Dickens novel makes a great gift, and Our Mutual Friend is, I think, his best, for its anger, its humour, its sentimentality and the careful links it weaves between all its characters.

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

Review: Charles Dickens: A Life

“He saw the world more vividly than other people, and reacted to what he saw with laughter, horror, indignation, and sometimes sobs.”

Claire Tomalin

Merry Christmas, one and all!

In the spirit of Dubious Tie-Ins, I present a Christmas mini-review of Claire Tomalin’s biography of the king of modern Christmas, Charles Dickens: A Life, which, as is fitting for this seasonal feast of superficiality and commercialism, I bought at least partly for its cover.

Nothing about the book itself, however, is at all superficial.

I think we have a tendency to lionise great authors: Shakespeare as Not For An Age, But For All Time; Milton the Blind and Oppressed Prophet; Dickens the People’s Writer. The work of the good biographer is to explode such stereotypes, to lay forth a life in all its complex shades of grey, and Tomalin does so skilfully and with depth.

Dickens was capable of great generosity, in the abstract: he saved a young woman accused of murdering her baby from the death penalty; he set up and ran for many years a Home for prostitutes. But, like many writers, he was also capable of great selfishness. Tomalin especially comes out on the side of the women in his life: Catherine, his wife for twenty-two years, constantly pregnant with unwanted children (because Dickens, obviously, refused to stop having sex with her, and, as Tomalin points out with some bemusement, never seems to have considered any form of contraception), thrown away when he grew tired of her; Ellen Ternan, the young actress he may or may not have seduced, and may or may not have got pregnant, holding his reputation as more important than her well-being.

This is not, actually, very surprising: Dickens never wrote a convincing female character. What is interesting is how deep, as it were, the rabbit-hole goes: how uncompromisingly unreasonable Dickens could be at home, and how loved he was in public.

Tomalin writes convincingly and in detail, but the book never drags. It’s an immersive and interesting story about one of Britain’s favourite authors, and would make a lovely late Christmas present.

Top Ten Books to Read at Christmas

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Andy Williams

  1. Hogfather – Terry Pratchett. Christmas books should be fluffy and warm and envelop you in a cloud of comfort and familiarity, which is basically what all of Pratchett’s books do. Hogfather just happens to be festively-themed, as well as featuring the wonderfully acerbic Susan Sto Helit.
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams. Another duvet of a book, to curl in and inhale for a few lovely hours: witty and warm-hearted and just a lot of fun.
  3. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne Valente. Just delightful.
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Actually more of a love story than a story about books, but the characters are carefully drawn, the voice is compelling, and the novel is as welcoming as a mug of tea on a cold day.
  5. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen. A frothy, witty, short novel that would just be wonderful to hoover up in one sitting.
  6. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens. Well, of course. This is possibly the Christmas classic. The only one.
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling. I am in a minority here, but I honestly think that the early books of the series are tighter, funnier and more promising than the bloated, hormone-heavy later ones. This first one is the perfect mix of action and humour, and I just find it really festive for reasons I cannot explain.
  8. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger. Well-written, light, cleverly plotted, easy to read in a few hours.
  9. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski. I mean, it’s a horror story; but I can’t think of one better to read by a roaring fire, cosied up against the dark. The trouble starts when you put it away to go to bed, of course.
  10. Redwall – Brian Jacques. What better for this festival of feasts and fun than a book which is obsessed with banquets? This tale about an order of mice in an ancient stone Abbey will make you want to go vegetarian.

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

Top Ten TBR Books

“Words are the litmus paper of the mind.”

Terry Pratchett

Literally the top ten books on my TBR pile. Yes, I’m being lazy today.

