TTT: Enticements

It’s been a while since my last top ten Tuesday, but i only jump in for topics that spark my interest and imagination, which this week did.

I actually found it quite hard to think of 10 things that make me want to read a book. There are many reasons i might be attracted to a book, but to try to articulate them ended up being trickier than i’d imagined. There’s no one thing that will guarantee my interest–i’ll always have to know more about a book–but the things listed here are what will draw my initial intrigue. These are the things that will entice me to find out more about a book and consider reading it.

Eye-catching cover – Surely this is a given? It’s the most obviously thing to catch a person’s eye. “Oh, that looks nice, what’s that about?”

Post-apocalyptic/dystopian – These settings are my weakness. The details surrounding it are important, but finding out a book is set in a post-apocalyptic and/or dystpoian world will get my eyebrows raised and my attention focused.

A hint at some sort of twist or major plot point omitted from the synopsis – If something is obviously being held back, and it’s revelation feels shocking and interesting enough, i’ll want to know more.

Strong female characters – Because i love them, i need more of them, all the time.

Recommendations – Either from people whose taste or opinion i trust/value, or based on my own opinion of something i’ve read. For example, when i’ve disliked a book and articulated why, people have recommended other books by the same author because they are more like what i might enjoy (and have been!).

Female/POC authors – This is something i’m consciously aiming for. When i come across a book by a female and/or POC author, i give it extra consideration as i actively want to increase the diversity of the books i read.

Author i already love – This list is longer than i think sometimes, but there are authors i love so much i’ll automatically be interested in their books.

Horror/sci-fi cross-genre – These are my two favourite genres, so when a book crosses both, i am suddenly very alert.

Fresh spin on an favourite concept – When a book takes a tried and tested idea and does something new with it, i’m excited to have my expectations challenged.

Short story collections – I loooooove short stories, so when i come across short story collections i get interested very fast!

Do any of these things pique your interest, or are they more likely to put you off?

TTT: No Great Expectations

TTT These days i don’t often read books I don’t at least know a little something about. I’ll either have heard of or about it somewhere, or I’ll have read a few (negative, aha!) reviews, or it’ll be a book that’s received a lot of attention… all of these things lead to me forming some kind of expectation. I expect the book to be good, I expect it to be written a certain way, to include certain things. In some cases I may actually know what happens (sometimes I want spoilers, okay!?).

It’s important to me to find out something about a book before reading it, so I can be fairly certain i’m going to enjoy it. If i’m going to commit hours of my life to a book, it’s nice to know ahead of time that those hours won’t be wasted. Because when I do pick up a book I don’t know anything about, either on a whim or following a recommendation from a friend, to then really not enjoy it is one of the worst feelings.

On the other hand… there is no better feeling than reading a book you know nothing about and falling head over heels in love with it. This list is about those books.

1. The Passage
The book that inspired this topic. All I knew about this book was apocalyptic/dystopian and vampires. I had no idea on the plot, the characters or the writing style… but I bloody loved it all.

2. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Requested on a whim from NetGalley, I dragged my heels on reading it – which I regret mightily. This book surpassed my wildest dreams with the characters and subject matters it incorporates. I adore it.

3. The Sisters Brothers
A random recommendation from a friend, all I knew was ‘western’ and didn’t know what else to expect. I could not put this book down. The narrative voice, the characters and comedy… I whizzed though it and instantly counted deWitt as a new favourite author.

4. Tiny Deaths
This is a book of short stories I came across on a friend’s couch. I read the first one or two when I had nothing else to do, and instantly ordered my own copy when I got home. I still need to get my hands on more Shearman story collections.

5. The Paper Men
I’m a big Golding fan and want to read all his work, regardless of what the books are about. I chose to read this one simply to tick of a box in my bookish bingo in 2015. I fell in love pretty quickly, and on reading some reviews before i’d finished the book, I was surprised to find a lot of other people hated it!

