Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The meme was originally the brainchild of The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them.
To be honest, much of my book discovery has come through browsing libraries and bookstores, borrow from my mom’s shelves, and from Christmas and birthday gifts. (I suppose the latter could count as a recommendation, assuming the giver has read it first.) And of course, since I became a blogger, I have discovered some wonderful authors and series when publishers asked me to review them. But I have always been a little resistant to being told I had to read something, so recommending a book to me is a little risky unless I ask for the recommendation. For example, my mother has been urging me to read one of her favorite books since I was in college, and I still haven’t read it! She had much better luck with giving me books or just leaving them around for me to find on my own. I owe my love for Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Elizabeth Goudge, Mary Stewart, Dick Francis, and the whole genre of historical romance genre entirely to my mom’s shelves. She also introduced me to some of my favorite children’s books by giving me either her old copies or new ones of my own. Mom’s influence on my reading is worth an entire post all on its own.
What follow are some of the book recommendations I did follow—and fall in love with—over the years. Unsurprisingly, quite a few are from Robin, who shares a lot of my tastes. (Even if they complain that I don’t follow their recommendations LOL!) Some are from other family members, and some are from friends and fellow bloggers.
My uncle “recommended” The Hobbit to me by reading the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter to my cousins and me while I was at their house. (I was probably in 5th grade at the time.) It was deliberate; he wanted to hook us all on Tolkien, and it worked. I left their house wanting more, so I borrowed and devoured the whole book, plowed through the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy that summer (and two or three times the following year), and became a lifelong Tolkien fan.
The books of the The Protector of the Small Quartet (and Tamora Pierce in general) were recommended by a number of people, both online and in my real life. I can’t single out any particular people, but I’m grateful to all of them. This was the first Tamora Pierce series I read, and I loved it. I’ve been a huge fan of Pierce’s ever since.
Robin insisted—with great determination—that we should listen to The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear while I drove them to classes at the community college, because they knew I would love the books. And Robin was right. The writing is fantastic, the picaresque storyline compelling, and the puzzles and secrets within the books leave you wanting more. (Please heaven, Rothfuss will manage to complete the book before one of us dies of old age. It’s been nine and a half years since book 2 came out, and there’s still no news on book 3.)
The Night Circus was another of Robin’s recommendations, and another that I totally fell in love with. In fact, I think I will listen to it again (or perhaps read it) this fall.
I’m not entirely sure who first recommended Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword to me, but I think it might have been my sister. Whoever it was, I’m forever in their debt. The Hero and the Crown is good, but The Blue Sword quickly became one of my favorite books.
Robin put me onto the Percy Jackson series, too—less by recommending it (although they did, at every opportunity) and more by listening to the books when I was around, until I felt compelled to listen to them straight through to get all the parts I missed. They are wonderful, and I have read or listened to most of Riordan’s subsequent series as well.
I do know who recommended Cinder to me, and got me started on the Lunar Chronicles: the whole blogging community! Seriously, thank you all for recommending the first book; I love the whole series. (Well, not Fairest, but I have a thing against books written from the villain’s perspective.)
All Creatures Great and Small is another book my uncle recommended, although not specifically to me; he recommended it to pretty much everyone he knew. My parents read it on his recommendation and shared it with me. I honestly can’t remember now exactly when I read it, but I think it was it was around 8th or 9th grade, which puts it before the BBC television series.
Robin discovered Diana Wynne Jones before I did, and recommended Howl’s Moving Castle to me. It’s delightful and quirky and very well-written, and led me to read some of DWJ’s other books as well.
I first discovered Robert A. Heinlein through his YA classics, which I borrowed from the school and public libraries. But my stepfather was a big SF fan, and suggested I try Heinlein’s adult science fiction. Stranger in a Strange Land was the first, since he had a copy I could borrow. I went on to read and reread I Will Fear No Evil, Time Enough for Love, and many of Heinlein’s other adult SF in my teens, twenties, and thirties. To be honest, I find some aspects of his books a bit problematic now. But Heinlein’s stories and characters captivated me at the time (the late 70s and 80s), and I still remember them with fondness.