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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVOURITE BOOKS from the past three years

My reading in the past three years has been quite varied featuring classics, ya, contemporary, and children’s so it was quite hard to settle for just ten. The amount I’ve read has also been very varied; thirty in 2014, only fourteen in 2013 (don’t know what happened there!), and forty-seven in 2012. These are the books that I would be most likely to re-read and the ones that I had the most emotional connections to.

1. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell-

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 If you’ve ran out of Austen’s to read then I’d heartily recommend Gaskell to you. Her writing has the same bite of humour while satirising society although I’d say Gaskell is a bit softer. Cranford is a town in which there are not very many men and so society is ran by a tight knit community of spinsters. Each character is wonderfully crafted; I felt as though I was also at their dinner parties trying to get the scoop on other neighbours. It really is a brilliant book so go and pick it up!

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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This ya novel follows Liesel a book thief living in Nazi Germany who is being taught how to read by her foster father and Max who is a Jewish man that they are hiding in the basement. Add in a foul-mouthed foster mother and Liesel’s best friend Rudy who wants to be Jesse Owens and you’ve got a cast of very interesting characters. Oh, and the book is narrated by Death.

3. Persuasion by Jane Austen – 

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Anne Elliot is the door mat of her family. She goes along with decisions to appease her family even when it costs her the love of her life. I loved reading as she started standing up for herself. Captain Wentworth and Anne will squeeze your heart until it can’t take any more. It’s one of the best romantic novels I’ve ever read while still retaining that essence of Austen.

4. The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

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A lot of people don’t like this book but I loved it. I actually live in a town very much like Pagford which definitely added to the reading experience. I know people like Samantha, and Krystal, and Gaia so it all felt so real to me.

5. 1984 by George Orwell-

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 I did find some parts of the book a bit boring but I think it was supposed to be. Winston is constantly bored because Big Brother doesn’t allow him to have a personality. The whole story was just so disturbing especially because it felt as if it could actually have happened in the aftermath of  WWII especially with all the fear of the Red Button. Reading this book is an incredibly tense experience but a worthwhile one. Just stay clear of Room 101.

6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

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This book explores just how powerful love can be and how it affects a persons life. In this dual narrative we have Alma Singer a forteen year old who is named after all the female characters in a book called The History of Love, and Leo Gurtsky an old man who is the author but doesn’t know that the book still exists. This book is truly beautiful and I often think about it and want to re-visit it. Krauss is a stunning writer.

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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This is dark, disturbing, funny, and grotesque. I absolutely loved it. Wilde is also quite Austen-like with his humour but is a lot more forthright and cheeky, He rips late Victorian society to shreds whilst also seeming fond of it. All the characters in this novel are horrible but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Viewing racism in the deep south of the US through the eyes of an eight year old was so effective at showing that prejudice has to be taught rather than it being engrained. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read; it’s beautifully written, so innocent and yet so sad and disturbing.

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- 

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Hilarious and gut-wrenchingly sad. Hazel and Gus learn to see themselves and others beyond their cancer to just be normal teenagers. Their romance with each other and their friendship with Isaac is just lovely. I think it deals with cancer in a way that doesn’t make it gross tear-porn like a lot of other novels that feature characters with cancer and in many ways isn’t even about their illnesses.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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When I first picked up this book I was expecting a terrifying horror story but what I got instead was a character study on how society treats those who look physically different and who have mental disabilities. You grow attached to Creature even though he makes abhorant decisions whilst you feel disgusted at Victor who created and then abandons Creature. It feels like an epic story and one that I can’t wait to read again.

Top Ten Tuesday- Best Bookish Heroines

This Tuesday the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish are celebrating the pluckiest of female heroines in literature. My picks are all young women that I’ve looked up to in various times of my life and star in some of my favourite books. I’d encourage everyone to read these novels.

1. Lyra Belacqua from the His Dark Materials trilogy

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She sets out to save her friend and ends up going on a massive adventure to save her world and ours. Despite not being especially equipped to do the saving she marches on because she knows it’s the right thing to do.

2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series

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The brightest witch of her age. As well as that she is a great friend and fiercely brave. She never abandons her principles and even makes her parents forget her in order to protect them. Others put her down and even Harry and Ron aren’t particularly nice to her but she always takes the higher ground.

3. Alma Singer from The History of Love

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She set out determined to make her Mother happy again and ended up improving the life of another person. Alma meets lots of obstacles and dead ends trying to find the man that she thinks will make her Mum happy but never gives up. I think that shows a lot for a fourteen year old.

4. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice 

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Passionate and outspoken, Elizabeth Bennet wasn’t going to settle for just anyone. She knew that she couldn’t do much to change her situation but that didn’t stop her from letting people know what she thought. Her opinions of others weren’t entirely correct but she had the grace to apologise when she realised she was wrong.

5. Matilda from Matilda

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She was miserable in her home life but never took it out on others. Instead she developed a passion for learning through reading and used her knowledge to defeat Mrs Trunchbull and get her happy ending.

6. Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird

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Didn’t just take people’s word for it but worked out how she felt about the court case and race tensions in her neighbourhood. She always tries to be kind to others which is particularly prevalent in how much respect she gives the objects in Boo’s tree. Her behaviour isn’t always perfect as she’s only eight after all but she’s still pretty great.

7.  Sara CreweA Little Princess

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She had self belief and never became spiteful despite how badly others treated her. Her situation was pretty bleak but she still endeavoured to look on the bright side and continued to have faith that her Dad would come back for her.

8. Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series

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She was the baby of her family and constantly teased by her brothers (not maliciously), rejected by the boy she was in love with, and overcame the horror of being brainwashed by Tom Riddle’s diary.Despite that she became a strong, independent woman who stood up for what she believed in. She stood by Harry no matter how much it probably hurt and was always the bigger person. She grew on her own becoming intelligent, brave, an incredibly talented witch, and a professional Quidditch player.

9. Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief

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She saw beyond stereotypes and treated others with the kindness they deserved. Her relationships with others were very touching as was her little way of standing up against the holocaust and providing comfort to her neighbours during air raids.

10. Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events

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She’s very clever and resourceful using her inventive mind to create things that will help her and her siblings escape whichever horrible relative they’ve been sent to live with. She loves and cares for her family and trusts them explicitly even when others try to break them apart and endures all the crazy plans Count Olaf comes up with to marry her to get to the family money whilst still overwhelmed with grief for the loss her parents.

Top Ten Books I Was Forced To Read (And Am Grateful for it)

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1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (college)

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (gift from teacher, not forced but felt compelled. I had a feeling it was especially for me. I might be wrong but I read that book at the right moment in my life and it helped me sort out my messed-up brain a bit)

3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (GCSE)

4. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley (GCSE)

5. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (college)

6. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (college)

7. Animal Farm by George Orwell (year 7)

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (gcse)

9. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (year 6)

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (college)