Book ReviewsTop Ten Tuesday

10 One Word Book Titles

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is Books With Single-Word Titles.

I’m giving my list an international flavour because this week marks the start of two reading months celebrating the literature of Celtic nations. Wales Reading Month 2020 (otherwise known as Dewithon2020) and Irish Reading Month are highlights of the year. We’re also in the midst of the Japanese Literature Challenge.

So I’m going to build my list entirely from books by Welsh and Irish authors. that I’ve either read or have on my “to read” shelves.


From Wales

Pigeon by Alys Conran: A debut novel from an author who is a talent to watch. Alys swept the boards at the  Literature Wales Book of the Year Awards 2017 with this tale of a prank by two children from broken homes. It goes disastrously wrong, with consequences for the rest of their lives.

Cove by Cynan Jones: A stunningly atmospheric novella about a man who is incapacitated while kayaking in the midst of a storm. All he hopes is to make it back to land, to the woman and unborn child who need him.

Resistance by Owen Sheers: a highly regarded novel which imagines what might have unfolded if wartime German troops had occupied a remote Welsh community.

Blacklands by Belinda Bauer: I had to include Belinda because she lives very close to my home! This is her award-winning debut work that is part one of a crime trilogy set on and around Exmoor national park in South West England. 

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin : Lovekin’s novel draws on Welsh folklore, in particular the fables found in the collection of medieval Welsh folk tales known as The Mabinogion. 

From Ireland

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin: a quietly understated but no less effective novel set partly in a provincial Irish town in the early 1950s. The central character has to make a choice between remaining in the town with its limited opportunities or seeking a new life in New York.

Troubles by J G Farrell. This is the first title in Farrell’s Empire Trilogy. The plot concerns the dilapidation of a once grand Irish hotel (symbolic of the declining British Empire), in the midst of the political upheaval during the Irish War of Independence. Though it’s a commentary on the state of Ireland, the novel is very funny at time because the set is is rather bizarre with the frayed-around=the edges guests forced to share their accommodation with a large number of feral cats.

Milkman by Anna Burns: one of the most well-deserved winners of the Booker Prize in recent years. It takes patience to tune into the digressive, stream of consciousness narration where no character is given a name. But this novel set in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the 1970s Troubles is incredibly powerful.

Slammerkin by Emma Donaghue. This is one I bought several years ago (but have not yet read) after I read her hugely successful novel Room. Slammerkin is also a story of survival, this time set in the 1760s. It focuses on Mary Saunders, a teenage girl forced to make her own way in the world after being put out on to the streets by her callous mother.

Girl by Edna O’Brien: At the age of 88, Edna O’Brien, is showing no sign of losing her capacity to write thought-provoking novels that tackle contemporary issues. Girl is a story set in an unnamed country but is recognisably Nigeria and imagines the lives of the girls abducted by Boko Haram. This is high on my “to read’ list.

Do any of these appeal to you? What would you have put on your own version of this Top 10?


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

22 thoughts on “10 One Word Book Titles

  • hmm, how did I miss this Top Ten Tuesday!! That would have been a cool thing. I love your choices

    • I do love it when people add to their reading lists – makes me feel less guilty about my own

  • Thanks for the shout out karen – I really need to get round to reading Troubles, JG Farrell was such an interesting man.

    • It’s such a good book – not as good as Seige of Krishnapur but still really really good.

  • Blacklands is on my list too. I’ve also read Booklyn and have a copy of Resistance, although despite starting it twice I haven’t finished it. I’ll try it again sometime.

    • I didn’t find Resistance difficult to get into – just thought the ending was a bit lacklustre

  • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Oooh, love it! Milkman definitely would have made the cut for me, and Ulysses!

    • I did float with the idea of adding Ulysses but realised I didn;t have it on my TBR list and – I confess – I have never read it

  • Interesting list containing books I’d like to read, books I’v given as gifts, and books I’ve never heard of – but NO books that I’ve read.

    I don’t do this meme, but TEN Aussies are Peter Carey’s Bliss (but he has more), Elizabeth Jolley’s Palomino (she has more too), Thea Astley’s Coda (and she has more!), Madelaine Dickie’s Troppo, John Clanchy’s Sisters, Kate Jennings’ Snake, Sara Dowse’s Schemetime, Dymphna Cusack’s Jungfrau, Toni Jordan’s Addition, and Ruth Park’s Missus.

    And, of course, there’s Jane Austen’s Emma and Persuasion!

    (Woo hoo! Your blog remembered me this time!)

    • So the tables are now turned because other than Peter Carey I dont know any of those Aussie authors…..

  • *Hangs head* I have read some Welsh novels, but not any of those ones, … however I’ve read three of the Irish ones and have Milkman on the TBR. (I thought Room was exploitative of someone else’s misery, and would never read anything by ED again).

    • I’d be surprised if you HAD read those Welsh titles Lisa – few of them get the kind of visibility they need to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Sorry to hear you thought Room was exploitative – was that because it was based on a real story? I thought Donaghue handled that well actually but respect your views.

  • Interesting choices–obviously the Welsh ones are all new to me. I just read and loved (and reviewed) Milkman and am almost finished with Brooklyn. Good list!

  • I look forward to hearing more about your books from Wales. I haven’t read many books from Wales, if any! It should be a fun and interesting list.

  • Handy list, thanks! (one of my reading challenges requires a book with four letters or less in the title.

  • Haven’t read any of the Welsh titles but have read, and enjoyed, Brooklyn, Slammerkin and Milkman. Girl is on my TBR list.

  • lydiaschoch

    I need to give Slammerkin a try sometime. I really liked Room.

    My TTT .

  • Brooklyn’s a favourite of mine and I enjoyed Resistance. I’ve read several novels with one-word titles this year that qualify for my own top ten: Weather, Theft and Tyll, with Love in December as another that makes the grade for me.

    • I keep forgetting I have Love to read – it was part of the Asympote book subscription I did a year or so ago


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