6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
I can’t even remember why I bought this one, but I fell in love with the unique narrative voice so strongly, I was thinking in-character for weeks after i’d finished it.

7. Carter Beats the Devil Foisted on me by my SO when I couldn’t decide what to read, I thought I’d quickly give up and start something else. Instead I fell head first into this world, so much so I was still living in it several books later.

8. American Gods
This has been in my possession for so many years I do not know how I acquired it. Did I buy it from a charity shop? Did I steal it from my mother’s collection? Did it just materialise on my shelf? We may never know. I pulled it from my shelf to read impulsively, and despite the title putting me off, thoroughly enjoyed it. (In fact i’m currently trying to get my SO to read it before the TV series comes out!)

9. The Gigantic Beard the was Evil
I caught sight of this in my local comic book shop (how could it not?). All I knew was evil gigantic beard and comic book. To be fair, maybe that was enough to know i’d love this one…

10. Why I Write
An impulse buy as I was leaving a bookshop, I started reading it because it was short. I got so much more than I anticipated from the title, and I spent a lot of time underlining some excellent quotes.

TTT: Books on a Whim

TTTLooking through my books, I was quite surprised there were so many I had picked up on a whim. I used to do it a lot more than I do now, because now I have so many books on my to read/to acquire lists, that I don’t need to go looking for more and wasting my time on potentially disappointing books.

I’ve gone so far in recent months as to give away books I bought on a whim and still haven’t read—because i’ll never get around to them when I have so many I have chosen with more care and insight.

I was quite strict with my “whim” criteria here. These are books I knew nothing about before coming upon them—I read nothing but the blurb, hadn’t heard of the author, wasn’t recommended them. Nada.

As you would expect, my experience has been hit and miss…

The Day of the Triffids
I don’t even remember how I came into possession of this book. I thiiiiiiink it might have belonged to one of my parents? It was just a book I remember always being on my book shelf. I read it randomly some time in my teens and loved it. I’ve been a steadfast John Wyndham fan since.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
This I found in a local café which has a small bookcrossing spot. The cover and synopsis caught my attention, and hey, it was free. So I brought it home and signed up for book crossing. I liked the book well enough, but on the whole was underwhelmed. I’ve not used bookcrossing since :\

Weird Lies
When I’m bored sometimes I scroll through the goodreads give away pages, stopping on books whose cover catches my eye. I read the synopsis and if it sounds like something i’d enjoy, I enter to win. This is one of the books I won. I love short stories, I enjoy bizarre tales; I adored this book! I’ve since parted with money for other books in the Liars’ League series.

The Care of Wooden Floors
I used to be a sucker for cheap book shops. The Works was (and on occasion still is!) one of the worst offenders for me. Books catch my eye, and when they cost so little it’s too easy to just… leave with them. As much as I loved the writing style of this one, not very much happened and the chapters were long… I had to give up before the end.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
I went into my local comic book shop looking for the first Serenity comic. Instead, I saw this massive hardback beauty and it came home with me. Beards, striking black and white images, humour… I was in love.

The Little Book of Vegan Poems
When visiting family, this lay on a pile of books in someone’s bedroom. The minimalistic cover caught my eye, while the words “vegan” and “poems” caught my attention. I picked it up and finished it the same day. A little gem.

Write
This was a random library find. I was intrigued by the striking cover, the subject matter, and the essay structure. Reading it was such a delight I ended up buying my own copy so I could highlight passages and write in the margins! Love!

The Female Man
Another library find, but this one in a library sale. I always—always—pick up SF Masterworks books. I don’t always buy them, but I always read the blurb and see if it sounds interesting. This one hit all my spots and I happily parted with 25p in order to take it home! It may not be my favourite book, but I did love it and I certainly have Joanna Russ on my radar for future book purchases.

The Hourglass Factory
This was one of my most recent on-a-whim purchases, and is the one that has most strongly turned me away from the practise. The cover was gorgeous and the premise sounded brilliant. Unfortunately I had my hopes far too high and the book was a huge disappointment.

