My Top 5 Non-fiction Reads of 2017

aaanonfic

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

22294061

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

6604712

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

28256439

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

4936457

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

323455

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!

Advertisements

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

top-wed-goth

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


In collaboration with the BooktubeSFF Awards, this week’s topic is to talk about your favorite science fiction and fantasy books of all time. I was hard to choose just five, but here are my picks. Also, I mostly like the not-that-traditional approaches to both fantasy and science fiction so these might not be exactly what you are expecting. Still, I think they fit the category:

1. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

small gods 2.png

Terry Pratchett is amazing, and I love his Discword series, though I have many more books to read from it. Small Gods is my favourite so far, and it is one of the books in Discworld series that can be read as a standalone. It’s both fantasy and satire, with Pratchett’s incredible wit and humour.

2. Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

iron jackall.png

The Ketty Jay is a flying steamship, and her crew are pirates. Well, sort of. This book is part steampunk, part fantasy, part science fiction, but mostly adventure and fun! I love it, and the characters are amazing, deeply flawed but still lovable.

3. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

deathless.png

This is a very unique book. It’s a retelling of several tales from the Russian folkore, all put into one strange but beautiful story which tackles many different themes. This book is hard to describe, but I found it incredibly interesting, and Valente’s writing is great.

4.  A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

giphy.gif

In this book, the main character, Lady Trent, basically lives my dream. She goes on an expedition to study dragons. The way in which dragons are portayed here is exactly how I imagine and like them – they are intelligent, magnificent animals. They are not evil (I really don’t like when dragons represent evil and have to be slain), nor do they speak human language. They are just a part of the world, living their own lives in their own way.

P.S. The gif is from Pete’s Dragon, a wonderful Disney movie that made me cry.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein.png

Yes, I know what you are thinking: Do you have to include Frankenstein in every list you make?! Well, I guess I do. Come on, this is the book that started science fiction! How can I not include it? Also, it’s perfect.

Honourable mention: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Untitled.png

This series is a honourable mention because I still haven’t read The Conjuring of Light, but I can’t wait to! Shades of Magic took me by surprise – I liked it more than I thought I would. I think what I liked most are the characters, and the unique world. Vicious is another amazing book from this author, which combines science fiction and superheroes, and deals with the notion of good and evil. Highly recommend that one, too.

Another honourable mention: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Not in the top five only because I think everyone’s heard of it and it does not need introduction. However, this book is a gem! It plays and jokes around with fantasy themes, the characters are more than memorable, and it’s really a fun story.

giphy (1).gif

This was a great topic, so you have to forgive me for mentioning more than five books. 😉 Can’t wait to read your posts, I really need more recommendations!

Happy blogging! 🙂

“This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours” Book Tag

tag-tag

Today is a perfect day for a fun tag! Ellie at Blogging for Dopamine tagged me fo the This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours book tag and she really made me think… I wasn’t even sure what my favourite genre was! XD Thank you, Ellie, so much for the tag! ❤

First things first, here are the rules:

  • Credit  Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek as the creator of the tag, use the created tag name graphic and link back to his blog. (Also, if you want to learn more about the tag you can see Drew’s post HERE.)
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag as many people as you want.

And now, let’s get to the questions!

1. What is your favourite genre?

So, in the end, I decided that my favourite genre is Gothic fiction, in all of its different shapes and forms. From the Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1764, the classics such as Samuel Talylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and many others, through books that are only slightly gothic (like my beloved Wuthering Heights or most of Daphne du Maurier’s books) to some modern takes on the genre. This is the genre from which some amazing characters were born, characters we never stop talking about – Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Carmilla, Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde… It’s characterised by creepy atmosphere, old castles, dark woods, and often with some paranormal occurences (though not always). It is also the genre that gave us horror fiction. What’s not to love?

notre-dame-1715909_640

2. Who is your favourite author from the genre?

Another hard decision! XD When it comes to Gothic classics, then it has to be Mary Shelley. I’ve talked so many times about my love for her and her writing, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but she is my queen! And my other, modern, queen is Anne Rice. She introduced me to the vampire lore and I’ve never stopped being intrigued by it.

3. What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Mostly, it’s the atmosphere. I think Gothic fiction is the most atmospheric of all fiction. It’s dark and mysterious, beautiful and desciptive, but also creepy and un-put-downable. (Is that a word? Now it is.) And there are just so many possibilities! Many Gothic stories use some folkloric elements and make them their own, which is very interesting to me. I like seeing how different authors interpret similar ideas.

nature-1487887_640

4. What is the book that started your love for the genre?

Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles – the first three in the series are soooo amazing and I love them to death. Lestat is one of my favourite fictional characters. After reading Anne Rice’s books when I was about 14, I just had to read Dracula and that’s how my little obsession started.

5. If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

If that person wants to start with Gothic classics, then I’d recommed Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Those are my favourites. (I think everyone should read Frankenstein, even if they’re not interested in Gothic fiction, to be honest;)) If the person wants to start with something modern, then Anne Rice, of course. Or Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I think his books are approachable to (and loved by) the people who are not fans of the Gothic genre as well as those who are.

6. Why do you read?

Because that’s how I have fun! 🙂 I’ve always loved stories, and even before I could read, my parents read to me. My father sometimes even made up stories. I learned to love reading from an early age and my love for books only grew from there. I read to have fun, yes, but I also read to learn, to feel, to be intrigued, to have my thoughts provoked, and even to cry. 🙂

And in the end, I tag these lovely people: Misty@mistysbookspaceMatxi@matxibooks, Sophie@blameitonchocolate, Anna@itsmybirthwriteCaffeinated Bibliophile and Elena@elenasquareeyes.

