10 Random Books meme

Simon has resurrected an old meme – in which you pick 10 random books from your library and use them to tell readers about yourself. Here are Simon’s original rules:

1.) Go to your bookshelves…
2.) Close your eyes. If you’re feeling really committed, blindfold yourself.
3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than one bookcase, if you have them, or piles by the bed, or… basically, wherever you keep books.
4.) Use these books to tell us about yourself – where and when you got them, who got them for you, what the book says about you, etc. etc…..
5.) Have fun! Be imaginative. Doesn’t matter if you’ve read them or not – be creative. It might not seem easy to start off with, and the links might be a little tenuous, but I think this is a fun way to do this sort of meme.
6.) Feel free to cheat a bit, if you need to…

I did this the first time too – which was back in 2010 (see here). Again, as my books are spread throughout the house and I know my shelves too well to choose truly random books, I’ve used a random number generator and my Librarything catalogue. To make it even more random, I sorted the books by title rather than by author too. Amazingly, every single number generated led to a book I’d read – given the size of my TBR, that’s bloomin’ amazing! Here they are in alphabetical order by title/number in my Librarything list:

1 – 30. About A Boy by Nick Hornby

This was probably the book that really brought Nick Hornby to our attention, and it was the first I of his that I bought and read back in 1995.

I have a first edition hardback – and it annoys me that I can’t identify which chocolate bar the ‘Y’ comes off.  B is Boost, O is from Rolos – but the Y?

Anyway, it made Hornby a must-read author for me,  and I soon after discovered the joy of High Fidelity – Hornby’s first novel, which remains my favourite.

2 – 109. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass

I have several different versions of the Alice books, and I’m glad that the random number found this one.  This 1968 Puffin edition which I’d have been given around the time of publication was much-read and much-loved when I was a child. I’ve also coloured in many of Tenniel’s illustrations – I did that a lot in my books then – well I wasn’t yet 10.

I didn’t read Alice again until my own daughter was ten, and I read it to her at bedtime over a couple of weeks. I wrote a blog post about the experience here – because I found that reading Alice aloud irritated me intensely!  I said:

The largest part of the story is in dialogue – whether it be Alice talking to herself, or the characters talking to at each other. Having to concentrate on consistency in my voices reading all these terribly convoluted conversations with their often circular arguments, it struck me that not only were they all talking at each other nearly all the time, but they were not listening to each other either, Alice included.  She was fine on her own with her philosophies, but she was as bad as all the others the rest of the time – what a chatterbox!

3 – 130. All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan

This is the most up to date one the random numbers picked.

I loved this novel, Ryan’s third – I reviewed it here and it made my year end best of list.

I got my copy as an ARC via Amazon Vine whom I also review (in short) for.

Totally recommended.

4 – 796. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I bought a secondhand hardback copy of Coraline to read  (see my review here) before seeing the animated film came out in May 2009 (reviewed here).

Coraline is a genuinely scary story for age 9+, working  just as well for older readers and adults. The idea of a mirror world where people have black buttons instead of eyes scares me. My daughter declined to read the book at the time, but we enjoyed the movie together, seeing it in 3D.

5 – 913. Dead Even by Brad Meltzer

I can’t remember where I acquired this legal thriller, but it was a paperback – and I no longer have it – but I’ve kept it in my LIbrarything list because of my pithy little review which is marked as ‘pre-2006’ in my master spreadsheet. I hope you’ll agree that my first line is a cracker!

I found ‘Dead Even’ quite the opposite – rather lumpy in fact. I found it hard to believe that once it became clear that the case in question was more than a simple burglary, that husband and wife lawyers would still be allowed to face each other across the courtroom. New prosecutor Sarah, who was the most interesting character, appeared to have amazing luck, picking up a seasoned assistant and one of the department’s best as a mentor within the first day or so at her new job. However hubby Jared was so wet – it must have been a case of opposites attract. Most of the dialogue was awfully corny, yet I did enjoy the plot for the most part.

6 – 1338. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files 2)

Fantasy noir – Harry Dresden is a private investigator with a difference – he’s Chicago’s only practising wizard. Shame only a few people believe that magic works, else he wouldn’t have to scrape a living being a paranormal investigator.

 I enjoyed the first two volumes (from 2000/1) in this long-running series (there are now 15 volumes) very much, reading them back to back in summer 2010.  Small format paperbacks, I bought them off Amazon with the intention of reading the whole series – didn’t get past this one. Something that’s very common in my reading of series…. Read my review of Fool Moon here.


