Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Plagues

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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April 21: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names (submitted by Michelle)

I couldn’t think of anything for this right now, so I went my own way.

I know a lot of us are in some variation of this right now. And I know most of us want to ignore or escape the implications of it. But others prefer to  think through the various scenarios, and sort of dive into this. Or we just want to read about people who are going through something similar.  For those people I offer this list:

71ygmy6f1gl._ac_uy218_ml3_1.The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio-I read this in high school. The premise is that ten people flee a plague ridden Florence for a villa in the countryside. To pass the time there they agree to each tell a story each evening for ten nights. Thus, by the end of the period they will have 100 stories. Then we read the stories. It’s similar-ish to The Canterbury Tales.

 

 

91s5iltzxtl._ac_uy218_ml3_2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel– This novel,  set after a swine flu pandemic has decimated the world, is set largely among a troupe of actors who perform Shakespeare through the great lakes region in exchange of necessities, and because “survival is insufficient.” That resonated with me: the attempt to hold on to what’s great about humanity, even when it’s future isn’t assured.

 

 

71z9lkphcsl._ac_uy218_ml3_3.The Plague by Albert Camus– Published in 1947 this novel tells the story of a plague overtaking the French Algerian city of Oran. There is an interesting portrayal of both government and individuals joining together to fight the spread of the disease.

 

 

 

51lo8bgzurl._ac_uy218_ml3_4. The Plague Tales by Ann Benson– This book has two narratives. One is set in the 1300s and is about a Jewish doctor charged with keeping the English royal family safe from the Bubonic plague. The other is set in the future (2005, which was the future when the book was written in 1998!) where a forensic archaeologist accidentally releases the ancient bacteria.

 

 

91nxxjctwdl._ac_uy218_ml3_5.Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks- This novel is set in the small of Eyam, which was quarentined in 1666 when the Black Death of the 14th century recurred there. It is told from the point of view of a housemaid named Anna.

 

 

 

81q2madzv9l._ac_uy218_ml3_6. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis– Kirvin Engle is a young historian preparing an on-site study of the Black Death, but when something goes wrong, Kirvin is stranded in the 14th century. As she fights the plague there, the same illness threatens the team of academics in the 21st century that is trying to get her home.

 

 

91zwcmrvgrl._ac_uy218_ml3_7. World Without End by Ken Follett– This is the second book in Follett’s trilogy about the building of a Cathedral. Set in the 14th century (about 200 years after book one ends) a new set of characters, deals with challenges and heartbreak in the village of Kingsbridge.  One of those challenges is the plague.

 

 

81shjgdx7l._ac_uy218_ml3_8. The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer– Beatrice is a neurosurgeon undergoing professional difficulties. When her brother, passes away, she travels to the Tuscan city of Siena to wrap up his affairs. Amid his things, she discovers a 700 conspiracy to decimate the city. She also discovers the work 14th century artist Gabriele Accorsi, which transports her to the year 1347. As the plague threatens to destroy everything she’s come to love, Beatrice’s knowledge of the future may be the only thing that can save her.

 

61cfkj8e7zl._ac_uy218_ml3_ 9. The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni– My Freshman year of college I did a semester of freshman seminar dedicated to a close reading of this Italian epic. It features a star crossed betrothal against the backdrop of a plague that struck Milan around 1630. I remember that we read and discussed the plague scenes in great detail in class but I don’t recall much about the characters themselves.

 

81gsken1oxl._ac_uy218_ml3_10. Love in the Time of The Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez– I mean it has “Cholera” right here in the title for goodness sake! Actually I recently learned that in Spanish (the book’s original language) cholera is cólera, a word that’s often used to denote passion, rage or ire. This pun in the title makes sense for a book is which love and passion is almost like a disease and of itself.

