Friday, April 08, 2011

Books I can't stop thinking about

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?


  1. Brilliant post! You talk so warmly about these books, I haven't read any of them but they've all jumped onto my wishlist.

  2. Some fabulous books there that I still need to read soon. Patrick Ness is just fabulous.

  3. I am ashamed to say I have not read any of these books. But after reading your posts about them, they are all going onto my wish list. xx

  4. You made them all sound so amazing that I wanted to go straight onto Amazon and order them all (well apart from Wood Angel which is already on my shelf waiting for me). Some Girls Are, Living Dead Girl and Between Shades of Gray are all definitely going on my wish list! Thanks :)

  5. Now I just have to read Between Shades of Gray and Where She Went.

  6. Brilliant post!!
    I haven't read many of your list (which is a shame and which I added to my wishlist so my conscious can take it easy!)
    I read both Jenny Downham books and they were pretty powerful. I also fell for the Dragon Harper series by Anne McCaffrey, she spoke directly to my heart, i can't put it in any other way...

  7. I haven't read any of these! They all sound brilliant though, and seeing as you liked them so much, I'll have to give them a go. I especially like the sound of Wood Angel :).

  8. Great post. There's at least two or three books on here that would appear on my list as well.

    (Although I don't think the cover of Wood Angel is a patch on the US one :/)

  9. I loved Ender's Game, Nation and Where She Went too. I've been wantting to read The Knife of Never Letting Go For Awhile and I think your comments just bumped it to the top of my list. Isn't it wonderful how some books can just stick with you. A few that are forever embedded in my mind: The History of Love, The Shadow of the Wind, Empire Falls and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

  10. The only ones I've read from your list are Nation & Between Shades of Gray and I loved them both. Some of the others you mentioned were already on my wish list but the others have now been added since you praised them so highly! Great post :o)

  11. OUt of your list the only one I've read in Monsters of Men but I agree that it was so heart wrenching, emotional and exciting. I had no idea what would happen next and even worse didn't even know what I really wanted to happen! If your other choices are even half as good as Monsters, I really need to pick them up soon! :)

  12. Great list! I might do a post like this...

  13. What a list. I haven't read anything on it, but I'm a massive Elizabeth Scott fan and I've read quite a lot of Terry Pratchett too.
    -Rachel Star

  14. Great list! I have had Nation on my to-read list for ages, I should definitely get round to reading it soon. Monsters of Men is one of the books I had planned to read this month. I really enjoyed the first two books so can't wait to see how it all ends! Ender's Game was one of those books that I couldn't stop thinking about either. Also, Where She Went and Wood Angel are on my wish list since I've been seeing great reviews on both :)

  15. i totally agree about between shades of gray - amazing book

  16. There are definitely many of the books on this list that I'm dying to read. I've just gotten the Patrick ness series so I'm looking forward to starting that soon. Dying to read Where She Went and the Elizabeth Scott one looks fabulous too. Mmm... I'm thinking I'll be doing a similar post quite soon - there certainly are a number of books that I can't stop thinking about.

  17. Jenni - Thank you! I hope you read them all and love them just like I did :)

    Vivienne - I agree, Patrick Ness really is great!

    Susan - Aww, you're in for a treat, all these books are amazing :)

    TSB - They ARE all amazing! I hope you do pick them up and read them :)

    Evie - YES DO! You won't be disappointed.

    Caroline - Thank you! Oh I adore Jenny Downham! She'd definitely make it onto a list like this if I really thought it more. Anne McCaffery is an author I've always *meant* to read!

    Liz - Oh, I love hearing that! Yes, please do read these books. Especially Wood Angel!!

    Darren - Thank you! I'm glad we agree on some of the books :) I don't really remember seeing the US cover of Plain Kate. It's kind of .. red?

  18. AR - Oh, do read The Knife Of Never Letting Go! That book is incredible, the whole series is. I do love how much these books have stuck with me and almost become part of me. It's a wonderful feeling to have. I love your list of books as well, I keep meaning to read a book by Jonathan Safran Foer for awhile!

    Sarah - Thank you, and I hope you love the books I've recommended :)

    Mel - Yes, yes, yes! Exactly. I had no idea what I was wanted from that story as I was reading it either. I was so conflicted whilst reading it. Fab book.

    Zoe - I hope you do, send me the link!

    Rachel - Two very wonderful authors, Elizabeth Scott and Terry Pratchett :)

    TLO - Oh, don't wait any longer to read Nation! Really. And phew, you have such an emotional roller coaster ahead of with Monsters of Men!! :)

    Kirsty - It really is!

    Tammy - Oh I really hope you do a similar post, I think it'd be fascinating to read :)

  19. I think I'll do my own version of this post as well! I too am obsessed with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I read it in September and still find myself marvelling at how good it is.

  20. Julianne - Oh I really hope that you do your own post about this one, I think it'd be really fascinating to read what other books people will choose! Isn't Frankie fantastic? Love that book.


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