Desert Island books: One year on

My very first post on this blog was a run down of the eight books that, were I stranded on a desert island, would make the experience oh so much more bearable. But a year has past since then; new books have been read, my tastes have changed slightly, so it seemed like a good time for an update. Continue reading “Desert Island books: One year on”

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Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Funniest Books

I love an opportunity to reminisce about things that make me laugh. Because once I’ve found something funny odds are years later I’ll still be giggling at it – old jokes and Friends repeats and these ten books below (some of which haven’t had to stand the test of time yet but I’m confident they will). So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was right up my alley. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Funniest Books”

The ten longest serving members of my TBR list

I am always adding to my TBR list. I can barely leave the house without returning with a new book to join the shelves and shelves of unloved and under appreciated ones I already own. And that’s just the ones I physically own. The number of books that I’ve mentally filed away as something I want to read reaches a number higher than modern mathematics can comprehend. Continue reading “The ten longest serving members of my TBR list”

The 10 most romantic romances of all time

  
Yep it’s that time of year. Time for shops to be filled with all things red and pink, restaurants to release special oyster and champagne based menus (and charge twice their normal prices for the privilege) and me to shelter in my bed and wait for the whole thing to be over.

I’ve never really been one for soppy declarations of love, whether spoken, written or sewn onto the front of a teddy bear, but classic literature is the one exception. As I’ve said before, romance doesn’t grate on me nearly so much when all the language is just that bit more poetic.

And the other thing that will almost always win me around to a love story – a tragic ending. Give me a book with a pair of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak and death and I’m hooked. It’s the Marianne Dashwood inside me I think. A happy ending will barely ever get in involved in quite the same way – Jane Austen aside of course, because no one can criticise Jane Austen about anything ever in my presence (expect Emma, you can criticise away on that one with my full approval).

This post is of course heavy on the spoilers so be warned!

 

  1. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.

Sometimes a bit of instalove is forgivable. And that’s certainly true of anything written by Shakespeare. So what if they were thirteen years old and fell in love in the space of ten minutes? How could something that includes quotes like, ‘love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs’ and ‘parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow’ not be considered one of the greatest romances of all time?

  1. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

You have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you.

Look, look, a contemporary book has made the list! This book is just nothing but sweet from start to finish. I read the whole thing with a big soppy grin on my face. If you want a heart-warming, easy reading romance that will make you believe in love in this cold cold world then this is the book for you.

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I’ve limited myself to just including two Jane Austen romances on this list so I thought I should pick the two polar opposites. Whereas Pride and Prejudice starts off with Lizzy and Mr Darcy hating each other and not being afraid to show it, Anne and Captain Wentworth used to be engaged, are still madly in love, but both trying very hard not to show it.

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Love. The reason I dislike that word is that it means too much for me, far more than you can understand.

Anna Karenina is the perfect book to satisfy the drama loving side of me, with the passionate and ill-fated affair between Anna and Vronsky, while at the same time giving a beautifully written account of the ordinary, quiet love between Kitty and Levin. Not as heart-wrenching or memorable but while I was reading it it was their story I was enjoying more.

  1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

The relationship between Eleanor and Park starts off heartbreakingly cute and ends just heartbreaking, just as a love story should. Maybe not exactly one for the ages – I doubt this will stand the test of time, being held up alongside Romeo and Juliet as romance at it’s best  but for right now, for a tale of modern love, this is as good as it gets.

  1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Just because it’s taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn’t mean no one else has spotted I’m a girl!

I know, I know, the romance really isn’t the point here, but no matter what JK Rowling says, Hermione and Ron will always be the perfect couple to me. If you’re ever in doubt, just imagine how clichéd the whole series would have been it if was all about Harry and Hermione.

  1. Atonement by Ian McEwan

Find you, love you, marry you, and live without shame.

Perhaps the most ill-fated love story on this whole list. In this whole 400 page book Robbie and Cecelia get to spend less than five hours in the same room as each other. And then  there’s that ending. If you haven’t read this book then what are you waiting for, go and read it right now! In fact, this is the one situation where I might even condone you watching the film instead because it’s just that good.

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.

