When I first saw The Broke and The Bookish‘s prompt for today, I thought there was no way that I would come up with ten books that I enjoyed that didn’t have more than 2,000 reviews on Goodreads. But, guess what! I was wrong.
I sorted my “read” shelf by number of reviews and, of the ones with less than 2k reviews, these are ten of my favorites:
How is it that these books don’t have more Goodreads reviews? Do people just not know about their awesomeness? Well, let me tell you a little about why I liked them and maybe you’ll check out some of these hidden gems for yourself (links take you to my reviews on Goodreads).
- Serpentine by Cindy Pon — To everyone who says that they want more YA fantasy that set in non-Western worlds: you should be reading this book. If you liked the female friendship in Uprooted: you need to read this book. And, if you read it now, you’ll be all set to read the sequel when it comes out in September.
- The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman — This one is YA historical fiction that takes place in San Francisco (and a little bit in China) during the 1920s. It features a girl who pretends to be a boy so she can escape from Angel Island where all the Asian immigrants are being held, waiting to enter the United States. She has to figure out how to survive on her own in the city, once she gets there. She learns to fight and becomes a body guard for some Chinese mafia-types. And she does a bunch of other really cool stuff. I seriously do not understand why more people haven’t read this book.
- Sword by Amy Bai — I’ve talked about this book on my blog before. It’s epic fantasy with really cool world-building and it throws a bunch of tropes on their head. It’s not as flashy as a lot of other YA fantasy I’ve been reading. It’s a little quieter, but there are still battles. It’s more thoughtful and leaves a little more unsaid. But there is still a ton of emotion, a strong female friendship, and a little bit of a romantic sub-plot that’s more about character development than plot development.
- Swim: Why we Love the Water by Lynn Sherr — If you love to swim, even if you don’t compete or like to swim laps, but just love being in and around the water, you must read this book. There’s a bit of interesting history about the pastime and the sport, a bit of personal narrative and stories, and a ton of cool photographs and prints (enough that I recommend getting a paper copy).
- 28 Barbary Lane by Armstead Maupin — You may know this better by the title Tales of the City. This edition is a collection of the first three books in that series. If you’ve never heard of this series, the novels take place in San Francisco in the 1970s and they are excellent. They follow the story of a young woman who moves to San Francisco from the Midwest and the fabulous ensemble of characters she meets and befriends in the old Victorian building she moves into. I highly recommend this.
- The Romantics by Galt Niederhoffer — They made this book into a movie featuring Katie Holmes, but I think the book is better (surprise, surprise). If you’re doing the “Read Harder” challenge, may I suggest that you do this one for the “read a book / watch the movie” task? Definitely check this out if you enjoy unlikeable characters and stories of complicated friendships. Especially check this out if you liked the book Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld.
- The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy — I originally read this because Kirstin Cashore (author of the Graceling series) mentioned that this book was one of the books that inspired her. It’s tense, creepy, the writing is excellent, it takes place in New Zealand, and there is a fabulous supernatural element to the story that will keep you turning pages, wanting to see what happens next. It’s such a good book. If you loved A Wrinkle in Time, or other “old-school” YA, then you should definitely check this one out.
- The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig — This is historical fiction, set along the Pacific Northwest coast (from Alaska to Oregon), in the mid-1800s. The book starts out in an Alaskan work-camp, and quickly becomes an epic canoe trip (based on a real event!). The descriptions are fantastic. The writing is so good. It probably doesn’t have many reviews because it was first published in the 1980s, but if you are looking for a literary fiction page-turner that strongly evokes a place, you should check this out.
- Momentum is Your Friend: The Metal Cowboy and His Pint-Sized Posse Take on America by Joe Kurmaskie — This book is a little like Wild, but if she had kids and took them on a back-roads bike trip across the country instead of the Pacific Crest Trail. It features an adventure loving father hitting mid-life and taking his sons across country on a bicycle tour, proving that kids can survive outside of “hermetically sealed SUVs” and that there can still be adventure and passion after 40.
- Nice to Come Home To by Rebecca Flowers — If what you’re really looking for is a contemporary romance featuring a woman in her mid-thirties and reads like a modern-day Jane Austen rom-com, then you should check out this book. Seriously, if you love realistic, feel-good stories, you need to read this book.