My Top 5 Non-fiction Reads of 2017

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I made my Top 10 Books of 2017 list a few days ago, but it was actually a list of my favourite novels from last year. This was intentional, because I’ve read some great non-fiction books in 2017, and I wanted to make a separate list for those books.

These are, of course, books that I’ve read in 2017, not books published in 2017. And this list is in no praticular order since these books are all quite different, and all great. Anyway, here’s my list:

1. Romantic Outlaws; The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

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This book is the most “bookish” one on the list. As it says in the title, it’s a dual biograpy of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, and it’s just perfect. It’s very detailed, and it really gives the reader a sense of everything these women went through, and the world they lived in. I would highly recommend it to everyone interested in these two writers and thinkers, Romanticism, feminism, and just literature in general.

“[A Vindication of the Rights of Woman] outlined the evils of the present state of society, and introduced solutions that would redeem men as well as women. Yes, men. From the first page to last, Mary emphasized that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.”

2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

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This book left such an impression on me that I wrote my longest post ever after reading it. Even if you’re not a vegetarian or a vegan, I think you would learn a lot from this book and the things that are happening not only to animals, but to the entire environment because of factory farming. It’s well-researched book, and the author talked to many people on different sides of the debate. And no, there are not just two sides – things are not that simple. I think that the fact that Jonathan Safron Foer writes novels also helped to make this book very readable, and well-written.

As told by Kafka’s close friend Max Brod:

“Suddenly he began to speak to the fish in their illuminated tanks. ‘Now at least I can look at you in peace, I don’t eat you anymore.’ It was the time he turned strictly vegetarian.”

3. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

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This is a book I would recommend to everyone who loves nature. It was very interesting and I learned so much from it! We, humans, are destroying everything. And our lack of knowledge isn’t helping, either. So, let’s learn! The point of this books it that trees (and plants) are living beings and they deserve respect. They also deserve that we try to understand them better.

“If we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old, which is exactly what large conservation groups are asking us to do.”

4. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

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If you like reading about everyday life in different historical periods – this is the book you’ve been looking for. Also, it’s a perfect book for anyone interested in the Middle Ages. I always thought history should be taught this way – give students a real sense of how it was like to live back then. History is nnot just a list of kings and queens, a list of conflicts and wars. And it’s interesting to compare other time periods to our own. For example:

“When people declare that ‘children have to grow up so quickly these days’ they should reflect on this fact. Medieval boys are expected to work from the age of seven and can be hanged for theft at the same age. They can marry at the age of fourteen…”

5. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

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This is a different kind of non-fiction, so if you’re someone who likes to read memoir-like non-fiction, this is my recommendation for you. De Profundis is a long letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas  while he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol. It’s his reflection on his sentence, his life, his plans for the future, philosophy and literature. It’s amazing to read Wilde’s deepest thoughts during the probably hardest time of his life. I wrote a little post about what he says about nature which you can read here.

“But it is a very unimaginative nature that only cares for people on their pedestals.”

And that’s my list! Do you have any non-fiction recommendations? I’d love to know!

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My Top 10 Books of 2017

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The time has come to look back on all we’ve read in the last year. Or not. Totally up to you.

I did look back, and decided to compose this list. It’s in no particular order, because I’m too indecisive, and the books are quite different one from the other so I would never be able to rank them. I’ll just put some similar books next to each other. Also, I’ve written posts abut some of these books, so I the title is clickable, you can go read the post. 🙂

The first two books that I’m going to mention are vampire books. I really wanted to find some interesting vampire books, especially after I was a bit disappointed by Prince Lestat, and in the end I managed to find these two which made me really happy.

1. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

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I’ve never read ASOISAF. And I’m not sure I ever will… But this book made me realize that George R.R. Martin is a great writer. The book is set in the 1850s USA, and it’s historical fiction as much as it is paranormal/vampire fiction. I loved the way Martin used the vampire legends, and made them his own, without straying too much from the source. It’s also a book about how dark humanity is, how prejudiced people can be, and just how capable they are of committing horrible deeds such as enslaving other people. It was a great read, and much more than a vampire novel.