Admittedly I haven’t actually finished this book yet. But I just had to include it because already I am that invested in Natasha and Andrei. Oh My God. The most epic of epic love stories. Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. And I may have just slipped in quoting Veronica Mars, oops.

  1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

That it would always be summer and autumn, and you always courting me, and always thinking as much of me as you have done through the past summertime!

The love story between Tess and Angel Clare is definitely not a happy one, but almost as epic as that of Natasha and Andrei. And in fact, now I think of it, eerily reminiscent of that Tolstoy plot line. It all starts so well, such a sweet simple love. And they’re happily planning their future as farmer and wife when BAM, Tess does one thing wrong and he turns out to be the biggest jerk the world has ever known. Seriously, my hatred for Angel Clare knows no bounds. When really I suppose it’s not his fault, it was just the way women were treated at the time.

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.

There could be no other winner for me. Lizzy and Darcy are the original OTP. Their love story, the initial hatred, the slowly coming to understand each other, the separation and disapproval of his relatives, will be copied for generations to come. But never ever equalled.

Top 10 of 2015

Collage of various Instagram photos of books

This is it, the big one, the ultimate list – the ten best books I’ve read this year.

I have been preparing for this post for months actually. I take list writing VERY seriously and wanted to make sure this really was the definitive list of the best books I’ve read this year.

I think I’ve read 53 books in 2015 which I am very pleased with. I can’t remember how many I aimed for so I’m pretending it was 50 in which case, well done me, pat on my back, I reached my target. Although I also worked out that I have bought 73 books. Whoops.

Of those 53 there’s only a couple I actively regret reading. Both of which were from the Austen Project – Sense and Sensibility by Joanne Trollope and Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid. So number one lesson learnt this year is however much I will want to buy Emma by Alexander McCall Smith when I see it for sale I must resist the urge! But other than those two books I’m happy with everything I’v read. Which has only served made choosing a top ten an even trickier task.

There were some amazing books that only just missed the cut for top reads of the year – On Chesil Beach, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Longbourn and Middlesex to name but a few. But the below ten are just out of this world incredible. Books that are serious contenders for a coveted place on my Desert Island books.

10.  Looking for Alaska by John Green

9.   Saturday by Ian McEwan

8.   How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

7.   The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan

6.   The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

5.   Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

4.   Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

3.   The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

2.   Wild by Cheryl Strayed

1.   Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

My top 10 male characters


I had a bit of a feminist rant about ‘Top 10 Female Book Characters’ posts (of which I have done one, I’m just as guilty), complaining that no one ever does the equivalent for men. So then I had to put my money where my mouth was and do one myself.

Of course the proper thing to do would have been to forget gender all together and just do a list of my top ten characters, male, female, whatever, but that would have meant half as many choices and only one post instead of two. So I shrugged off that idea.

I started off trying to create the list off the top of my head which wasn’t that easy to be honest. I could name you twenty fictional female characters I idolise without a second’s thought but I guess I just don’t connect with male characters in the same way. Which makes sense, not being male myself. But when I actually got home and started looking at my bookshelves there were obvious choices leaping out at me all over the place.

These aren’t about characters I find attractive – I’ve done my top 5 fictional crushes list before – but those characters who really captured my imagination. In the highest form they’re characters so compelling that the book became less about the plot and more about the individual. Or, less high-minded, they’re just so outlandish and awesome that I couldn’t help but fall a little bit in love.

  1. Ron Weasley in Harry Potter by JK Rowling

“Always the tone of surprise”

Ron is the epitome of an unlikely hero. Especially as he isn’t really supposed to be the hero. But I lost patience with Harry’s moaning and whining and all the ‘I have so much on my shoulders and all the world’s against me so I’m just going to brood in this corner’ stuff. Ron could always be counted on for some comic relief but when the need was dire he’d step up and win that chess match, open that chamber, stab that horcrux and never get any of the glory.

  1. Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper”

One of the most pitiable characters I’ve ever encountered, Sebastian’s troubled relationship with his parents and strict Catholic background take him from the eccentric character he starts the novel as (traits include carrying around a teddy bear named Aloysuis) to a homeless alcohol, estranged from his friends and family.

