The First Ten Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf

I’m kinda loving the laziness of this Top Ten Tuesday topic! What I’m not loving is how small my bookcase is. I live in a tiny flat and don’t have room for a full-size bookcase, let alone a big library with rolling ladders like I totally deserve.

Nonetheless, I closed my eyes and grabbed ten books at random, and here is what I came away with…

(Please note, this post may contain spoilers.)

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I love my gorgeous, illustrated copy of Neverwhere. It’s not my favourite Gaiman novel (that would be Good Omens, which is also my favourite Terry Pratchett novel and my favourite book about the apocalypse) but the world-building is glorious and it makes an ideal introduction to urban fantasy for those who are new to the genre.

Wool by Hugh Howey

I haven’t read this one yet, but I should really get a move on because the TV adaptation is airing on the 5th May. I know the book is always better than the movie, but I feel like there’s no clear consensus on whether this is true for TV series.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I’ve read Little Women twice – once as a teen and once as an adult – and both times I was completely sucked in by it. Alcott’s characters are so vividly drawn, and the joys and griefs of growing up are captured so powerfully.

The only thing I don’t like about this book is the ending. I understand that Alcott was under a lot of pressure from both readers and publishers to get Jo married off, but did it have to be that guy? A boring older man who calls her stories trash? For a more interesting (and queer, and Laurie-centric) ending, read So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow.

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

This was the first Ken Follett I read, and while I found the plot consistently engaging I’m not sold on Ken Follett’s style. There’s a bit too much “showing off the research”, which is a bugbear of mine. However, he does write in genres other than historical fiction so maybe I should give one of those a try.

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

This excellent short story collection covers just about everything – desire, friendship, cancel culture, futuristic videogames, a trans woman’s attempt to buy a decent corset – with Smith’s incredible skill and generous humour.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

I bought this book after seeing the film but still haven’t read it. The whole time I was watching the film I kept thinking ‘I bet the book goes into this in more detail’, so buying it was an obvious choice. But having seen the film also means there are some scenes I’m dreading because they’re just so grim.

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

Despite its beautiful prose, this one disappointed me in the same way that most fantasy romances disappoint me – not enough fantasy! I wanted to find out more about the mermaid’s world and instead she just goes to live in a guy’s bathtub and loses her tail.

The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

I’m interested to read a love story with an older protagonist – Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday – but apparently not interested enough because this has been sat on my bookshelf for ages.

Common Bonds by various authors (including me!)

I swear I picked this at random and not to promote my own work (though, err, if you fancy a copy you can buy it here). It’s an anthology of short stories with protagonists who are aromantic – they don’t experience romantic attraction – and with a strong focus on platonic relationships.

My personal favourite is Cinders – a fairytale retelling so crammed with jokes that it makes Shrek look humourless. There’s also father-daughter bonding in space, and a cursed seamstress who becomes friends with a witch. My own story, Spacegirl and the Martian, features a superhero getting drunk and wandering around London with her nemesis.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

The author of the Anne of Green Gables series seems to have a reputation for writing cosy, feel-good books. This book, about Anne’s daughter Rilla and her coming-of-age adventures, certainly has its fair share of warmth and sweetness. But it’s also set during WWI, and Rilla has brothers and a love interest being sent away to fight. I may have cried a bit.


Thanks for taking this haphazard tour of my bookshelves with me. Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings this Year

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

“Cosy” isn’t usually something I look for in books, but I’m intrigued by the concept of cosy fantasy. Sometimes the world-building in fantasy novels is so tasty that I just want to hang out and people-watch in the tavern for a while rather than whizzing off on an adventure.

Das Boot by Lothar Günther Buchheim

I’ve never seen the film, but I recently watched the first series of the TV programme and damn-near chewed my nails off. So tense! I’m planning on doing a nautical fiction reading challenge in 2023, so this would be a great book to have at hand.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Yeah, it’s a bit of a dad book, but my taste in fiction is increasingly dad-ish. I think it would be a good companion to Das Boot.

Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda Dewitt

Asexual representation is still hard to come by in books, so this is exciting. I love a good heist, and ace rep only sweetens the deal.

Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson

This is one of those classics I’ve been meaning to read forever and still haven’t got around to. I live in a large city but grew up in the countryside and often find myself missing it, so I love to read books with rural settings.

The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian

Obviously I want the next (eighth) book in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. Jack and Stephen own my heart and their adventures never disappoint.

Port Royal by Peter Smalley

Another book from a nautical series. This is only the second book in Peter Smalley’s series, but the first one impressed me with its subtle examination of friendship across a class divide, and its fearless portrayal of trauma.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

I’ll admit it’s mostly the hype that’s got me curious about this one. Also, I recently read Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova and it got me in the mood for brujas and brujos!

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve been reading this series since I was 14, so it’s an automatic purchase. Yet somehow this book has been out for over a year and I still don’t have it.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I want to read this before the movie adaptation arrives!


So what’s on your Christmas list this year? And have you read any of these books?

Find more Top Ten Tuesday topics here.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Read in Winter

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Books to Read in Winter

I’d always thought of winter as thriller season. But when I sat down to write my top ten list of books with wintery vibes, it didn’t include a single thriller. It does, however, include six classics. So curl up by the fire with a hot cuppa (or a good whisky) and enjoy…

  1. A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

The name alone makes this an obvious winter read, but the chilly setting of the Canadian prairies seals the deal. Also, hooray for queer characters in historical fiction! LGBT+ people have always existed, and have always found ways to live a life of our own choosing.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane’s entire childhood and adolescence seems like one really long January. Then she grows up and goes wandering over windswept moors. It’s enough to make you shiver.

3. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This is pure fairytale gorgeousness and will make even the most determined sun-worshipper wish for snow.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This one always makes me feel Christmassy. Yes, that is a real word.

5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Anything set in Victorian London seems to give off winter vibes. Also, I always think of Holmes as a slightly chilly character, though that’s probably more to do with certain adaptations (especially the modern-era one with Benedict Cumberbatch) than how he is in the original stories.

6. Northern Lights

My favourite book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. This is an epic adventure story, full of wintery delights.

7. Heidi by Johanna Spyri

This cosy children’s classic is a perfect read for when you want to imagine a simpler life on a snowy mountain.

8. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

If you’re looking for something a little less cosy, The Call of the Wild presents the harsh realities of a frozen landscape as well as the allure.

9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Though this novel spans years, it seems like it’s always winter. Maybe that’s a coincidence, or maybe it was a deliberate choice to reflect the inescapable chill of grief.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I suppose it ought to be a Halloween read, but this book feels like winter to me. Maybe it’s the essential harshness of the story, or just the icy ending. Brrrrrrr.

Have you read any of these? And what do you like to read when the days are cold and the nights are long?