  1. Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook to Travelling upon the Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway – Terry Pratchett. On loan from Hemel Hempstead’s surprisingly un-crap library. I’m actually looking forward to it: short and a bit of fun after the Tolkien Reading Marathon.
  2. The Eternal Flame – Greg Egan. Also on loan, this time from the Circumlocutor. It’s the sequel to The Clockwork Rocket, which I loved, but I’m nervous about where Egan’s going to take the feminist themes of Rocket.
  3. The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett. Another loan from the Circumlocutor, and Pratchett’s last ever Discworld novel. I just know it’s going to be terrible, but I also know I won’t be able to look away.
  4. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy – Sam Maggs. A present, from, um…I’ve got to start borrowing books from someone else. Another short read with pictures! And, therefore, good for my reading challenge, which is suffering at the moment.
  5. On – Adam Roberts. I bought this in a second-hand bookshop in Wales and I’m slightly dreading it. It has a terribly old-fashioned cover, and I suppose I ought to trust Roberts more, but I have my doubts.
  6. Charles Dickens: A Life – Claire Tomalin. This one hails from a little bookshop in Fowey, Cornwall, plus I got a free bookmark. I quite like biography, but I’ve never read any for pleasure before. And I love Dickens, and Victoriana, so I’m looking forward to this one.
  7. The Helene Hanff Omnibus. Another second-hand tome which hails from Wales (see what I did there?). Hanff wrote the famous 84 Charing Cross Road, about the bookshop, and there appear to be a couple of other bookish works in here. So we’ll see.
  8. The Shakespeare Notebooks. Hideously overpriced in Stratford-upon-Avon, but it has DOCTOR WHO and SHAKESPEARE in the same place and I could not leave it on the shelf.
  9. Bleeding Edge – Thomas Pynchon. I was looking for a certain kind of urban contemporary when I bought this in Oxford about a year ago. I’m not sure if this will be what I was looking for, and it might annoy me, but I’m always game for some Pynchon. Just please let it be like The Crying of Lot 49. Pretty please?
  10. Un Lun Dun – China Mieville. A present from…OK, this is embarrassing now. Plus it was a Christmas present, so it has been sitting in the Pile of Doom for like a year. The struggle is real, people. Anyway. I do love me some Mieville.

Incidentally, if I’m to complete the reading challenge I’ve set for myself this year (72 books, one more than I read last year), I have to read all of these books, plus approximately 7 more.

Help?

Has anyone read any of these? Opinions/thoughts/ramblings welcome!

Top Ten Classics You Should Read…

“I think we are in rats’ alley

Where the dead men lost their bones.”

T.S. Eliot

…if you’d like to get a general flavour of English Literature Through Time (my opinions only). So, chronological order!

  1. Morte Darthur – Thomas Malory (pub. 1485). There’s stuff before this that’s pretty great, but this is probably around the earliest thing you can read without having to learn Middle English. Read for the chivalric romances, which are fairly typical of literature of the time, for the French colouring (lots of French people around in the 1400s), and, of course, for the tricksy, slippery set of stories that is the myth of King Arthur.
  2. The Faerie Queene – Edmund Spenser (first pub. 1590). Or some of it, anyway – it’s approximately a bazillion pages long and quite hard going. Read for the complex allegory and religious overtones, both very common in this period, and Spenser’s rather delightfully old-fashioned verse. Oh, and Arthur crops up again.
  3. The Shoemakers’ Holiday – Thomas Dekker (first performed 1599). I’m skating over Shakespeare here because it’s too difficult to pick one of his plays, but Dekker’s anarchic rough-around-the-edges drama of city life is a half-decent substitute. Read (or watch) for its evocation of the troubling democracy of the city and its deft defanging of that democracy.
  4. Paradise Lost – John Milton (pub. 1667). Pretty much the exact opposite of Spenser’s work – Milton’s verse is as clear and ringing as a bell, and his dramatic religious conflict isn’t obfuscated by clinging allegory. It’s very accessible to a modern reader (I recommend the Longman edition if you can get it – the spelling is modernised throughout and the font is very readable). Read for the Biblical overtones, and because its story covers pretty much every concern seventeenth-century poets had, and because it’s generally awesome.
  5. Pamela – Samuel Richardson (1740). I actually intensely dislike Pamela. But it’s really where the modern novel begins: a deeply psychological tale emphasising felt experience over empirical truth. Read for its heavy moral overtones and its revolutionary placing of importance on the honour of servant girls.
  6. Evelina – Fanny Burney (1778). Burney isn’t as good a writer as her contemporary Jane Austen, but Evelina is nevertheless a funny and rather enjoyable example of the mannered romances of the period. Read for its broad social satire, its rather emotionally overwrought scenes of familial reunion, and for its close focus on the trials and tribulations of female experience.
  7. In Memoriam A.H.H – Alfred Tennyson (1849). A long and elegiac poem about a dead friend of the poet’s. Read for its Romantic focus on the processes of grief and the tension between its individual lyrics and the narrative whole.
  8. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens (1865). Serially published, Our Mutual Friend is an enormous, baggy, sprawling book, a state-of-the-nation novel, Victorianly sentimental with a core of bitter anger. Read for its wide cast of characters and its social commentary.
  9. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (1899). An atmospheric and deeply chilling novella about a journey into the depths of Africa. Read it for its almost Impressionist descriptive style, its thoughts on story and narrative and its stirrings of post-colonialism.
  10. The Waste Land – T.S. Eliot (pub. 1922). Possibly the seminal poem of the 20th century. Read for its string of abstract fragments, its tapestry-work of old stories and its magnificently apocalyptic overtones.

