john green

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books I Have Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s top 10 is all about the books that I have loved ever since I’ve started the blog. For me that means books I’ve loved since March 2011. The list is by no means conclusive and the name & the order may change anytime. Click on the name of the books for my reviews.

1.   Detective Stories. Philip Pullman – 

Detective Stories is a 1998 collection of fifteen short stories and two brainteasers from the detective genre compiled by Philip Pullman.

The book tries to cover the entire detective genre right from Arthur Conan Doyle to Andrew Vachss. Pullman has tried to make a perfect combination of vintage and contemporary stories and he succeeds to a large degree. This collection is mainly aimed at younger readers but adults can equally enjoy it (as I did). Detective Stories is a true treat!

2.  Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse – 

Very Good, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is a collection of eleven short stories. All of these stories feature Bertie Wooster and his trusted butler Jeeves.

As it is I am really fond of short stories and the Jeeves short stories are definitely right up my alley.

I really enjoyed reading Very Good, Jeeves. It’s a pity it was a library book and I had to return it. This is the kind of book that I’d like to re-read in the future.

3.   Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier –

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.  The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith – 

The Diary of a Nobody first appeared in Punch magazine from 1888 – 89. It was published in book form in 1892.

The writing is lucid. Many have called it dated. I didn’t find it so. This is a very easy to read book. I managed to finish it in just a day.

I know this is supposed to be a satire on the snobbery and the dullness of the middle class folks but I felt rather sorry for Mr. Pooter. Sure, he is boring and old-fashioned but he is a good, honourable man who is just trying to do the best he can. My sympathy certainly lies with him.

5.    The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen – 

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen was published in 2004. It was Jensen’s fifth novel.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is one strange story. What happens in the story is not wholly un-guessable but whatever it is, it is twisted. Overall, this is an enjoyable psychological thriller.

6.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami – 

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

7.  A Midsummer Night’s DreamWilliam Shakespeare – 

I love Shakespeare’s comedies. The witty dialogues, the general air of light heartedness and above all the wickedly funny plots suit my taste quite well. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so far my favourite among these.

8.   The Railway ChildrenEdith Nesbit – 

Even though I might have enjoyed children’s classics such as The Railway Children more if I really were a child, I do still find joy in them. Other than a few parts (like the chapter The Pride of Perks) I have greatly enjoyed reading The Railway Children.

9.   The Old Man in the CornerBaroness Orczy – 

Today Baroness Orczy is mostly remembered as the creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel but she also wrote quite a few mysteries. The Old Man in the Corner (1909) is possibly the best known among her mysteries.

The end of the central narrative left me fairly shocked. I really didn’t see this coming.

Overall, I enjoyed The Old Man in the Corner. I would definitely want to read more of Baroness Orczy’s mysteries.

10.   The Fault in Our Stars John Green – 

I am not much into contemporary books. I am just not comfortable with modern fiction though I do try to read at least one or two each year. Also, this novel belongs to a genre that I am not much of a fan of, Young Adult or YA lit.

No, I didn’t need a boxful of tissues as many of my fellow readers said that I would. Books rarely make me cry (Goodbye, Mr. Chips being one of the very few exceptions). So, it’s not really the book’s fault. But yes I liked The Fault in Our Stars much better than I thought I would.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I am not much into contemporary books. I am just not comfortable with modern fiction though I do try to read at least one or two each year. Also, this novel belongs to a genre that I am not much of a fan of, Young Adult or YA lit.

No, I didn’t need a boxful of tissues as many of my fellow readers said that I would. Books rarely make me cry (Goodbye, Mr. Chips being one of the very few exceptions). So, it’s not really the book’s fault. But yes I liked The Fault in Our Stars much better than I thought I would.

The Fault in Our Stars, published in 2012 (thus making it the most current book I have ever read!), is John Green’s fourth novel.

16 year old Hazel has terminal cancer. No longer going to school and disconnected from her friends, home has become her entire world. At her parent’s insistence, she joins a cancer support group and Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor, steps into her life. Life becomes, suddenly, much more interesting and kind of livable. But faced with her own mortality at every turn, how long can she hope for it all to last?

Hazel reminds me of someone I know, especially the way she speaks.

“Out of nowhere, Augustus asked, ‘Do you believe in an afterlife?’

‘I think forever is an incorrect concept,’ I answered.

He smirked. ‘You’re an incorrect concept.’

‘I know. That’s why I’m being taken out of the rotation.’”

I liked how her character didn’t change completely during the course of the narrative. The bleak moodiness her character shows early on doesn’t absolutely vanish. Yes it decreases but her character retains its true essence.

I found the way Augustus keeps calling Hazel, ‘Hazel Grace’, irritating. In fact, there is something about Augustus that kept me from feeling totally sympathetic towards him. I know he is just a frightened teen posturing to hide his insecurities but I just didn’t feel connected with him somehow.

Hazel loves the book An Imperial Affliction because she identifies with the main character Anna. Her love for the book, her trip to Amsterdam to find the rest of Anna’s story, all of it is supposed to make the reader feel more connected to Hazel’s pain. But I found those parts to be kind of hollow.

What I liked was how Augustus and Hazel connect with each other. Parts of their time together, like the night they have dinner at Oranjee, came vividly alive. Augustus’ friendship with Isaac, another cancer survivor, also rang true.

The characters of Hazel’s parents are nicely summed up by Hazel herself,

“Appraising myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, I kept thinking there were two kinds of adults: There were Peter Van Houtens—miserable creatures who scoured the earth in search of something to hurt. And then there were people like my parents, who walked around zombically, doing whatever they had to do to keep walking around. Neither of these futures struck me as particularly desirable.”

I liked the character of Lidewij Vliegenthart. She is an unrealistically nice person but I wish such people did exist in real life.

I deeply distrust contemporary writers, having read a few really bad current books. But John Green is not half as bad as I thought he would be.

I loved how Green quotes from various poems! It seems like we have a similar taste in poetry. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot and Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost deserve special mention.

The book is designed to tug at your heartstrings and it does do so, especially the last part. It is a sentimental book and normally I don’t do ‘sentimental’ (barring some Victorian lit and a few others like Goodbye, Mr. Chips). But overall I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars. For a book from an era and a genre I don’t particularly enjoy, I would say it was pretty good.