Tiny Deaths
Several years ago I staying with friends when I found this book laying unattended on a sofa. It was a book of short stories around the theme of death… it sounded interesting and I had nothing better to do. I read the first story or two and enjoyed them a lot. When I got home I ordered my own copy. This is still one of the books I recommend to other people the most.

TTT: Tweeters

TTTI’m not the best social media person. I sort of don’t know what to say, and am yet to believe that anyone wants to hear it. Still, i’ve been trying lately (it was one of my bookish resolutions, after all).

Mostly I enjoy scrolling though my twitter feed and clicking on articles or throwing off a silly reply. These accounts are among my twitter favourites, for various reasons. I find them fun and inspiring, and I like what they have to tell me. You might too, I guess?

People:

@StephenKing
As much as enjoy his books, I do prefer the calibre of his tweets. His words about writing, about fiction, hold more interest to me.

@MaraWritesStuff
She re-tweets others a lot, which I think bothers some people, but I find she re-tweets the very best stuff.

@MirandaKeeling
I don’t know who she is outside of twitter, but on twitter she writes the most lovely little observations that make me smile several times a day.

@Xalieri
If you want weird, bizarre and interesting, look no further. He treads the strangest corners of the internet so you don’t have to.

@VeryShortStory
I’m a huge fan of short stories, and it doesn’t get much shorter than 180 characters.

@ImAmandaNelson
Reading is her job, and i’m insanely jealous. She’s also smart, funny and straight talking. It was stumbling across her twitter that led me to discover Book Riot.

Resources:

@_diversebooks
A recent follow, as I am trying to read more diversely. I’m not doing the best yet, but at least I know that?

@WriterleyTweets
I just reeeeally love their six word story prompts, okay?

@WomenWriters
Their articles are always interesting, relevant and relatable.

Fun:

@BuzzFeedBooks
Bookish fun for shits and giggles. Always good for random bookish bits to make me smile

Whose your favourite tweeter? Are YOU on twitter? Let’s be buddies; I need more reasons to use the damn thing.

TTT: Relationships

TTTI’m not a big fan of commercialised holidays designed to make people spend money on overblown romantic gestures. Also not a fan of anything that makes people feel depressed and worthless for not being in some kind of romantic relationship

That being said, Valentine’s day themed top ten Tuesday!

In anticipation of an abundance of overly romantic YA and erotica from most TTTs this week, i’ve decided to showcase 10 different types of relationships with my own list. I thought it might be a difficult task, but happily I had more than enough books to choose from.

I guess I should warn for spoilers for at least half of the books below… Read at your own risk!

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: Entrapment
The relationship in this book starts as forbidden, but bringing happiness, and leads to free thought and rebellion, but ultimately ends in betrayal.

The Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre: Opposites Attract
One is a thief stealing priceless works of art. The other is one of the police officers out to catch him. This book allows them to explore their attraction to one another, and make it real, without either compromising their conflicting goals.

My Beautiful Launderette by Hanif Kureishi: Gay and Interracial
Technically a film, but I did read the screenplay in 2012, so it absolutely counts. This story explores with brutal, beautiful honesty the love story between a young Pakistani man and a male right-wing extremist in the late 1970s.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Rivals
Two young magicians hopelessly in love, while embroiled in a rivalry by the experts who train them. All as their mysterious and enchanting Circus of Dreams travels the world.

What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson: Soulmates
Although a book about soulmates, and the idea that two people will find each other time and again, in endless lifetimes, this book isn’t sweet and romantic. This books is about death, despair and how love and loss can tear a person apart.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham: Equals
I will never not talk about how much I love Mike and Phyllis Watson. They are my favourite. True partners, equals and an all around amazing couple. They have mutual respect, friendship and love. They are hashtag relationship goals.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: Student/Teacher
This book has a lot of characters and a lot of subplots. One of my favourite characters was the teacher involved in a relationship with one of his students. I liked it because although you’d think the power balance would be skewed in the teacher’s favour, it really, really isn’t. He’s in love and in his first gay relationship, and experiencing that, along with other life changing choices he makes, was fascinating.

