Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for People Who Think They Don’t Like John Buchan


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists and love to share lists with other bookish folk.

The rules are simple:

  1. Each week they post a new Top Ten list topic.
  2. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  3. Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  4. Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Recommendations For…. I’ve chosen to showcase one of my favourite authors – John Buchan. A lot of people may only know him as the author of The 39 Steps or perhaps one of his other novels featuring Richard Hannay. Others may think him outdated or lacking interest for the modern reader. But he wrote so much more than what he termed his ‘shockers’ and in fact had a particularly full and interesting life. It also gives me the opportunity to show off pictures of some of my collection of John Buchan books…

To find out more about him, click on this link to The John Buchan Society.

AugustusBuchanRecommendation 1: For lovers of biographies – Augustus

In 27 BC, out of the carnage of two civil wars, one man emerged to rule absolutely the Roman world. This man was Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, and he was perhaps the least likely candidate to return stability to the Republic. But by AD 14 Octavian had established peace over an empire that stretched from the shores of Britain to Anatolia. Power, prosperity and propaganda had seen him renamed as Augustus, ‘The Divinely Favoured One.’ He had become a God, and had changed the face of the Republic forever. In Augustus (1937) renowned writer John Buchan achieves a remarkable feat of historical biography. His inimitable style for storytelling colours the life of Rome’s first Emperor, whilst remaining a valuable resource for historians. The writing is as readable as Tom Holland, the story as entertaining as Robert Graves and Robert Harris. It is the perfect accompaniment to the likes of Rubicon, Dynasty, Dictator and I, Claudius. If you love Roman history, Augustus will not disappoint.

MemoryHoldTheDoorRecommendation 2: For fans of memoirs – Memory-Hold-The-Door

John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (1875-1940) completed his autobiography not long before his death. A highly accomplished man, his was a life of note. Although now known by many chiefly as an author, he was also an historian, Unionist politican and Governor General of Canada. Although he stated that it was not strictly an autobiography, Memory Hold-the-Door provides a reflective, personal account of his childhood in Scotland, his literary work from his time at Oxford University to the famous Hannay and Leithen stories and his extensive public service in South Africa, Scotland, France in the Great War, and Canada. Of great interest are his accounts of key contemporary figures, including Lord Grey, Lord Haldane, Earl Balfour, Lord Haig, T.E. Lawrence and King George V. Known in the United States as Pilgrim’s Way, Memory Hold-the-Door was reportedly one of the favourite books of John F. Kennedy.

Recommendation 3: For those who enjoy books about travel or the history of exploration – The Last Secrets: The Final Mysteries of Exploration

A fascinating glimpse into one the most exciting epochs for exploration including the exploration of Lhasa, The Gorges of the Brahmaputra, The North Pole, The Mountains of the Moon, The South Pole, Mount McKinley, The Holy Cities of Islam, The Exploration of New Guinea, and Mount Everest.

Recommendation 4: For those who like novels set in World War 1 (or who know their Pilgrim’s Progress) Mr Standfast

World War One has reached the grimmest pitch when Richard Hannay begins his greatest exploit: the hunting down of a man with a hundred faces, leader of a German spy ring poised to bring the Allies to their knees. From the rocky coasts of Skye to a French chateau, from the Swiss mountains to the battlefields of the Western Front – Hannay plays a fantastic, dangerous game of bluff and double-bluff. A moving romance, a desperate race against tine over an Alpine glacier, aerial dog-fights – all are here in this panoramic novel by one of the truly great adventure writers.

WitchWoodRecommendation 5: For readers of historical fictionWitch Wood

Set against the religious struggles and civil wars of seventeenth century Scotland, Witch Wood is a gripping atmospheric tale in the spirit of Stevenson. As a moderate Presbyterian minister, young David Sempill disputes with the extremists of his faith, as all around, the defeated remnants of Montrose’s men are being harried and slaughtered. There are still older conflicts to be faced however, symbolised by the presence of the Melanudrigall Wood, a last remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest. Here there is black magic to be uncovered, but also the more positive pre-Christian intimations of nature worship. In such setting, and faced with the onset of the plague, David Sempill’s struggle and eventual disappearance take on a strange and timeless aspect in what was John Buchan’s own favourite among his many novels.

Recommendation 6: For thriller lovers – The Power House

When his friend Charles Pitt-Heron vanishes mysteriously, Sir Edward Leithen is at first only mildly concerned. But a series of strange events that follow Pitt-Heron’s disappearance convinces Leithen that he is dealing with a sinister secret society. Their codename is ‘The Power-House’. The authorities are unable to act without evidence. As he gets deeper involved with the underworld, Leithen finds himself facing the enemy alone and in terrible danger.

Recommendation 7: For fans of the supernatural – The Gap in the Curtain

A mysterious scientist gives guests at a country house party the ability to see a glimpse of an issue of the Times dated a year ahead of time. But a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing…

SickHeartRiver2Recommendation 8: For lovers of adventure stories – Sick Heart River

Sick Heart River is John Buchan’s most powerful novel and his last, completed days before his death and published posthumously in 1941. Lawyer and politician, Sir Edward Leithen has been diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and been given a year to live. A former colleague, American John S. Blenkiron, requests help to find his niece’s husband, who appears to have flown from his very successful financial career to the Canadian north. Having nothing left to lose and in search of one last challenge, Leithen agrees to help, embarking on an exciting journey through the rugged Canadian Northwest Territories.

Recommendation 9: For those who enjoy time slip novels – The Path of the King

What is the true root of royal blood? A band of gold belonging to a young Viking prince is passed from generation to generation. This epic story takes the reader from Viking Scotland, through Norman England, the Crusades, France and the Jacobite Rebellion to the making of one of history’s greatest leaders.

Recommendation 10: For those who like a touch of humour – John MacNab

Three high-flying men—a barrister, a cabinet minister and a banker—are suffering from boredom. They concoct a plan to cure it. They inform three Scottish estates that they will poach from each two stags and a salmon in a given time. They sign collectively as ‘John McNab’ and await the responses. Let the challenge begin!


11 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for People Who Think They Don’t Like John Buchan

    1. Thank you but that’s only a small proportion of them! I must give the bookcase where I keep them a sort out and tidy up and post some proper pictures. An item on my to do list that never seems to get to the top is to create a separate area on my blog devoted to John Buchan. One day, eh…

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      1. Must say I find it impossible to pick one. I like the Hannay books best. The Thirty-Nine Steps is the perfect thriller. I’m very fond of John Macnab, and I have a great regard for his early books of essays Scholar Gipsies, which I often take with me when I walk in Scotland.


      2. John Buchan was a great writer. It’s pleasing that he’s at last getting literary recognition – and is, thankfully, still in print.

        Liked by 1 person

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