Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books That Make Me Swoon. Links will take you to my reviews.
Maybe I should start by saying that I don’t really swoon, at least not in the “OMG the guy in this book is so hot!” sense. But there are books and scenes that completely take my breath away, or catch at my heart, so that’s the interpretation of “swoon” I’m going with for this list.
Oh, and they’re not in any particular order. Except the first one, which definitely tops the list.
- The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss) Because the writing. Omigosh, the writing. Sometimes so beautiful it takes your breath away, sometimes so stark it breaks your heart, lyrical, fierce, earthy, angry, and comic by turns, the writing in this book astounds me. The characterizations, the worldbuilding, and the narrative all live up to it, but it’s the writing that makes The Name of the Wind and its sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, top my list.
- Spindle’s End (Robin McKinley) The writing in this beautifully re-imagined fairy tale doesn’t have quite the power and depth of Rothfuss’s, but it’s magical and lyrical, funny and sensibly down-to-earth in all the right places, a perfect match for McKinley’s richly textured story. (I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed this yet!)
- The River of No Return (Bee Ridgway) It’s a specific facet of the writing in this lush time-travel/mystery/regency-romance novel that wows me: Ridgway’s tribute to the literature of 5 or 6 centuries. Hidden and overt quotes, reimagined scenes, and other homages to the literary and popular canon from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss gleam throughout the novel like little sparks of glitter, and it’s almost impossible to find and identify them all. Add to that the way she plays with truth and ambiguity, layers of meaning and symbolism, and what could have been an ordinary time-travel fantasy becomes extraordinary.
- The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien) For epic sweep and sheer heroism, there are few sagas that top The Lord of the Rings.
- The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay) I don’t re-read this often, because so much of it is heartbreaking. But the writing is breathtaking, almost poetic, the verbal equivalent of a glorious tapestry. (The Summer Tree; The Wandering Fire; The Darkest Road)
- A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Hartman) Not for the romance or the story (though those are noteworthy too), but for the scenes describing the Bodleian Library. What library lover wouldn’t swoon? The library in Robin McKinley’s Beauty comes in a close second.
And just to satisfy the original intent of the topic, a few of my favorite historical romances:
- Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Julia Quinn) A wonderful romance about an intelligent wallflower and a hero who is just plain nice. (Most of the time.) I’m pretty fond of the entire Bridgerton series, but this one and The Viscount Who Loved Me are my favorite Quinn books of all.
- A Summer to Remember (Mary Balogh) My favorite fake-betrothal novel. Come to think of it, Balogh wrote my second-favorite, too, the delightfully funny (but not quite swoon-worthy) Slightly Scandalous.
- The Devil in Winter (Lisa Kleypas) I’m not always a fan of the rake-redeemed trope, but Kleypas gets it right in this book. (Mary Jo Putney gets it right in several books, too, notably The Rake.)
- Mine Until Midnight (Lisa Kleypas) OK, Cam is pretty irresistible. I come close to swooning over this one.
- One Perfect Rose (Mary Jo Putney) I love a lot of Putney’s romances, especially the Fallen Angels series, but this one is one of my favorites because of the theater setting. Even if it does include the over-used long-lost-heiress trope.