Rough Music by Patick Gale: Affair
This book has two time lines, centred around one family, one beach house and two love affairs. On the face of it, these are nothing I would look for in a book. But the characters, motivations and relationships (not just the romantic ones) are so well crafted and explored.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence: Arranged Marriage
A young king, arranging himself a marriage to an even younger girl, to align their families and increase his army. I frowned though the entire first chapter, until the girl spoke up and revealed herself his equal. She brings a lot to Jorg’s table, and i’m looking forward to seeing where their relationship goes in the next book.

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: No Relationship
A feminist novel that demonstrates how women don’t require men or romantic relationships to be fulfilled. Herland is a utopia where women thrive without men. So screw you, Saint Valentine.

TTT: Books for Christmas

TTT My wishlist is about 85% books, and i’m not sorry for that. My friends and family may moan, but i don’t understand why. I want books! So, this top ten was pretty easy. I mean, i had to narrow down the two dozen books on my list, but i managed it

On with the books!

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – A science fiction horror dystopian trilogy this popular was bound to get my attention. Also, the covers are a thing of beauty.

Undermajodomo Minor by Patrick deWitt – deWitt’s third book, i’ve loveloveloved his other two. I had this on my wishlist months before it was published. OMFG, a new release I was actually excited about!

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris – Loki is my spirit animal.

Consider Her Ways and Others by John Wyndham – There are only a few Wyndham books I don’t own now, and i’m cutting that number down as swiftly as I can.

642 Things to Write by San Francisco Writers’ Grotto – Because I want more reasons and inspiration to write.

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger – It’s the only Salinger book I don’t own.

The Monsterous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis by Barbara Creed – This has been on my wishlist for, i’m not exaggerating, years. I wrote my dissertation of the representation of gender in horror films and their remakes. It left me with a lasting interest.

The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film by Barry Keith Grant – See above.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer – Gorgeous inspiration and learning.

They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy by Robert Shearman – I loved Shearman’s book Tiny Deaths, and have for a while wanted to read more of his short stories. Weird fantasy is one of my favourite genres, so it’s the one i want most.

TTT: Quotes – 2015 Edition

TTT I looooove a good quote.

I often post the ones that catch my eye or tickle me just right, as i’m reading, to my twitter and (slightly less often) to my tumblr, as well as on goodreads. It’s been a lot of fun this evening to scroll back through my twitter for the past year and pick out my very favourite quotes.

Quotes as a topic was only done in April 2015, though that was for all-time favourite quotes. This topic is specifically for quote from books read in the past year. My April quotes TTT can be found here. There is one duplicate quote, but it is both one of my all-time favourites, and from a book i read in 2015. So there.

On with the quotes!

“If you don’t change your hair style because its mostly fallen out and you don’t shave, you’ve no cause to go chasing yourself in a mirror.”

– William Golding, The Paper Men

“For years I said Let me in, Love me, Approve me, Define me, Regulate me, Validate me, Support me. Now I say Move over.”

– Joanna Russ, The Female Man

“I am not that boy […] He stands in my past and soon the curvature of the earth will hide him as the years carry us apart.”

– Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

“It’s amazing the way one can take a step ten and a half miles long and still always land in a cowpat.”

– Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle

“She was mantelpieced by a large bosom […] you could have stood things on it, a vase of flowers and a bust of Beethoven, and a family photograph or two, maybe.”

– John Harding, Florence & Giles

“Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.”

– Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

“His shoulders are trembling and the bar workers say nothing. It is at this moment that you fall platonically in love with Antony.”

– Patrick deWhitt, Ablutions: Notes for a Novel

“…like a sentient fart determined to be smelled.”

