Recommending Books I Didn’t Like

orangutan list

Well, I’ve been a bit negative lately, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and turn things around. I was completely inspired by an amazing video by Elliot Brooks over on booktube to start recommending books I don’t like. And since I always say that other people might like books I give 2 bananas, I thought it was time for me to put my bananas where my mouth is and recommend some books I don’t like… or something that sounds less like I’m just stuffing my face 😉 And I’m gonna try to do it all while standing on one leg not insulting any of these books. Wish me luck!

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Love in a Time of Cholera– an exquisitely written book with distinct characters- I just didn’t like it because I hate stream of consciousness- but if that’s your jam, I’m sure you’ll love it!

mrs dalloway

Mrs Dalloway– similarly, no one can dispute that Woolf was an incredible writer (her twists on imagery is second to none), but I just can’t stand stream of consciousness.

sun also rises

The Sun Also Rises– again, I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m not a fan of pared-down writing. In fact, I’ve spoken at length about how I think there’s a Fitzgerald-Hemmingway divide– people tend to like one or the other! So if you’re not a fan of Fitzgerald, chances are you’ll love this. Plus, even I, with my biases, can see that the characterisation is incredibly realistic and fascinating.

lonely hearts hotel

Lonely Hearts Hotel– oof it hurts my soul that I didn’t love this book, because O’Neill is a very talented writer- I’m just not her target audience. This may well be for people who love post-modernism.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian– there were a number of reasons why I didn’t click with this book: namely that I was too old for this middle grade and it felt too rooted in American culture for me to get- sorry! But if you are the target demographic, it’ll probably work for you (goodness knows the ratings on Goodreads suggest as much!)

dune

Dune– another one that pains me to admit I didn’t like! Dune is *classic* sci fi material- I just couldn’t get on with the writing style! But if you want interesting ideas, this is the way to go.

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Watchmen– I’ve never been able to figure out why I didn’t like this one (even though I thought Moore’s other famous graphic novel, V for Vendetta, was incredible). Perhaps if you give it a go it’ll work better for you- there’s plenty of people that’ll tell you it’s a classic!

Steelheart

Steelheart– this one is *super easy* to recommend because 1) I love Sanderson 2) it’s brilliantly written and 3) the plot is amazing. The only reason I didn’t love it is because I personally didn’t connect with the characters- but that’s no fault of the book! So, if you’re looking for a genius take on superheroes, you can’t go wrong with this!

magician's guild

Magician’s Guild– kind of cheating, cos I ended up loving this series- but that’s why I continue to recommend the first one even though I didn’t like it! It gets so much better!!

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Goldfinch– I personally didn’t connect with this because of its length, but having read (and adored) the Secret History, I’m actually pretty keen to revisit the Goldfinch. Regardless of whether it ends up being for me or not, I think Tartt is a class act and worth reading.

communist manifesto

The Communist Manifesto– yeahhh I’m going there, cos why the heck not? I’m definitely not recommending that you become a communist, but I trust people to check it out for themselves and not take my word for it that it’s *bad* (looks like I failed at not insulting the books on this list 😉)

Gosh that was a challenging post to do! Do you agree or disagree with my choices? (I know I’m certainly questioning everything I’ve written here 😉) And do you have any books you didn’t like that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Unpopular Opinion Time: Books I Hate That Most People Love

Soooo I’ve promised this for a long time and I figured now was as good a time as any (before I chicken out again 😉). I basically went through Goodreads and found a whole bunch of popular and well-loved books that I hated. I quickly realised I have a *ton* of unpopular opinions- which is why I tried to pick the ones that would be the most controversial, cos that’s just how I roll 😉 Plus, I wanted to go with some books I’ve never talked about on the blog before that could get people very angry… Ah well, what’s the worst that can happen? (she says as she ducks behind a pile of books and bananas) Let’s do this! (also, fair warning, I may or may not have been in a right mood when I wrote this, so prepare yourself for some harsh opinions cos I was clearly RARING TO GO!)

