Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: I Need Book Recommendations


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Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! Today, I’m giving book recommendations, and I need some in return. Here’s a list of topics that fascinate me. What should I read to learn more about them? I’m open to fiction or nonfiction. I’m even open to TV shows. Tell me what to read! Or watch. If you’re interested in these same topics, you’re in luck! I’m so nice that I’ll give you book recommendations.


I Need Book Recommendations


I Want To Read About: Smart People Who Make Ethically Dubious Decisions


If you’ve been on this blog before, then you know I love a complicated villain. I’m not interested in moustache-twirling bad guys who want to blow up the planet for no good reason. I want to read about people who are forced to make difficult decisions. I’m fascinated by characters who maybe didn’t make the correct choice. Books get bonus points if the character has a redemption arc. Talk to me about your favorite villains! Or your favorite maybe-villains.


My Recommendations


Vicious by VE Schwab

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin





I Want To Read About: Talking To Strangers (Or Strange People)


I work at a state park. Most of my job involves interacting with the public, so on a busy day, I talk to 300+ people. If you’ve ever worked at a tourist destination, then you know that tourists can be . . . intense. They’re even more intense when they insist on making stupid decisions in the wilderness. That’s why I want to become a confident, persuasive communicator. Tell me about books that will help me convince strangers not to be idiots.


My Recommendations

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life by Mark Goulston

How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division by Elif Shafak





I Want To Read About: Really Old History


I love historical fiction, but I’ve noticed that most of the historical books I read are set between 1800 and 1950. I’d like to read some really old historical fiction. What’s “really old”? Well, I don’t know. Reading about Neanderthals would be cool. (Please don’t recommend Clan of the Cave Bear. I tried, and . . . no. Just no.) How about some books set before 1800?


My Recommendations


The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

The Middle Ages: Everyday Life in Medieval Europe by Jeffrey L. Singman

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron





I Want To Read About: Adventure & Survival


I hated reading when I was a kid. One of the things that helped spark my book obsession was stumbling across the “adventure and survival” genre. I read Hatchet and The Call of the Wild approximately infinity times. I’m still very interested in wilderness survival. I like memoirs, biographies, or survival guides. What do you have for me?


My Recommendations

Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven

Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance by Kenneth Kamler

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party by Daniel James Brown

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel





I Want To Read About: Media & Social Media


Like many modern humans, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on the Internet. It makes me wonder what the Internet is doing to my brain. How does social media change our behavior? What is it doing to society? I want to know! I’m interested in regular media, too, so tell me if you’ve come across any interesting books about TV shows or print journalism. Or, have you read any fiction stories where the media plays a role in the plot?


My Recommendations

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by PW Singer & Emerson T Brooking

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid





I Want To Read About: Bizarre & Somewhat Disgusting True Things


I was trying to come up with a way to describe my nonfiction reading tastes, but all I’ve got is “bizarre and somewhat disgusting.” For some reason, I find myself drawn to books about science experiments, morbid historical events, and misunderstood diseases. Don’t ask why. We definitely don’t need to dive that deep into my addled brain. If you’ve ever read a nonfiction book and said, "That’s gross" or "How the heck did that happen?" I want to know about it.


My Recommendations

Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang & Nate Pedersen

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn





I Want To Read About: Nature & Strong Settings


I’m always looking for nonfiction books about nature or novels with a strong sense of place. I want the setting to be part of the story. No generic “Anywhere suburban, USA.” I want the setting to have an impact on the plot, and I want the characters to be a product of their environment. Have you read any books that fit that description? Or, have you read any fascinating nature nonfiction?


My Recommendations

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt





Recommend some books to me!


  1. Talking to Crazy was such a good read!

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-books-i-loved-that-made-me-want-more-books-like-them/

  2. I am no help with non-fiction, but I hope you can find some weird-but-true stuff to captivate you. Love seeing Hitchcock's book on a list. So underrated.

  3. I have Talking to Strangers and really need to read that one soon! I loved So You've Been Publicly Shamed. For the social media category, this is one that I personally WANT to read: Hype : How Scammers, Grifters, and Con Artists Are Taking Over the Internet—and Why We're Following.


  4. Some recommendations:

    Media & Social Media: The F List by Alessandra Torre
    Nature: The Simple Wild by KA Tucker

  5. Your nature and setting books are top notch. I'd also like to hear your take on "LikeWars"

    As for a strong character with questionable decisions, I recently read Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North." It is about an Australian army doctor who was captured by the Japanese in Java in World War Two and becomes the POW officer in charge of a section of the Burma-Thai railroad. He is a man able to show great compassion and rise to the occasion, but his personal life is in shambles. I need to write my review of the book.

