Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Unlike last time, I’m actually posting this on the correct day of the week, so hooray for small victories! (I started writing this a few hours ago, but then had to leave home, so now it’s technically beyond midnight. But it’s still Tuesday in many parts of the world! Just not in mine.)

top ten tuesday

I add a lot of books to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. Sometimes I don’t even recognise books I stumble across on the internet or in bookstores until I go to add them to my list and find that they’re already there. This week’s theme actually looks fun enough to do on a monthly basis. The top ten books I’ve added to be TBR list in March are:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS


bigfoot is missingBigfoot is Missing! by J. Patrick Lewis

What it’s about:

The book offers a smart, stealthy tour of the creatures of shadowy myth and fearsome legend—the enticing, the humorous, and the strange. Bigfoot, the Mongolian Death Worm, and the Loch Ness Monster number among the many creatures lurking within these pages. Readers may have to look twice—the poems in this book are disguised as street signs, newspaper headlines, graffiti, milk cartons, and more!

Why I added it to my list:

Children’s books and mythical creatures are two of my favourite things. So a picture book with poems about cryptids is definitely something I need to get my hands on.

the storyspinnerThe Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

What it’s about: 

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure. The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

Why I added it to my list: 

After finishing the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I remembered how much I missed being lost in a compelling, unputdownable fantasy series. While I don’t expect this book – promisingly, the start of a series – to put me in the same addictive zone as George R. R. Martin did, the author here does promise age-old secrets, magical mayhem, fist fights, knife fights, gypsy caravans, political maneuvering and heroic quests.

splendors and gloomsSplendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

What it’s about: 

The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

Why I added it to my list: 

I can rarely resist mystery and magic, and this one has both in generous doses. According to the publisher, this Victorian gothic is a rich banquet of dark comedy, scorching magic, and the brilliant and bewitching storytelling. I’m a sucker for a crackerjack blurb.

ADULT FICTION


the camel bookmobileThe Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

What it’s about:

Fiona Sweeney wants to do something that matters, and she chooses to make her mark in the arid bush of northeastern Kenya. By helping to start a traveling library, she hopes to bring the words of Homer, Hemingway, and Dr. Seuss to far-flung tiny communities where people live daily with drought, hunger, and disease.

Why I added it to my list:

I found it in a bookstore during my birthday trip to Bangalore. I had never heard of the book before, but the title and blurb appealed to me instantly. I’m hugely interested in unconventional community libraries all over the world, and this one sounded too good to pass up.

the libraryThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

What it’s about: 

Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. After all, she was a normal American herself, once. That was a long time ago, of course–before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father. Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible. Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library–and with it, power over all of creation.

Why I added it to my list: 

God (capital G) is, essentially, a master librarian! “Astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy”! (Told you I’m a sucker for blurbs). A battle to become the next God! This book sounds SO promising.

our endless numbered daysOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

What it’s about: 

Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons. When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods.

Why I added it to the list: 

Because a father basically kidnaps his daughter, runs away to the woods, and tells her the rest of the world has been destroyed. Why wouldn’t anyone add this to their list?!

ADULT NON-FICTION


all who go do not returnAll Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen

What it’s about:

Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skverers, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US, he knows little about the outside world—only that it is to be shunned. His marriage at eighteen is arranged and several children soon follow. Deen’s first transgression—turning on the radio—is small, but his curiosity leads him to the library, and later the Internet. Soon he begins a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs, until, several years later, his faith unravels entirely.

Why I added it to my list: 

I’ve read a few long-form articles about people who were brought up in deeply orthodox religions/communities and have now chosen to live away from that world. This book deals with an unfamiliar (to me) religious sect and the implications of losing not only one’s faith but also one’s way of life. I find such stories fascinating!

all over but the shoutinAll Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg

What it’s about:

This is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg’s father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most. But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg’s mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives–and the country that shaped and nourished them–with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.

Why I added it to my list: 

Even though I enjoy memoirs by people I know nothing about, this book is so far out of my usual reading comfort zone. If I would have spotted this book in a store or on someone’s shelf, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. Okay, I probably would have read the blurb, but I would have definitely kept it back. But the author’s delightfully wry article about how the world is divided into two types of people – mustard people and mayo people (Team Mayo FTW) – completely sold me on the his writing. Now I’m itching to read something he’s published.

selfishSelfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers On Their Decisions Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum (Editor)

What it’s about:

One of the main topics of cultural conversation during the last decade was the supposed “fertility crisis,” and whether modern women could figure out a way to way to have it all–a successful, demanding career and the required 2.3 children–before their biological clock stopped ticking. Now, however, conversation has turned to whether it’s necessary to have it all or, perhaps more controversial, whether children are really a requirement for a fulfilling life. The idea that some women and men prefer not to have children is often met with sharp criticism and incredulity by the public and mainstream media.

