I saw this top ten list on several other blogs recently and thought it would be fun to make my own list. There are a lot of books that I read and something about them, either the story, the characters, the writing style or the way the book made me felt has stayed with me long after I finished reading the books. Having a look over the books that I've read in the past year and a bit, here are the books that have burrowed into my brain and haven't quite left me.
Nation by Terry Pratchett - This is one of the best books I've ever read. It's one of the first books by Terry Pratchett I'd ever attempted and I was won over immediately by the beauty and the skill of his writing.
It's funny and intelligent and incredibly moving. Scenes of Nation, particularly of Mau burying his family, will haunt and stay with me forever. Other scenes made me bark with laughter. Still others made my head hurt turning over certain ideas. Incredible.
This is the book that will keep Terry Pratchett on my list of favourite ever authors no matter what.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - I really kick myself when I remember how much I resisted this book. I always put off by the sci-fi label and insisted to myself that it 'wasn't my thing' despite all of the wonderful things people said about it.
And I read it and it's true - it's hugely addictive reading and it made me think about so many different things. War and the morality of using children, manipulation. I really just loved how entertaining it was reading about battle strategies and the game that Ender tries to defeat. When I first finished Ender's Game, I immediately wanted to read it again. It's just one of those books that I keep wanting to return to, and for me, that rarely happens.
I also found Ender's Shadow to be absolutely fascinating.
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness - This book. Wow. I really just don't know how Patrick Ness did it. I loved the first book in the trilogy, The Knife Of Never Letting Go. I'd never read anything like it before and I was amazed at how easily I was sucked into Tod's voice and the story. I was captivated by The Ask and the Answer. But it was Monsters of Men that left me absolutely speechless.
I remember at some of the more exciting parts of Monsters Of Men, that I had to put the book down and take deep breaths because my heart was beating so fast that I began to seriously worry.
I know that this book and the entire series won't be for everyone, but I really do love it so.
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers - When I bought Some Girls Are, I really had no idea that it would be a book about a really extreme case of bullying. I had previously Courtney Summers' other book, Cracked Up To Be and had liked it quite a lot. And on that reason alone, I picked up this book.
I decided to read it for Anti-Bullying Week. I knew that it might have some difficult subject matter, but I was amazed at how much this book affected me. There was so much emotion seeping out of the pages! The main character's struggles - from the attack by her friend's boyfriend, to being cast out of her circle of friends, to the shame and guilt she feels over the nasty things she's done over the years had me sobbing uncontrollably.
I will eagerly await any book that Courtney Summers writes in future.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart - This is a really kick-ass book. If you don't see Frankie Landau-Banks in my Awesome Women feature soon, please let me know and I will get on that immediately.
This book is very different to other E. Lockhart's books (I've only read the Roo Oliver books so far!). Frankie isn't a character that I really warmed to throughout the book. I don't think I'd want to be her friend or hang out with her at all, but I'd definitely want her leading my student council or just generally being in charge and fighting her way towards equality and abolishment of double-standards and so on.
In The Disreputable History, Frankie's intelligence and her ruthlessness really shine. E. Lockhart really brought up some great themes in this book, of gender and time-honoured traditions such as marriage and the patriarchal systems in place at her boarding school. She sees the power roles in place and manipulates things in order to change the status quo. It's a very inspiring and feisty book, this one. I really recommend it.
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott - Elizabeth Scott will always be amongst my list of favourite ever authors. And one of the main reasons for that is how she's able to write so well very different books. I love her contemporary romances, like Something, Maybe and Perfect You. They're really wonderful and heart-felt stories.
But it's her grittier work that leaves me absolutely shocked and surprised. How did the woman who wrote Bloom also write Living Dead Girl?! Living Dead Girl is one of the most harrowing books I've ever read.
It's shocking and heartbreaking and when I finished the book I just lay there absolutely stunned. I couldn't think of picking another book up for ages because Alice's story was the only thing I could think about.
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace - This is a book that I knew I'd probably enjoy, but I put off reading it for a long time. I think books like this, that are very thought-provoking and emotional, are books that need to be read in the right frame of mind.
I loved that this book is set in a time and place that I knew very little about. The bullying and the racial tension felt very real to my as a reader and I felt hugely invested in the story and the character. Jacko in particular was a wonderful character. Huge props to Jason Wallace for giving us such a flawed character, a person who consistently chooses the wrong path because it's easier and who witnesses injustice after injustice, participates in it even. And yet, as a reader I still believed in him and hoped the next time would be different. That the next time he would choose to do the right thing and stand up for those around him. Out of Shadows is a really wonderful book and one I hope more people pick up and read.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman - Oh my god, this book. It broke my heart into thousands of little, jagged pieces. How much heartbreak can be crammed into one little book?!
I worried that the sequel to If I Stay wouldn't come close to being as emotional and that worry was completely unfounded. It's so sad and moving. I feel like Gayle Forman just wrenched my heart out in the process of reading this book.
The entire book just blew me away. I will be clutching my copy of Where She Went to my chest for a long time to come. Beautiful, beautiful book.
Wood Angel by Erin Bow - Out of the 50+ books I've read so far this year, Wood Angel is seriously my favourite of the lot.
It has an absolutely gorgeous cover and the writing and the characters and the story of it is just as beautiful. Slightly melancholy and lonely but the sadness of Kate has such a hopeful quality to it.
I cried messy sobs in the last 1/3 of the book. I really didn't know how I was going to cope with it all. Taggle is one of my favourite characters!
I know I've been going on and on about this book lately, but really, it's for good reason. Wood Angel is such a great story.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - I read this recently and I cried in bed at 2am as I finished it. I'm still trying to piece together my thoughts on the book in order to write my review, but I had no idea.
I knew that this would be a heartbreaker - I cried just watching a video of the author talking about her inspiration in writing the book, but it was all so awful and hopeful at the time.
The horrible living conditions and the way in which Lena and her family and thousands of others suffered made for such emotional reading. I loved the strength of spirit though, especially in Lena's mother, of remaining moral and generous even when everything has been stripped away.
Such a beautiful book, one I hope is widely read.
So there are the books that have burrowed their way into my brain, which books have stayed with you?