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The_Eye_of_the_World_UKEye of the World- I’m about to have my fantasy credentials taken away for this one, but I’ve never made a secret of the fact I don’t like Jordan’s writing style. Stillll it is one of those stalwart books of the genre and it makes me feel a little guilty that I’m not well-versed in it. On the positive side (which you’re not going to get much of in this post 😉) I have heard amazing things about the audiobook narration and I’m sorely tempted to give it another try!

The_Wise_Man's_Fear_UK_coverWise Man’s Fear– this one hurts, because I genuinely loved Name of the Wind, so it was as much of a surprise to me as all the other fans that I didn’t like the sequel at all. What made it even worse for me was realising how people’s critiques of the first one (which I turned a blind eye to) could easily be applied here: especially that Kvothe is an annoying Marty Stu. And the plot- oh the plot… just endlessly recounting his *unbelievable* exploits. It was unbearable. Hopefully, this is just a terrible case of middle book syndrome and when we (eventually) get the finale it’ll make up for this one (but I won’t hold my breath). Oof the gloves came off there- let’s move quickly onto something that will surely not make people angry at all…

handmaid's taleHandmaid’s Tale– yes, I’m going there. Even though I’ve managed to go *years* on here without so much as sneezing in this book’s direction, I’m finally going to come out and say it: I don’t like the (purportedly modern classic) Handmaid’s Tale. Now, I’m going to try and soften the blow a little and say that Atwood can definitely write. Plus, I didn’t completely despise it when I first read it- mostly I was just confused that my teacher had recommended it… buuut over time I’ve developed a (perhaps irrational) hatred for it. Because there are some serious flaws with this book and the more I think about it, the more it drives me crazy. Maybe it’s cos I love fantasy, but the world building is r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s. I mean, why-oh-why in a patriarchal society that values the family, would they take a mother away from her husband and child!?! The logical plot would be either forcing a single woman into this situation OR making a miserable wife stay married to her husband (incidentally, A Thousand Splendid Suns, based on actual historical events of what happens under oppressive theocratic rule, managed to explore both these possibilities). Also, HOW?! How has any of this come about?!!? You can’t just say that the government collapsed overnight and leave it at that. And I just didn’t feel like this was in touch with the religious theology it was trying to respond to. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief here. Dragons make more sense to me.

queen of air and darkness bookQueen of Air and Darkness– well, it makes sense that the rating is so high, cos most lukewarm fans have stopped reading by now… more fool me that I kept on with it! Because I made the mistake of thinking this would actually fulfil the premise of this trilogy and not just be filler for another series- silly me! Forgive my harshness, I was so dissatisfied with these books and I’m still a little salty about it.

darkest mindsThe Darkest Minds– for me this can be summarised as: underwhelming. To me, it’s awfully similar to Shatter Me (I’d say emphasis on the awful, but it’s a bit too boring for that moniker). Still, I see on goodreads that others got a lot more out of this series. Plus, I know my sister loved it, so there you go, I probably should have asked her why before doing this post 😉

long-way-to-a-small-and-angry-planetLong Way to a Small and Angry Planet– am I missing something?! Why is this book so loved? For me, I felt like nothing happened, it was irritatingly preachy about overly simplistic ideas and the reptile sex made me feel icky. But clearly, I’m in the minority with this opinion! So, I guess go forth and multiply with this weird alien-book-baby.

 

foxhole courtFoxhole Court– I’m always amazed at how popular this is. Especially cos it’s got so much of the things that the people who love it usually hate (rapey vibes). In all honesty though, I have respect for how well this indie series has been received. I mean, it’s pretty cool of the community to make this book such a success out of nowhere. It’s not for me though and I don’t get the hype.

looking for alaskaLooking for Alaska– okay admittedly, part of the reason I’m mentioning this book is because it makes a change from dragging on TFIOS, which has similar issues in terms of pretentious writing style (oopsie, did it again). I don’t know why, but to me this felt a bit self-indulgent and like a nothing kind of a book. Personally, I found it even more disappointing that it had a very similar (spoiler warning) love interest dies at the end plot. I felt like Green had just one type of story to tell- and it’s not the story for me.

wonder womanWonder Woman– again, am I missing something? I wasn’t planning on trying this- but so many people said it was good. It wasn’t. This was a very lacklustre superhero book by an amazing author (which makes it worse, cos she’s capable of doing SO MUCH BETTER!!)