– Christopher Brookmyre, Bedlam

“He would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have no tail and no flies.”

– George Orwell, Animal Farm

“No one knows how long five minutes is in the dark; it might be fair to say that, in the dark, five minutes does not exist.”

– Stephen King, The Stand

TTT: Book to Film Adaptations

TTTBooks and films. I love them both, but when it comes to film adaptations of books, i’m often left feeling disappointed. When I can, and when I know a film is an adaptation, I prefer to read the book first. I’ve even put off watching a film for years to allow myself the time to get around to reading the book first (or, in the case of I Am Legend, decided not to bother with the film at all)!

I’m splitting this top ten into two top fives, because the only film adaptations subject I could get ten answers on, was films I haven’t and don’t want to see, which isn’t that much fun to write about. So, two sets of five it is.

Five film adaptations I still need to watch

Much Ado About Nothing – I only recently read this, even though i’ve had the DVD of the Joss Whedon adaptation on my shelf for months. I might get around to it before 2016!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – I read this in 2011 and wanted to watch the film immediately afterwards, but still haven’t been able to face it. I know–i know–i’ll end up in tears by the end. I’ve managed to put myself off for four years and counting…

The Day of the Triffids – I think i’m putting this one off because I know it won’t be anywhere near as good as the book. I think it’s one of those times where I want to watch the film to hold on to the book a bit longer. (And hey, if it’s awful, it’s just an excuse to re-read the book!)

The Hobbit – I was putting this off until the third film came out, so I could watch them all at once. I still haven’t bothered. This is one I know i’ll moan about, because how can he split the slim Hobbit book into three films, but ram the lengthier Lord of the Rings trilogy into one film each!? Money grabbing bastard.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay – I’m really, really looking forward to a double-bill of part one and two. As much as I prefer the books, these films are perfectly entertaining and action packed.

Five films I have watched but wish I hadn’t

The Maze Runner – With the book having a great story but poor writing, I had had high hopes for the film bringing the the world to life and really enjoying it. I was sorely disappointed. The film was, somehow, far worse than the book.

The Haunting (1999) – I love The Haunting of Hill House and its 1963 film adaptation. The 1999 film, however, is terrible and all but unrecognisable to the book.

Girl, Interrupted – I’m not even sure I made it all the way through to the end of this film. It bored me. I read the book year later, and didn’t like it any better.

Gone Girl – While well made, this film suffers from what most decent adaptations from books do… missing details. It didn’t give you the full picture surrounding Amy’s relationship with Nick, or the situation with Desi. It made things much more black and white, making Amy the unquestionable villain, rather then the morally grey she is in the book.

The Shining – I saw this film a few years before I read the book, and I never really liked it. I say that as a life-long fan of horror films. It just felt like it was trying too hard. When I did read the book, it terrified me. Book > film is a less popular opinion in this case, I think, but it’s one I share with Stephen King!

TTT: Bookish Wishes

TTTI actually found this one pretty hard. After the first one, i struggled to think of nine more. I’m easy to please, apparently? Mostly, if i want something, or to do something, i just do, so these are focused mostly on things that just… aren’t genuinely possible. I’m disappointed in myself, really; for someone with a healthy imagination, i couldn’t think of more bizarre and creative things. Sigh. It’s been a busy week, so i’ll blame my incapability on the fact that i’m bloody knackered.

An infinite amount of reading time. Essentially, this is everything i need. Can i not go to work, or shopping (unless it’s for books!), or to meetings, or training or all that boring stuff. Can i just read, always? Thanks.

More books by John Wyndham. John Wyndham died in 1969, after writing 22 books worth of fiction. He is also my favourite author. I haven’t read all his books–i’m pacing myself because there is only a finite amount, and i want to savour each any every book. If i could just wish more Wyndham books into existence, that would be amaaaaazing.

