Monday, March 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday!

Courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish. Be sure to check out the blog for plenty of other TTTs from fellow readers.

Well now, it's been a minute, hasn't it?

So many of the first weeks of 2017's TTTs were more difficult for me and some seemed so much better suited for fiction that it gave me time to focus elsewhere for a bit, but I am excited for both this week's topic and the next (FYI: it's about authors I'd like to meet/have met/etc. Basically, it will be an essay about why Dan Jones is the coolest.) This week's, on the other hand, is one that makes me seem markedly LESS crazy:

March 21st: Read in One Sitting Theme: ten of the shortest books I've read, top ten books I read in one sitting, ten books to read when you are short on time, top ten books that will make you read the whole day away, etc.

Mine will be kind of a mix of the suggestions offered. So, here they are in no particular order:


1. Where do I even begin with this one? I could not put it down and it baffles me as to how William Marshal, the greatest knight to ever live, has yet to have his life played out on the big-screen. Of course, I would hate whatever Hollywood came up with because they would inevitably screw it up in a really awful way and I would be furious at them for ever impugning on his honor. So, perhaps it is best there is no movie. If this age, and knights especially, are of interest to you then like me, you will easily read it in one sitting and not be the least bit sorry you did.


2. It's pretty much a given at this point that nearly every TTT I participate in will include a book written by Dan Jones. The reason is simple, he is a fan-fucking-tastic historian and writes in a way that makes that history accessible without being condescending or dumbing anything down. Like the first book on the list, this book is a great way to spend a few hours or a day, depending on how fast you read. Before I really got cozy with the Plantagenets, I thought the Tudors were my favorite dysfunctional family. I had no idea there was an even more insane dynasty before them. Bonus, this was the book where I first discovered Eleanor of Aquitaine, in the final stretch of my pregnancy. So, basically, Dan Jones helped me name my baby. He doesn't know it, but no matter. I am forever grateful to him for introducing me to easily the biggest BAMF in history.


3. This gem was a very recent read and GUH. I could not put it down, except in the time where I had to force myself to put it down so I could go to sleep. But the actual combined reading time was just a couple of hours total. Dillard tells such a beautifully tragic story and you just want to pull Jane out of the awful situation she is in, but you can't because, well her fate was pretty much sealed the moment Catherine's affair came to light. She had survived the beheading of one queen but there's no way she could be so lucky twice. Though there is so much we will never know about Jane Boleyn, this is a book very much worth reading.


4. Here is another that I read in a few hours. It should not have even taken me that long, but once the sobbing started, it was hard to see through the tears. I had first seen this ESPN short, written by Tom Rinaldi and narrated by Ed Burns on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. I bawled watching the segment, and still do. This young man could have saved his own life, but instead he gave his to save others. September 11th has always been particularly hard for me; it was my freshman year of college and I was far from my family when the devastation occurred. It was a time of great change and I think I feel so connected to this story, because this young man was only a few years older than myself. Would I have had the courage to do what he did in that situation? I hope so, but I don't know. But I also recognize that the impact it had on me in no ways compares to the victims, both living and deceased, and their families. This story will stay with me forever and I happened on the book by chance just a few months ago. I'd stopped at a local bookstore after driving by it for the past three years. Perusing the shelves, I saw the spine of a book and before I even saw the title, seeing the bandanna pattern, I knew instantly what it was. It is well worth your time, but have tissues ready.

Here is the ESPN segment. Please, if you don't read the book, at least watch the video; learn the story of Welles Crowther and the last, heroic hour of his life.


5. Here is yet another that I read in technically two days, but easily could have finished in one afternoon had I not stopped every ten seconds to make note of this, that, or the other. While it seems a bit cheeky at first, this is legitimately one of my favorite reads of 2016. I did not get caught up in the hype of Hamilton in that whirlwind, but I knew a long time ago (circa House, season 6) that Lin-Manuel Miranda was awesome, so pretty much everyone else was late to the party. I picked this one up on a whim at the library and it did not disappoint. A lot of really sound advice, definitely a solid addition to your TBR list.


6. This might be one of the only times I am willing to entertain alternative history - because I want so badly to know how differently England and Europe might look today, had Harold won at Hastings. This awesome little treat serves up a variety of alternative endings to 1066, and I am also pleased to say that many involved a bad end for William the Bastard. What if the Anglo-Saxons had remained in control of England? Or, possibly worse than the Normans, what if Harald had defeated Harold at Stamford Bridge? Though, I admit I have a bit of a soft spot for the last great Viking - and who can't get behind a berserker? I mean, really. The stories don't have to be read in order, all are completely independent of one another. And if one idea is not of great interest to you, move on to another. I, however, read them all and was smitten. Bonus: G.K. Holloway has previously written a historical fiction novel called 1066: What Fates Impose that I would also recommend.


7. I am a sucker for a good city biography. It is partly due to my love of history, but also my love of seeing a city start and grow and change over time. (It is one of the reasons I will be forever obsessed with NYC, as it is alive and thriving, constantly moving and changing.) This is by far one of the better city bios that I have read and it was another that I breezed through within a short amount of time. More than one afternoon for sure, but collectively it was still one I read in a matter of hours. I know no idea that the history of New Orleans was so checkered and I learned a great deal about the place.