  1. Zaphod Bebblebrox in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

“If there’s anything more important than my ego around I want it caught and shot now”

The swagger, the arrogance, the narcissism of Zaphod Beeblebrox is quite something to behold. Ex-President of the Galaxy with two heads, three arms and a grand scheme that he can’t remember but follows blindly while really wishing he was lying on a beach somewhere. And if you’ve never read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy then that’s really only the tip of the craziness iceberg going on in that book.

  1. Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter by JK Rowling

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”

I really wanted to avoid having two Harry Potter entries but I just couldn’t choose between them. Neville is another prime example of an unlikely hero, added to by his incredibly tragic backstory on his side. And as with Ron, when the need arises, you can count on Neville to step up to the plate.

  1. Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you”

Oh Mr Darcy. The true pinnacle of romantic leads and an obvious choice to include on this list. All of Jane Austen’s heroes could make a lady swoon but they don’t all have the depth of emotion or character development of Mr Darcy.

  1. Silas Marner in Silas Marner by George Eliot

“I can’t part with it, I can’t let it go…It’s come to me – I’ve a right to keep it”

Now here’s a heart-warming tale. Miserly old man is robbed of his prize possession, his gold, but finds a greater meaning to life in caring for an orphaned young girl. If you can make it past the early chapters where NOTHING HAPPENS then you’re in for a real treat.

  1. Richard III in The Cousins’ War Series by Philippa Gregory

“They will call me a monster. Whatever else I will do in my life this will cast a crooked shadow. All that everyone will remember of me will be this crime. And I didn’t do it”

History has not been kind to Richard III, painting him as an unquestionable villain; deformed and the murderer of his two young nephews. But what I love so much about Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction is her ability to start with the facts and fit around it a completely original take on a famous character. She makes Richard’s character relatable, his actions understandable and his end almost pitiable. A youngest son, used to being overshadowed by his brothers in every respect, who’s had ambition and power hammered into him since a child; is there any wonder that when he saw an opportunity to make himself king he took it?

  1. Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

“But I cannot be satisfied without Fanny Price, without making a small hole in Fanny Price’s heart”

The second best Jane Austen hero is still very high up on the list of all time heroes. And although Henry Crawford isn’t supposed to be the hero of Mansfield Park secretly he was the one I was rooting for. I liked that he was the first character to notice that Fanny was deserving of a lot more praise and appreciation than she was getting. Which certainly makes him more worthy of her love than stupid Edmund. But his true nature ran too deep to resist the temptations of Maria Bertram.

  1. Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein

“I am glad you are with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam”

I was having a bit of a struggle deciding whether to include Sam on this list. I know that I loved his character in the films but, as I learnt the hard way, pretty much everything amazing in the films wasn’t actually in the books. But I’m including him anyway because, well, I’m a little short of other ideas.

  1. Dobby in Harry Potter by JK Rowling

“Dobby has no master… Dobby is a free elf.”

If I’ve got two Harry Potter characters on the list I might as well have three. Dobby, although not human, is decidedly male, and definitely deserving of a place on this list. Fiercely loyal to Harry in the same way Sam is to Frodo and the bringer of just as much comic relief. I was never going to much of a fan of the films anyway but when they cut Dobby out of the fourth one that was the final straw.

This month I’ve been…

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I typed the title of this post and then just sat and stared at a blank screen for five minutes trying to think of something, anything, that I’d actually done this month. September seems to have gone past so quickly that I couldn’t possibly have accomplished anything note-worthy. Then I remembered why – I spent a week of it sunning myself by a pool in Turkey. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was lazing in 40°C heat with nothing more serious to worry about than whether it was time to reapply sun cream yet (which when you have skin as pale as mine is still quite a serious worry and the answer is always, always, always yes).

There is a post coming about my exploits in Turkey. It’s all written, the photos are chosen and edited; I just need to bring them both together. And although that is literally a five minute job, right now it seems like the most hellish task ever. So I just keep putting it off. But here are some teaser photos to whet your appetite.


Apart from that week spent holidaying I don’t think I’ve achieved much at all. I had my contract extended at work and I now finish on 23rd December (and is making me seriously panicky about when in going to get my Christmas shopping done. I don’t want to be that person stress buying on Christmas Eve) so that’s nice but hardly exciting. I had intended to go on a serious healthy eating binge (if you can binge on healthy eating – bit of an oxymoron) but chocolate fingers happened. And I had also been hoping to have my flat all finished (pictures actually in frames rather than blutacked to the glass, that kind of thing) but that hasn’t happened either. So the interiors post I’ve been promising since the beginning of time (read: July) is being put off yet again.

