Top 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 – as it’s Thanksgiving in the US – I’m looking at books I’m grateful to have been given as gifts.
I don’t specifically track gifts in my collection, so this top ten is definitely subject to memory bias. But these are definitely books that have made me happy and I know I didn’t buy for myself. My family gets much of the credit, as they are always happy to feed my habit.
Fieldwork – a Christmas present from an aunt-out-law. Her choices can be hit and miss as we have both lots and little in common (the next year, I got an autobiography of a pianist I’d never heard of, all tortured navel-gazing and privilege). Fieldwork is excellent, the meandering story of a bored journalist in Thailand, who investigates the story of a Dutch anthropologist jailed for the murder of an American missionary.
The Crimson Petal and the White – a gift from a friend, who correctly judged that I’d like this exceedingly nasty little tale of Victorian values. Sugar is the most-desired prostitute in London, an intelligent and strong-willed young woman entirely willing to manipulate and take advantage of a self-absorbed, foolish perfumer (who deserves everything he gets).
Discount Armageddon – my cousin became responsible for me no longer being able to say I hate urban fantasy when she bought me this excellent snark-fest. McGuire injects charm, fun and a cult of talking mice to her absurdly OTT tale of a would-be ballroom dancer protecting the paranormals of New York. And I loved it.
Darkspell – my aunt had no idea what she was buying when she introduced me to Deverry – and I have to think the nice lady in the bookshop didn’t know it was being bought for not yet into double digits given the adult themes (and scenes). Strong-willed young woman can swing a sword and wrestles with budding Magic Powers as she rescues her imperilled love interest; and through her past lives, we’re shown just how complicated reincarnation can get.
The Earthsea trilogy – my Mum gets the credit for this one, which I’ve had so long I can’t remember when I first fell in love with it. It’s always been a close tie between A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan for favourite – a young wizard learning to harness his power (and his ego); and a young priestess realising just how little influence she truly has.
Alice in Sunderland – my grandma, this time, who bought me this fabulous graphic novel that explores the links between CS Lewis and the North-East – as well as delving into local history and retelling some of the local legends I grew up with (I was born in Sunderland).
Rain Later, Good – my Mum again (she’s going to show up a lot, because my epic reading habit is all her fault. You hear me, Mum? THANK YOU). Peter Collyer’s artistic journey around the shipping forecast is a coffee table gem of moody watercolours; expect hazy seascapes and sketches of fishing ports. It’s very comforting.
The Lord of the Rings (illustrated anniversary edition) – a Christmas present finally ensured I had a copy of The Lord of the Rings of my very own – and it was the gorgeous hardback full of Alan Lee’s pictures to boot. I love my family.
The War of the Worlds – my good friend @helpful_mammal tries very hard to educate me with occasional gifts of classic SF novels that we both know I ought to have read. I Am Legend is probably my favourite to date, but I have a healthy respect for The War of the Worlds.
The Eagle of the Ninth – like Earthsea, it feels that The Eagle of the Ninth has been with me my whole life. I’m pretty sure Mum gets the credit for this one too, which – twinned with probably inappropriate exposure to the Beeb’s production of I Claudius at a young age (also her doing) – cemented my fascination with the Roman Empire (and more specifically, it’s fall).
What books have you been gifted that charmed your socks off?