8. Love, love, love, love, love, I really loved this book. Really, really. I snagged the hardcover edition from my library when it was first out and could not put it down. There is something about New York City that is forever calling to me and I can not wait to travel there some day with my daughter to see the sights and hear the sounds of a truly living city. St Marks is arguably one of the most well-known neighborhoods in the US, and perhaps only Haight-Ashbury could compete for the top spot. You will devour this one in only a few hours, no question. Bonus: At the end of the book Calhoun records various times in which St Marks is mentioned in pop culture, with lists broken up by music, television, and film. As I perused the television list I saw one glaring piece of tv history missing - the mention of St Marks Comics on FRIENDS from The One With The Mugging (Ross was mugged by Phoebe when they were younger). I asked the author about it and that mention was added to the paperback release! So, there is my contribution to St Marks history.

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9. Technically this is cheating but I have never really been on to follow the rules so...whatever. What makes both of these books so captivating is the story itself: Huguette Clark, one of the richest women in the world, chose to live most of her adulthood as a recluse, and spent the last twenty years of her life living in a hospital despite being healthy. Her story is so enthralling and heartbreaking and though it disgusted me to see how she was taken advantage of at times, I do think she was a lot more aware of what was going on than anyone gave her credit for. It is very easy to get lost in her story in either one of these books. Or both. Definitely both.

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10. Big surprise, I am cheating again. I love Mindy Kaling. I think she is hilarious and a talented writer. Like so many others have said, I feel like Mindy is someone I could be best friends with and we would have so much fun and be BFFs forever. Both books are easy reads because they feel more like you are hanging out with a friend and chatting (although it is a very one-sided conversation of course, since she is the one doing the talking). Definitely a fine way to spend a couple hours.


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11. I know, I know. But I love this series. I have read several good ones so far and there are still more to read. As you can see, the ones I have displayed here revolve primarily around the Tudor period, but I hear there is a 1066 one coming out, and it is my great hope that there will be at least one Plantagenet dynasty-related one in the near-future (wink, wink). These are well-written and well-researched overviews of their subjects. They truly do mean "in a nutshell", so do not expect great in-depth exploration of very specific areas related to each topic. That is not their purpose. Even so, you will get a lot of information in a short read and I highly recommend them.

So there you have it. As you can see, most of mine ended up in the category of 'books you can lose an afternoon with' and that is kind of how I expected it to go. Hopefully you found something of interest. I would love to hear your thoughts on my list, especially if you have read any of these titles, and have the chance to take a look at your list as well.

Happy Reading!


  1. OH I haven't read any of these. I love Mindy Kaling and really want to read her books

    1. Well I love them all to pieces, so give any of them a try! I love Mindy so much, I definitely recommend those. She is just as hilarious on paper as in person. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I'd love to learn more about the Plantagenets so that one jumps out at me. I love it when history is accessible and reads like fiction. :)

    1. That is one of my most favorite books. And you can't go wrong with the Marshal one either if you are interested in the Plantagenets, he served five of the kings, starting with Henry II, the Henry the Young King, Richard I, John, and Henry III. He was still leading charges into battle in his seventies for the last king he served and was luckily able to pass away peacefully at home in bed, not on the battle field.

  3. Ooh I love the Tudors and Plantagenets! I can't get enough of fiction about them. Jane Boleyn fascinates me as a historical figure and I haven't read this one so I better rush to add it to wishlist...*puffs* I do have the author's Catherine Carey novel though. I've been tempted by Dan Jones but never quite had the money to get any of them. Great list!

    1. Julia Fox also wrote a nonfiction account of what we know about Jane's life. Unfortunately, we don't know a lot for sure. I have not read Cor Rotto yet but it is on my TBR. I love the "in a nutshell" books, most of them are really great. And pretty much, Dan Jones is my favorite historian. His books are well worth the money spent. Happy Reading!

  4. You have definitely sold me on The Red Bandanna and St. Marks is Dead (I love NYC too- I'm going to BEA again at the end of May, but if I ever win the lottery, a teeny apartment in the city is on my TO BUY list). And I really need to read Mindy's books. :)

    My Top Ten Tuesday

    1. Oh gosh, I am glad. There are so many stories like Welles Crowther's and I wish we could know them all. Did you watch the video?

      NYC is on my bucket list - have you read The Bowery Boys book 'Adventures in Old New York', about Manhattan? It is seriously better than any guide book I could imagine; it is what I will take with me when I finally get to visit the city.

  5. What a great list! When I have the time, I really enjoy reading history for fun as well. I'm going to add several of these books to my ever expanding TBR list.

    If you like, check out Long and Short Reviews <a href=">TTT</a>

    1. Thank you for stopping by. History is definitely my most favorite topic, especially anything related to England, Scotland, and Ireland. I find my interest wanes around 1603 though, which makes sense because James VI/I is not always inspiring. I am glad you found some to interest you, let me know when you read any and we can discuss them!

  6. Wow! A list with ALL books I could really get into! Great work!

    Lisa at

    1. Great! I love helping people find great non-fiction to read :) Let me know what you think of any of them that you get a chance to read, I love talking about books as much as I love recommending them!


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