Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books That You Rarely Hear About.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Once upon a time, I didn’t use Goodreads, or Youtube or blogs to find books to read. I browsed tables for featured books in stores and got emails from Barnes and Noble about up and coming releases. One such e-mail featured this book, and I was quite interested in it. Then nearly forgot about it. Such is life. Maybe a year later, a co-worker recommended this book to me and I remembered how amazing it sounded. I found it in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble and was both happy that it was a $6 hardcover, and sad that it apparently didn’t do so well to land itself there so soon (imagine my heartache years later, after falling in love with this book, to see it in the Dollar Tree).
I got it picked as the read for the book club I was in at the time and dove in.
The story starts with a man who has been in a terrible car accident. He was driving drunk and had spilled alcohol on the crotch of his pants, which accelerated the fire from the accident and focused it on this area of his anatomy. I’m pretty sure he is a porn star, and actually loses his money maker…. he is severely burned all over his entire body, but this is the injury that really stands out and shatters his sense of self.
A woman visits him in the hospital and ends up bringing him home to help him recover. As she ministers to him, she tells him all about their intense and tragic love from another lifetime. The book goes back and forth from their past life together to the present- he can’t help but think she is crazy, but is drawn to her none the less.
I LOVED THIS BOOK! My book club…. hated it.
“That would make her hundreds of years old…. it doesn’t make sense….”
IT’S A BOOK, KRISTA! LET REALITY BEND A LITTLE WOULD YA!?
I’ve actually only read this the one time, but whenever I look at it I have a swelling of emotion and fall back in love. I’m planning to re-read it this October, specifically the week of Halloween, as my wedding anniversary is 10/31, and this is one of the most intense love stories I’ve come across… even if it is incredibly dark and tragic. I always go into re-reads nervous…. what if I don’t love it anymore?
I’m reading Goodreads reviews now… apparently this was a very hyped debut release and didn’t live up to it… well I loved it, so *shrugs*
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
Similarly, this book also deals with a tragic love story, and the reunion of the lovers lifetimes later.
Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.
I gave this 4 stars, its Goodreads average is 3.7, so I’m not too far off. I was easily able to fall into the story and become invested in the characters. I’m a sap, what can I say? A tragic love story is my kryptonite. At the same time…. I was able to put the book down for days at a time, so, take that as you will.
The ending though…. It really sets you up for the story to go on, and then it leaves you hanging. From what I understand this was intended as a trilogy but didn’t do as well as publishers wanted it to.
The Kulipari Series by Trevor Pryce
As my kids and I watched this Netflix original series, I thought to myself: “I would read the shit out of this!” Imagine my joy when I actually paid attention to the opening credits and saw that it WAS based on a book series. We hit up the library so fast! The books, in order, are: An Army of Frogs, The Rainbow Serpent, and Amphibians’ End.
It was such a great read aloud for us. And so timely- it made current events accessible to my kids. The series focuses on the importance of access to water (Standing Rock pipeline), and touches on the treatment of refugees (45’s Muslim ban) forced from their homelands.
The illustrations are beautiful, and there are a lot of references to aboriginal mythology. I am looking forward to reading more in this world. There is a fourth book due to be released, as well as some comics we have to check out.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.
One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.
The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.
This is a dual timeline story, following the character in the present as well as his grandparents (great grandparents? I don’t remember). I really enjoyed the old traveling circus element of this book, and the mystical symbolism (horseshoe crabs, man. Who knew?)
The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott
I saw this in the juv-fic section of the library and picked it up to read to my Red Sox obsessed kiddo. I didn’t realize how much of a fantasy book this would be. We loved it. There was a lot of Irish folklore mixed in with baseball history, and the book also dove into racism and identity. It was a really unexpected gem. The story centers around the 2004 World Series, when the Red Sox broke their 86 years long curse of the Bambino. But were the Sox actually the ones to break it? Or was it Oscar, the mixed race orphan who gets caught up in a hidden world of real curses and creatures?
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
I will always associate this book with the pain of a severely sprained ankle. But personal memories aside… this book was really well written and thought provoking.
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn’t the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village–they’ve all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men–her own “Siete Magníficos”–to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I love this dark book so much. Maybe it’s not a hidden gem, I don’t actually know. But I never hear anyone talk about it. This is another one that pre-dates my Goodreads, Booktube, and blogger days.
The writing is beautiful and haunting. It is a dark, fantasy, coming of age story embellished with grim fairy tale elements.
I also loved The Gates, by the same author, which I never hear anyone mention either.
The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J Church
This book kept me up reading all night. I was so swept up in the realness of it. Heartwarming love story? Happy ending? No, and no.
It is the story of a highly intelligent woman (in the 60s I think) who marries an older academic and makes sacrifices for the sake of his career; constantly reevaluating what she wants and what it’s worth. There is romance and loss and betrayal and science all written together beautifully.
Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but this left me emotionally exhausted…in the best way.
A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins
Remind me of this book whenever I mention unhauling books from my shelves. I thought I would be okay letting this one go. I read it, I liked it, I needed the shelf space. But I’ve thought about it several times since saying goodbye and I wish I still had it around.
This story follows a man who is transcribing his father’s journals to be used in creating an artificial intelligence program. It’s not scifi-y or anything, but I learned a lot about the standards for evaluating AI (basically, the computer has to consider itself a real person).
I found it fascinating that by giving the computer his father’s language and some logic programming (now I’m just pulling comp sci terms out of my ass… I don’t know) he was able to relate to and connect with his father posthumously, in a better way than he ever had when his father was alive.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This book doesn’t get as much love as its predecessor, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. And while I do agree that Ari and Dante is the better book… this one is just as beautifully and emotionally written. This is another one that kept me up way too late. I had to wipe my tears at 1 am and force myself to put it down.
I just love the way Sáenz creates these characters that I want to wrap up in a hug and comfort. I connect with their emotions so deeply- the way they feel lost and confused and angry and sad, without necessarily knowing why. I really feel like this is YA written for adults. I can read his books from a (slightly) more stable emotional state and think… YES! I felt that. Beautiful.
Some other mentions:
- The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
- I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
- Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
- The Paper Magician (series) by Charlie N. Holmberg
Have you read any of these? What made your list this week?