 

gormenghastGormenghast– ahhh such a huge disappointment! I’d heard such amazing things, I bought the entire trilogy (and read it all). Overly descriptive and far less impressive in the political shenanigans department than I was expecting, this wasn’t nearly as impressive as I was led to believe.

 

beautiful disasterBeautiful Disaster– I wasn’t actually sure about including this in the post, because I didn’t feel the need to revisit this romance after I reviewed it… then I saw the rating and thought why the hell not. Interestingly, I’ve seen some rants over the years slating this book (for allegedly abusive content), but that wasn’t my takeaway. Sure, I hated the characters, but really it’s the absurd quick-pace structure that did this book in for me.

Okay- dare I ask- have a just dragged one of your favourite books? Any chance you agree with me on one of these? Let me know in the comments!

My Ultimate NoTPs – Sinking all the Fictional Ships

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Typically speaking, I’m the kind of reader that agrees with the author/creator when it comes to romances- whether I like them or not, it’s what the author intended and therefore tends to fit best with the story. But on those rare occasions that I don’t agree, well, I have some STRONG opinions. Which is why I decided to talk about some of my *ultimate NoTPs* (is this a real term, or did I just make it up?) I’m gonna try not to repeat myself too much from my romance fails in fiction tag– so this should be uniquely contentious 😉. Also, for the most part this’ll be about books, however, I fancied talking about some TV ones too, such as…

brooke lucas one tree hill

Brooke and Lucas, One Tree Hill (yes, I’m asking you to cast your minds back a decade or two)- CONTROVERSIAL OPINION: I never liked Brooke Davis. For me, her “growth” involves plagiarism (she steals Peyton’s designs, sticks them on a shirt and gets applauded for it… why?!). To be honest though, Lucas’ relationships didn’t interest me because I was all about Naley.

katniss gale peeta

Gale and Peeta and Katniss, Hunger Games– I know this was a big deal, but I just didn’t care. I didn’t get invested in either of the romances- I was far more interested in the children fighting each other to the death and oppressive government (you know, what the book is actually about? 😉)

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Jacob and Bella and Edward, Twilight– they all suck.

mansfield park

Fanny and Edmund, Mansfield Park– even if I could get over the fact they’re cousins, I wish Austen had let *just one* of her heroines end up with the morally ambiguous character (and given them a redemption arc). Just once.

lupin and tonks

Tonks and Lupin, Harry Potter– everyone’s got at least one couple they don’t ship from Harry Potter. And, though I’ve mentioned Ron and Hermione a bunch of times, I actually find this one irks me more… though not for entirely rational reasons. To be perfectly honest, I thought Lupin was gay (yeahhh we’re going into serious head canon now). Plus, I don’t get how someone can run off and leave their pregnant wife in a war if they really love them (which is probably the more rational reason why I don’t ship them).

jon dany

Jon and Dany, Game of Thrones– I’ve mentioned this before, but this was pretty badly done, especially in the last season, so it’s earned another mention. This is one of those bizarre situations where this was head canon for me… but the second it happened my brain went “oh no! oh no no no!!” This should have stayed in the dark recesses of fan’s minds.

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Jem and Tessa, Infernal Devices– I was a *serious* Will and Tessa shipper. I actually don’t know why I have it in for Jem, but I really did (I know, it makes no sense, cos he’s a sweet character, buuut at the same time he goes after his bestie’s girl and NOT COOL MAN). This frustrated me even more cos it almost never happened.

