Monday, October 10, 2016

TTT: Books that have been recommended to me

The delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly list challenge.  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check them out! 

The topic this week is "Books that have been recommended to me."  I find this challenging, because I'm forever adding books to my TBR based on what I see on other blogs or websites, but I don't have a way of tracking that information.  So I'm going to put a slight twist on it, and make a list of ten books I've read because I've felt either some sort of social pressure ("Everyone's reading it!") or some self-imposed pressure ("Well-read individuals read this book, right?")

Thus, we have

Ten Books I've Read Because I've Felt Like I Should

Some of these I am so GLAD I picked up, and some were a slog.  Some blew me away, and some were fine, but left me puzzled as to why they seemed so important to others.  These are all books I've read in the past year or so.  I also read a ton of classics in my youth because I felt like I was supposed to (and because I do like Victorian literature--my sense of obligation never extended to 17th century OR early 20th century classics).

1. A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I was finally shamed into reading some Doyle by my deep love of Sherlock, the TV show.  It was fine.  I feel no need to continue.

2. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
I saw this book EVERYWHERE a year or two ago, and actually picked up Me Before You before it started getting even more hype, just because it was more readily available than this one!  So when I finally saw it in at the library, I also read One Plus One.  I really enjoyed it.  Like MBY, it's a romance, but it's definitely not fluffy.  (I chose to show the adorable cover with the characters instead of the iconic boldly colored typography, just for fun.)

3. The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
I almost didn't read this best seller, because just like with Moyes, I tried a different book by the same author while waiting to get ahold of the one I kept hearing about.  And the other book kind of sucked.  As it turns out, I understand why this WWII novel is so popular.

4. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
I'd vaguely heard of this, as a terrific fantasy written in the era between when I was a kid reading kid/YA fantasy and when I returned to the genre as an adult.  Still, it looked awfully big, and possibly of the pretentiously serious kind of fantasy I don't enjoy.  Then I realized who the author was, and decided I needed to read it.'s mostly the kind of pretentiously serious fantasy I don't like as much.

5. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
My students all loved this book.  I was skeptical.  I finally read it, and was blown away.  This pretty much revolutionized my attitude about graphic novels in the classroom.

6. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Grey was good, but not a major revelation to me, having grown up with familial knowledge about the annexation of the Baltic states by the USSR, and having lived in the Baltics just after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Out of the Easy was terrific though, so I finally decided to grapple with this WWII story.  LOVED IT.  There were so many elements I could tease apart to explain why, but for the sake of brevity, I'll just say IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS MOVE IT TO THE TOP OF YOUR LIST.  Especially if you like historical fiction, but even if you don't.

7. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
This book is talked about as if it's a shoe-in for a Newbery mention this year.  So yes, I felt pressured to read it.  I feel like if I'd gone in blind, I would have liked it a lot more, but it didn't live up to my expectations after all that hype.

8. Fish in a Tree by Linda Mulally Hunt
I am really a bitter old cynic about middle grade novels.  That's the only explanation I can think of for why this apparently universally beloved book seemed so uneven to me.

9, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
I was just trying to think to myself what it was about this best-seller that made me feel obligated to read it, as I don't actually read all that many nonfiction adult best-sellers as a rule.  Then I remembered--Falconers and hawks fit together so neatly!  I may have enjoying the falconry a tiny bit more than the ruminating, but I found the whole thing both affecting and effective.  I also adore the cover.

10. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
I couldn't decide whether to use this book or Brown Girl Dreaming for the final spot, but after whining about two MG novels, I wanted to end on a more positive note.  I LOVE THIS BOOK.  I love it as a reader, as a teacher, and as a parent.  I'm so glad that the Newbery award plus the experience of hearing Alexander speak at NCTE pushed me to pick up this book.


  1. Finnikin of the Rock was only okay for me. I did keep reading though, and was more blown away by the sequel.

    1. Ooh, interesting. I might have to give it a try just in case I have the same reaction.

  2. I have yet to read Pax, but I've heard that it would have been much better if it were a short story. The illustration on the cover is great, though!

  3. I haven’t read any of these, but some of them are on my TBR list. I’m pretty sure Pax will be forced on me soon, especially if it wins any major awards. It’s getting a lot of hype in my real-life world.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. Great twist on the topic. I feel like I do this all the time with books, and it's very changeable as to how it turns out. I definitely felt the pressure to read H is for Hawk as it was everywhere, but I didn't in the end. Glad you liked it though. I'll expect I'll pick it up at some point just to see what all the hype is about.

  5. I read The Crossover when I decided to read all the Battle of the Books candidates last year. I probably would not have done so without that incentive, but I was really glad I did. I loved it too!


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