Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s prompt is Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven’t Read Yet.
My TBR list is indecently long. There are books on there that I’ve been wanting to read since I was a child! Here are the ten books that have been on my Goodreads TBR shelf the longest.
1. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
When I was a kid, my mother’s biggest treat for me was a trip to Barnes & Noble. She would sit and have a coffee at the in-store Starbucks while I ran wild through the store, grabbing anything interesting off the shelves and sitting right down on the floor to read them. I would return to my mother with an enormous stack of books, and she had the final say in which of them came home with me.
On one particular visit, I was allowed one book, and she helped me boil the stack down to a middle grade book and Elantris. Unfortunately I let her talk me out of Elantris. With some regret, I left the store with the children’s book, which turned out to be mediocre.
I have never stopped wanting to read Elantris, though! It took me years to figure out which book it was that I had wanted that day, and after hearing so many great things about Brandon Sanderson’s work, I’m even more giddy to read it than I was then! Still haven’t gotten around to reading anything by him, though.
2. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
This is a world divided by blood — red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance — Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…
Red Queen is one of those books I feel like everyone has read but me, and I’m sure there’s a good reason so many YA and fantasy readers have read it! I’m not expecting too much out of it, so I’m not worried about being disappointed, but I think it will make for a fun read.
3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
American Gods is another book that I feel like I’m the last person to read. I’ve been told countless times that I’ll love Neil Gaiman, so he’s been on my list of “authors to get around to reading someday” for a very long time, but I didn’t have much motivation until I read his short story “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” in Rogues, an anthology of short stories about anti-heroes edited by George R.R. Martin. “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” is a miniature sequel to Neverwhere and in just a few pages, London Below become one of my favorite settings. My sister, who is a big Gaiman fan, believes American Gods will be my favorite of his, though, so I’d better get to it!
4. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill — and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
Years ago, I participated in an online book-swap in which readers mailed books they had finished reading to other users and got a book in return. I didn’t use it very long, since I ended up spending far more on shipping than the used books I was getting were worth. It was worth it just to have discovered The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which I thought was a masterpiece when I read it at 16 and which still holds a special place in my heart, despite what we’ve since learned about the author’s despicable actions.
Anyway, Assassin’s Apprentice was the other book I received while I used the book-swapping site (I sent along about five books, but only got two in return, grr!), but somehow I lost it without having read it not long after receiving it in one of my many moves (my mother and I used to move about once a year). My yearning to read it still remains!
5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood,”one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…
An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.
A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.
Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.
Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…
In her Goodreads review of The Lies of Locke Lamora, Felicia Day writes, “Sorry, I did not LOVE this book. I LIKED it. I know I’m in the minority, and I think it might be more Guy leaning, so if you like swashbuckley adventure sorts, with a Oceans-13 bent, this might be for you.” I love swashbuckley adventure stories and the Oceans films, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to love the Gentleman Bastard series, when I finally get around to it.
6. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing — victims of so-called “Gobblers” — and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.
My mother gave me The Golden Compass when I was little, but I never read it, and have since lost my copy. (I do feel guilty for it! Hopefully someone found it and enjoyed it, though.) It’s a pretty well-loved middle grade book, and I’m sure I would enjoy the adventure.
7. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
As familiar to many Hogwarts students as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are to Muggle children, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of popular stories written for young wizards and witches.
Translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, they include fascinating additional notes from Professor Albus Dumbledore, with intriguing glimpses into his life at Hogwarts.
For wizarding and Muggle readers alike, this is a must-have edition, featuring fate-seeking witches, a hairy-hearted warlock and the tale of the three brothers who tried to cheat Death . . .
Yes, I am a Harry Potter mega-fan who hasn’t read Beedle the Bard. I don’t really know how that happened! I actually just ordered it, though, so once I get my book-mail, I’ll finally be getting around to it!
8. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Various,
edited by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki
When Zen Flesh, Zen Bones was published in 1957 it became an instant sensation with an entire generation of readers who were just beginning to experiment with Zen. Over the years it has inspired leading American Zen teachers, students, and practitioners. Its popularity is as strong today as ever.
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones is a book that offers a collection of accessible, primary Zen sources so that readers can struggle over the meaning of Zen for themselves. It includes 101 Zen Stories, a collection of tales that recount actual experiences of Chinese and Japanese Zen teachers over a period of more than five centuries; The Gateless Gate, the famous thirteenth century collection of Zen koans; Ten Bulls, a twelfth century commentary on the stages of awareness leading to enlightenment; and Centering, a 4,000 year-old teaching from India that some consider to be the roots of Zen.
While I no longer practice Zen Buddhism, the subject still interests me greatly, and I’m really looking forward to this collection.
9. The Way of Zen by Alan Watts
In his definitive introduction to Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts explains the principles and practices of this ancient religion to Western readers. With a rare combination of freshness and lucidity, he delves into the origins and history of Zen to explain what it means for the world today with incredible clarity. Watts saw Zen as “one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world,” and in The Way of Zen he gives this gift to readers everywhere.
I started reading The Way of Zen years ago, and made it about halfway through, but I found it a lot more dry than what I usually read on Buddhism, the ancient texts and teachings and works by Eastern teachers like Shunryu Suzuki. It’s another book that I plan on picking back up eventually. For now it’s just gathering dust in my study!
10. The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
David Abram draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which — even at its most abstract — echoes the calls and cries of the earth. On every page of this lyrical work, Abram weaves his arguments with passion and intellectual daring.
I’ve been really curious about this book since a boyfriend recommended it to me very highly back in high school. As someone passionate about both language and nature, Abram’s philosophy definitely piques my interest!