So back to the old standby of talking books books books instead.

This month I’ve been buying…

I have hit my bank balance hard buying lots and lots and LOTS of books. See that picture at the top – all new purchases. Which when you consider I was out of the country for a week is really quite something. If you prefer everything in list form (which should be everyone really. Nothing’s quite as satisfying as organising your life into lists) here are all those books I’ve bought this month:

  1. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

I saw this a lot of places when it first came out (and by a lot of places I mean Instagram) and having never read anything by Judy Blume I thought, well, why the hell not?

  1. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

I intend to work my way through the entire Bronte back catalogue after The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was such a success.

  1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I finished The Virgin Suicides and knew I absolutely had to read more by this guy. And literally the first book store I went into had this on offer.

  1. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

I’m in two minds about whether I actually want to read this book but I thought I’d buy it anyway because it was a £1 and I needed to increase the number of hardbacks that I own.

  1. Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy

For someone who proclaims Thomas Hardy to be one of their favourite authors I really haven’t read that much by him. Time to rectify that.

  1. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

This book caught my attention but I didn’t even pull it off the shelf originally as I had great will power and was determinedly sticking to my book shopping list. But the next day I coincidentally read that it had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and so returned to buy it. So much for willpower.

  1. The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin

I’ve read plenty of the poetry classics but need to read more modern(ish) stuff.

  1. A Storm of Swords (Parts 1 and 2), A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons (Parts 1 and 2) by George RR Martin

(I’ve clumped these all together so that the list looks less hellish). These have been on my to-buy list for soooooo long but people just haven’t been donating them. But clearly a lot of fantasy fiction fans had a clear out this month and I managed to complete my collection for £10.50. It does slightly bother me that A Feast for Crows is a different imprint but I just love that version of the cover so much more. And I think I’m stupid enough that I’d actually replace my whole series with the new covers if the chance presented itself.

  1. Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Another part of my effort to read more modern poetry.

  1. Babylon Revisited by F Scott Fitzgerald

I’m a bit on the fence about F Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby didn’t exactly sweep me off my feet) so I like a nice skinny book I can try again with.

  1. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift

10p!!!! This was 10p!!!! Whoever heard of a book costing 10p? Whoever heard of anything costing 10p?

  1. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Almost entirely bought because it’s bright green. And I’ve heard a few things about the character of Becky Sharp which make me think I’d really like her.

This month I’ve been reading…

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And alongside buying books I’ve actually managed to squeeze in the time to read a few as well. And some really good ones at that. How could I ever choose between The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Virgin Suicides and Wild for a favourite this month?

  1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (sort of)
  3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  4. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  5. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  6. The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin
  7. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed (not pictured because I’ve already insisted my mum borrow it)
  9. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

My book shopping list

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The other day I worked out that almost a third of the books on my shelves I have yet to read. At the beginning of summer it was only a quarter and it’s not as if I’m a slow reader. Which means that I have bought A LOT of books. So I think it might be time to get my book buying addiction under control.

My answer to this, as with so many things, was to write a list. A list of books that I am allowed to buy and that I must not deviate from!

It’s still a really long list. It’s not as if I’m making myself go cold turkey or anything. And this may be my third draft because I kept thinking of more authors who needed including. But it’s a start.

This should keep me going until the end of year. Hopefully. With my insistence that all my books be second hand balancing my desire for nothing but beautiful editions on my shelves it can take me months before I purchase even a single book (or I could tick ten off my list on one day).

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’ve been hunting for a nice copy of this for a while as I hear such great things about it and I don’t read enough dystopian fiction.

2. Agnes Grey, The Professor, Villette or Shirley by Anne and Jane Bronte

Much like with Jane Austen I imagine that just because these books aren’t as famous as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights it doesn’t mean there won’t be a gem in there.

3. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield

I’m after this book mostly because it comes in the same series as my beloved copy of Valley of the Dolls.