Throne_of_Glass_UK

Chaol and Celaena, Throne of Glass– he didn’t respect her *at all*. He was always going on about how horrible it is she’s part fae and that she needs to suppress it (isn’t that the equivalent of racism in the context of their world?!) Plus, I just hate Chaol so…

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Alina and Mal, Shadow and Bone– most boring couple of the list award! I have very little to say about them other than the fact I didn’t see them fitting together- particularly since they’d known each other for years, he showed no interest, then only liked her when she got hot.

queen of attolia

Gen and the Queen of Attolia, Queen’s Thief Series*highlight for massive spoiler warning*: SHE CUT OFF HIS HAND!!! WTF?!? He’s traumatised by her and flinches at her every touch- how do they end up together? This is by far the most bizarre and badly matched couple- and I’m sorry but I don’t understand why people are into this romance. At all.

aang and katara

Aang and Katara, Avatar the Last Airbender– ahh my ultimate NoTP!! I briefly touched on this in my review of the series and always planned to get into it more at a later date… so here we are (yes, the reason for me writing this post was an excuse to rant about something, are you surprised?) I’m sure this will piss off people who watched this as a kid/really ship it, but I *hated* it. Firstly, they have zero chemistry (yes, it’s not escaped my attention we’re talking about a cartoon, bear with me 😉). The romance scenes always felt like a mix of forced and random, especially since she treats him like a little brother for most of the show. Which makes sense, since he’s prepubescent and she’s a teen. And, what messes with my head even more, is when people say “oh but the age difference isn’t really so bad, because even if he looks 12, he’s really 112”- how does this help?! That’s even less appropriate!! Regardless, he has a very childish view of her ie “I like her, I kissed her, she should be mine”. Dude, she’s a person (okay, character). Who frequently seems to be conflicted and uncomfortable with his romantic attention I might add. But it felt like this was about what Aang “deserves” as a reward for saving the world- taking away the autonomy of an *awesome* character and doing nothing for her own arc. And I know, I know, people can say I only feel this way cos my ship (Zutara) didn’t sail (which maybe true, yet to be fair was set up by one of the writers as endgame), but forget my fan “entitlement” for a second- what about all the “nice guys” that feel entitled to women’s affection because they’ve been “nice”? As much as I loved the character, Aang with Katara reminded me of Mr Collins saying: “you said no, but you really mean yesss”. It just realllly sucks that a great show ended on this note (though, as I said in my review, it didn’t ruin the series for me).

Okay- phew- glad I got that out of my system! Do you agree or disagree with any of these? And what romances do you not ship? Anything particularly juicy? Let me know in the comments!

Loving Some Hate to Love Books

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You guys know I love me some enemies-to-lovers, so I figured it’d be a fun way to kick off my Feb posts with some HATRED (that turns into love of course).

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice– Austen was in to hate-to-love before it was cool- what a hipster 😉

from lukov with love

From Lukov with Love– I read this the most recently, so this chill romance about rival ice skaters coming together is fresh in my mind. And, when it comes to antagonistic romantic partners, this doesn’t disappoint.

the hating game

Hating Game– such a hilarious romp- I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did!

court of mists and fury

A Court of Mist and Fury– I like this even more because it buried a romance I was not behind. And it also delivered on (another of my personal favourite tropes) secretly-a-sweetheart.

cruel prince

Cruel Prince– if you’re looking for pulpy entertainment with bantery enemies-to-lovers, look no further! Speaking of fae…

iron king

Iron King– I never feel like I recommend this enough- but it’s such an enjoyable series! And the romance! Ah the romance! Hate-to-love mixed with forbidden love- YES PLEASE!

to kill a kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom– a Little Mermaid retelling where a siren falls in love with a prince- how intriguing is that?

serpent and dove

Serpent and Dove– a witch and a guy that hunts witches for the church- what could go wrong?!

uprooted

Uprooted– okay, this one doesn’t have nearly as much antagonism, but it still gives us some nice friction leading up to the romance… and that works for me!

carry on

Carry On– saving the best to last… well at least in my opinion 😉 What more can I say about this series that I haven’t already said?! Simon + Baz forever!!

