Top Ten Short-But-Good Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Books to Read in a Day” and I know that Daisy at this week’s roundup post took it to mean books that keep you on edge, so much that you don’t put them down and end up reading them whole in a day. The thing is, my unputdownables are longer books, too long to be read in a day anyway. I tend to dislike shorter books… but of course there are exceptions, and when I like a shorter book that’s very high praise coming from me! So it’s to these small treasures that I dedicate this post:

My Top Ten Books That Are Beautiful Despite Their Shortness:

  1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: I don’t think this needs any presentation, right? But if you read French, do check out the pop-up version by Gallimard, it’s just wonderful!
  2. The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers: this was my big discovery last year. I know it is not for everyone, but if you have even just the slightest interest for anything fantasy, go and read it now.
  3. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino: my precious Calvino! Of course I could mention If on a Winter Night a Traveller or the Cosmicomics, but Invisible Cities succeeds in putting so much in so little a book and it seems to me that it fits this list better.
  4. Venice is a Fish by Tiziano Scarpa: born and bred in Venice, Scarpa sings his love for his hometown in tones that are lyrical and trivial at the same time. Makes you wish your own hometown was just as special, and then it makes you open your eyes and discover that it is, in its own way.
  5. The Beekeeper by Maxence Fermine: if you want to breath the air of Provence for just an hour, this is exactly what you want to look for. A minimalist book that is nevertheless full of the scents of Southern France, and of its colors, and of its magic.
  6. Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi: I knew nothing whatsoever about Portugal when I fist read Tabucchi’s masterpiece, but it still left me with a life-lasting impression — of good literature, of perfect balance, more than of Portugal itself.
  7. Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham: the first volume of the series still is the best.
  8. Os Olhos de Ana Marta by Alice Vieira: the tenderness! the narrative structure! the deep Portuguese-ness! I raved about it enough here.
  9. Allegro ma non troppo by Carlo Maria Cipolla: and I don’t mean both essays but just the one that went under this title, about the role and diffusion of spices in the Medieval European economy and society. One of the funniest things I ever read.

Top 5+5 Books to Kindle Book Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today the theme is: “Top 10 Books I’d Hand to Someone Who  Says They Don’t Like To Read”.

I believe that with people like that you really need to take their own interest into consideration before ever handing them a book. And even to draw a general list, you need to bring their age into the equation. So this time you’ll get a 5+5 list of books for children and adults, and a more general scheme of how I would proceed!

  1. I’d start with comics or graphic novels (that’s where I learned to read after all!), because they’re less daunting than books, easier to approach, and at the same time the person would be reading and (hopefully) having fun. Children choice: any Mickey Mouse collection. Adult choice: Fables by Bill Willingham.
  2. Next I’d offer something short and fun. The best ones I can come up with are Italian, but I’m sure there’s plenty of similar books in English too. Children choice: Streghetta mia by Bianca Pitzorno. Adult choice: Allegro ma non troppo by Carlo M. Cipolla.
  3. If the previous two have kindled some interest, it’s time to move to something still simple, not too long, but completely engrossing. Children choice: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Adult choice: The Cider House Rules by John Irving.
  4. Now it’s the time to show them that reading is cool! Children choice: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Adult choice: The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac.
  5. And finally, something that will sweep them off their feet and leave a mark forever, something that they will recall years later as a pleasurable reading. Children choice: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Adult choice: Lord of the Rings by John R.R. Tolkien.

What would be your choices?

Top Ten Books I Want To Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is rereads, which is something I do a lot! So here’s the top ten I’d like to reread right now, they may change by next week though. See this week’s roundup here.

The book I want to reread most right now is this:

1. People of the Book: it’s part of my travel with books reading project for two destinations, and husband has just finished it, so I can’t wait to read it again. I recall liking it a lot, despite the huge letdown at the way it ends.

Then there are some rereads that also fit in one way or another in my project:

2. The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones: I hope to visit Andalusia soon, so that I can reread this one and make sense of the different towns it is set in.

3. The Ringmaster’s Daughter and/or The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder: I may even venture to his Sophie’s World, but that’s not a reread.

There are also some books that I’d like to reread, but in a different version:

4. Blindness by José Saramago: I’ve read it in translation and would like to try the original Portuguese

5. Neverwhere and/or American Gods: I’d like to see how Gaiman’s writing was rendered in Italian

Finally, there are some books that I go back to again and again, even just for a few pages, because it’s like meeting an old friend. My comfort reads, which should be at the top of this list, actually:

6. The Lord of the Rings: loveliest epic adventure ever.

7. Anansi Boys: Gaiman’s most fun book. ’nuff said.

8. The Time Traveler’s Wife: great narrative technique, great story, makes me cry every time.

9. Goodbye Little Women by Marcela Serrano: you really should get this one translated in English, sometimes!

10. Really? Already 10? There are so many more titles in my comfort reading list…