Happy Tuesday everyone! As it is Tuesday, it is time for a Top Ten Tuesday update. Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s given topic is The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf

(Close your eyes and touch/grab/point to 10 random titles and tell us what they are! And tell us what you thought if you’ve read them!)

I have a very disorganized bookshelf. As such, I decided to update my inventory of Manila books; the latest update of my inventory was July 2019 so I had quite a lot of updating to do. All I did, however, was copy the books on my monthly book haul updates. Although I am not sure if these updates are complete, it accounts for at least 99% of all the books I believe I own. I think I will be doing a physical inventory soon. After updating my list, I used an Excel formula to randomly choose ten books. Here are the ten books that were randomly selected by Excel. Interstingly, of over 1,000 books, Excel managed to pick up five books I read and five books I have yet to read. Anyway, happy reading!

Books I Read

I will be going in order of the first to the latest books I read.

1. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was the first of these five books I read. I think it was way back in 2015 when I read the book. Christie is my second most-read writer, just after Danielle Steel. Hercule Poirot is one of the reasons why I got hooked on Christie’s World of Suspense. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is as riveting as the other works of detective fiction he was part of.

2. Like Agatha Christie, Nobel Laureate in Literature Yasunari Kawabata has become one of my favorite writers. His novel Thousand Cranes – gifted to me by my cousin – is one of the many reasons why. Like his other books, it was a quick read but it was so nuanced and so packed with astute observations of a society that was slowly transitioning into modernity and incorporating Western ideals. Kawabata is also one of the reasons why Japanese literature has become one of my favorite parts of the literary world.

3. Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid was yet another memorable read. It is a fictionalized account of Empress Dowager Cixi’s life; the Empress Dowager was a prominent name in modern Chinese history as she was effectively the last ruler of Imperial China. I can recall seeing her picture when I was still barely ten years old. To find a novel that captured her life nearly two decades later was fascinating by itself. I was impressed by the novel and how it captured the life within the Forbidden City.

4. I opened my 2022 reading journey with Sara Nisha Adams’ The Reading List. Even though I don’t have any iota about Adams, I felt like the book was the appropriate book to open my 2022 reading journey. Sure enough, I was riveted by the book as it explored the connections we make with those around us. It highlighted how books can help establish these connections. I am glad to share that later in 2022, I was able to complete all the books listed in The Reading List; there were eight.

5. Of these five books, Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared From The World is my most recent read. In fact, the book was part of my recent April 2023 Japanese literature month. One of the things about the book that piqued my interest was its reference to “cats” which I have noted is very common in contemporary Japanese literature. They are ubiquitous! Anyway, in Kawamura’s novel, cats were vessels to explore connection, grief, and reconciliation. It was a brief but insightful read.

Books I Have Yet to Read

Title: The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana
Author: Maryse Condé
Translator (from French): Richard Philcox
Publisher: World Editions
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 266


Born in Guadeloupe, Ivan and Ivana are twins with a bond so strong they become afraid of their feelings for one another. When their mother sends them off to live with their father in Mali they begin to grow apart, until, as young adults in Paris, Ivana’s youthful altruism compels her to join the police academy, while Ivan walks the path of radicalization. The twins, unable to live either with or without each other, become perpetrator and victim in a wave of violent attacks.

Title: When We Were Birds
Author: Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
Publisher: Doubleday
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 288


A mystic love story set in Trinidad, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s radiant debut introduces two unforgettable outsiders brought together by their connection with the dead.

In the old house on a hill, where the city meets the rain forest, Yejide’s mother is dying. She is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: one St. Bernard woman in every generation must shepherd the city’s souls into the afterlife. But after years of suffering her mother’s neglect and bitterness, Yejide is looking for a way out.

Raised in the countryside by a devout mother, Darwin has always abided by the ancient Rastafarian vow not to interact with the dead. He has never been to a funeral, much less seen a dead body. But when the only job he can find is gravedigging, he must betray the life his mother built for him in order to provide for them both. Newly shorn of his dreadlocks and his past, and determined to prove himself, Darwin finds himself adrift in a city electric with possibility and danger.

Yejide and Darwin will meet inside the gates of Didelis, an old and sprawling cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves and a reckoning with fate beckons them both. A masterwork of lush imagination and exuberant storytelling, When We Were Birds is a spellbinding and hopeful novel about inheritance, loss, and love’s seismic power to heal.

Title: Delta Wedding/The Ponder Heart
Author: Eudora Welty
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publishing Date: May 18, 2011
No. of Pages: 408


Eudora Welty’s first novel, Delta Wedding, is an American classic. Set in 1923, it is an exquisitely woven story centered around the Fairchild family’s preparations for a wedding at their Mississippi plantation. Drama leads to drama, revelation to revelation, ad the result is a sometimes riotous portrait of a large and clamorous Southern family. In The Ponder Heart, one of the few living members of a once prominent family, tells a traveling salesman the history of her family and fellow townsfolk.

Title: Rich Like Us
Author: Nayantara Sahgal
Publisher: Sceptre
Publishing Date: 1987
No. of Pages: 266


A story of India: the recent India of Mrs Gandhi’s Emergency when power became arbitrary once more, when – as always in such times -the corrupt, the opportunists, and the bully flourished.

A story of an older India, of a generation who remember the British Raj and Partition, of the continuities and the ties of family and caste and religion that stretch back and back.

But above all, and memorably, it is a story of people: of Rose, the Cockney memsahib, of Western-educated Sonali and traditionally brought-up Mona, of Ravi, Marxist turned placeman, and Kishori Lal, the old idealist who finds that once again a man can be imprisoned just for what he thinks.”

Title: The Devil in the Hills
Author: Cesare Pavese
Translator: Peter Owen Ltd.
Publisher: Sceptre
Publishing Date: 1990
No. of Pages: 183


Cesare Pavese is now generally regarded as one of the most important writers of the century. This novel is among his best work. It is the story of a young married man, rich and self-indulgent, who has an elderly mistress, and whilst participating in the debauchery prevalent amongst his friends, nevertheless desires to lead a more useful life.

‘Is worth reading if only to get the smell and heat of summer in Turin on the hills about… makes us realise sadly how great a loss it was to modern fiction that Pavese died so young.’ ~ Sean O’Faolain