Top Ten Tuesdays: Books that I have Loved but Never Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme currently being run by the blog That Artsy Reader Girl. Put simply each Tuesday has a theme assigned to it and participating blogs have to come up with a top ten list around it. Last week I found compiling the list difficult because I had too little to choose from, so this week it was only natural that I would have the opposite problem! Eventually though I did narrow things down and I even decided to do some genre(ish) categories, (and no this was not just a ploy to be allowed to include more books!!) I did actually think it might be nice to give a wider picture of my reading tastes, outside of crime fiction. But don’t worry we’ll start with the crime fiction list first…

Crime Fiction

Book Number 1 – The Affair at Royalties (1971) by George Baxt

I know some of Baxt’s other books are not popular, specifically the ones including real celebrities, but I very much enjoyed this non-celebrity featuring title. I felt the amnesia angle was well done.

Book Number 2 – The Dinner (2009) by Herman Koch

I don’t remember much about this book but the switching narrative viewpoints has stuck in my head well and I think the growing tension created at the dinner is well-crafted.

Book Number 3 – An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

This is the first title in a series in which real-life author Josephine Tey stars as an amateur sleuth. I have read a few more in the series but felt the first title to be the best.

Book Number 4 – What Happened at Hazelwood (1946) by Michael Innes

Regular blog readers will know I am not a fan of Innes’ work, finding his stories to be rather incredibly dull, (sorry!) Interestingly though this is the one title I have been impressed by. It doesn’t feature Appleby which is a bonus, and I felt the use of narrative voice made this a more compelling story.

Book Number 5 – The Affair of the Mutilated Mink (1981) by James Anderson

Conversely, I am quite well-known for my love of comic crime novels so Anderson’s trilogy of parodies was going to be a natural choice for me.

Book Number 6 – A Toast to Tomorrow (1940) by Manning Coles

Being typical me I ended up reading this book before the first book in the series, Drink to Yesterday (1940). My advice is to read them in order. Nevertheless, both of these titles were ones I really enjoyed. Espionage is not my preferred subgenre, yet I found these two, particularly the second title, poignant and moving.

Book Number 7 – The String of Pearls (1846-47) by Thomas Peckett Prest

I selected this as one of my three favourite reads published prior to 1929 a few years ago. This tale concerns the life and crimes of Sweeney Todd and it is a little like Frankenstein in that the later film adaptations have captured the cultural mind so much, that the original story is somewhat overlooked.

Book Number 8 – Close Up On Death (1989) by Maureen O’Brien

This is one of those titles where I remember really enjoying it but cannot remember anything else about it! May need to re-read that one… However, Aidan at Mysteries Ahoy reviewed this title a while back favourably, which I’ve included a link to, to compensate for my lack of memories.

Book Number 9 – The Late Scholar (2013) by Jill Paton Walsh

I feel like this might be a contentious choice as I know the Lord Peter Wimsey continuation novels are like marmite amongst Sayer fans. Unusually for me I can remember where I read this book, mainly because I was boiling to death on a beach in Barcelona. So I feel like it must have been good if I still went away having enjoyed it. A further continuation novel is due out in February next year I believe.

Book Number 10 – Malice Aforethought (1931) by Frances Iles

This is perhaps the title which it is most remiss of me to not have reviewed on the blog, given its classic status. I think it shows Berkeley writing at his best and I probably prefer it a bit more than Before the Fact (1932).

These are all pre-blog titles and I am curious which of these I would still love if I re-read them. Perhaps at some point in the future I may re-read some of them, in particular the ones by Manning Coles, George Baxt, James Anderson, Frances Iles and Jill Paton Walsh.

I decided to not include any Christie titles, as it felt too hard to pin myself down to just one or two. However, Christie titles which I really enjoyed, but have not yet got around to reviewing on the blog are: Murder at the Vicarage (1930), And Then There Were None (1939), (though I have commented on the play version I saw a while back), Death on the Nile (1937), Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), The A. B. C. Murders (1936) and Endless Night (1968).


General Fiction

Book Number 1 – The Red Notebook (2014) by Antoine Laurain

I have enjoyed quite a few books by this author, but I think this is my favourite, followed by The President’s Hat. I like how in these two titles he uses an object to propel the plot forward.

Book Number 2 – The Puppet Boy of Warsaw (2013) by Eva Weaver

Book Number 3 – Butterflies in November (2004; 2014) by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

This is another book in translation that I have enjoyed. I like unusual plots or books with novel ways of telling a story or structure, and I tend to find those narratives more in books that are in translation.

Book Number 4 – The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman (2005) by Denis Thériault

Book Number 5 – The Adventures of Dougal (1970s) by Eric Thompson

Yes I have somewhat reduced the literary calibre of the list with the inclusion of this title, but come on who doesn’t love the sarcastic Dougal?

Book Number 6 – Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (2010) by Helen Simonson

A fellow bus user was particularly impressed with my reading speed when reading this one.

Book Number 7 – The Library of Unrequited Love (2010) by Sophie Divry

I felt this was a very convincing novella which is purely a monologue of a librarian talking to a library user; a character who in fact never talks but is conjured up in the reader’s mind through the librarian’s comments. Great book and this reminds me I should check out what else Divry has written.

Book Number 8 – Symposium (1990) by Muriel Spark

Another writer I really need to read more by.