2. The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverly Lee

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I would never have heard of this series were it not for Instagram, because that’s where I met Bevery Lee. So thank you Instagram! The series is very atmospheric, and the characters are interesting. It follows a boy, Gabriel, but also quite a few other characters – some of them supernatural. I don’t want to reveal too much, since I’ve read the first two books (the third is not out yet) and I might spoil everything to you, but if you want a good supernatural novel, I think this might be it.

Now let’s move on to my favourite fantasy book (trilogy, actually) of this year. I haven’t read that much fantasy this year, but this series was so good it made up for this lack of fantasy reads.

3. The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

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This is the last book in the series, and the reason I put this one on the list is because I feel like it’s always hard to end a series in a really satisfying way. I loved the first two books, but the way everything ends is perfect. All the characters are very flawed, and nothing is sugar-coated or romanticized. I liked that the writing was slow-paced, and that the author focuses so much on the inner struggles of the characters, besides everything that is going of in this fictional world. Inquisitor Glokta is my favourite. He’s far from being a loveable character, but I love reading his snarky inner monologues. I highly recommend this book to all fantasy lovers!

The next three books all feature magical elements, but in a subtle way. They are fantasy combined with historical fiction.

4. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

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Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Six Swans”, but it’s also so much more than that. The Germanic tale, collected by the Grimm brothers, is in this case set in Ireland and Britain and interwoven with Celtic mythology and folktales. It is magical, but it also feels very real; the fantastical and the historical creates one whole, one wonderful story. It is also a story which speaks against war and the hatred of others. And it’s wonderfully written. I enjoyed this book immensely!

5. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

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If a book is set in the Middle Ages, I’m immediately intrigued. If the Middle Ages are actually described in a more historically accurate, and less clichéd way, I fall in love with the book. Yeah, I’m simple like that. XD But this book is so well written, atmospheric, and mysterious. The characters all have a story to tell – literally and figuratively. They are all hiding something, and they are all lying about something. The story revolves around finding out the truth, and the destructive power of lies. Again – both literally and figuratively. The book is also inspired by the Canterbury Tales, since all the characters set off to a journey together in hope to escape the plague. It’s a great read, and I’ll definitely read more Karen Maitland’s books.

6. Bright Air Black by David Vann

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This one is not really historical fiction, but a myth retelling. It’s the story of Jason and Medea from Medea’s point of view and it’s just perfect. Brutal, but perfectly so. I loved diving into Medea’s mind. She’s a sorceress, a devotee of the witch-godess Hecate, and her powers and brutality really show in this book, but at the same time it’s hard not to find simpathise with her. The book is written so well, it feels like it transports you to a different world.

In the end, I have some literary fiction (I guess) books, with no magic, or paranormal.

7. Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss

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This novel is historical fiction. It’s set in Victorian England, and follows mostly female characters and their struggles to become more than society allows them to be. The main character, Ally, want to become a doctor. She’s focused on her cause, the fight for equal treatment of women and men in medicine, and become the best person she could be. Her perfecionism becomes a great burden, and she suffers from what I presume are panic attacks. She’s also under constant scrutiny of her mother who is trying to save suffering women, young prostitutes, and the poor, but is at the same time too harsh on her daughters. She wants them to know that they live in abundance while others suffer, and does it in a rigid, adamant manner. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s Ally’s sister May who seems to conctantly find a way to disobey her mother’s restrictions, their father the painter, and his friend who constantly hangs out with the girls… So many interesting relationships, and human struggles in one book.

8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Well, you’ve all heard of this one, so I won’t talk about it too much. I should have read it earlier, but I’m so glad I finally did. And the series is great, too!

9. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

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You need a little patience for this one, but it’s worth it! The psychological portrayal of characters is amazing! The story mostly follows Maggie and Tom Tulliver, a brother and sister, and their relationship since early childhood. The novels also speakks of the expectations that the women of the time had to meet. The protagonist, Maggie, is strong and smart, but the society she lives in makes her ignore both of those traits. The biggest tragedy of this novel is the fact that she could’ve achieved so much, but was not allowed to. There are also some great side characters, especially poor Philip who is constntly judged because of his physical appearence. This book is truly a classic.

10. The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir

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I talked about this book recently. It’s one of the last books I’ve read this year, and it’s amazing! It’s a collection of three stories, and every story follows daily life of a woman who is going though something bad in her life. None of these women are perfect, but the emotions and thoughts expressed in these stories are so raw and sincere, it really feels like you’re reading someone’s diary.

And that’s it! I hope you had a great reading year and that the next one would be even better! What are some of your favourite books from last year? If you did a similar list please feel free to link it to me, I’m really interested to read those posts! 🙂

Currently Reading: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir

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Everyone’s heard of Simone de Beauvoir (or at least everyone should have). She’s mosty known as a feminist, social theorist, and political activist. She’s the author of The Second Sex, a book on women’s opression which became one of the most important feminist works.

Simone de Beauvoir was also a fiction writer, though her works read almost like memoirs. The Woman Destroyed is a collection of three long stories, and so far I’ve finished the first one, “The Age of Discretion”, and since the description says all of the stories deal with similar themes, I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts of this story, before reading the others, as an introduction to de Beauvoir’s fiction.

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“The Age of Discretion” is written in first person, and it follows the intimate thoughts of the unnamed main character. Both the main character and her husband are intellectuals, she’s a writer and he a scientist. Their conversations are interesting and at times philosophical, as is the entire story. “The Age of Discretion” is, therefore, a quite erudite read, but at the same time it’s very sincere and human. It deals with everyday thoughts, insecurities, selfishness, and vanity. It’s about those little thoughts we have, but never dare express. Thoughts that belong to us, even though we don’t want to admit it.

Maybe it was during those moments, as I watch him disappear, that he exists to me with the most overwhelming clarity: his tall shape grows smaller, each pace marking out the path of his return; it vanishes and the street seems to be empty; but in fact it is a field of energy that will lead him back to me as his natural habitat: I find this certainty even more moving than his presence.

The story deals with the main character’s relationship with her husband, her son, and her own self – the past and the present, the constant change and passing of life. When it comes to her husband, she ponders on many questions. Does he still love her? Is he tired of her? Would another woman have made him happier? She cannot answer those questions, and sometimes her insecurities create more problems. She thinks too much which leads to misunderstandings.

The relationship with her son is even more complex, since he decided to take a past she did not intend for him. She feels he had made a mistakke, and cannot accept his decisions. She wants him to be a different man than he is now, and it’s hard for her to accept that. He decides not to be a professor, not to become an intellectual, and she acuses him of being greedy and only thinking about earning more money. Was that the real reason? It’s hard to tell, but for the main character it’s a great disappointment. She is watching her son become the kind of person she despises. He is not the person she tried to shape. He is his own person now, not a reflection of her ideals, and she feels that she’s losing him.

He will turn into a stranger.

The main character also struggles with her work, as her new book gets bad reviews. She sees that she’s getting old and fears she can no longer produce anything fresh and important. The world around her is changing. She is changing.

The sight of the changing world is miraculous and heart-breaking, both at the same time.

The “discretion” from the title really captures the tone of the story well. This story is mostly about things left unsaid, things we presume, though sometimes falsely, and things we are afraid to admit to ourselves. Expectations versus reality. It’s a wonderfully written story of human nature, without sugar-coating, but, in the end, still somewhat hopeful. It also shows how fragile we all are, how full of doubts.

What is an adult? A child puffed with age.

I feel like I don’t have to emphasize that I really liked the story, but, yes, I did, and I’m looking forward to reading the other two in the collection. What do you think? Have you read The Woman Destroyed? Are you interested in reading it?


