Top Ten Tuesday: Books From My Favourite Genre

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic: Books From My Favourite Genre.

The first thing is to decide which genre is my favourite! Jana says: Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! So that’s what I’m going to do.

This has been a very difficult post to write and I could have spent days trying to decide which genres and books to choose. But I’ve come up with these ten books (although I could easily have picked a different ten on another day) – a combination of crime fiction, historical crime fiction and two autobiographies.

I’m starting with the easy and for me the obvious choice – Agatha Christie: An Autobiography. It took her fifteen years to write it. She stopped writing it in 1965 when she was 75 because she thought that it was the ‘right moment to stop’. As well as being a record of her life as she remembered it and wanted to relate it, it’s also full of  her thoughts on life and writing.

Her archaeological memoir, Come Tell Me How You Live is also a fascinating book writing about her life with her husband, Max Mallowan, excavating the ancient sites at Chagar Bazar, Tell Brak and other sites in the Habur and Jaghjagha region in what was then north western Syria. Sadly the places she loved are no longer the same!

Next three of my favourite crime fiction novels:

The Falls by Ian Rankin – this is the 12th Rebus book and is one of my favourites in the series.  A university student Philippa Balfour, has disappeared.  DI Rebus and his colleagues have just two leads to go on – a carved wooden doll found in a tiny coffin at The Falls, Flip’s home village, and an Internet game involving solving cryptic clues.

I’m cheating a bit with my next choice – Andrew Taylor’s trilogy, Fallen Angel (The Roth Trilogy, made up of The Four Last Things,  The Judgement of Strangers  and The Office of the Dead. It’s a chilling murder mystery about the linked histories of the Appleyards and the Byfields. The books work backwards in time, with the first book being the last chronologically, set in the 1990s, and each book works as a stand-alone, self-contained story. 

A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell – a murder mystery in which you know from the start who the murderer is from the opening sentence, Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write. And as the reasons for killing them become clear, the tension builds relentlessly.

Finally historical fiction – two of them historical crime fiction:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. William of Baskerville is a Franciscan monk in a monastery in Italy in the 14th century, where a number of his fellow monks are murdered. Not everyone likes this book but I love the way it combines so many genres – historical fiction, mystery, and theology and philosophy.

Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom. I love Sansom’s 16th century crime thrillers, but Winter in Madrid is brilliant – an action packed thrilling war/spy story and also a moving love story and historical drama all rolled into this tense and gripping novel. It’s set in 1940 when Harry Brett, traumatised by his injuries at Dunkirk is sent to Spain to spy for the British Secret Service.

And three historical fiction novels:

The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a story about the Donner Party, comprising pioneers, people who were looking for a better life in the American West. They formed a wagon train under the leadership of George Donner and James Reed making their way west to California in 1846. With hints of the supernatural and Indian myths it becomes a thrilling, spine tingling horrific tale.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. His writing conjures up such vivid pictures and together with his use of dialect I really felt I was there in America in the 1930s travelling with the Joad family on their epic journey from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life. It’s a tragedy – their dreams were shattered, their illusions destroyed and their hopes denied.

A Whispered Name by William Brodrick, his third Father Anselm novel about the First World War and the effects it had on those who took part, those left at home and on future generations. Father Anselm discovers the truth about the trial of a deserter, Joseph Flanagan, at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 and Father Herbert’s part in it. It is one of the best books I’ve read.

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books From My Favourite Genre”

  1. I love The Name of The Rose. I read it when I was 16, and I was so fascinated by the whole mystery. As you said, it`s great that it`s a combination of so many genres.

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  2. Oh, what great choices, Margaret! I’m so glad to see some Christie there, and A Judgement in Stone is an excellent, excellent novel. The Steinbeck, the Rankin…. yes, I think you made some outstanding choices here.

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  3. Making a note of A Judgement in Stone as it sounds excellent. Very interesting post… I always come away from these ones you do with several suggestions.

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  4. I really loved A Whispered Name, although it is very uncomfortable reading, but I’m sorry, I thought Winter in Madrid was a terrible book, especially the ending. Still, if we all enjoyed the same things it would be a very dull world.

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  5. Excellent choices! I really enjoyed Winter in Madrid too, though not as much as the Shardlake books – I wish he’d write more twentieth century stuff, but not if it dealys him getting the next Tudor one out! And I’m wondering now if I’ve missed The Falls – I read Rankin randomly from the library and the little blurb you’ve given doesn’t sound familiar… must investigate…

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  6. I really like how you have so much variety in your list. I was hesitant to try this top ten tuesday because I didn’t think I would be able to fill up ten books from one genre, and have them be my top top books. I love your list!

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  7. I’d have the same challenge as you did – deciding what genre is my favourite. Mine would be ‘realist’ but that covers far too broad a spectrum to make it easy to find 10 titles. I loved The Name of the Rose – super film also.

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