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This ones purely because I read it as ebook so I now must own a physical copy!

5. George Eliot

I’d like to say Middlemarch but it’s just so damn long! But I enjoyed Silas Marner so much that it seems silly I’ve never read anything else by her.

6. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

This plot of this makes it sound like my ideal book – about a woman writing her thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot. And I very much enjoyed The Virgin Suicides.

7. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Another one that I’ve read but don’t own my own copy.

8. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I keep seeing this book mentioned places at the moment so I’m taking it as a sign that I should be reading it.

9. The Other Queen and The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

These are the missing puzzle pieces from my complete collections of the Cousins’ War series and The Tudor Court Series. The Other Queen shouldn’t be too hard to find but The Taming of the Queen is still very new.

10. Thomas Hardy

One of my favourite authors of all time and yet I only own one of his books! This needs correcting.

11. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

I got a bit nosy on the train at what the man sat opposite me was reading and it turned out it was this. And a quick google told me that I desperately need to read this book. I love anything that bashes neoliberalism.

12. Phillip Larkin

I really enjoy poetry but my knowledge is limited to the classics. So I’m trying to introduce some more contemporary poets into my collection too.

13. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E Lockhart

This one might be a long time in the coming but I really want to read it.

14. A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

I’m slowly building up my collection of paperback George RR Martin’s but I’ve still got a long way to go (I currently have two of the seven).

15. Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

I borrowed this off a neighbour when I read it but now must have a copy of my own.

16. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I need this for my mission to read lots of New York based books. And although I’ve come across several copies, I’m holding out for the perfect edition.

17. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Another for the New York collection.

18. The Love Machine and Once Is Not Enough  by Jacqueline Susann

Because I loved Valley of the Dolls too much not to read more by her.

The authors I just can’t get enough of

FotorCreated

This is my response to this weeks ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from The Broke and the Bookish. I always see other people doing these and think they look like great fun but I just never get round to it somehow. Well not so this week! This week I was completely on the ball. Apart from instead of a top ten I only have a top five. But can we just all pretend not to notice that, ok? Ok.

JANE AUSTEN

I’ve read everything she’s ever written – her well known novels, her unfinished novels, her letters to her sister, the short stories she wrote as a child – so although in numbers she might not be as high as some other authors, percentage wise it’s practically a full house.

Favourite: Pride and Prejudice of course!

JACQUELINE WILSON

I devoured Jacqueline Wilson novels as a teenager. My dad would present with the newest book mere days after it was first published, usually with the warning that I should probably wait until I was a little older to read it. I never listened and would have it finished in a matter of hours. And I’m very glad that when I read them now they haven’t lost any of the appeal.

Favourite: as a child Secrets but now Vicky Angel.

CECILY VON ZIEGESAR

The Gossip Girl series was one of my absolute favourites as a teenager. And then The It Girl and then The Carlyles. Of course this was before The CW got their hands on them, turned it into a TV series and in the process changed practically everything except the name. If you’ve only ever seen the TV series and never experienced the books then I’d recommend picking them up just to see how different they are – for example, Vanessa is supposed to be bald.

Favourite: The It Girl

IAN McEWAN

I certainly own enough Ian McEwan for him to deserve a place on this list but I have only read about half of what I own. One day I will finish his entire back catalogue – although it would be helpful if he’d stop publishing new ones!

Favourite: Atonement

PHILIPPA GREGORY

I was sitting here, racking my brain to come up with a fifth one for this list which is stupid really when Philippa Gregory is the only author I own enough books by to warrant her having her own shelf. I’ve read all of The Tudor Court  series and am a book and a half short of finishing The Cousins’ Wars series. They’re not always that interesting, the characters and plots and descriptions can get a bit repetitive and they’re some of the ugliest covers on my shelves but they never fail to get me completely hooked.

Favourite: The Constant Princess 

Had I done the full ten I would definitely have been dipping into some of my really early years reading – Dick King Smith, Roald Dahl, Anne Fine – and I wonder if that’s because as children we’re more likely to stick to the same authors or because children’s authors are more prolific?

The 10 best Harry Potter moments

I was flicking through my blog yesterday (is that weird? That I look at my own blog? I’m just so damn proud of it) and realised that I really do not talk about Harry Potter enough. There’s lots about Ian McEwan and Jane Austen and Philippa Gregory but somehow Harry Potter has been drastically overlooked.