Happy blogging! 🙂


First two pictures are from pixabay.com, the other two are mine.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Underrated Books

top wed goth.jpg

Another Wednesday, another Top 5! 🙂 I found out about Top 5 Wednesday on Goodreads, so click HERE if you want to join the fun!

This time, we were supposed to pick some underrated books –  books that aren’t as widely talked about. Now, I’m not sure if the books I picked fall into that category, but I think they do. Also, I think there are some underrated books mentioned in My Top 10 Books of 2016 post, for example Alice, but I decided not to mention it again.

Let’s begin!

1. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

344623

A Victorian drama meets dragons. And not in a way you’d expect. All the characters are dragons! But they act like people, they have the aristocrats and the poor, they ride in carriages but sleep on their pile of treasure. XD This book is so fun, and I recommend it to everyone who can look past a little bit of silliness.

2. The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb

26703680

This book is crazy, but in a good way. I loved the strange atmosphere, dark family secrets, and deranged characters. It’s creepy, but not too much. And it’s very, very fun.

3. The Last Man by Mary Shelley

966835

People know Mary Shelley as the writer of Frankenstein, and forget that she wrote some other books, too. Though I liked Frankenstein more, The Last Man is also very interesting, mostly because Shelley used the people she knew (Pery Shelley and Lord Byron) to create her characters. She took some of their ideas and put them in a pre-apocalyptic world. As everything falls apart in the novel, we can also perceive some of Mary Shelley’s feelings once she was left alone, the last of the Romantics. I wrote a post about this book quite some time ago, so CLICK HERE if you’re interested.

4. Evelina by Frances (Fanny) Bourney

37638

This epistolary novel from the 18th century has a lot in common with the works of Jane Austen, but since it was written before it deals with a different society with different manners. Now, I’m not a big fan of Austen (sorry!) but I really did enjoy this novel.

5. The druid books by Ellen Evert Hopman

2267873

I don’t think this trilogy has a name, probably because each book has its own story (the third one could almost be read on its own but it would be better to start from the beginning). If you’re interested in the life of the Celts, you just have to read these! Besides enjoying the stories, I also learned a lot.

Aaaand, an honourable mention: The Vampyre by John William Polidori. The first aristocratic vampire tale, before Dracula and even before Carmilla. If you are a vampire afficionado (as I am) this is a must-read. This is where it all started! Not the best book ever, but still. 😉

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Villains #t5w

top-wed-goth

My second Top 5 Wednesday post and I’m already in love with them. Such simple and fun posts! This week, we were supposed to choose 5 favourite villains. It was recommended not to mention any Harry Potter characters, since everyone would use those, and I agree with this recommendation. It’s better to find out about some new characters and books. My choices for this Top 5 are a bit unconventional, since I realized most of the books I like don’t really have a villain. XD

Here are my top 5:

1. Rachel (My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier)

Rachel is such an intriguing character, and throughout the entire book you keep wondering what her actual plans and feelings are. And the most amazing part is that after the ending you’re not even sure if Rachel was a villain or not. I don’t want to reveal too much (though maybe I already have) but the ending is amazing! 🙂

2. Lord Ruler (The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson)

It’s interesting to see how Brandon Sanderson makes a character interesting without actually letting the character appear too much in the book. Even the identity of Lord Ruler is uncertain for quite a long time. And yet, he affects quite a few characters in the book, who start to question their own motives and decisions in comparison to what he did. They even start to ask themselves if Lord Ruler did the right thing after all.

3. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis)

I like it when the main character is a villain! There are some books in which you don’t realize this until the end of the book, and it comes as a surprise, and your mind is blown, and it’s amazing! XD (I won’t name the books because that would spoil them completely.) Anyway, American Psycho is not that kind of a book. Patrick is obviously insane. And though some parts can be hard to read, I think that the novel is magnificently written. Patrick’s attention to detail and his perception of the world were very interesting, despite the fact that his mind is not a nice place to dwell in.

4. Carmilla (Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu)

I like Carmilla more than Dracula. Sorry, not sorry. This classic vampire tale always reminds me why I love vampires so much. Carmilla is so mysterious and intriguing, you actually want to believe she’s not evil.

5. Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

Who is the villain – the monster or its maker? As someone said:

knowledge-is-knowing

Hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

P.S. I don’t actually do these posts in any particular order, it would probably make me crazy… XD So, these villains are all equally great to me, each in his/her own way.

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Re-Read

top-wed-goth

I’ve found out about the Top 5 Wednesday group on Goodreads quite some time ago, and I always wanted to participate but never did… Now it’s the time to start doing it! Maybe not every Wednesday, but as often as I can. They have some very interesting ideas, just like this one.

So, here are the five books I’d like to re-read:

dsc02783-2

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

I loved this book! I’ve already read it two times, but I feel the need to re-read it. And soon!

2. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

I’ve read this book in college and it immediately became my favourite. And favourites have to be re-read. 😉 I don’t own a copy, though, but I’ll get it soon.

3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

These books are so lovely, dark and cosy at the same time. I would definitely like to re-read them.

4. Just Kids by Patti Smith

An amazing book like this one has to be read many times!

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

My all-time favourite, I’ll probaby read it many, many times more. 🙂 As you can see in the picture, the book is already very battered.

I hope I’ll have the time to actually read them all again in the near future. 😉

3 Days 3 Quotes – Day 1

First of all, thank you so much Nicole for tagging me! This is such a simple but wonderful tag. Nicole’s blog, Sorry, I’m Booked, is really great and you should all check it out. 😉

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post three different quotes in three consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

I decided to start with a quote from my favourite book, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It’s a long one, but it just couldn’t be shortened. XD

These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle, and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with disgust and loathing.

The bloggers I nominate today are: Ellie MaloneyJeanyjanez and Ren. Of course, no pressure, you don’t have to do the tag. 🙂

Happy blogging!

DSC01715