Book Number 9 – Mister Pip (2006) by Lloyd Jones

A book with a surprisingly dark ending.

Book Number 10 – The Penguin Lessons (2015) by Tom Michall

Anyone who knows my love of animals will not be surprised by my fondness for this book.


Classic Literature

Book Number 1 – Persuasion (1818) by Jane Austen  

A bit of an obvious choice I know!

Book Number 2 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

… as is my second one!

Book Number 3 – A Woman of No Importance (1893) by Oscar Wilde

I saw this performed in Dublin a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

Book Number 4 – The Story of An Hour (1894) by Kate Chopin

I may be cheating by including a short story, but Chopin really does show what you can achieve in two pages.

Book Number 5 – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson

Another slim volume but a very good story to seek out.

Book Number 6 – Thankyou, Jeeves (1933) by P. G. Wodehouse

I decided to just pick one title by Wodehouse for the list, but you can read more about my thoughts on his work and the genre of crime fiction here.

Book Number 7 – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde

Not a crime novel, but certainly a tale with interesting criminal threads in it. I have often thought the protagonists in this book, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Invisible Man (1897) are all lead into criminal acts through their lack of something. In the case of Dorian Gray, it is the lack of the ability to age, whilst for Dr Jekyll it is lack of a consistent personality, and for Griffin it is the lack of a visible presence. Each lack to me pushes them into crime.

Book Number 8 – Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley

This is a story which I do not feel is done justice in its famous film adaptations. The book itself is particularly innovative and it has a lot more going on in it thematically than a scary monster on the loose.

Book Number 9 – Machinal (1928) by Sophie Tredwell

This is a play I encountered during my degree and I think it is an interesting exploration of femininity and criminality.

Book Number 10 – The Secret Agent (1907) by Joseph Conrad

Again this was another text read whilst at university and I enjoyed Conrad’s use of language, as I think it elevated what was probably quite an average plot.

24 comments

  1. I made the same “mistake” you did with a Toast to Tomorrow but I never went back and read Drink to Yesterday. As a result I found the first half a bit puzzling and slow paced but I enjoyed the book overall. I’ve read some of the later ones too. As Jeeves might say they make light attractive reading. Great blog!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is too hard to comment on (and it must have been a lot of work). The books I would like to try in the mystery list are the one by George Baxt, The Dinner by Koch, the books by Manning Coles. I am one of the few people who did not like Malice Aforethought.

    I have read none of the books on your general fiction list and I will look into some of those. On the classics list, I have only read the Jane Austen books. A few others are books I plan to read (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would have been impossible to do without Goodreads. My memory is not that good!
      I would be interested to read your thoughts on Frankenstein. It’s a book which has really stuck with me, yet I just wonder if its just me who thinks it is really good!

      Like

    • Well since this is a crime fiction blog I do get plenty of practice reviewing mysteries! But yes it can be annoying when you want to share something you love about a mystery, but you cannot because it would constitute a spoiler. At times have done spoiler sections, though with plenty of warning!
      Thanks for your link.

      Like

      • Oh yeah you do have a lot of practice 🙂 I love crime fiction but never know how to review them well without giving away anything. The spoiler tag on Goodreads helps but I struggle with how to do that on my blog. I’ve been watching your reviews to learn 😉

        Like

    • Yes the Machinal is an interesting play with a crime at its heart. I read it for a modernist lit module at university, but thankfully that does not mean it is unreadable or dull. I found it to have a very compelling story and it is interesting to see how crime narratives were being used in the early 20th century outside of typical GAD novels.

      Like

  3. I always enjoy your essays on crime fiction, and literature in general, and am very grateful for the time you take to make us more aware of the writers who, perhaps, have not gotten the attention they deserved. I really wanted to say, though, that I do enjoy Michael Innes very much. Very much. There are readers who prefer a story in which less action (number of dead bodies?) is a better read. I prefer character development, dialogue, descriptive passages to the actual whodunnit portion. Arthur Upton is a master in this art. Nicola Upson certainly has a right to earn her living any way she feels she should. But those who have read the novels of Josephine Tey must be scandalized by her appropriation of her name. Tey wrote only a few book, a few very good works which deserve more readers. I have re-read them all. But, as is said, “a chaque son goute”. Thanks again, for all the work you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m all for character development and dialogue, something I especially enjoy in comic crime novels, but after reading 12 novels by Innes, I have given up on him. His brand of character development, dialogue and descriptive passages are just not my cup of tea. Which is your favourite by Innes?
      I have read all of Tey’s novels, but I found on re-reading some of them that they were less enjoyable. It’s funny how reading tastes can change. I think if Upson’s series had come out now I probably wouldn’t have picked it up – it’s less my sort of thing now. That said I will be reading the next Walsh book as I am curious to see if I still enjoy those continuation novels.
      Glad you enjoy the blog and can forgive my lack of enthusiasm for Innes lol

      Like

  4. Wow! Three lists! I listened to The Dinner on audio, and it was really memorable, but the characters make it hard for me to describe it as a book I loved. I’d never heard of some of the books/authors on your lists, and I need to look up The Library of Unrequited Love now!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love lists in general, and this is a particularly good topic, interesting to see peoples choices. And of course everyone starts thinking of their own. Mostly my blog is a good representation of my reading and likes, but there are a few gaps….

    Liked by 1 person

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