Time for another Top Ten (or Twenty), originally started by The Broke and the Bookish. Again, I am not sure which “you”, and whether I am writing a recommendation list for fellow readers/bloggers or a to-read list for myself. This time I will be talking about stuff I enjoyed and would recommend for others. If my esteemed colleagues do something different, I am sure they will make the disclaimer. ^_^
I don’t know if I swoon while reading, but I do swoon when a nice voice reads a nice story for me. So I ended up making a list of audiobooks that are swoon-worthy …
- The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner: So, the story is by Sally Gardner (who is pure magic) and it is read by Tom Hiddleston (also magic). Enough said?
- Neverwhere (The Radio Play) by Neil Gaiman: This one, as mentioned is a radio play, so it has a whole cast of awesome people lending their voices to the cause, including, Natalie Dormer, James McAvoy, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Stewert Head, Christopher Lee, and more!
- Saving Raphael Santiago by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan: It’s read by Michael Trevino and I am pretty sure it’s his voice that makes Raphael Santiago seem so inappropriately attractive in the TMI series despite seeing evidence of how arrogant and manipulative the vampire can be.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling: Because I am weird and I can only ever hear Stephen Fry‘s gentle voice as Remus Lupin’s forever more.
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Having heard Jeff Woodman reading this I am almost scared that I will be disappointed by the book on its own. He’s just brilliant and very prolific.
I don’t swoon for very long, if at all. Really satisfying love stories, to me, combine tenderness with laughter, or allow readers to taste the sweetness for a moment before life and the story continue. So here is a list of books with a judiciously placed instant of delight.
- Persuasion by Jane Austen. One of the things I admire most about Austen’s writing is that she never allows readers to wallow in romance but quickly brings us back to laughter and practical considerations. Most of Persuasion focuses on Anne Elliot’s situation: her feelings, her family, her determination to make Captain Wentworth fall in love with her again. She is quiet and subtle without ever giving up agency. Captain Wentworth’s letter, however, is the most full-blown description of the dizzying mixture of elated hope and pain of romantic love in any Austen novel. Or any novel at all that I can think of.
- Abhorsen by Garth Nix. The romance in Nix’s Old Kingdom series is nicely treated: definitely present, but brief, more an underlying layer that occasionally emerges (and then re-submerges) without dominating the story as a whole. The end pages of last chapter, and the epilogue demonstrate many kinds of love between different characters. Nick’s return to Life subtly reminds readers of the potential romance between Lirael and Nick; and the final paragraphs, which focus on the Disreputable Dog, are a tribute to mischief and love of Life.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. The silver doe. The early posts by ccollinsmith at http://expatronum.wordpress.com/ are a rather marvelous examination of Severus Snape’s descent into evil and purifying journey into goodness.
- Han Solo. Indiana Jones. ’nuff said ;)
- I love cute things. So, picture books, animal stories – I mean Taggle makes me swoon (from Erin Bow’s Plain Kate) and so does Martin the Warrior from Redwall.
- Romance-y…. I guess Day and June are cute in Legend, but I dislike the love triangle that emerges. I like Jack from Blood Red Road but I don’t really like that the romance takes over the plot… Both of these are dystopian, haha.
- Shakespeare. Some of his speeches make me swoon – but there is always that tinge of untruth about them. I mean, haha, Richard III is hilariously good at making women swoon, but he’s just so terrible – it makes it all the more awesome. I enjoy Hamlet he makes me swoon a little, but not in the romance-y way. In the teen angst, existentialist kind of way. OH! The Merchant of Venice I really enjoy that one, some great speeches in that one, particularly from the ladies – Portia is great. I could go on.
- Canada winning more gold medals!!!
So okay, romance. I read a ton of it when I was younger, basically all I read because romance novels were the most readily available books in Fiji. I reached saturation point and stopped completely but this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good romances because, hey, who doesn’t? Here are some romances that I, believe it or not, quite liked:
- Eldric and Briony from Chime by Franny Billingsley. Some people hated this novel while others (like me) loved it unabashedly. I loved how eccentric the interactions and conversations are. Now I want to read the book!
- Cat and Andevai from The Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott. So I’m cheating here because this is not necessarily YA but functions quite well as a crossover novel. The relationship depicted between these two (hey, Steph, these two are married!) is realistic and flawed and all the more compelling for it.
- Outcast by Adrienne Kress contains a romance that just took my feels and killed them. Gabe and Riley were fun together, not beautiful or divine but good. Theirs was a solid relationship that had its ups and downs and just. Ow. I can’t talk about it yet.
- The two leads of Hunting by Andrea K. Host. They are so much fun, the riposte, the chemistry, the common sense (what? I happen to think common sense is very necessary in romance novels). It wasn’t perfect, the romance, but it was good.
- Jonah Briggs and Taylor from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. So the romance in this one is nearly nonexistent. I mean, it’s not the focal part of the story, it’s just a subplot but it is potent because it has been sparingly used. In a story that is primarily about friendships, this one love story flounders sometimes and sails smoothly at others. Jonah Briggs, you guys, is who it’s all about.
These are my recommendations for romance in novels which are not primarily about romance but have romances to flavour the narrative. Notice how I used the word three times in one sentence? Did it convince you? ^__^