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The Fall for Books Tag

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Soooo, Autumn is almost over, and I still haven’t posted this tag. I haven’t posted anything lately, actually… I won’t go into details, but, you know, life happened, and I just needed some time away. Another reason is that, even though I really want to go back to writing this blog, I’m just not feeling very inspired at the moment. I want to make this blog better, but I’m not sure how, so I just stopped writing. Anyway, let’s do this fun tag and hope for the best, shall we?

Thank you dear Rachel @paceamorelibri  for tagging me, and I’m sorry it took this long. :*

THE RULES

  • Please link back to this post so I can see your answers!
  • Have fun!

One of the first books you fell in love with:

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. That’s the first book I remember falling in love with. The characters were plush toys which talked, and I was obsessed with plush toys (I still am, to be honest). What child doesn’t want their plush toys to come alive? My favourite was Eeyore. Sad little donkey stole my heart forever.

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A book you knew you were going to love from the first page

There are a few, but the last book I fell in love with from the very beginning was Bodies of Water by Sarah Moss. This book deals with many important topics, mostly the position of women in Victorian England, but it’s also very subtle. It is full of details, emotions and thoughts of the main charater(s). This is the first Sarah Moss book that I’ve read, but I will definitely read more.

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A book you didn’t think you would love as much as you do

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. I’ve read it for college, and I expected it to be good, but I didn’t expect it to become one of my favourite books ever. It’s so sad, but the author also makes some jokes which was unexpected. I just loved everything about this book! P.S. The Disney film is different, of course, and much happier, but it’s still the darkest Disney film. And I think it’s really underestimated!Just listen to the villain, Frodo, singing Hellfire. It’s terrifying and amazing!

The character who will always have a place in your heart

Well, I already mentioned Eeyore. XD So for this question I’ll say Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, because she’s the first who came to mind. I loved her. And, also, some Harry Potter characters, of course.

Character you love on the page, but would never want to meet in real life

I usually really like flawed characters, though I’d probably not like them in real life. Now, my favourite character from comics EVER is Poison Ivy. I just adore her! But, in real life, she’d probably be very terrifying. That’s why I love her. 😉

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Literary couple you will ship until the day you die

Lestat and Louis from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I mean, who doesn’t ship them, right?

An author whose writing style you fell in love with

Daphne du Maurier, definitely. She is able to draw me into the story and create a wonderful atmosphere. I just wish I could write like that, create something that would truly make the readers feel what the character is feeling, and experience the world of the novel.

A book recommended to you by a friend/family member that you quickly fell for too

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was recommended to me by a friend, and I loved it. It was so heart-wrenching and wonderful. The author actually dedicated it to Afghan women, who suffered so much throughout history, and are still suffering. He tells the story of two women, and I just can’t say who I liked more.

Piece of book-related merchandise that you had to own

I actually own more comics merchandise than book merchandise. I have two Spider-man and two Deadpool T-shirts, and this Spider-man mug. I also have a tiny Kafka mug, which is for decoration, not to drink from.

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An author whose works you love so much that you auto-buy/borrow their new releases

I really can’t think of one… Most of my favourite authors are dead. XD But I assume Sarah Moss might become one of those. Han Kang, too.

And that’s it! I’ll tag a few people now, and I hope you’ll have fun with the tag (bot no pressure to do it if you don’t want to). 🙂

Anna @mybookishdream

Beatriz @booksnreviewsohmy

Amanda @acourtofbooksandlove

@bookowly

Lana @lifeinwordsandlyrics

Julie @juliedavide


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Totally Should’ve Book Tag

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Hello, people! I was tagged to do this fun tag by the lovely Anna @MyBookishDream – thank you so much! Here are my answers:

1. Totally Should’ve Gotten A Sequel

I don’t think I have an answer for this one… I prefer stand-alone books, so I don’t think any of the books I like would’ve benefited from a sequel. Maaaybe it would be nice to have another book by Ellen Evert Hopman in her trilogy about the Celts. Each book has it’s own story, especially the last one, so it wouldn’t ruin anything, and I would like to read more about that period in history.