Why I added it to my list:

I am not thinking seriously about having kids. I am not thinking seriously  about not having kids. I am not thinking seriously about kids at all (except in a strictly how-to-get-more-of-them-to-pick-up-a-book-and-READ-dammit way). But I would love to read this anthology about what people have to say about it. Because as the always-powerful blurb tells me, the book “makes a thoughtful and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path in life, taking our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. What emerges is a more nuanced, diverse view of what it means to live a full, satisfying life.”

stuffocation

Stuffocation: How We’ve Had Enough of Stuff and Why You Need Experience More Than Ever by James Wallman

What it’s about:

The book explains and analyses why Stuffocation is the most pressing problem of our time – and then goes in search of its solution. On the way, it goes down the halls of the Elysée Palace with Nicolas Sarkozy, up in a helicopter above Barbra Streisand’s house on the California coast, and into the world of the original Mad Men. Through fascinating characters and brilliantly told stories, the author introduces the innovators whose lifestyles provide clues to how we will all be living tomorrow, and he makes some of the world’s most counterintuitive, radical, and worldchanging ideas feel inspiring – and possible for us all.

Why I added it to my list: 

Ever since I saw The Story of Stuff a few years ago, I started to realise that I really don’t need all the things I surround myself with. It’s been a slow process of choosing to buy less, and my willpower has crumbled on several occasions. But the knowledge of what consumerism does and how useless it is has made me more conscious about my buying habits. I would love to read more stories that celebrate the lack of unnecessary stuff in our lives. I also picked up The Secret Life of Stuff from the same store I bought The Camel Bookmobile from, and this book seems like an interesting addition to the list. You can watch The Story of Stuff below:

Advertisements

Since I spend so much time reading long-form non-fiction online, I’m going to link to my favourite one every week for anyone who’s interested in similar reading.

A growing army of pissed-off activists are convinced that the male species is profoundly endangered by our feminized society. They say it’s a woman’s world now—that women have the upper hand in sex, in universities, in custody battles. And don’t even get them started on all those bogus rape cases. It’s enough to make a certain kind of man join a revolution.

This article reports from the movement’s first national gathering and meets the true believers who want you to fight for your right to patriarchy. The views expressed by the attendees would have been funny had they not been so disturbing.

Albert Calabrese believes the age of consent should be 12 years old.

Albert Calabrese believes the age of consent should be 12 years old.

“Women gone insane with the power of the pussy pass” is how Elam describes the movement’s raison d’être in an essay called “When Is It OK to Punch Your Wife?” Another one of his provocations. Elam’s white, but he identifies with Malcolm X; he believes he needs to shock society to be heard. He says his talk of “the business end of a right hook” and women who are “freaking begging” to be raped is simply his version of Malcolm’s “by any means necessary.” To wit: Elam’s proposal to make October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” in which men should take the women who abuse them “by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.”

The night winds on, with discussion of rape and the smothering of penises, the sorrows of false accusations and the narcissism of young girls. A sore point for Factory, who has two daughters, who, like young women everywhere, he says, compete for the most exaggerated rape claim. It is, he says, a status thing. When one of his daughters came home one night and said she’d been raped, he said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Sitting with us, he hikes his voice up to a falsetto in imitation: ” ‘Oh, I just got raped.’ ” He laughs. There’s a moment of silence. A bridge too far? “I told her if she pressed charges, I’d disown her.”

Elam, whose attention has drifted, grins through his beard. “That’s good fathering,” he says.

Factory loves his children. He would have reacted differently if it had been what he in theory considers a legitimate claim, but—”if you don’t have videotape or forensic, a whole lot of bruises, I don’t give a fuck.”

Are You Man Enough for the Men’s Rights Movement? by Jeff Sharlet, GQ Magazine

Since I spend so much time reading long-form non-fiction online, I’m going to link to my favourite one every week for anyone who’s interested in similar reading.

Same-sex marriage seems like a quintessentially 21st-century issue. In fact such formal unions have a long and fascinating history. You can read the full story here.

460x420 SARAH TANAT-JONES for REVIEW 150115 same sex marriage web

If we conceive of marriage as the long-term, exclusive cohabitation and sexual union of two people, then, in the Christian west at least, few male couples would qualify before the dawn of the 20th century. In fact, for the last 400 years, the practice of same-sex marriage has been largely the preserve of women.

To begin with, this was a secretive and punishable matter. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, it was often not even possible for two women to live together independently: households were supposed to be headed by men. Yet we know of a few 16th-century cases of women who disguised themselves as men and lived in marriage with other women. After 1600, as the Dutch scholars Rudolf Dekker and Lotte van de Pol discovered, examples of such “female husbands” become much easier to find, especially in England, Germany and Holland.

In Amsterdam in 1641, the middle-aged widow Trijntje Barents fell in love with 27-year-old Hendrickje Lamberts. Some time into their affair, Hendrickje began to dress as a man. This improved their sex life, Barents later confessed – from then on, the younger woman “sometimes had carnal knowledge of her two or three times a night, just as her late husband had – yes, and sometimes more arduous than he”. They were a settled couple, who wished they could legally marry. Other Dutch couples did just that. In the 1680s, Cornelia Gerritse van Breugel disguised herself as a man in order to wed her long-time lover, Elisabeth Boleyn, in an Amsterdam church. They were only found out years later, when Cornelia tired of wearing men’s clothes.

Such cases were even more common in 18th-century England. In the early 1730s, when both were in their late teens, Mary East and her girlfriend decided to move to London and make a life together as husband and wife. Mary put on male clothes and turned herself into “James How”. The two of them became successful publicans and pillars of their East End community. Everyone presumed they were married. Over the years, James was elected to almost every parish office: s/he served as the foreman of juries, on the night watch, as overseer of the poor. For more than three decades, they kept their secret, and lived as a married couple.

The Secret History of Same-Sex Marriage by Faramerz Dabhoiwala