Ten Special Books

This isn’t a post that I planned to publish, but I figured I would anyway. On Facebook tonight a friend requested that I post ten books that were in some way special to me, having been nominated herself to do so, and for me to pass this on (which I did to 3 of my book loving friends who I can’t wait to hear back from!)

So this is my post, all copied and pasted from my Facebook:

1. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – This is the book that made me want to study English Literature at degree level. It’s a novella of about 6000 words, but the way that it details simultaneously postpartum psychosis and women’s oppression is one that really drew me in. I also love the way that she sent this to Dr Silas-Weir, the doctor who prescribed her the “rest cure” (extreme bed rest) with her own condition, something that she describes as sending her to the very edge of insanity, so close she could see over. (I paraphrased, but “Why I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short and interesting article.

2. Blue by Sue Mayfield – Mostly just because my tatty paperback has been read so many times and it still moves me. There is a moment about 2/3 of the way through that makes me cry every time. I read it for the first time about 8 years ago.

3. Little Face by Sophie Hannah – This is the first Sophie Hannah novel that I read and it has stuck with me. Also, had I never got hooked on this series of books, I would never have picked up The Orphan Choir, which inspired my dissertation!

4. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – I first discovered the story as a two man play, and when I read the book for the first time I was genuinely spooked. Jenett Humphrey sits in a really interesting place between horror and terror and I also lost sleep over this book.

5. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – This is the book publication of the webcomic she is famous for. I mostly just like the way she describes depression. Also she is hilarious!

6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by JK Rowling – This probably doesn’t need saying, but I grew up with these books, and they have shaped my life and will go on to shape the lives of my children (etc)! This one gets special mention because it came first!

7. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters – Again, this was a first by a favourite! I love Sarah Waters and all her literary goodness. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Paying Guests!

8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood – This got me hooked on dystopian fiction. I find the whole concept of the handmaids completely interesting. Had I not read this, I don’t think I’d have gotten so enthralled by the genre.

9. Secret Vampire by LJ Smith. I read this in about an hour when I was 11. It was my first vampire novel and probably the reason I didn’t become a Twilight obsessive!

10. Where are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark – My favourite crime writer, this book is actually chilling. It’s the manipulation element that has stayed with me, and whilst I am definitely not a crime writer, I would love to write something that has the impact on me as this did!

(Fun fact, all these are women, I didn’t even realise until I finished!)


Hopefully you can pick up a recommendation or two from these and get a bit more of an idea about me as a person or what I am into. I surprised myself with only on Late Victorian and two Neo-Victorian texts making the list! I decided to make it all fiction.


Comment below with your top 10 (or do me one of them awesome pingback things), and feel free to share this with your own followers/ friends. It would be awesome if we could get this going as a thing on WordPress so us Bilbliophiles can share a word or two!


But until then, I have to bid you all goodnight, it is unusual that you will get 3 posts in such a short space from me, and I do have to sleep now as work beckons me in just 8 hours!


Sue Mayfield – Blue (2001)

As a teenager, Sue Mayfield was one of my favourite novelists. Around the age of fourteen I developed and addiction to Young Adult novels that dealt with mental health problems such as self-harm and eating disorders, as well as those that dealt with the difficulties of adjusting to being a teenager. (I’m 22 and I still love Young Adult novels. I’m pretty sure that YA runs until at least your 40s).

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Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar (1963)

This book has been on my “to read” list for a very long time, however, due to the nature of Plath’s work, I set myself a “no Plath until graduation rule”, which means that my collection of her poems has collected dust, and my paperback of The Bell Jar has gone unread, until this week. (I must admit the rule had to be broken as I temporarily tutored an A Level student who was studying ‘Tulips’ for her coursework essay, but that’s okay, I guess).

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The First Chapter of The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is Now Available Online

Read Chapter 1

Today Waterstones published online the opening chapter of Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, due for release on the 28th August. I engorged it. Within 15 minutes I had read it all, and now I want to know how the rest of the story will unfold. I am most curious how Frances and Mrs Barber’s relationship develops, particularly due to Frances hoping Mrs Barber was still dressed in her silk kimono toward the end of the chapter.

I shall say no more, but go forth and read! I can barely wait the next 17 days until I can read it (assuming it fits through the letter box!), because while I pre-ordered my copy, I am working away until the 30th August.

New Sarah Waters novel in 6 months

I’m an avid reader. As I start to post about my reading more and more it will become clear what I truly enjoy:

Lesbians (or female same sex desire)

Narratives of motherhood




Subversive gender identities


There are other things I enjoy, but it is mainly this kind of thing. Which brings me to my absolute adoration of Sarah Waters. Her newest novel that I have been anticipating for well over a year will be released on the 4th September 2014.

Here’s a quick peek at the cover. It’s set in the 1920s this time, and I am very very keen to see what is inside!

Image from

Prior to the book’s release I will be re-reading and blogging about each of her previous books, starting (where else) with Tipping the Velvet, simultaneously because it was her first novel, in 1998, and I am writing an assignment on it over the next few weeks so I will have a fair few awesome things to share with you all!

Blue is the Warmest Color

As a treat to myself for getting through the stresses of my research project (so proud of that by the way, can only hope that it gets a good mark!) and my Victorian Poetry exam (total disaster!) I bought myself Julie Maroh’s graphic novel Blue is the Warmest Color. It has received a fair deal of attention in the media due to last year’s movie adaptation and the controversies that came with it, so I figured that I had to read it, and I have enough friends that would love to get their hands on it that it is an essential item for my bulging bookcase!

Clementine is a mesmerising character, who is drawn to Emma, a blue haired, ‘alternative’ woman. Identifying initially as a straight woman, Clementine doesn’t feel the same way about her boyfriend as he feels for her, and the feelings towards the initially mysterious blue haired woman stir up internal confusion, as she struggles to accept that she may not be the “normal” heterosexual teenager that she thought she was. 

Elegant as the narrative is, the artwork is beautiful, especially the way that Maroh presents the pair’s sexual encounters, particularly her use of colour.

I have nothing but praise for the novel. I don’t want to say too much as the life that Clementine ends up taking deviates so far from what she would expect that even an ounce of plot share could ruin the experience. I went in blind, and I recommend any new reader of the book does too.