More people to discuss the type of books I read with. These people must exist, i just have yet to find them. I know people who read some of the same kind of books i read, but not every (apparently?) niche genre i read in. Why do so many people read romance YA, but not post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction horror, pulp science fiction, classic feminist literature and random short story collections? *sigh*

Films made from Christopher Brookmyre books. I should specify: films made to my tastes. I mean, i did a film degree and have made my own short films, so if this wish comes with the condition that i have to be involved in the production of these films, i’m more thank okay with that!

Room for my own personal library. A spare house might do the job? At least the very least, i need more bookshelves.

The ability to erase certain books from my memory. Either because they were so bad I want to forget they exist, or because they were so good I want to read them again.

Magic to have books float and turn their own pages. So I can read without the use of my hands. Useful when: laying in bed snuggled under the covers, outside in the cold without getting frostbite, hands are busy shoving my face with cups of tea and cake.

To never be interrupted when reading again (expect in genuine emergencies). I don’t need to explain this one, right?

Sharing quotes on twitter and tumblr with just the power of thought. I love sharing quotes i love via twitter and tumblr, but if i don’t do it as soon as i read the quote and decide i want to share it, it won’t happen. But, stopping mid-read to type out a quote on my phone is a pain in backside and i lose my reading flow.

More wishes. I may have struggled to finish this list, but i’d like more wished for if and when i do think of more things!

TTT: Author Duos

TTTNow, this was a fun topic! Thinking about what I love about an author’s work and figuring out who they would compliment, shake up a little and come up with something interesting together. I enjoyed this immensely, and found it hard to stop at 10, to be honest. Though it does leave me a little melancholy to know that none of these super awesome writing duos will ever happen. Imagination, it’s just you and me.

On with the wishful thinking…

Ursula Le Guin and Shirley Jackson – I love my horror with a thread of science fiction, and these two ladies would deliver on the very, very best science fiction/horror combination. Haunted spaceship? Murderous aliens? Yes. Yes, please.

Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle – The book would be called Poirot vs Sherlock: Clash of the Egos and I would read the fuck out of it.

John Wyndham and Charlotte Perkins Gilman – I just respect both these authors and their work a huge amount. Both tell interesting stories with realistic characters. Mostly though, I love Wyndham’s respect for and inclusion of strong, well-rounded female characters, and Gilman’s steadfast feminism. I think they could do wonderful, wonderful things together.

Christopher Brookmyre and Joss Whedon – Both just amazing storytellers, if they ever wrote something together (be that a book, a comic, a film or TV series), it is entirely possible I would explode with joy. And, you know, it’s not impossible—Brookmyre is a Whedon fan, with Buffy and Firefly references in his books…

Oscar Wilde and Mark Lawrence – I don’t know, this one feels kind of odd, but kind of perfect. Both these writers have this way with words that seems so easy and natural, but it so, so witty and funny. Can they take Lord Henry, plop him down in Ancrath and see what words of wisdom he’s got for Jorg?

George Orwell and Edward Gorey – I quite fancy some political and dystopian limericks with gothic black and white drawings. I think these two could deliver perfectly.

Mark Gatiss and Lucy Knisley – I demand a fourth Lucifer Box novel, with cute, telling little illustrations by Knisley. Lucifer would say he hated them, but secretly he would love how adorable he looks.

Joanna Russ and Kurt Vonnegut – I’m imagining something very astute, political and feminist… but also very, very fucking bizarre. I could love it or I could hate it, but likely a bit of both. When can I read it?

J.D. Salinger and Edgar Allan Poe – Salinger’s slow, steady and interesting writing, but with the effortless, eerie mood-setting prose of Poe. If this existed, I think i could quickly become addicted to it.

Patrick Gale and Chuck Palahniuk – I think Gale’s solid character-driven emotion-filled stories would prove much more fascinating with a graphic and edgy Palahniuk twist to them.

Would you read any of these pairings’ books? Who would you read?–Show me your TTT!