Okay, I let my fangirl out at the last minute, hope you don’t mind 😉 Have you read any of these? Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for more enemies to lovers!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Lovin’ a Little February

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Well, January was a peculiar month for me and I’m pretty glad to be jumping into February. Been a bit busy in work/life, which meant (horror of horrors) I ended up falling into a *dreaded book slump*. And, equally bad, I just couldn’t keep up with blogging. I really want to promise that I’m going to do better this month buuuut I have family coming to stay for a week, soooo we’ll see. I do have some great posts planned- so monkey *fingers and toes crossed* that I can get to them! Okay, now all that’s out the way, let’s get to the good stuff:

art of war

Art of War– this is easily one of the best things I’ve ever read. Really, I cannot state that enough. Informative, thought provoking and surprisingly poetic, there’s no end to what you can learn from this legendary work. Every word is so valuable that I ended up highlighting everything (which, admittedly, is not the smartest thing to do, especially since it made my notes unreadable 😉). There were so many gems, which, being a fantasy dork, I enjoyed applying to random fictional battles in my mind. For instance, I really don’t think Jon Snow understood this rule in the battle of the bastards: “By holding out advantages to him, he can cause the enemy to approach on his own accord; or by inflicting damage, he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near”. Of course, this is the kind of book perfect for anyone interested in politics or strategy- but what’s brilliant about the Art of War is how it can easily be applied to across all fields and to life in general. So, if you’re a person living in the world, then this is the book for you!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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beautiful fran laniado

Beautiful– who’s up for a beauty and the beast retelling from the perspective of the fairy who puts the curse on the prince?! Well you should be! By fellow blogger, the lovely Fran Laniado, this retelling has a unique concept and definitely fulfils it. One of the best things about Beautiful is the consistent, fairy-tale-feel to the tone. Plus, I liked the humour throughout. There was a bit too much exposition for me personally, which slowed down the plot, especially getting to the inciting incident. But overall, I loved the original take and thought it was a great point of view to tell the story from. This was a fun, quick read for anyone who likes fairy tale retellings!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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stillhouse lake

killman creek

Stillhouse Lake/Killman Creek– I’m going to save people a lot of bother and say that you basically have to read the two books together. Because I didn’t know that going in and felt like Stillhouse Lake was a little incomplete. That said, if you do read both books, you’ll be left satisfied. This is definitely a gripping and entertaining and intense thriller- with some wild turns! I will say that I listened to the audiobook for the first one and the narration was so good that I ended up enjoying it more, so if you can manage it, that’s the way to go!

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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serpent and dove

Serpent and Dove– ooh this was deliciously dark. I was so glad the author decided to actually explore the concept of evil witches- it made the line between good and evil murkier. And the writing was bewitching- from the opening line I was under its spell. I also really liked how French culture and history was integrated into the world building. My one quibble with the book- which stopped it being a 5 banana read for me- was how bonkers some of the plot points were. I thought the marriage twist was a little absurd and the villain’s monologue was too much (it was the kind that actually gives the heroine a reason to fight back). For the most part though, the story was a lot of fun. Even if some ideas were obvious, there was enough here that was unique to help me fly through it.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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uprooted

Uprooted– I’m not the first person to say this and I won’t be the last: this is a very beautiful book. Enraptured from the start, I found myself drawn to the immersive, folkloric world. I loved the characters- who felt simultaneously believable and fairy-tale-esque. I wouldn’t say this was easy going though- it’s a dense book, which takes you on many twisting journeys and feels a little disjointed at times. I did like the plot, but sometimes it felt all over the place. Still, well worth the read and I *finally* get the hype!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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beneath a scarlet sky