Time to rectify that with a whole heap of posts about everything I love about Harry Potter. Which is a lot. I mean A LOT. I’m that crazy person who can name all the chapter titles in order and come nerdily close to completing the top 200 most mentioned characters quiz on Sporcle.

So in honour of Harry Potter, a countdown of my top ten favourite moments from the seven books. I was quite surprised at the outcome actually. Goblet of Fire and Prisoner of Azkhaban are probably my two favourite books but they only have one entry between them, whereas Order of the Phoenix is my least favourite but it alone has three entries. Weird.

10. The Silver Doe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“You – complete – arse – Ronald – Weasley!”

Thank god Ron comes back is all I can say. Everything gets so serious while he’s gone – they get attacked by a giant snake and Harry’s wand breaks and they discover that Dumbledore wasn’t always a good guy. So it’s such a relief to finally have something to smile about again. Not only does Ron come back but they find the Sword of Gryffindor and they’re a horcrux down. It’s smiles all round (apart from Hermione, who’s pretty damn mad at Ron, but she comes round eventually).

9. Grawp, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Weasley is our King”

I’m a sucker for a happy moment. And in this overwhelmingly depressing book that’s not any easy find. But Gryffindor winning the Quidditch Cup thanks to Ron’s incredible goal keeping abilities is about as bright as moments get.

8. Felix Felicis, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Unnoticed by either, Harry seized the bowl that contained the pod and began to try and open it by the nosiest and most energetic means he could think of; unfortunately he could still hear every word of their conversation.

I am firmly team Ron and Hermione. Whatever JK Rowling says I think they’re perfect together. And this scene is such a will they/won’t they moment with Hermione awkwardly asking Ron to Slughorn’s Christmas party and Ron awkwardly accepting, all while Harry tries to just blend into the background. Just thinking about it puts a huge goofy grin on my face.

7. Dobby’s Reward, Harry Potter and the Chanber of Secrets

“Dobby is free.”

Oh my god Dobby. I just love the little guy. There are a lot of things wrong with the films but my biggest complaint is that there is not enough Dobby. This great moment at the end of the second book where Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into freeing Dobby is just wonderful.

6. The Prince’s Tale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“Always.”

Finally finally after seven books of waiting this is the chapter where we start to get some answers. Suddenly, everything falls into place. And above all we once and for all find out if Snape is a good guy or a bad guy. The answer – well he’s somewhere in the middle. But that doesn’t stop his love for Lily from being incredibly romantic.

5. The Eye of the Snake, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.”

“Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

It’s one very specific part of this chapter that I like – when Harry comes back from the DA meeting and tells Ron and Hermione about kissing Cho. I love the moments like this where it’s the just the three of them sitting around enjoying each others company without trying to save the world. And JK Rowling conveys the awkwardness of the situation so well that you almost cringe while reading it – but in a really good way.

4. Christmas on the Closed Ward, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Neville, put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough to paper your bedroom by now.” But as they left, Harry was sure he say Neville slip the wrapper into his pocket.

This is one of the most heart-wrenching chapters in the whole series. Running into Neville and his grandmother visiting his parents in hospital had me weeping in a ball at the foot of my bed.

3. The Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“OI! There’s a war going on here!”

For the last two chapters of Deathly Hallows I’d been getting increasingly worried about the absence of Ron and Hermione. And by this point I was practically apoplectic with fear that one or both of them was dead. So when they turn up, unharmed, with the basilisk fang and then kiss – well my heart just melted.

2. Hallowe’en, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

This is the point where the story really begins. The trio are united and ready to kick some serious ass.

1. The Unforgiveable Curses, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“I think it’s time for the old Divination standby.”

“What – make it up?”

“Yeah.”

At number one is a completely underrated moment which you’ll probably think I’m really weird for picking – Ron and Harry sitting in the Gryffindor common room making up their Divination homework while Hermione looks on disapprovingly. But it just epitomises their friendship throughout the whole series. And it’s the realistic portrayal of their friendship – the banter and squabbles and falling outs – that takes the series from being great to being fan-fucking-tastic.