  6. Ooh okay: so when you said media and social media, A Good Girl's Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson was the first book that came to mind for me, they're pretty integral to the plot of that book. As for smart people who make morally dubious decisions, that fits Artemis Fowl to a tee, if you're a fan of middle grade books.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/08/top-ten-tuesday-319/

  7. I really need to read Evelyn Hugo! - the author's Daisy Jones book was fab too. For another media-y one I love 'Funny Girl' which is a Nick Hornby about a girl in the sixties who moves to London to be in comedy, and ends up in a sitcom. It's got a strong sense of time and place as well I think. For strong settings, could also try 'A Town Like Alice', which is Malaysia and Australia in WW2
    (My TTT:https://basedonthebook.blogspot.com/2021/06/ttt-historical-adaptations-id-like-to.html)

  8. Well, for historical fiction, try the Brother Cadfael mystery series by Ellis Peters. They are excellent HF as well as very well written mysteries, and are set in 12th-century Britain. I also recommend Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea and The Firebird, which are dual-track novels with one track set in the 18th century (1700s) and the other in the present; the 18th-century tracks in both novels deal with the Jacobites.

  9. Jaime Lannister's arc in GRRM is always a favorite of mine *nods*

    Really Old History makes me think of Julie Eshbaugh's duology Obsidian and Stars. Fun prehistoric, although every time she called their eating area a kitchen took me out of the story- I'm pretty sure early humans didn't call their food hut a "kitchen". Fun though.

    Bizarro stuff makes me think of books by Megan Shepherd- her Moreau series?- I wanted to read those but haven't yet. they look fun and twisted.

    I just read the Girls Are All So Nice Here (love that title) and it is twisted too. Gah. Spoiler/ not spoiler- the girls are not really so nice.

  10. As far as really old history, have you read the Kingsbridge series by Ken Follett? The first book was Pillars of the Earth and it takes place in the 12th century. It's all about the construction of a Gothic cathedral in England and the town and people surrounding it. There are two sequels and a prequel that take place in different time periods.

  11. This was a really interesting post to read through! I tend to enjoy a few of these things too - the smart people making ethically dubious decisions, anything to do with social media or regular media and nature + strong settings.
    I have a few suggestions for you:
    - Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer is a YA fantasy/horror/thriller featuring a clever main character that’s morally complex. When the story begins, she is working with her mother to dissect and sell the body parts of supernatural beings.
    - The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke is certainly bizarre and somewhat disgusting! I never finished reading it but I can’t remember why now.
    - On a related note, you might enjoy Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart. I really enjoyed that one.
    - The Last Butterflies by Nick Haddad is a really fantastic nonfiction nature book about butterfly conservation. There are about 5 or 6 case studies on conservation attempts for rare butterflies. My favourite was about the St. Francis’ Satyr, which takes place on an island owned and used by the military.

  12. I can't resist sharing some of my favorites. After all, you did ask.

    Nature: Lab Girl; American Wolf; Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; Around the World in 80 Trees; Bad Birdwatcher's Companion; Leave Only Footprints.

    Adventure: Dark Star Safari; Unbroken; Dead Wake; In the Kingdom of Ice; American Wolf (Wait, I think I already said that one).

  13. Great list and I like your topic areas. All of Tana French's books I've read so far feature heroes that make morally dubious decisions. The Salt Path would be a great book for the nature and adventure/survival category. I love a good journey novel. Into the Wild is one of my favorites. The Story of More is another good nature read. On the subject of talking to people my sister recommended Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come - I haven't read it yet but I plan to.

  14. Hi AJ! I love this post, great idea! Really old history - how about The Evening and the morning by Ken Follet? That's like really old. Nature - have you read Wild by Sheryl Stray? Or A walk in the woods by Bill Bryson? Both excellent reads. In my humble opinion. African nature - Jock of the bushveld or Circles in the forest.

    Hope you are doing well otherswise!

  15. I love books that have villains in shades of gray. The Bring Me Their Hearts Series is one that comes to mind. You're never quite sure who to root for.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  16. Hmm. I don't know if I have any recs for you. Vicious is definitely one of my all-time favorites, though. Have you read anything else by Atwood? The Robber Bride and The Blind Assassin are my two favorites, although I don't know what category they would fit.