I’m taking a bit of a spin with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme and giving more limelight to books outside just my usual genres. These following ten books are not necessarily in my TBR, but they are certainly books I’d like a copy of. 🙂
1) Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
I don’t actually read a lot of self-help, but I love Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar column on The Rumpus, and I’ve leafed through Tiny Beautiful Things numerous times in my visits to the bookshop or the library.
In it, Strayed discusses difficult, emotionally tough issues such as child-free lives, goals and dreams, failures and successes, student loans, finances, parent-children relationships, abuse, death, grief, loss, love, and yes, life. I’ve always found her advice to be really sensitive, compassionate and often very much on the dot; there’s just always something to take from her words, even when the situation in question isn’t directly applicable to your life.
This is my favourite piece of hers—it’s a letter from a father whose son was killed by a drunk driver, and it has reduced me to tears at various points in my life.
2) Crush – Richard Siken
Crush is a collection of poems inspired by the death of Siken’s boyfriend in 1991. It’s heart-rending, gorgeously written, and often very cutting.
I’m a big believer that poetry should be read in print—because there’s a bit of emotion lost when you’re reading it digitally—and Siken is the poet I keep coming back to again and again.
“You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won’t tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired. You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you didn’t even have a name for.”
3) How A Moth Becomes A Boat – Josephine Rowe
I had the chance to hear Melbourne-based writer Rowe speak about her writing process when she came to my university, all those years ago. I was taking my very first Creative Writing class and not really enjoying it—I didn’t enjoy it until the end—but her writing style is something I greatly admire and I keep learning from.
How A Moth Becomes A Boat is a gorgeous short collection of micro-fiction about the little things in life. I actually already own a copy of this book but I wouldn’t mind two so I can annotate the first one and point out things I love. Whoops? 😛
4) The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan
Another micro-fiction collection, but this one a lot more modern and relatively less… poetic? The Lover’s Dictionary is full of tiny stories all anchored by certain words of the alphabet, and it’s the kind of book I like to be tucked into bed with.
There are times when I doubt everything. When I regret everything you’ve taken from me, everything I’ve given you, and the waste of all the time I’ve spent on us.
5) Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
Pretty much one of the most bittersweet I’ve ever read, Me Before You is just another book I want to add to my (admittedly small) print books collection. It’s worth the extra shelf space that it takes. 🙂
“Push yourself. Don’t settle. Wear those stripy legs with pride. And if you insist on settling down with some ridiculous bloke, make sure some of this is squirreled away somewhere. Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury. Knowing I might have given them to you has alleviated something for me.”
6) Just Listen – Sarah Dessen
A friend of mine let me borrow her copy of Just Listen when we were in high school. It’s my first foray into ‘modern’ YA literature (i.e. not one prescribed for my English class) and it has kickstarted an obsession with the genre that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have now.
Besides, Dessen is a wonderful writer, and I’ve always found her stories to be while formulaic also realistic, heartwarming, and full of gentle subtlety.
“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”
7) On Writing – Stephen King
On Writing is a must for anyone with any sort of appreciation for the good words. It’s part memoir, part advice, and 100% engaging.
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
8) All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
I haven’t read All The Light We Cannot See yet but overwhelmingly positive reviews have convinced me to pick it up (except I haven’t yet). Apparently the hardcover edition is absolutely beautiful, so I certainly wouldn’t mind owning a copy.
And yes, I’m that weird person you see running my fingers all over a book and sniffing it. I love the book itself as an object, content notwithstanding. D:
“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”
9) The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling
This book is beautiful, and the kind of book you just NEED a physical copy of. Certain stories read even more magically when on print, and an illustrated Harry Potter will make for an amazing reading experience. I wonder what it’d be like to be introduced to Hogwarts through these drawings first? Too bad we can’t reread a book for the first time. 😛
PS: This is also illustrated by Jim Kay, who did the drawings for Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls. IT IS GLORIOUS.
10) Escape from Camp 14 – Blaine Harden
I haven’t spoken before about my interest in the realities and psychologies of certain cultures and religions, so here I go: North Korea is one of those subjects I keep coming back to, and given that there’s still not that much information on it out there, any book on it is any book I want to read.
Escape from Camp 14 is a story of Shin Dong-hyuk, apparently the only known prisoner to have successfully escaped from a “total-control zone” grade internment camp in North Korea.
Other books in this ‘genre’ I wouldn’t mind getting from Santa:
- The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, which is another North Korea survivor story.
- Night by Ellie Wiesel and Marion Wiesel, about Nazi Germany.
- Seductive Poison by Deborah Layton, a survivor of Jonestown, where 918 people died in a mass suicide incident in the US.
Whee, I just realised I’m not ending this on a very cheerful note! Apologies for that, and please feel free to link me to your TTT this week so I can check them out. 😛