 

 

81ktmkpnyl._ac_uy218_ml3_11.Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson– I read this book a long time ago but in some ways this historical novel about a yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia in the late 18th century feels very relevant now. Enough so that I’ve thought back to it and the characters several times over the last few weeks.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

41isgxpfzml._ac_uy218_ml3_The Stand by Stephen King– This has been on my TBR for a while. I’ve got a copy sitting on my shelf, but I think it’s going to have to stay put for now, because I find this whole experience terrifying enough without Stephen King’s take on it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Tropes

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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August 20: Favorite Tropes (a trope is a commonly used theme or plot device) (submitted by Andrea @ Books for Muse)

1. Mysterious school

2. Slow burn romance

3. Small towns

4. Missing/Absent parents

5. Family secrets

6. Gothic

7. Neo-Victorian

8. Time Travel / Time Slips

9. Dual Timelines

10. Fairy Tale retellings

Top Ten Tuesday: Time Travel

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

This week’s topic was

August 7: Books You’d Mash Together (pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined) (Submitted by Rissi @ Finding Wonderland)

But I wasn’t really feeling it, so I decided to do my own thing and look at some favorite time travel stories.

51usp91evll-_ac_us218_1. The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis– This novel is the first in Willis’ Oxford Time Travel series dealing with time traveling Oxford historians. It’s the only one I’ve read so far, but the others are very much on my TBR. Set in the near future, historians often time travel to observe the past. Kirvin, a historian specializing in medieval history goes to the year 1320. But she gets sick as soon as she gets there and is moved from her “drop point”  by rescuers from a nearby manor. Shortly after Kirvin travels, Oxford suffers an influenza epidemic. While she was traveling back time, a technician (who was ill) input the wrong code, sending Kirvin to the year 1348, during the Black Death. With illness overwhelming people in both timelines, a rescue mission is attempted to get Kirvin back where she belongs.

51xphws9jdl-_ac_us218_2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon– When WWII ends, British combat nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank take a second honeymoon. They’ve been apart for most of the war and need to reconnect. When Claire goes to pick some flowers near a circle of standing stones, she somehow ends up in 1743. She meets up with the Mackenzie clan, a group of highlanders traveling back to their home, and provides some much needed medical care. Suspected of being a British spy, the Mackenzies bring her back with them to their home. But when Frank’s ancestor, the sadistic redcoat, Jack Randall, wants to take Claire, prisoner, the only way to escape his reach is to marry a Scot. Enter Jamie Fraser. He’s got a price on his head and a back full of scars (both thanks to Jack Randall) and he’s willing to help her out.  Claire is conflicted (is it technically bigamy if Frank hasn’t been born yet?)  but desperate. She marries Jamie, planning to return to the stones and the twentieth century as soon as she can get away. What she doesn’t anticipate is the soul-deep connection she and Jamie form. By the time she finds herself back at the stones, she must decide where she really belongs.

51541s04lal-_ac_us218_3. Time and Again by Jack Finney- Si Morley is a thirty-something advertising artist, who is recruited to join a secret government experiment in time travel. Aside from the chance to get away from his fairly dull life, Si’s friend, Kate, has a half-burned letter from 1882 and he wants to find out the truth behind it. Si has no intention of changing the past, but he finds himself drawn into the lives of the people in the boarding house where he’s staying. Especially Julia, a young woman who is marrying a fellow whom Si suspects might be a nasty piece of work. While the government in the twentieth century is having conflicts about how time travel should be used, Si finds himself amidst ethical and romantic conflicts in both centuries. This book has a sequel called From Time to Time, which I haven’t read, but this book can definitely work as a standalone.

51brip0dil-_ac_us218_4. Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson– Just to avoid confusion, this novel was originally titled Bid Time Return. The title was changed when it was adapted for a film (which is very different from the book, but I also recommend it). Richard Collier is a playwright who is staying in a historic hotel in San Deigo. He sees a picture of an actress, who performed at the hotel in 1897. Something about the photograph strikes him and he begins to research the life of the actress, Elise McKenna. As he learns about this woman’s life, he becomes sort of obsessed with her and travels back in time via hypnosis. He meets Elise McKenna at the hotel, and they fall in love, to the dismay of her manager who just can’t believe that Richard doesn’t object to Elise continuing to work as an actress after she marries Richard. But can Richard stay in the past forever?

