Monday, September 10, 2018

TTT: Hidden Gems

With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  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 it out!

The topic this week is: Hidden Gems

So I did what any other completely normal, not at all obsessive reader would do. I went to my  Goodreads "Favorites" shelf of 156 books, reverse sorted them by number of reviews, and picked the first ten that aren't entirely idiosyncratic (Oregon For All Seasons, an out of print travel book from the mid 1970s that my dad did the photography for) or reflect a dated sense of my taste (A Vein of Riches, a midcentury unionization novel that anchors around the love of a father and son for the same woman, which in retrospect is pretty icky, but seemed SO ROMANTIC to me when I was 14). 

And here they are.

Loser's Bracket, which I've already reviewed here on Falconer's Library. Chris Crutcher is so amazing, but because he's been writing so long, I feel like people think he's just some 80s author. Nope. He's pushing 80, but he still gets it SO RIGHT when writing about strong kids from tough backgrounds.

The Digger series is unexpectedly adorably for a gritty fantasy. Or it's unexpectedly gritty for an adorable fantasy. Either way, I would love to know more people who've read this black and white graphic novel about a wombat who ends up in the wrong place.

Speaking of graphic novel/comics series that everyone should be talking about, but nobody is, Princeless is the most swashbuckling, joyful, feminist celebration and parody of princess stories that ever could be.  Do yourself a favor and start at the first volume, then keep going!

Ball Don't Lie was the second book by Matt de la Peña I ever read, and it holds a special place in my heart. Between my professional and my personal life, I have a strong tendency to root for the kid with a shitty family background, the kid without roots or support. And I'm not a sports person myself, but it's obvious that the characters Sticky plays ball with are people de la Peña knows well, and I'm also a sucker for strong secondary characters.

I strongly suspect that were I to read The Singing Tree for the first time today, I'd roll my eyes at the role of women, at the patronizing tone taken towards Jews, and the rampant pro-Hungary themes. But I read this when I was eight. And nine. And ten. And so on. And what I loved, and will always love, is the strength of Kate's character and will, the believable and unshakeable family love portrayed, the age appropriate analysis of how war warps people, whether they are shell shocked survivors or those on the homefront being taught that The Enemy is trash. And then there's the novel's strongest theme, that of love and grace enduring despite all of that. If I had to choose just one book from my childhood, this one might be it. 

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is delightful, charming, creative, and given her recent death, incredibly poignant.  

Symphony for the City of the Dead hits a bunch of my weaknesses: Russia--specifically the siege of Leningrad--classical music, and narrative nonfiction. I was nervous about tackling such a big book (456 pages), but it was fascinating and never dragged. M. T. Anderson's brain must be such a cool place to live. He never writes the same kind of book twice, and he never messes them up.

Rebound is the prequel to the Newbery award winning novel in verse The Crossover. I wasn't convinced we needed a prequel. I was wrong. It's just as good as the first book.

Lily & Dunkin are two middle school kids dealing with a lot. Lily is transgender, no matter how hostile her dad is to the idea, and she wants to start hormone therapy before she goes through puberty. Dunkin is new in town, in denial about a family tragedy and about his own mental health. Despite that description, this is a positive, joyful book. 

A woman and a cyborg fall in love, and it's not trite. He She and It is a book I always associate with The Handmaid's Tale. I read them close together, when they were both "the latest" book by steadfastly intellectual feminist authors. Both books delved into science fiction in a way that made the storylines more compelling than I'd found the authors' previous work, without taking away from their ferocity of mind.  I also love Piercy's City of Darkness, City of Light, set during the French Revolution. No cyborgs. 

Other books I adore that have fewer than 10,000 reviews:
The River Why, Small Wonder, Boy 21, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, The Wrong Mother, Ramona Blue, The 57 Bus, Winterdance, How It Went Down, WitnessNightjohn, Death Comes for the Fat Man, Passage to Freedom, Bird, Home at Last, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, The Dunderheads



  1. I have heard of a few of these, but I think it's because I read reviews here for them. Lily and Dunkin is one you have me wanting to read since you reviewed it though.

  2. I’m keeping my Amazon wish list open as I read through your list. Ball Don’t Lie? Matt de la Pena? That’s a definite yes. Symphony for the City of the Dead? Yes, of course. The Singing Tree? Your childhood favorite? Must look for it.

  3. I’ve read Winterdance (many times), but none of the others. Rebound and Lily & Dunkin are on my TBR list. I’ll get to them in some century. :)

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. Symphony for the City of the Dead sounds fascinating!

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

  5. Interesting choices! I didn't post this week.

  6. Haha, that's a really smart way to pick them out :D I mean, memory has gaps. At least, mine does. I also usually pick books for lists having opened my Goodreads first, cause it's hard to keep track of all the books you've read in a lifetime.

    I indeed haven't heard of these! He She and It sounds very interesting.

  7. Well, I haven't read any of these. But my TBR is now growing. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!