Beneath a Scarlet Sky– it took me a while to get into this, because it has an unusually calm start for something set in WWII. That said, it soon gets explosive, dramatic and emotionally charged. I found the people in this book fascinating (I hesitate to call them characters since they’re based on real people). I particularly thought we were given a vivid picture of the Nazi officer. And I really liked the musical motif throughout. From Boogie Woogie to Nessum Dorma, these refrains left a lasting impression when coupled with historical events. I wasn’t wholly bowled over by the last part, where it gave a rundown of where everyone ended up, but I do understand why that was necessary to bookend the story. Ultimately, this was a worthwhile read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

Dark Age Makes for a *Shiny* Sequel!

dark ageBy Jove- I thought Iron Gold was a great continuation of the Red Rising Saga– but I didn’t know quite how *awesome* these sequels were going to get (though having read the previous series, I had some idea 😉 ). Action-packed from the start and full of the intense politicking we’ve come to expect, the plot doesn’t let up for even a split second. Rollercoaster ride doesn’t come close to describing it. Because bloodyhell, there were fresh horrors and twists galore! Intensely addictive, the multiple povs upped the stakes and made me feel like no one was safe!!

What I especially liked about the characterisation was how it didn’t just grave rob the previous series- there was actual, logical growth here. And even better, the new characters were just as intriguing as the old (I am an especial fan of Lysander!)

I’ve also been very impressed by the ideas behind this trilogy. *Slight spoiler for Red Rising*- this explores the world after victory, dealing with the destructiveness of man alongside how hard it is to maintain power and implement justice. For me personally (being a massive nerd) I’d say the best way to describe this is it’s the direction the new Star Wars sequel trilogy should’ve gone (which, you’ll just have to trust me on, because it’s so hard to talk about without spoiling the entire plot!). It’s just so gorydamn good.

Beyond the plot, there were so many intertextual and historically complex references, which all threaded together to make a beautiful tapestry. The writing was as quotable as ever. I had to stand back and admire it.

This was by far one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a while- I’m going to need the next one fastlike!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So, have you read any of the Red Rising books? Do you plan to? And are you enjoying this continuation as much as I am? Let me know in the comments!

Bookshelf Tour!

Hello all! As you may know, I recently moved and that meant (among other things) rearranging my bookshelves. And, as the marvellous fellow blogger Michael wisely told me, nothing makes you feel at home quicker than filling up new shelves… so of course that’s what I did first 😉

Now, this may be a bit familiar, since I’ve taken shelfies before, and most of these are favourites from my 33 books I’ll take to the grave post. That said, I rearranged the order into something that resembles the logic of my mind- aka it’s not logical at all, but it makes sense to me 😉 Plus, I know we all not-so-secretly love casual book porn 😉

(sorry the quality of photos aren’t great- I need a better camera/to learn to take better photos 😉)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first shelf is pretty straightforward- I started with fairy tale collections and then moved into retellings (including the McKillip, which I still haven’t read). Oh, and there’s some gothic in the middle, cos to my mind that’s a neat segue, which makes sense if you take into consideration that Hazel Wood counts as both… but not all that much sense 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASecond shelf is all about English classics… well, until I went on a fantasy bend. Basically I thought His Dark Materials fits with the theme because it’s a twist on  Paradise Lost… but there’s no reason for Six of Crows being there… (maybe cos they’re both dark fantasy… who knows!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving swiftly on, I finished off with my classics collection (yes, Circe  is sandwiched in next to the Iliad, cos it is just that good!) Then I had a bit of poetry, followed by my  Harry Potters and some more fantasy. Again, I can’t really see the logic either- so if you want to make something up in the comments, go right ahead 😉 (I guess Rowling is a classicist, so she did draw on mythology… but I’m really reaching here).

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Annnd lastly, I had another random shelf of classics- these are the ones that don’t fit (both literally and figuratively) because who knows where to put Kafka?! 😉

Hope you enjoyed that odd little romp through my bookshelves! And if any of you have any better reasoning/can explain the inner working of my brain to me, let me know in the comments!