Top Ten Tuesday: recommended reads

Top Ten Tuesday bannerTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we all talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. This week, we’re celebrating the books that we read because someone recommended them to us.

The thing I’ve loved most about embracing the bookworms of the interwebs as my reading buddies is their excellent taste. From being hit by book bullets in the Green Dragon on LibraryThing (book bullets cause damage only to your wallet; side effects include sleepless nights) to being sucked into the epic flailing vortex of Twitter and Tumblr’s enthusiasms, I have absolutely no regrets.

It’s very rare I follow a fellow bookworm’s recommendation and end up wondering what they were talking about – even if the books don’t become my new favourite thing, they’re always an entertaining diversion. Compared to the epic fails of relying on Amazon recommendations, traditional media reviews or sales figures, the recommendations of my book blogging friends are golden.


So, which have been my favourites?


Temeraire – I was disappointed when the twittersphere said this should be our next group read instead of my beloved Deverry, but I, uh, got over it. The pitch of alt history with dragons is intriguing enough, but the true joy of these books are the bromance, loyalty and personal growth. Plus bonus adventures with dragons.

Spirits Abroad  – my long-time friend and sometime housemate @nanila got me on to Zen Cho’s short stories, and started a love affair that intensified with Sorcerer to the Crown. Zen Cho writes – in her own words – ‘anti-colonialism and dragons’ (also faeries, immigration/integration, racism and feminism) with great comic timing and no fear.

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – I’d already fallen in love with the cover art (I mean, seriously) when @effingrainbow announced a SciFiMonth read-along. My heart still hasn’t recovered, and I’ve been trying not to reread it all year (see my willpower). For lovers of Firefly and Farscape, and reptilian aliens with warm hearts. Is me.

Golden Witchbreed – I think @Sandstone has tagged me with more instant favourites than anyone (just), and she broke my heart with this planetary space opera where a tech-averse alien race attempts to moderate the influence of tech-hungry humanity in search of corporate profit. This is one for readers who enjoy long journeys on foot as an excuse for exceptional world-building, and to be smacked between the eyes by conflicted loyalties. Repeatedly.

The Secret History – I remain ever grateful to (and ever amused by) my Latin teacher for recommending this classic navel-gazing murder mystery about the lengths to which some Classics students go to impress their enigmatic professor. Exquisitely written, with some of the most engagingly unlikeable protagonists ever to grace the page. A lifelong favourite.


Burning Bright – another @Sandstone whammy, this time a pitch perfect space opera that combines intergalactic diplomacy with fully-immersive virtual reality LARPs. Queer lovers meet and compete in a gorgeously evocative city of canals and bicycles; the seamless incidental world-building is near perfect. Melissa Scott became one of my favourite authors overnight.

False Hearts – the latest score by @effingrainbow, I devoured Laura Lam’s near-future thriller about a sister going undercover in the SF underworld to clear her twin’s name. Seeded with dystopic elements and revolving around the machinations of the mysterious cult in which the twins were raised, this should be over-the-top, but Lam’s heartbreakingly intimate narrative keeps it perfectly on the rails.

Snow Crash – an ex-boyfriend introduced me to cyberpunk in the mid-90s, and I devoured Neal Stephenson (and Gibson, but I only really enjoyed Neuromancer and – much later – Pattern Recognition). I’m honestly scared to reread it now for fear of the suck fairy, but its blend of high-octane action and end-of-millennium cynicism was intoxicating at the time.

The Girl with All the Gifts – in spite of the hype, I might never have got to Girl without the push from @sakerfalcon. I was utterly blown away by Melanie – one of the most endearing heroines of recent years – and this post-apocalyptic coming of age novel is one I recommend at the drop of a hat. Haven’t read it yet? Do. Or see the film, which is brilliant.

Neverwhere – I was late to the Gaiman bandwagon and remain perched on edge, ready to jump off. But when he gets me, it’s between the eyes – and @helpful_mammal was absolutely right to think I’d love the playful and terrifying myth-making of London Below.

I’m also going to take a teary Oscar moment to acknowledge my Mum. Because when I look at the books I’ve loved all my life and that have shaped my preferences, so many of them were her recommendations: Alan Garner, J R R Tolkien, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin are all her fault. Thank you Mum.


What book would be your top recommendation for me?