51cmzm27jl-_ac_us218_5. Replay by Ken Grimwood– Jeff Winston is a forty-three-year-old man, who is a little bored with his life. Until he has a fatal heart attack and wakes up again at the age of eighteen. He still remembers his life until the age of forty-three, even though that hasn’t happened yet. So Jeff decides to live his life over again. He makes some very good bets on sports and in the stock market and becomes wealthy.  He rectifies previous mistakes. And then he reaches the age of forty-three, dies again, and wakes up at the age of eighteen. On each go-round, Jeff gains something that he’s reluctant to lose. Even more so when he discovers that he’s not the only person on this weird little carousel. In other hands, this could feel redundant, meeting the same characters and seeing the same events over and over. But Grimwood wisely keeps his focus on Jeff as a character and how he changes in each incarnation; the new understandings he gains and the things he can’t bear to leave behind.

51pclzvhwel-_ac_us218_6. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger- Henry suffers from Chrono-Displacement Disorder. Occasionally he finds himself pulled to moments in his life that have a strong emotional significance. He falls in love with Clare and they get married. Clare and Henry try to live normal lives with steady jobs and children, in spite of Henry’s condition.  A lot of Clare’s time is spent waiting for Henry. She meets a thirty-six-year-old Henry when she is only a child because Future Henry traveled back in time. She spends much of her childhood waiting to meet him in her own timeline. Though each chapter has the date on which it takes place, we often encounter Henry at a different age than the age he would be at that date. In some cases, we also encounter duplicate Henrys (his current self, meeting his future self) which can get a bit confusing. But if you give it time and thought it’s very much worth the effort.

51tyxvqweyl-_ac_us218_7. The House on the Strand by Daphne DuMaurier– Professor Magnus Lane is spending the summer in London, so he gives his friend, Dick Young his Cornwall house to stay in. Dick arrives a bit before the rest of his family and Lane persuades him to take an experimental drug that will send him back in time. When Dick takes the drug, he witnesses a drama in the same Cornwall location 600 years earlier. This drama is compelling enough for Dick to disregard the danger and take the drug again and again, in order to see more. His addiction begins to take a toll on his twentieth-century life. Eventually, he comes to confuse the two eras, which has a destructive effect on Dick’s marriage and his family. The reader is aware that the drug is detrimental, but we’re in a similar position to Dick. We also want to know how events in the 14th century will play out, so we want Dick to take it “just one more time” to see what happens.

51t3kmsupxl-_ac_us218_8. The Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon– In 1975, single mother Lux Lysander is overworked and underpaid. When her five-year-old son goes to visit his grandparents Lux decides to take a vacation herself. She goes to Sonoma Valley. One night, she sees a point of light in the distance. She goes to see what it is and finds herself in a sunlight field. The people she meets dress and speak like they’re from another time. Because they are.  Greengage is cut off from the rest of the world and from time itself. They are stuck in the early twentieth century. Unlike the residents of Greengage, Lux seems to have the ability to come and go. She is drawn to Greengage and the people who live there. It’s the only place she’s ever really felt completely at home. But her beloved son is very much a child of the modern world.

51islkdgaql-_ac_us218_9. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway– In 1815, Lord Nicholas Davenant dies on a Napoleonic battlefield. Or so it seems. He actually went forward in time 200 years, and finds himself in the early 21st century, being taken care of by a secret society called The Guild. Told that he can’t return to his own time, Nick makes a life for himself. But several years later, he’s contacted by The Guild again and told that he needs to return to his own time and find a mysterious enemy who has a device that controls time. In the nineteenth century, Nick’s childhood acquaintance Julia Percy’s grandfather dies. Julia’s grandfather had a secret. He could stop time, and Julia seems to share that ability. This will bring her back into Nick’s life as they find themselves caught up in a historical conspiracy.

51uj1ebhu0l-_ac_us218_10. Lightning by Dean Koontz– Laura Shane was born on a  dark and stormy night in 1955. A mysterious stranger showed up and prevented a drunk doctor from attending the difficult delivery, thereby indirectly saving Laura’s life. This same stranger turns up at several points during Laura’s life, saving her each time. When she grows up, the man, whose name is Stefan, once again saves the widowed Laura and her young son, Chris. Now he tells Laura who he is and where he’s come from. She and Chris and the world they live in are in terrible danger. At first, the explanation seems like a letdown (it did to me at least) but the time travel paradoxes provide an additional twist, that made things more interesting.