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2. Totally Should’ve Gotten A Spin-Off Series

I’ll have to agree with Anna on this one, some Harry Potter spin-offs would be great! The Founders Era sounds particularly interesting. But, not to repeat the same answer, I would love to read a spin-off about Natalie Oscott from The Memoris of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. I loved her, and I think her story would be very interesting since she’s a female inventor in a Victorian-like world.

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3. An Author Who Should Write More Books

Honesty, most of my favourite authors are dead. XD I’ll have to go with Elen Evert Hopman again. She did write quite a lot of non-fiction, but I’d really like to read more fiction from her. Her books are mostly historical fiction, but they feel so magical.

4. A Character Who Totally Should’ve Ended Up With Someone Else

These questions are obviously very hard for me. XD I’m not a big “shipper” so I don’t really know… I don’t really have a couple I hate.

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I don’t really like books being turned into movies… Oh, my, I sound like a real hater in in this post! XD But, yeah, I prefer books to stay books, and movies to come up with original plots. If I had to pick, I’d definitely say The Vampire Chronicles. Yes, it’s been done before, but I’m ready for a new one. Apparently, a tv show is in the making and I really hope it will be great.

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6. Totally Should’ve Kept The Original Covers

I literally have no answer for this one… Soooo, can I turn it around? The old cover I saw for The Daughter of the Forest was pretty, but the new one blew me away with its simplicitly. I think it’s prettier that the original one. Unfortunatelly, I think the other two books in the series haven’t been published with new covers yet…

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7. Totally Should’ve Stopped At Book One

I think The Vampire Chonicles should’ve stopped after book three. Maybe the books about Armand and Marius could stay, as spin-offs, but I think the first three were perfect and the rest was just too much. Tale of the Body Thief wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t like Memnoch the Devil at all. I’ve recently read Prince Lestat, and I enjoyed it at first, and was happy to meet the characters again, but in the end I though it was meh

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And, that’s it! I won’t be tagging anyone this time, but I hope some of you will do this tag! 😉

Classic Spotlight: Preface to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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Hello, bloggers and other visitors! I recently noticed a hashtag on Instagram called Classics Thursday, and it gave me the idea to start a similar “meme” here on the blog. I’ve seen it on @katha_logisch and I’m not sure who the actual creator is, but I hope they don’t mind my idea of writing posts to accompany the Instagram photo. I’ve actually been thinking about making my blog and my Instagram more connected, so this is one way to do that, too. Anyway, the plan is to write a post about a classic on Thursdays (probably not every Thursday, but as often as I can manage).

My first Classic Spotlight post will be about one of my favourite classics, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Well, actually, it won’t be about the book, but the author’s Preface, which is a very important piece of feminist writing. In the preface, Anne Brontë responds to those who found her book too scandalous (and, sadly, her sister Charlotte was one of them). Some found it especially concerning that the author of such a book is female.

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In the novel, Brontë writes about alcoholism, and the suffering of a woman whose husband is an alcoholic. The  main character, Helen Huntington, leaves her husband to protect her son from his father’s influence, aware of the gossip and scandal her decision might cause.

What’s interesting to me is that Helen never actually divorces her husband – she even comes back to take care of him as he is dying. She is also extremely pious. Nothing Helen does is truly scandalous. Today, no one would find the novel too graphic either. And yet, that was how it was perceived. This opens some questions about censorhip and the many books that get banned even today for similar reasons.

This is what Anne Brontë writes in defence of her novel:

“…when we have to do with vice and vicious characters, I maintain it is better to depict them as they really are than as they would wish to appear. To represent a bad thing in its least offensive light is, doubtless, the most agreeable course for a writer of fiction to pursue; but is it the most honest, or the safest? Is it better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and thoughtless traveller, or to cover them with branches and flowers? Oh, reader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of facts – this whispering, ‘Peace, peace,’ when their is no peace, there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience.”

