Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) we are asked to list ten books we read because they were recommended to us. Most of my recommendations these days come from reading other bloggers’ reviews and from comments left on my own blog – and while I’m grateful to everyone who has recommended a book I’ve gone on to enjoy, I would find it difficult to single out just a few of them. For the purpose of this Top Ten, then, I’ve chosen ten recommendations I received from other sources – some are recent and some are from years ago, some were successful recommendations and some weren’t.


1. Recommended by my mother


Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I think I was about sixteen when my mother persuaded me to try Gone with the Wind. I loved it and quickly went on to read more of the family sagas and sweeping historical novels she recommended, including The Thorn Birds, Roots, All the Rivers Run, The Far Pavilions and John Jakes’ North and South Trilogy.


2. Recommended by my father


Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

My dad is not a big reader – and his reading tastes are very different from mine anyway – but Michael Moorcock’s fantasy novels were among the few books he did recommend to me and which, as a young teenager, I really enjoyed. His Elric stories were my favourites and I had fun rediscovering them a few years ago.


3. Recommended by my English teacher

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

This wasn’t a very successful recommendation. My teacher knew I had enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and recommended Mansfield Park next; unfortunately I found it very difficult to get into and it put me off reading anything else by Austen for years. I loved it on a recent re-read, which I suppose is proof that reading tastes can change over time. The same teacher had been much more successful with his recommendations of To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm, by the way!


4. Recommended by Goodreads

Watch the Wall My Darling - Jane Aiken Hodge

Watch the Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge

This was a more recent recommendation; I spotted it in the “Readers Also Enjoyed” section on Goodreads after reading Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. It wasn’t as good as the Stewart novel, but still an enjoyable Gothic romance.


5. Recommended by my sister

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg

My sister loves reading as much as I do but we aren’t usually drawn to the same books. This was a book she read for her English Literature degree and she thought I would like it. She was right; it was one of my books of the year in 2013!


6. Recommended by Amazon


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I don’t usually pay much attention to Amazon’s recommendations but that’s how I discovered Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, shortly after it was first published. I was browsing through the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section, clicked on the red cover and was so intrigued by the description that I ordered the book.


7. Recommended by my uncle


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

My uncle (another of the book lovers in our family) gave me Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder for my fifteenth birthday. When I told him I had loved it, he recommended Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, another book on philosophy. I found it an interesting read – although I’m sure I didn’t understand half of it – but I don’t think it’s the type of book I would choose to read today.


8. Recommended by a friend

Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is the earliest recommendation on my list. I think I must have been ten years old when I noticed Watership Down on my best friend’s bookshelf; she told me it was her favourite book and Fiver was her favourite rabbit. It wasn’t long before I read it myself and it immediately became my favourite book too – although Bigwig was my favourite rabbit, not Fiver. I still loved it when I re-read the book as an adult a few years ago.


9. Recommended by Jo March

The Heir of Redclyffe

The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M Yonge

Actually, it was Lisa’s review that made me decide to read this book, but Jo March also reads it in Little Women. She is discovered in the attic “eating apples and crying over The Heir of Redclyffe”. After reading the book for myself I could understand why she was crying!


10. Recommended by…you?


Now it’s over to you. If you could recommend just one book to me, what would it be? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned in this post and if so, what did you think of them? What’s the best book you’ve read based purely on someone else’s recommendation?

32 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations

  1. Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock says:

    That’s a great list of books, Helen, and it’s lovely that you and your mother have so many books in common. My mother and I are similar readers too, and I always wonder when I read older books if why grandmother or grandmother might have read them.

    Before I read this I thought that you might like the book I’m reading for the 1947 Club – ‘The Bull Calves’ by Naomi Michison, which is set in Scotland in the 19th century. I’d be interested to know what somebody who has read Dorothy Dunnett and Walter Scott – rather than someone who still plans to – makes of it.

    • Helen says:

      I hadn’t heard of The Bull Calves until now but Lory from The Emerald City Book Review has recently recommended another of Naomi Mitchison’s books to me (The Corn King and the Spring Queen) so she’s obviously an author I need to investigate. I’m pleased to hear you’re still planning to read Dunnett and Scott!

  2. Birdie says:

    I love Gone with the Wind, but I hated (haaaated) The Thorn Birds. I read book 1 and 2 of North and South, but never read the last book. I’m told I quit prematurely, but the second book was just so depressing…

  3. eduardodefrutos says:

    I generally find the recommendations people make to me highly enjoyable. One of the last books I have read this year based on a recommendation by a librarian was Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido. I could also recommend you The Family Carnovski by I.J. Singer.

    • Helen says:

      Librarians can be a great source of recommendations. I haven’t read Brother of the More Famous Jack but I would like to. The Family Carnovski sounds interesting too.

  4. FictionFan says:

    I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance a zillion years ago on the recommendation of my then boyfriend. I got my own back – I recommended he should read DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers! I think we both enjoyed our recommendations about equally… 😉

    Hmm… one book to recommend to you… I’m going to go with The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, which I suspect may be as far outside your normal reading taste as mine – and hopefully you’d be blown away by it as much as I was. Have you read it?

    • Helen says:

      No, I haven’t read it yet. It certainly doesn’t sound like the sort of book I usually read, but I’ve actually just started reading another Ray Bradbury book – Something Wicked This Way Comes – so if I enjoy that one I’ll definitely consider The Martian Chronicles. 🙂

  5. jessicabookworm says:

    Interesting list of books 🙂 Sadly, off your list I have only read Mansfield Park and I can see how you might have struggled with it. I think Fanny is Austen’s weakest protagonist which is probably not what you wanted as a young reader on your second Austen read.

