Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Me Smile

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week, we’re talking about books guaranteed to put a smile on our faces – for one reason or another.

It seems like this prompt has come back around awfully quickly. Just over a year ago, I picked ten capers and comfort reads that always make me smile – so today I’m focusing on a different source of joy: context and concepts.

Book cover: The Wordsworth Encyclopaedia of Plague and Pestilence - George C Kohn

The Wordsworth Encyclopaedia of Plague and Pestilence by George C Kohn isn’t the most obvious candidate for today’s prompt and it is exactly what it sounds like: an A-Z of disease outbreaks. But it’s the thought that provokes the smile – this was an early gift from a beloved who was paying attention to (and encouraging) my weird interests. Twenty years later, he still does.

Testicles – Blandine Vie: yes, I’m a child. I can’t see this title on the shelf without having a gleeful snigger, and frankly that’s why I bought it. Besides, who could resist a study of Balls in Cookery and Culture? Not me, that’s for sure -although for all the ingenuity of the translator, I suspect it has lost something in its transition from French into English.

Book cover: The Ness of Brodgar As It Stands

The Ness of Brodgar: As It Stands: chalk up another victory for my beloved, but he’s not the only reason this reflection on the first decade of the dig at Brodgar makes me smile. It took under 24 hours from me mentioning it to him putting it in my hands, and the efficiency of The Orcadian‘s post room and the Royal Mail in achieving that delights me. It’s a long way from Kirkwall to here.

The Order of the Stick prequels – Rich Burlew: okay, so The Order of the Stick (aka OOTS) will always make me smile for its absurdity and charm, but I have a special giggle for the prequels: On the Origin of PCs and Start Of Darkness. Or OOTS: OOPs and OOTS: SOD. Anyone who can both riff on a classic and pun this hard at the same time is a good egg. Plus the contents are hilarious.

Book cover - The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs

Thing Explainer – Randall Munroe: literally everything about this book delights me except the fact that it’s so bloody tall. Using only the 1000 most commonly-used English words (and his signature line drawings), Munroe sets out to demystify some of the cool things around us, which gets horrifying fast when applied to the human body and the ‘bags of stuff inside’ it. Sometimes simple words don’t make things easier to understand after all…

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances – The Oatmeal: the final contribution from my beloved this week (he buys good presents and he knows me entirely too well), this book reminds me that against all the odds I am a runner. I may moan and swear and I may be motivated more by PBJs than PBs, but life is – surprisingly, amazingly – better when I do. Rueful grin, every time.

Book Cover: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
Book cover: I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong

I Think I Can See Where You’re Going Wrong – Marc Burrows: I know, I know don’t read the comments – and no, really, don’t – but Marc Burrows kindly got in the middle to curate these. Out of context snark and shitwittery is much safer; and if you’re familiar with Dave Gorman’s Found Poetry then you can hum the whole way through. To be fair, it’s the fact I immediately start humming Handel’s Sarabande that makes me grin so maybe this should just be a picture of Dave Gorman and a powerpoint…

Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson: in a Covent Garden wine bar that I used to frequent (but which has sadly closed down), a bunch of media luvvies with more enthusiasm for cricket than skill at playing it decided to play a match on every continent. Antarctica was tricky. The absurdity always makes me smile (sadly, though, as Harry Thompson died of cancer shortly afterwards).

Book cover: Penguins Stopped Play
Book cover: The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper - AJ Fitzwater

The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper – AJ Fitzwater: three words – lesbian pirate capybara. See, you’re smiling already. No further explanation required, right?

What books make you smile – and why?