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top ten sequel imageThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us to name the Ten Best Book Sequels.

‘Anything Part Two’ can be tough, but great sequels can be even better than the original (Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight Rises).

Here, though, we are talking about the best sequels to books! What are your favorites?

 

1.) The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien
Tolkien fused his passion for medieval history and languages with mythic fantasy. LOTR broke ground as a book series and as a forerunner in the fantasy genre. The trilogy still ranks as the third best-selling novel worldwide. Note, you will enjoy it more if you read The Hobbit first.

2.) Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
Just as Mantel elevated the historical novel to literary fiction, she has raised the bar on sequels. This book stands alone on its merit, winning the Man Booker Prize among other awards, but is a follow-up to Wolf Hall.

3.) Leaving Cold Sassy, by Olive Ann Burns
I don’t often like to see child heroes grow up, but in her sequel to Cold Sassy Tree Burns gives us a wonderful portrait of Will Tweedy as a young man. The book also serves as a swan song for the town of Cold Sassy and its colorful characters. Warning: this book is unfinished.

4. ) Eventide, Kent Haruf
Oh, how I loved this beautiful, wrenching book that revisits the characters and the town of Holt, Colorado, which Haruf introduced to us in Plainsong.

5.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
One of the most influential books in the American canon and a darn good page-turner. I will say, however, that some of the language (in particular the N-word) is quite jarring. But I do read the character of Jim as wise and noble (and morally superior to many other characters), despite the stereotypical characterization.

6.) Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
The Warden seems like just a teaser once you delve into Barchester Towers, which really kicks off the Barchester Chronicles—a saga about life in a Cathedral city inspired by Salisbury. This great read offers compelling characters and a fascinating look at small-town politics, the evolving Church of England, and daily life in 19th-century England.

7.) Right Ho, Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse
This is the second full novel about Jeeves and Wooster, and it features all the classics: a broken engagement between Tuppy and Angela, the temperamental French chef Anatole, droopy Madeline Bassett, newt-enthusiast Gussy Fink-Nottle, and bossy Aunt Dahlia at her best, “who is this Spink Bottle?”

8.) Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, by Sophie Kinsella
I still can’t decide whether I like this or Confessions of a Shopaholic best. Both are hilarious, laugh-out-loud books, which forever endeared us to the sweet, ditzy Becky Bloomwood. Kinsella is a comic genius and manages to create physical humor and whacky entanglements along the lines of I Love Lucy.

9.) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling
From the first read, this has always been my favorite of the Harry Potter books. I just love the dynamic between Harry and Sirius Black, and I love the ending. Expecto Patronum!

10.) To Let, by John Galsworthy
This is the finale to The Forsyte Saga, a long, deep, satisfying read about the powerful Forsyte family at the turn of the 20th century. Any one of those sequels could have made this list, but I must say Galsworthy ends his story perfectly, reflective but not overly sentimental. Note, there was a terrific British TV mini-series made in 2002.

Honorable Mention: Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
Rhys gives a wonderful voice to the first Mrs. Rochester, the mad woman who taunted Jane Eyre, and shows us her life growing up in the Caribbean. Usually, I don’t like it when writers hijack another author’s characters, but this was one of the first and remains the very best example, imho. It would be top ten, but it’s technically a prequel and it’s not by Charlotte Bronte.

So, what are your favorite book sequels?

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Best Books I’ve Read So Far in 2013

Top Ten Books in My TBR Pile

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silhouette cropI have a high back window that has played home to a succession of spiders. Jokingly, I have referred to each as Charlotte A. Cavatica, after Wilbur’s friend. Visiting kids always like to climb up and take a look at the arachnid in action—spinning or repairing the web and, yes, sometimes wrapping up struggling prey. It’s a bit like my own personal Nature Channel.

Now it turns out, I actually do have a Charlotte out there, complete with a very large egg sac that she is tending. Like most people, I have a natural fear of these eight-legged beasts, but I loved Charlotte’s Web so much (still do), that I cannot bring myself to kill them. I have somewhat perfected the art of spider catch-and-release.

Also, I was really moved by Life and Death in Shanghai, Nien Cheng’s wrenching memoir of her persecution during China’s Cultural Revolution. Cheng was imprisoned in solitary confinement for seven years, her only friend a spider in the upper corner of her cell. As she watched the spider swing about creating its intricate web, Cheng wrote, “I knew I had just witnessed something extraordinarily beautiful and uplifting … I felt a renewal of hope and confidence.” With the spider there, she felt less fearful of the guards who bullied her daily.

Alas like Charlotte, that spider passed away with the arrival of winter, and it is a truly heartbreaking moment in the book. [Aside, Cheng was a wonderful writer and I highly recommend this read!]

Radiant.

Radiant.

I confess, though, as I look out at the bulging egg sac dangling so close to my window … I am a bit (ok very) freaked. [Click on the pic to really see the eggs.] One day hundreds of spiders will burst out separated only by a pane of glass. I’m terrified of a spider invasion through the cracks of my house. But these two books have left such a mark that I cannot bring myself to sweep it all away.

Instead, I’m hoping that like Charlotte’s brood these mini critters will quickly spin tiny balloons and disperse, sailing off with the wind.

 

Perhaps the runt will be left behind to occupy my window, if so I would name her Aranea.

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

Life and Death in Shanghai, by Nien Cheng

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