Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
I’ve missed the las few Top Ten Tuesday’s because the themes just didn’t grab me but I’m back on it today discussing the books that I liked but for some reason don’t seem to come up in these lists often! I’ve gone through my reading records for the few years and I’ve picked out ten I just feel I don’t talk about enough!
1. The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
As the sun begins to set over Louisiana one October day in 1943, a young black man faces the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl – a crime some believe he did not commit.
In a tale taut with tension, events unfold hour by hour from the perspectives of nine people involved. They include Willie himself, who knows what really happened, and his father, desperately trying to reach the town jail to see his son one last time; the prosecuting lawyer, haunted by being forced to seek the death penalty against his convictions, and his wife, who believes Willie to be innocent; the priest who has become a friend to Willie; and a mother whose only son is fighting in the Pacific, bent on befriending her black neighbours in defiance of her husband.
I found this book really thought-provoking but I never seem to bring it up much in these lists so here is the perfect opportunity. It’s a sad, tough read but a compelling one. You can read my review here.
2. The World of Lore: Wicked Mortals
Here are the incredible true stories of some of the mortals who achieved notoriety in history and folklore through horrible means. Monsters of this sort – serial killers, desperate criminals, and socially mobile people with a much darker double-life – are, in fact, quite real . . . including H. H. Holmes, the infamous Chicago serial killer; William Brodie, the Edinburgh criminal mastermind who inspired The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and Bela Kiss, a Hungarian tinsmith with a most disturbing hobby: collecting women in gasoline drums.
This is such a fun, quirky look at some truly scary and often very strange people. There are two other books in the Lore series, the most recent of which I haven’t gotten to yet but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much as I did this one! You can read my review of Wicked Mortals here.
3. Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller
From the first day that the beguiling Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George’s history teacher Barbara Covett is convinced she has found a kindred spirit. Barbara’s loyalty to her new friend is passionate and unstinting and when Sheba is discovered having an illicit affair with one of her pupils, Barbara quickly elects herself as Sheba’s chief defender. But all is not as it first seems in this dark story and, as Sheba will soon discover, a friend can be just as treacherous as any lover.
I actually read this one when I was 15 so just over a decade ago now which is probably why I don’t bring it up in many posts. However it’s a memorable and phenomenal book which deserves attention.
4. We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.
Gabrielle Union wasn’t someone I knew much about before listening to the audiobook of this one but I really enjoyed it. She had a lot of really interesting perspectives to discuss and I’d definitely recommend it whether you know of the author or not.
5. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Great Depression, 1929.
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and utterly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits in the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth: a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive by making one-night stands in town after endless town. Jacob, a veterinary student now unable to finish his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. He meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.
This is another from my teenage years that I kind of forgot about but is actually really good. There is a film version which is OK but, as is almost always the case, the book is better!
6. Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
Louise is struggling to survive in New York; juggling a series of poorly paid jobs, renting a shabby flat, being catcalled by her creepy neighbour, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia. Lavinia who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment.
Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best underground speakeasies, the opera, shares her clothes, her drugs, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can’t last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or rather, to have Lavinia’s life?
This is an atmospheric and creepy read which I think is a fantastic homage to The Talented Mr Ripley. If you like psychological thrillers then this one is worth a look. You can read my review here.
7. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Things were difficult with Mike by the end. He was too much, too controlling – sometimes, I was afraid of him. But I’ve moved on now. I’m getting married to the man of my dreams – he looks after me, but he doesn’t stifle me. Mike and the games we used to play – that’s all in the past now.
It’s time to move on.
Mike and I are finished.
It was just a matter of time until she came back to me. After what I did, maybe she’s right to make me wait. But Verity knows how sorry I am. And the messages she sends me, the way she calls me, the way she acted last time I saw her – no-one acts like that if they’ve stopped caring.
She’ll be mine again.
No matter who stands in my way.
Every time I see this book somewhere I remember how compelling it was. It has an interesting structure and it’s the sort of book that brings up a lot of really timely and important subjects. You can read my review here.
8. Life Honestly by The Pool
Within these pages you’ll find an un-airbrushed selection of advice, comment and opinion. These are intimate stories from bad sex to bad boys, from workplace inequality to the sheer joy of learning something new, that will spark hope, triumph and occasionally outrage. In Life Honestly you will find fresh perspectives on everything from age milestones and friendship, motherhood and weddings, and why you should always, always, tell someone when you like their earrings. This book will make you feel empowered, supported and more prepared than ever to take on anything life has to offer because, honestly, we’re all in this together.
This one doesn’t really fit into many themes for Top Ten Tuesday but I absolutely loved it. I found all of the essays in this book really relatable and fascinating. It’s a great pick if you’re looking for some non-fiction. You can read my review here.
9. Friends Like These by Sarah Alderson
One wrong click can ruin your life…
Lizzie hasn’t thought about her colleague Becca in years – not since the accident.
Then Becca’s ex-boyfriend turns up on Tinder, and Lizzie’s curiosity is sparked.
It looks like Becca hasn’t changed. She’s still all over social media: #perfectlife, #perfectjob, #blessed. Lizzie can’t resist a dig. But she sends her mean comment to Becca by mistake…
She’s about to find out you can’t always believe what you see online.
And that with friends like Becca, you don’t need enemies…
I remember finding this one brilliantly fun to read and a great premise. I love books that show the dark side of social media because it feels all too plausible. You can read my review here.
10. Darktown by Thomas Mullen
On one side of the tracks are the rich, white neighbourhoods; on the other, Darktown, the African-American area guarded by the city’s first black police force of only eight men. These cops are kept near-powerless by the authorities: they can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they must operate out of a dingy basement.
When a poor black woman is killed in Darktown having been last seen in a car with a rich white man, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust of their community and even their own lives to investigate her death.
Their efforts bring them up against a brutal old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run Darktown as his own turf – but Dunlow’s idealistic young partner, Rakestraw, is a young progressive who may be willing to make allies across colour lines . . .
This book is a fantastic work of historical crime fiction that has it’s basis in reality. I can’t believe I haven’t read the sequel yet but I definitely intend to. For any gritty crime lovers this one is really top notch.
Well that’s it for today! I really hope you enjoyed my list and found a couple of books you maybe hadn’t have heard a lot about! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my choices in the comments and please feel free to leave a link to your own list!