Top 10 Books of All Time

Yes, I left the best for last ūüôā For those of you who haven’t been reading over the last few days, I’ve been writing a series of “Top 10” lists. First my “Top 10 authors” , then my “Top 10 Books from Childhood” and now my last “Top 10” (perhaps :P) – my “Top 10 Books of All Time”! This was surprisingly the easiest to come up with, because the really good ones stick in your head. It would take a lot for a new novel to knock any of these off their pedestal!

1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

If you read¬† my previous post about Craig Silveythis won’t be a big surprise as I waxed lyrical about both his books – and for good reason! I can’t recommend this book enough, and If you don’t like it…well frankly, we can’t be friends anymore ūüėõ

The sweetest peach

2. Rhubarb by Craig Silvey

Like Jasper Jones this is a book I wax lyrical about, but unlike Jasper Jones I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Rhubarb is a very unusual and poetic book, so If you’re willing to read something a bit different then it’s perfect, but If you like traditional writing styles then It’s probably not your cup of tea.
*If you want to read more about Rhubarb or Jasper Jones then check out my post on Craig Silvey and his work: Craig Silvey: Jewel of the West*

Winner of the most non-sensical title award

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A beautiful book set in Nazi Germany with a unique narrator – Death (or the Grim Reaper). I love an anthropomorphised Death (like the one in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series) so that point initially drew me in, but it’s when you get into the meat of the story that it really shines. It’s hard to explain how much I loved this book when I read it – I laughed, I cried – read it! Also this¬†interview with Markus Zusak about writing the book is really enlightening.

Ironically I had to re-purchase this book because my first copy went missing...stolen perhaps?

 4. The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Hmmm I seem to be going in twos don’t I? The Messenger is a very different book to The Book Thief (a bit like Jasper Jones is a very different book to Rhubarb…is anyone else seeing a pattern here?) but made as much of an impact on me, if not more because its more relatable. The book is set in Australia (where Markus Zusak is from) and is broken up into four parts named after the four suits in a deck of cards (Clubs, Diamonds, Spades, Hearts). I won’t give away why the parts revolve around the suits, but Its a really interesting and unique story idea. Like any good book (in my opinion) this made me feel sick to my stomach in parts, but also unwilling to stop reading, and then pages later I would find myself bursting into fits of laughter.

Protect the Diamonds, Survive the Clubs, Dig deep through Spades, Feel the Hearts

5. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I borrowed this book off a friend of the family and read it while I was studying Art and Written/Oral Communication at TAFE. For one of my Written/Oral Communication assessments I had to write a review and I wrote a glowing review of The Red Tent which the lecturer commented on, saying It was obvious I greatly enjoyed the book. That is an understatement. I LOVED The Red Tent. That love was even more pronounced because before I started it, I didn’t think I’d like it at all! The book is set in biblical times and tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob, and deals with many traditions of women in that time. The “Red Tent” refers to a tent where all the woman of the household would retire to during menstruation. At that time in my life I had very little interest in books based on Bible stories (being a newly devout Pagan) and anything that I perceived as feminism was a pet hate. But I was forced to re-evaluate a few beliefs with this book, because it was such an engaging story. I now am drawn to “religious” fiction and am slower to judge something as a feminist work.

Proved me wrong

6. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

If you read my first Top 10 post you would know about my mixed feeling for Jeanette Winterson’s books, but there is no mixed feelings about The Passion, just passionate ones. The Passion is set in France and revolves around two young people – a young man who is sent to fight in the Napoleonic wars and a young woman in Venice who dresses as a man. It’s an amazing little book – strange and evocative like a fairy tale, but unlike any fairy tale ever written. If you are going to read just one book by Jeanette Winterson, read The Passionbecause it’s truly a brilliant story.

Everyone wears a mask

7. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n is truly a master to have created a world as rich as the Barcelona in The Shadow of the Wind. This is a novel that is fully immersive – when you love the characters you truly love them, when you hate them you truly hate them, and most of all you want to know what happens to them. I cried and gasped far too much while reading this book – If it was all documented I’m sure I would’ve looked like a nutcase – and that’s what really makes a book great. I have heard that the sort-of sequel The Angel’s Game is not as good, and I can see why it wouldn’t be – it would be very hard to recreate the magic of The Shadow of the Wind. Hopefully one day Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n will recreate that magic and then he too will get a double spot on my Top 10 ūüôā

A world all its own

8. Mister God this is Anna by Fynn

I could go on and on about this book, but since I happened to write a review¬†about it this month, I would just be repeating myself ūüėõ So go read the post to see why I love this book so much ūüôā

A lot of food for thought

 9. Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is the only book that is on the Top 10 Books from Childhoodas well as the Top 10 Books of All Time, because, well it’s wonderful ūüôā Check out the Top 10 Books from Childhood to read why it has remained a fave of mine, or go read it – and remember, bunnies can be exciting!