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

Top Ten Bookish Emotional Moments, Or, All the Feels

“Any ignorant fool can turn someone into a frog. You have to be clever to refrain from doing it when you know how easy it is.”

Terry Pratchett

SPOILERS ABOUND.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien:

And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.

And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

2. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins:

I don’t have my copy with me, so no quote. But I love the bit when Katniss’ dress turns into a mockingjay and all the victors hold hands.

3. The Waste Lands, Stephen King:

Roland’s hand was clamped so tightly on the chunk of wood that Eddie was momentarily afraid he might snap it in two, but the wood was strong and Eddie had carved thick. The gunslinger’s throat bulged; his adam’s apple rose and fell as he struggled with speech. And suddenly he yelled at the sky in a fair, strong voice:

“GONE! THE VOICES ARE GONE!”

He looked back at them, and Eddie saw something he had never expected to see in his life – not even if that life stretched over a thousand years.

Roland of Gilead was weeping.

4. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville:

He was falling, he realized, in love.

And now after the guilt and the uncertainty had ebbed away, after the atavistic disgust and fear had gone, leaving only a nervous, very deep affection, his lover had been taken from him. And she would never return.

5. Temeraire, Naomi Novik:

“If you would like to have your ship back,” Temeraire said, “I will let someone else ride me. Not him, because he says things that are not true; but I will not make you stay.”

Laurence stood motionless for a moment, his hands still on Temeraire’s head, with the dragon’s warm breath curling around him. “No, dear one,” he said at last, softly, knowing it was only the truth. “I would rather have you than any ship in the Navy.”

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows:

What she said was, “Would you like to marry me?”

I liked to die where I stood.

There was quiet – complete quiet. Nothing! And on and on it went, not a word, not a sound.

But, Juliet went on undisturbed. Her voice steady – and me, I could not get so much as a breath of air into my chest.

“I’m in love with you, so I thought I’d ask.”

And then, Dawsey, dear Dawsey, swore. He took the Lord’s name in vain. “My God, yes,” he cried, and clattered down that stepladder, only his heels hit the rungs, which is how he sprained his ankle.

7. The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Stephen Donaldson:

She was the Sun-Sage, the healer, Linden Avery the Chosen, altering the Sunbane with her own life.

It fired green at her like the sickness of emeralds. But she understood intimately the natural growth and decay of plants. The found their Law in her, their lush or hardy order, their native abundance or rarity; and then the green was gone.

Blue volleyed thunderously at her head, then lost the Land as she accepted every drop of water and flash of violence.

The brown of deserts came blistering around her, scorched her skin. But she knew the necessity of heat – and the restriction of climate. She felt in her bones the rhythm of rise and fall, the strict and vital alternation of seasons, summer and winter. The desert fire was cooled to a caress by the Staff and emitted gently outward again.

And last, the red of pestilence, as scarlet as disease, as stark as adders: it swarmed against her like a world full of bees, shot streaks of blood across her vision. In spite of herself, she was fading, could not keep from being hurt. But even pestilence was only a distortion of the truth. It had its clear place and purpose. When it was reduced, it fit within the new Law which she set forth.

8. The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell:

Experimentally, silently, I mouth, I love you, to Holly, who breathes like the sea. This time I whisper it, at about the violin’s volume: “I love you.” No one hears, no one sees, but the tree falls in the forest just the same.

9. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett:

No quote again; it’s the penultimate picture in this book that gets me. It’s sketched in, not fully coloured; we see from the back the cast of the book, watching Leonard paint the Temple of Small Gods. And Rincewind looks over his shoulder, out of the frame, towards us; a fleeting glimpse from an unfinished painting. It feels like a goodbye.

10. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens:

“A gentleman can have no feelings who contracts such a marriage,” flushes Podsnap.

“Pardon me, sir,” says Twemlow, rather less mildly than usual, “I don’t agree with you. If this gentleman’s feeling of gratitude, of respect, of admiration, and affection, induced him (as I presume they did) to marry this lady – ”

“This lady!” echoes Podsnap.

“Sir,” returns Twemlow, with his wristbands bristling a little, “you repeat the word; I repeat the word. The lady. What else would you call her, if the gentleman were present?”

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