    I think I would recommend you read Turn of the Tide by Margaret Skea; a Scottish historical fiction I read earlier this year. Knowing our similar taste in historical fiction, I would hope you would enjoy it and I would love to hear your thoughts on it 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I don’t mind Fanny but she’s certainly not one of Austen’s stronger protagonists and Mansfield Park was definitely not the right choice for my second Austen read! I love Scottish historical fiction and have read a few very positive reviews of Turn of the Tide, so I think I’ll have to read it soon. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Blogs and other websites can be good sources of recommendations, but it’s lovely to have someone in ‘real life’ who shares your taste in books, isn’t it?

  6. J.E. Fountain says:

    I really like your twist on this. The only two on your list I’ve read are Gone with the Wind (loved it), and Watership Down (interesting…but I’m a bit ambivalent). If I could only recommend ONE BOOK…I’ll go with my current read: Atlas Shrugged. I am stunned by it so far, and only halfway through.

  7. Karen K. says:

    I’m only allowed to recommend ONE book? Too unfair! Well, if I’m forced to choose only one, it would have to be Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham — it’s just brilliant. It’s one of the first classics I ever read on my own, over Christmas break when I was in college. I read it again a few years ago and it was just as wonderful.

    Of the books on your list, I’ve read and loved Gone with the Wind, Jonathan Strange, and Watership Down. I also liked Mansfield Park, though it’s not my favorite by Jane Austen. I agree it would be enough to put you off Austen as a teenager! Persuasion is tied for P&P as my favorite, I always recommend that one next.

    • Helen says:

      I read The Painted Veil a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I definitely want to read more books by Maugham. I wasn’t sure which one I should try next, so thanks for recommending Of Human Bondage. And I love Persuasion! It’s probably my favourite Austen novel – and Anne Elliot is my favourite Austen heroine.

  8. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    When I was in high school I had a friend that I would exchange books with – I remember the Diary of Anne Frank was one I got from her, and My Antonia. One benefit of having to share a locker with someone!

    More recently, recommendations of Margery Sharp and Mary Stewart from bloggers have led me to explore their work, which I’m enjoying very much.

    I’m going to recommend you read Robertson Davies if you haven’t already. What’s Bred in the Bone is my favorite of his novels – but all of them are wonderful.

  9. calmgrove says:

    The Better Half recommended I Captured the Castle and I absolutely loved it, but I’m sure you’ve already read it!

    If it’s a more obscure title you’re expecting, perhaps Owen Sheers’ Resistance, an alternative history novel set in the Welsh Marches (not far from where we now live) during the Second World War — I recommended to my wife and she admired it, but could only read it during daylight hours! A restrained love story, but full of suspense …

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I read I Capture the Castle a few years ago, based on another blogger’s recommendation, and I loved it. I’m glad you did too. I hadn’t heard of Resistance but I’m intrigued by your description and will definitely think about reading it.

  10. Rachel says:

    I like the idea of including books recommended by fictional characters – I have a few that would fit that category, The Heir of Redclyffe being one of them. I also didn’t enjoy Mansfield Park as much as Jane Austen’s other books, but suspect that it would improve upon re-reading.

    • Helen says:

      I definitely found Mansfield Park much more enjoyable when I re-read it a few years ago. It will never be my favourite Austen novel, but I’m glad I gave it a second chance!

  11. Yvonne says:

    I’ve read a few of the books mentioned: Gone With the Wind, The Thorn Birds, All the Rivers Run, Mansfield Park, The North and South trilogy and Watership Down. Enjoyed them all, though Mansfield Park is not a favourite Austen book and agree that the third book of John Jake’s trilogy wasn’t the best read.
    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is in my TBR pile. It’s such a big book that I’m not sure about starting this one.
    A couple of books I can recommend, if you’ve not read them all ready, are Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald and Forget Not the Glory by Emma Drummond/Elizabeth Darrell.

    • Helen says:

      I can understand why you’re hesitant to start Jonathan Strange – it is a very big book, but I think you would enjoy it.

      Zemindar is wonderful! I read it a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Forget the Glory is new to me, but I’ve had a look and it sounds like just the sort of book I would enjoy. Thanks for suggesting it.

  12. Judy Krueger says:

    I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell because it is such a good novel about magic. I might have mentioned that one in another comment. Watership Down is one of the few books I have loved that feature animals as characters. I don’t remember who recommended it to me, but Little, Big by John Crowley was amazing; also about magic.

    • Helen says:

      I loved the combination of magic, history and fantasy in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I haven’t read Little, Big yet, but I’m definitely interested in reading it as it does sound good!

  13. LHauser27 says:

    Hi! I had the same reaction to Mansfield Park. I haven’t tried it again as an adult. I should! I’d recommend The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. It was a thoughtful read. I also loved Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Every summer a friend and I read a classic from the top 100 books of the century. Those were two favorites 🙂
    My TTT

    • Helen says:

      I definitely think it’s worth trying Mansfield Park again as an adult. I appreciated it much more than I did as a teenager. I have read The Good Soldier and thought it was interesting, although I didn’t love it. I haven’t read anything by Sherwood Anderson, though, so maybe I’ll give Winesburg, Ohio a try. Thanks!

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