Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love But Haven’t Talked About Much Lately

Putting this list together for Top Ten Tuesday, I found so many old favorites that I couldn’t restrict myself to ten. These are all books I love but just don’t seem to come up very often—in some cases, books I wasn’t sure how to write a full review about, or read before I started book blogging. I also noticed that a lot of them are young adult or middle grade books. That makes sense, because I don’t read those genres as much anymore, but these favorites are still excellent ones that I love to reread every few years.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver

I was obsessed with the slow food movement when I read this, and I loved the idea of doing what Kingsolver did, growing all my own produce, buying the few things I need from the local farmers market. I’ve long since realized that that lifestyle’s not for me—but I still love reading about her experience. Especially if you’re already a fan of her work, this is a lovely story and examination of food, nature, and community.

Black Radishes, by Susan Lynn Meyer

An engaging middle grade novel about French Jews in World War II. The second I finished this book, I put it on the display shelf at work, and was pleased to see it get picked up just a few minutes later.

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

I was so impressed by this book, and am frustrated by the response it received because of people’s inability to let Rowling write for adults. As I saw pointed out in a fantastic Goodreads review, it’s not quite accurate to say (as I have) that this book has nothing in common with the Harry Potter series, because they actually contain many of the same unpleasant, very real elements of life—but in The Casual Vacancy, there’s no magic to make everything better. Characters don’t have to be likable to be understandable, and this is a compelling, character-driven book. If you liked The Catcher in the Rye, The Cookbook Collector, The Interestings, anything by Jonathan Franzen, this book deserves a fair chance.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is my favorite author (usually tied with Barbara Kingsolver) but when I talk about his books, I most often mention A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood, or After Dark. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is one of his newest, and it’s lovely in a more quiet, real-world kind of way that made me wish it hadn’t ended as soon as it did.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

It’s been a long time since I read this, but I remember loving it. Based on the facts—it’s about a girl who, barred from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society, tricks them into taking orders from her; it’s by E. Lockhart, who also wrote the hilarious and excellent series beginning with The Boyfriend List—I’d like to read it again sometime, and feel optimistic that I will love it again.

The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only wizard/private investigator, a line of work that’s as dangerous, but not as lucrative, as you might think. I read the first twelve books in 2010, burning through one every few days (they’re very readable). Then I had to wait for the next book to come out, and although I was really looking forward to it, somehow when it did come out I never picked it up. Now there are two more besides that, and every time I see one of them I think, I really need to read that series again. This is adult urban fantasy, not for anyone who dislikes sex in their books, but exciting and full of adventure.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss

If you’re the kind of person who’ll be interested in a book about grammar, it’s pretty likely that you already know about this. But it’s a book about grammar that was a national bestseller, so you don’t have to be particularly into grammar to enjoy it. I am interested in grammar, but this book is also hilarious, and it’s just a lot of fun to read. Possibly exciting fact for those who care: There’s a paperback edition that includes punctuation stickers in the back cover. You’re welcome.

Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull

I loved this book so much that I went back the next day to buy the sequel, plus two copies of the first book to give people for Christmas. Kendra and Seth are a sister and brother who discover that their grandparents are the caretakers of a secret magical refuge called Fablehaven, and although the new sexist covers want you to think that Seth is the hero of their adventures, he’s actually the cause of most of the trouble Kendra gets them out of. This is an excellent YA/middle grade mighty girl series.

From Housewife to Heretic, by Sonia Johnson

I don’t talk about this book much because I don’t talk about religion much, in general. At the time that I read it, I was in the process of leaving the LDS church myself, so it was both incredibly painful and incredibly important to me. I feel a great affinity for the author.

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Another YA fantasy, and though it took me a while to get into it the first time, it’s now one of my all-time favorite books. I’d probably love it even more now that I know what it’s like to be a woman who just doesn’t want to have children, and has to deal with how that makes everyone around her (including many readers) think she’s cold and unlikable. That’s only a minor part of the story, but one that sticks out to me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I’ve read this book in both print and audio formats, and both times it’s been absolutely lovely. The characters are beautiful, a family of people who aren’t related by blood, who risk their lives to care for each other and read together and discuss literature with insight and poetry. This was everywhere in the years after it was published, especially in book groups, and for good reason.

The Importance of Being Earnest / An Ideal Husband, by Oscar Wilde

Plays are meant to be seen, not read, but I still love to read Oscar Wilde’s. His humor is so sharp and clever, with a significant element of nonsense that makes it all just so fun. If you haven’t seen the movies made from these two plays, they’re very well done, cast with fabulous actors like Cate Blanchett, Colin Firth, Minnie Driver, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, young Reese Witherspoon, and—a crossover in both movies—Rupert Everett.

Lost Lake, by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen’s books are some of my favorite “gentle fiction,” and this is my favorite of them. They all have a strong sense of atmosphere—which is actually interesting because as a setting, the Deep South wouldn’t usually be my favorite.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

Four genius children are recruited through an ad to go on a dangerous secret mission. That’s all the information you get from the cover blurb, and that’s all I needed to decide to pick it up. I think I read this about the same time that I read Fablehaven, so I have really good memories of lots of excellent books in that period of my life. I read somewhere that the way narcolepsy is depicted in the book is inaccurate, so keep that in mind.

The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander

One of my favorite childhood favorites. I have always loved these books.

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

I had to read this book three times—as a freshman in high school, again as a senior, and then in college. It took me until that third time to really appreciate it, but when I finally got it, it became one of my favorite books. Now I need to read it again, because it’s been probably ten years since the last time.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlie Andrews says:

    I like your list! I particularly liked what you said about The Casual Vacancy – I think that the fact it was about as far removed from the Potter world as it was possible to be shocked people into thinking that it wasn’t going to be good, but it captures the village undercurrents really well and there’s a gritty realism to it that was really well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      And the fact that there was language! And drugs! From an author who’d previously written for children! The scandal.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rattlethestarssite says:

    I absolutely adore The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ♡ Also, I need to add Graceling to my TBR. I’ve seen it on a lot of lists today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      Do, do, do. The third book is amazing, too, and I liked the second one (in the same world but different characters) but need to read it again; I wasn’t sure about it the first time.


  3. Jan Hicks says:

    Have you read J K Rowling’s detective books written under her Robert Galbraith pen-name? I’ve read the first one and was pleasantly surprised.

    I might have to read Things Fall Apart again. It has been 20 years for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      I haven’t; I’m not really into mysteries, so I wasn’t sure for a while whether I wanted to. I think I do now, I’m just waiting for a good space to open up in my TBR queue. 🙂


  4. Love the Dresden books! I haven’t fallen behind in that particular series, but I have done with other series. It can be difficult to catch up again. My TTT


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