It’s the second day of the week! It’s also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesdays was initially created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic: Top 5 books with water

Water-benders, tell us all about those lakes, oceans, and seas. 💧🌊 (Variant: blood)

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea was the first book that came to my mind when I learned of this week’s prompt. The reason is quite obvious I guess: there is a body of water in the title which is an allegory for Chile, by the way, the home country of Allende. The only reference to sea in the book, however, pertains to the travel of repatriated Spaniards from Spain that is being controlled by Generalissimo Franco to Chile. It is a novel that covers a vast ground, accented with rich and evocative images of war and the ensuing consequences. It is about fascist regimes and dictators but it is also, above all, about love in all its forms. 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke’s sophomore novel Piranesi was published nearly two decades after her first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It came to my mind because I recall Piranesi being trapped – although he doesn’t realize it – in a big house surrounded by a big body of water. The labyrinthine structure contained an endless amount of halls, with neither formal entrances nor exits, propped with an equally uncountable number of statues. The lower parts of the House get submerged at certain times of the day or on some particular days.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This is another random choice for this week’s topic. However, the reason for my selecting Madeline Miller’s sophomore novel Circe is the same as the reason why I chose Piranesi. Circe, a renowned villain in Greek mythology, has been humanized by Miller in her novel. Like Piranesi, Circe lived a reclusive existence on an island. Her tranquil life was occasionally disrupted by lost seafarers, like Odysseus who would eventually be her lover and the father of her son. Circe’s story was as enchanting as her beauty and Miller did a splendid job of creating a more relatable character.

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul has long been part of my list of writers whose works I wanted to read and I was finally able to turn that into a reality in 2022 when I read A Bend in the River. The novel transported me to mid-20th century Africa and was related primarily through the point of view of Salim, a merchant of Arab heritage who grew up in a community of ethnically Indian Muslims in an unnamed country on the east African coast. Through a family friend, Nazruddin, Salim was provided the opportunity to move somewhere safer. He took over Nazruddin’s trading goods shop located in a former colonial town located at the titular bend in a major river. 

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women is a work of historical fiction that transported me to Jeju Island, one of the provinces that comprise modern South Korea. Lisa See was able to relate the fascinating story of one of Jeju’s most enduring symbols – the haenyeoHaenyeo, Korean for “sea women”, is a group of female divers who dive together to catch seafood they can sell in order to provide for their families; their husbands are left to tend to their children. The Island of Sea Women is a rich intersection of history, friendship, and traditions capably brewed into one whirlpool of a story; it is a whirlpool that sucks you in with its magic.