Bright eyes, burning like fire...Oh stop it you'll make me cry!

 10. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Cloudstreet is one of those intricate family sagas that appears once in a blue moon, written by an equally rare and precious author. It revolves around two working class families (the Pickles and the Lambs) who move from rural Western Australia into “the city” (Perth) and live in two halves of a giant old house – No.1 Cloud Street. It spans the 1940’s and 50’s as it traces the many ups and downs of the two families and how they are both affected by an old run-down home. The book has recently been turned into a mini-seriesthat played on Showcase, and was also adapted for the stage and toured in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, London, Dublin, New York and Washington DC.

I can't wait til the miniseries is released on DVD ūüôā

So there you have it, my last “Top 10”, I’ve written exactly 10 posts a month again and all is right in the world ūüôā
So far I haven’t had any comments saying I should make this a regular feature but I’ll give you all a bit more time, just in case ūüėČ if there is still no feedback proclaiming yay by the end of June, I’ll take it as a collective nay and it will only be reviews, new books and other random crazy from now on ūüėõ

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Top 10 Authors

Last month I noticed that I had written exactly 10 posts in April and 10 posts in March. which I thought was pretty neat ūüôā and then the other day I noticed that it’s coming up to the end of May and I have only written 7! This can not do! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m just a tad obsessed with order (cue for all my friends to say “just a tad?”) so, to rectify this situation I will be writing a special “Top 10” post each day on the three last days of May. The first post will be my Top 10 Authors.

In no particular order (besides the order in which they came to me :P) here are my Top 10:

1. Craig Silvey

If you read my post¬†from a few days ago you’ll know that Craig Silvey is my favourite author, mainly because his two novels – Rhubarb and Jasper Jones – are two of my fave books. He’s a wonderful local author and I can’t wait til he writes another book :).

Remember this guy? ūüôā

2. Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak is the author of another couple of my fave books – The Book Thief and The Messenger – as well as a bunch of¬†YA books (The Underdog; Fighting Ruben Wolfe; Getting the Girl) and an upcoming novel The Bridge of Clay, which I’m really looking forward to :). He’s another wonderful Australian author and I would recommend The Book Thief and The Messenger to anyone who wants to read a very inspirational and insightful book with a clear, simple premise.

Another handsome devil ūüôā

3. Joanne Harris

I have read all of Joanne Harris’ books, from the famous Chocolat; it’s sequel, The Lollipop Shoes; and others in the same vein of food and magic (Blackberry Wine; Five Quarters of the Orange) ; to her darker early work (The Evil Seed; Sleep, Pale Sister) ; to her YA fantasy (and first in a series) Runemarks. Her other works are: The Coastliners; Holy Fools; Gentlemen and Players; a collection of short stories called Jigs and Reels; and her newest triumph blueeyedboy. She also has released two cooking books (which I haven’t read) with Fran Warde called The French Kitchen : a Cook Book and The French Market.

A delicious author

4. Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is another author whose work I devour. There is only one novel I have yet to read, Remarkable Creatures, and that is on my “to read” pile, so hopefully I’ll¬†get to it soon :). Her work is mostly historical fiction and based around a famous artist or art in general. Her most famous work, The Girl with the Pearl Earring is about the Dutch painter Vermeer and his painting of the same name; her first book The Virgin Blue references many paintings of the Virgin Mary; The Lady and the Unicorn is about the creation of medieval tapestries with the same name; and Burning Bright is about a couple of children that befriend their neighbour, writer and poet, William Blake. Tracy Chevalier has also written Falling Angels, a beautiful little book set right afer the death of Queen Victoria. She has also written several non-fiction books: Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers; Contemporary Poets; Contemporary World Writers; Encyclopedia of the Essay and Concise Encyclopedia of the Essay.