7 – 1876. In Search of the Dark Ages by Michael Wood

This is a dangerous one for the random number generator to have picked. This is the book that accompanied Wood’s first BBC TV series back in 1981. My copy is the hardback, but a book club edition rather than the original BBC one. Anyway – back to Wood. I was smitten – very, very badly!

I finally got to meet Wood at a book launch last year – and was unusually tongue-tied and weak at the knees meeting my hero from 1981, by then a sprightly and animated 67 year old – be still my beating heart, as they say!

8 – Orlando by Virginia Woolf

I have read this book – probably shortly after the Sally Potter film in 1992 came out. My paperback is the original film tie-in one. I didn’t see the film at the time though, caught up with it later on TV.

However, all I can remember is the celebrated gender-fluidity of the title character, and that Quentin Crisp played Elizabeth I in the film alongside Tilda Swinton’s Orlando. This was the first time I encountered the mesmerising actress Swinton though, who seems to carve her own path through life.

One to re-read!


9 – 3127. The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe

This is probably Coe’s most serious novel, being inspired by the works Rosamund Lehmann (but I didn’t know that at the time). I just loved Coe’s novels and my Dad gave me this one for Christmas – in hardback. I read it pre-blog and consulting my spreadsheet, I noted the following about this book:

Gill and her family settle down to listen to her recently deceased aunt’s memories, taped for the blind grand-daughter of her cousin whom they’ve been unable to locate. Rosamund has chosen a series of photos from her childhood onwards to tell the story of Imogen’s family, in particular her moody and excitable grandmother Beatrix who was Rosamund’s childhood companion, and Imogen’s mother Thea who turned out to have problems of her own. Throughout, there is a sense of the need to escape, to prevent history repeating, however fate takes control and that what happens is unavoidable. The main characters are all women, and Coe has successfully pulled off writing a novel about women with wide appeal. In this respect (and given the initial wartime setting), it reminded me of Sarah Waters’ The night watch. The cover photo is an intriguing find and compliments the narrative perfectly.

10 – 4292. The World to Come by Dara Horn

This novel (which I reviewed here). is about a stolen painting and a man called Boris – but predates The Goldfinch by a few years. Published in 1996, inspired by a true story of a stolen painting by Marc Chagall from his Russian years. The first two thirds of the novel were great, but it lost me in the final third where mystical Yiddish fables took over not giving me the ending I craved.

I don’t remember where I bought it from, but I had a first edition hardback. I do remember being drawn by the papercut design with the Manhattan silhouette on the cover by Rob Ryan, whose work I enjoy.

That’s your lot!  I enjoyed this – feel free to have a go, and let Simon know.

10 thoughts on “10 Random Books meme

  1. Simon T (StuckinaBook) says:

    Yay! Thanks for taking part – SUPER impressed that you’ve read them all. I’ve had the Coe for a few years (also didn’t know it was based on Lehmann’s life) – must eventually read one day.

  2. AnnaBookBel says:

    This was fun. On the Coe – I need to reword that – inspired by Rosamund Lehmann’s books rather than based on her life I discover – I knew there was a link though! I was amazed too that I’d read all the ones that came up. I did cheat just a little (it kept on throwing up YA books, so I just kept the first one, Coraline, in and ignored the others).

  3. Marina Sofia says:

    I love, love, love Alice (and also have several different editions). I suppose the failed actress in me had fun with all the different voices. But you are right, they are all talking over each other and not listening to each other. Remind you of anything?

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I love the Alice books – but I did find them a challenge to read aloud. I am now fed up to the back teeth with the politicians and the media manipulation in this election – however, I may go to our local hustings next Monday to see our local candidates speak in person…

  4. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    This is a great meme, and I’d love to do it – unfortunately, like you, I know my shelves too well, and I don’t have all my books listed in one place. I’ll have to get the next visiting child to choose some at random for me! 🙂

  5. David Nolan says:

    Delighted to notice in your sidebar that there is a new Laurain book out this month. Thank you so much for introducing me to his fiction. It brings me much joy.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Yes – it’s actually his first novel, novella length, written before the others and a bit darker. Review to follow in due course!

  6. Liz Dexter says:

    Oh that was a good idea for how to do it because, yes, when you know your own bookshelves well it’s impossible to do it randomly. A good cross-section here, too.

    PS I lost track of your blog but have found you again now – not sure how that happened!

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