Monday, April 11, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Ten Books Every Anglophile Should Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I don't know if this is a solely American phenomenon, but there is a contingent of us that are a mite obsessed with everything British - British History, British Literature, British TV.  Oh, British TV.  So I thought I would take the opportunity of this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic to list a few recent favorite books that feed my interest in British culture.  The specific topic is:
Ten Books Every X Should Read (up to you! Examples: every history nerd, memoir lover, ballet lover, feminist, college student, etc etc.)
Here's the list:

1) Lord Peter Wimsey Series by Dorothy L. Sayers

Lord Peter is the epitome of the idle, rich younger son of a Duke who likes carousing, collecting rare books and along with his trusty valet, solving crimes. As one does. Peter is an awesome character, seemingly shallow without feeling, but his flippant facade hides a clever mind.  This is an insanely fun and very British series.

Another mystery series, which is not surprising, because if there is one thing that the Brits excel at, it is writing a good mystery.  This is a brilliant historical series set in the middle ages with a monk as the prime sleuth.  This series makes me want to be a medieval monk which pretty weird but also a testament to how good it is.

3) Flavia DeLuce Series by Alan Bradley

You guessed it!  Another mystery, this one written by a Canadian but it takes place in a big old rambling manor house in a small English town just after World War II.  The protagonist is an 11 year old girl obsessed with chemistry, poisons and everything gruesome.  She's hilarious, kind of annoying and most of the way to charming.

4) The Peter Grant Series by Ben Aaronovitch

Okay, I'll switch it up and list something other than a mystery.  Although the Peter Grant books probably could be counted as mysteries BUT it also involves magic!  It's an urban fantasy series which features present day London as one of its major characters.  Also, the author Aaronovitch was a writer on Doctor Who and it doesn't get more British than that.

5) Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym wrote mostly in the 1950s and 1960s and her books are quietly insightful about the mundane life of women.  They're also incredibly funny.  This is probably my favorite about a spinster living in 1950s London, who starts to question whether there is more to life than just being the reliable woman for everyone.

Nancy Mitford grew up as the daughter of one of the landed gentry and was a rather famous English socialite between WWI and WWII.  These two semi-autobiographical novels draw on her childhood in her eccentric family, and they're droll and charming.  I like Love in a Cold Climate quite a bit more than The Pursuit of Love.

7) The Hamish MacBeth Series by M.C. Beaton

I find this series a tad frustrating but also a lot of fun and I LOVE the BBC show based on the books.  It follows the adventures of the police constable of a small Scottish village called Loch Dubh.  And yes we are kind of back to the mysteries again.

8) Longbourn by Jo Baker

I just read this and loved, loved, loved it!  Ever wondered about the lives of all those servants that surround Austen's hero and heroines?  This book does a great job of speculating on just that, following the lives of the Bennett's household help.

9) Atonement by Ian McEwen 

This and the next author on the list are two of the authors that I think of as exemplifying modern British literature.  This is a fantastic historical fiction, family drama, wartime, unreliable narrator novel.

10) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

So Remains of the Day would perhaps be a better choice as being quintessentially British but I wanted to mix things up a little bit and include a science fiction pick and it still has very British sensibilities.  It's set in a future Britain at a boarding school and I really don't want to say too much more than that.

That's it for me.  I avoided a lot of obvious choices - the Aubrey/Maturin series, Dorothy Dunnett, Dickens, Wilkie Collins etc.... Honestly this list could have been 100 books long.

So do you have any books that you find particularly evocative of Great Britain?  I'd love to add some new books to my TBR!

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