Lady Historical of Fiction

5. Terry Pratchett

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett is a fairly recent favourite author of mine. I loved the Discworld cartoons, Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music when I was a kid, and later on the movie Hogfather, but it was only a couple of years ago that I got around to reading the books, and I have since read the first 6 Discworld¬†novels. He has written far¬†too much¬†to list here, but if you want to know all the titles follow the link (click on Terry Pratchett) and see them all on his Fantasticfiction¬†page. The books are fab – very good for random bouts of giggling on the bus – and If you’re a fan of fantasy, but think sometimes it’s a genre that takes it’s self too seriously, then the Discworld books are for you.

A wizard of humourous fantasy

6. Jeanette Winterson

I’ve had an interesting¬†reader/author relationship with Jeanette Winterson. When I was younger I loved her early works: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; Sexing the Cherry; and most of all The Passion. I also enjoyed some of her later books, like Lighthousekeeping and her sort-of YA fantasy novel, Tanglewreck. However, I had mixed emotions about her sci-fi love story¬†The Stone Gods¬†, which had great elements but was confusing and not as….engaging as the other books I had read. And Gut Symmetries really wasn’t my cup of tea. Because of this somewhat mixed experience I am nervous about reading the remaining novels: Written on the Body; Art and Lies; The Powerbook; and The Battle of the Sun, but I will carry on because when she writes a good one, it’s amazing.

No ordinary fruit

7. Isobelle Carmody

I have loved Isobelle¬†Carmody’s¬†fantasy books since a friend of the family gave me Scatterlings. I am a fan of the Obernewtyn¬†Cronicles¬†(¬†Obernewtyn; The Farseekers; Ashling; The Keeping Place; The Stone Key) and have been hanging out for the next book, The Sending to come out. Besides the Obernewtyn¬†series she has written the Ledgendsong¬†Saga, the Gateway Trilogy and The Legend of Little Fur series. She has also written 7 stand-alone novels, a collection of short stories called Green Monkey Dreams, and a few picture books: Wildheart; The Wrong Thing ( or Magic Night), Night School and Journey From the Centre of the Earth. I still have to read the Ledgendsong¬†series, and¬†3 of her stand-alones:¬†The Landlord, Dreamwalker, and ¬†Firecat’s Dream.

Queen of trilogies (and beyond)

8. Charlaine Harris

My love for Charlaine¬†Harris is a new one, and thanks mainly to a Southern belle with an¬†unique ability: Sookie¬†Stackhouse. Since I saw True Blood early last year I have been reading the Sookie¬†Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries¬†series and now I’m 8 books in and completly¬†addicted :). Besides the Sookie¬†series, Charlaine Harris has written the Aurora Teagarden mystery series (which has 8 books), the Lily Bard mystery series (which has 5) and the Harper Connelly¬†series (which has 4), as well as two stand-alones, Sweet and Deadly, and A Secret Rage,¬†so she’s quite an ambitious lady. I own the first Harper Connelly: Grave Sight, and a Lily Bard¬†omnibus and they’re on my “to read” pile, so hopefully they’re just as fun as the Sookie books :).

An author with bite

9. Kerry Greenwood

Ahhhh¬†Kerry Greenwood, the author behind two of my favourite female characters from the last two years – the hon. Phryne¬†Fisher, and baker turned detective, Corinna Chapman. Thanks go to my friend Sarah for lending me the first Phryne book (or the first 3) in the form of an omnibus containing: Cocaine Blues (aka Death by Misadventure), Flying Too High, and Murder on a Ballarat Train. Since then I’ve read 5 more Phryne books and the first two Corinna Chapman books: Earthly Delights¬†and Heavenly¬†Pleasures. And, lucky me, I still have 10 Phryne¬†books; 3 Corinna books, plus two other series’: the Delphic Women series and the Stormbringer¬†series to read (plus if I’m really keen she’s written 13 stand-alones!).

A book writing machine

10. Clive Barker

If you’re keeping up-to-date with what I’m currently reading¬†you wouldn’t be surprised that Clive Barker is one of my fave authors – since I’m reading two of his books at the mo’. I’ve loved his work since my friend (Sarah again) lent me a great fantasy epic of his, Abarat which is filled with Clive Barker’s colourful and twisted paintings. She then gave me Sacrament¬†for a christmas present, and I’ve been into his bizarre, often fucked-up style of writing¬†ever since :P. Beside Abarat (and the second Abarat book, Days of Magic, Nights of War) and Sacrament I have read (and own) The Great and Secret Show and Imajica.