I have to agree with Anne Brontë completely. Life can be gruesome and horrible, and literature should be allowed to present it as it is. I know some people are sensitive to graphic imagery, and that is fine, they should be warned about it so that they can avoid the books which disturb them. However, this doesn’t mean that such books should be banned. Literature, and art in general, has the right to question and to provoke. Anne Brontë’s words are a voice against censorship. She also writes about equility, and says:

All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.

Quite opiniated and maybe not as meek as she was usually protrayed to be, eh? You can read the entire preface by Anne Brontë HERE, it is great, and short.


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Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Bromances

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Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Samatha at Thoughts on Tomes. The guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group.


Bromance = platonic relationship between two characters who identify as male. 

Oh, my, this topic is great! Now, I know I haven’t posted in a while, and I’m sorry. I will try to post more often from now on, but I needed a little break for some not that interesting reasons. So, I’ll just skip this introduction and get right to my list of favourite bromances, because this is where the fun starts! 😉

1. Spider-man and Deadpool

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I’ll just start with my (probably) all-time favourite pair. Spidey would be angry with me for this, because he refuses to call Deadpool his friend, but he’s wrong and we all know it. Deadpool admires Spider-man, but that doesn’t stop him from doing stupid things. And, while I expected more from the comics that deal with their relationship, they are still my favourite bros. With a hint of romance, to be completely honest. 😛

2. Jezal dan Luthar and Logen Ninefingers (The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie)

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(This may be a mild spoiler, since this friendship develops slowly, but I try not to give many details.) When you first meet these two, you’d never say that they might become friends. Logen is a warrior from the North, a strong, feared man who wants to become a better person. Jezal is initially a handsome, but vain knight. This quote describes him well:

He wiped his face, and then—his favourite part of the day—gazed at himself in the looking glass.

And yet, they learn to recpect one another. It is interesting how Logen, a man who is tormented by all he did in the past, actually helped Jezal become a better person. At the time Logen was feeling particularly bad about himself, he asks Jezal if he’s an evil man to which Jezal replies “you’re the best man I know”. Neither of them are truly good, and they cannot fight all of their flaws, but the respect they have for one another in the end is wonderful to read about.

3. Hamlet and Horatio

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Yes, this is Hamlet. From the 1921 silent film in which Hamlet is female. 😉

It can be argued that Hamlet is actually insane, but I’ll leave that for another time. XD What is obvious from the play, though, is that the only person Hamlet can truly trust is Horatio. He helps Hamlet the best that he knows, and remains loyal to the end. After Hamlet (and everybody else) is dead, it’s Horatio’s role to tell the story of what had happened to the world.

P.S. Check out these Hamlet illustrations!

4. Sam and Frodo

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Does this one even need an explanation? Sam is the best friend one can hope for. Frodo would be lost without him. Anotther great friendship from LOTR is the one between Legolas and Gimli, but Sam and Frodo are my pick for this list.

5. James Potter, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black

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There are so many sweet friendships in the Harry Potter series. Ron and Harry are definitely the first that come to mind. And there are also Newt Scamander and Jacob Kowalski from Fantastic Beasts, the newest addition to the magical world. And, yet, I just had to put there three on the list. From what we learn about them, it is obvious that they were extremely close. They even learned to turn themselves into animals in order to help their werewolf friend.

Bonus, my favourite friendship from a tv show: Captain Flint and John Silver (Black Sails)

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Black Sails is my favourite show, and Flint and Silver are just a small part of what makes the show so great – but an important part. Eventually, everything leads to these two. Their dynamic kept me at the edge of my seat (a polite way of saying I was emotionally unstable while watching it.) I want to say so much more, but I also want to persuade the people who haven’t seen the show to watch it, so I don’t want to say too much. Just watch the show, you’ll understand!

So, what are your favourite bromances?