This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is an interesting one: ten of your favorite books with a number in the title. It’s always fun to find new ways to categorize books! Here are the ten books that immediately sprang to mind for me, in no particular order:
1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers — The Lord of the Rings is one of my all-time favorite books, and The Two Towers just might be my favorite volume. I find the culture of Rohan fascinating and really love all the scenes involving the Rohirrim. And even the Frodo/Sam plot, though much less eventful, is fascinating on a character level.
2. Ellis Peters, One Corpse Too Many — I adore the Cadfael series, which is about a 12th-century crime-solving monk. The setting is so well rendered, and justice is always served in the end. This book is second in the series and also my favorite, focusing on a missing treasure and the mysterious newcomer Hugh Beringar.
3. B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories — I’m not a big fan of short stories generally, but I like Novak’s voice and his TV writer’s sensibility. Most of the stories are more like comedy sketches, focusing sharply on a single (often humorous) idea. Favorite stories include “The Ghost of Mark Twain,” “The Something by John Grisham,” and “J. C. Audetat, Translator of Don Quixote.”
4. Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat — This slim book perfectly encapsulates a specific type of British silliness, which I think you either like or you don’t. Fortunately, I fall into the former category, because I found it delightful! Not to mention, it inspired one of my favorite novels, Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog.
5. Leo Bruce, Case for Three Detectives — As a fan of Golden Age mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which parodies three of the most beloved detectives of that era: Lord Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, and Father Brown. I love all three of them, and Bruce perfectly (and hilariously) captures their specific voices.
6. Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows — This YA fantasy novel combines two of my favorite things, found families and heists. Kaz Brekker and his crack team of ne’er-do-wells are hired for a complicated job with a huge payoff, but they stand to lose a lot more than money if things go wrong. And of course, it’s not really a matter of if, but when. . . .
7. Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale — It’s been a long time since I actually read this book, but I remember loving its gothic atmosphere and its belief in the value of stories:
What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don’t expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.
8. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves — This just might be my favorite Lewis book, in which he examines the concept of love and describes four different types of love that humans experience: affection, friendship, romantic love, and the love of God. The first time I read this book, it made me think about human relationships in entirely new ways, and even on rereading it gives me a lot to think about.
9. Agatha Christie, The Seven Dials Mystery — I could have picked any number of Christie mysteries, since I’m a huge fan of hers. But I wanted to highlight this mystery because it’s a bit different from her usual work, involving political machinations and a secret society. It’s all a little bit silly, but I find the silliness endearing. Plus, there’s a very sweet romantic angle to the story!
10. Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting — This was my first Mary Stewart novel, and it remains one of my favorites. It has definite Jane Eyre vibes, with a touch more danger to the heroine (and, if I’m recalling correctly, a less problematic hero!). Her novels of romantic suspense make perfect fall reads, if anyone’s looking for something subtly atmospheric rather than terrifying.