Master of Mindfuck

So there you have it, my first top 10 :). We have a good mix of male and female authors, and authors from Australia (Craig Silvey, Markus Zusak, Isobelle Carmody, Kerry Greenwood) the UK (Joanne Harris, Terry Pratchett, Jeanette Winterson, Clive Barker) and the US of A (Tracy Chevalier, Charlaine Harris), plus a mix of genres (Literary, Historical, Fantasy, YA, Mystery, Horror) which gives you all an insight into my reading patterns :).

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next “Top 10” –¬†the Top 10 books from my childhood, and let me know in the comments if you think the “Top 10” should be a regular feature ūüôā

Craig Silvey : Jewel of the West

May has been quite light on posts, mainly because I have been bombarded with assessments. But since a couple of these assessments were presentations that fit in quite nicely with the theme of this blog, why not mix business with pleasure? ūüôā

The first presentation¬†I did was for a training unit – we had to choose a book, book series, or author and “train” a small group on the topic. I chose my favourite author, and one who is not very well-known – Craig Silvey.

He's a handsome devil isn't he?

I discovered Craig Silvey a few years ago when his first novel, Rhubarb, was chosen as the “One Book” for the Perth Writer’s Festival¬†and there was promotional material in my local library. I couldn’t get my hands on it for a while as all the copies were out on loan, but when I did it was well worth the wait. Rhubarb¬†was one of the most unusual and beautiful books I had ever read, and became my new no. 1 book of all time (a position held by Watership Down by Richard Adams since I was 11).

Rhubarb

The plot was simple while also, somehow being complex – It is very character and setting focused and so the plot seems like a natural progression of little interwoven stories, taking a simple thread of plot and weaving it into an intricate tapestry. The main character is Eleanor Rigby (yes, like the Beatles song) who is young, delicate and blind. She goes through her (newly) sightless world with her faithful if somewhat incompetent guide dog Warren, as she wanders the vibrant streets and beaches of Fremantle, Western Australia. She lives with her mother who has become almost comatose on the couch, immersed in her own television world, and has only vague, lonely acquaintances. The other main character is Ewan Dempsey, a young man who is agoraphobic and spends his days smoking weed, making cellos¬†to sell and playing his own collection of cellos. The two meet when Eleanor¬†passes by his house and is drawn by the sound of his music, and an awkward, confused, but touching romance begins. The book is written almost like poetry – Silvey¬†uses a lot of alliteration, repetition¬†and strung together words, which create a wonderful sense of pace and panic, especially in parts where Eleanor is trying to negotiate the Fremantle streets. Even after all these years Rhubarb is still on my list of top 10 books I’ve read.

Jasper Jones

When the second novel of Silvey’s, Jasper Jones,¬†came out in 2009 I was so excited because I hadn’t even heard he was writing¬†another. I was surprised by how different Jasper Jones was to Rhubarb, but I was even more surprised when I grew to love it more than Rhubarb. The book revolves around a 13-year-old¬†boy called Charlie Bucktin (I bet you were expecting me to say Jasper jones :P) who is a quiet, bookish boy who aspires to be a writer. it is set in rural Western Australia in the 1960’s. The book begins with Charlie reading in his sleep-out bedroom when he gets a surprise visit by Jasper Jones, a half caucasian, half aboriginal boy a few years his senior who is the troublemaker and scapegoat of the town. Charlie has never had prejudice towards Jasper, maybe because his best friend, Jeffrey Lu, is Vietnamese also is victim to the towns racism and small-mindedness, or maybe because he sees that the town is not in the right and Jasper may be a good person. So, when Jasper asks for Charlie’s help, and to follow him into the bush at night, Charlie goes with him. What Charlie discovers is a secret too big and heavy for any teenager to have to keep, but he does, for the sake of Jasper Jones. Jasper Jones has been compared to Harper Lee’s To kill a mockingbird because it has the same Southern Gothic feel to it, but in an Australian setting, as well as themes of racism, small-town-small-mindedness, and growing up. It is an amazing book, touching and disturbing then just a hop-skip-and-jump away to complete, youthful hilarity and triumph. It gets added points for making me cheer out loud at a cricket game, when I have never had the slightest interest in cricket.

I would recommend both Rhubarb and Jasper Jones to anyone, because they are amazingly written, especially for such a new, young writer.
If you would like any more info check out the slide show that I used for my presentation: Craig Silvey
and the group of bookmarks I’ve collected on del.icio.us that relate to Craig Silvey: Craig Silvey del.icio.us bundle