Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!
Today’s topic is The Top Ten “Older” Books You Don’t Want People to Forget About. I excluded any “classics” from this list, just fyi!
1) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster
This book is very witty and clever; even though I’ve only read it once, I still remember how tongue in cheek it was. There were so many puns throughout the book that, even though it’s supposedly a children’s book, adults would probably get far more enjoyment out of it. I think I probably loved it more because I WAS an adult when I read it; a child definitely wouldn’t catch all the humor. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s a hard book for me to really describe, as much of its magic is in its pages. What I can say is that I’m sure you’d find SOMETHING to enjoy about it!
2) Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
This one was a surprise for me, as it was on my Required Reading List for my YA Literature course in Graduate School. I enjoyed most of the books I read for Grad School, but this one turned out to be a favorite. It’s a book that focuses on the burden of unwanted attention, and includes a pretty sweet love story to boot. Audrey was completely relatable and realistic, and fully drawn. Even though the references to the clothes, music, etc. will date the book a bit in the future, I still think the story will continue to speak to readers. This was a book that put a smile on my face, and in my opinion, you can never have too many of those!
3) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I don’t read very much adult fiction, but this was a book that had been recommended to me several times by a friend, so I finally picked it up. Aside from the “love conquers all” romance, this book made fantastic use of the idea of time travel. Once I started it, I was pretty much glued to Clare and Henry’s story. But OH the ending! I’d been forewarned to have the tissues handy, which was a good thing, because this book turned me into a sobbing mess. But it is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve ever read.
4) A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
This was another book that was recommended by a friend of mine, and was one I was completely unfamiliar with when I checked it out from the library. But I was soon pulled into the story, about an orphan girl in the early 1900s, who is adopted by a set of sisters. The sisters want Maud for one reason only: to use in their staging of dramatic seances. The book is told through Maud’s POV, and we get to see what those early seances were like firsthand, because Maud’s job is to pretend to be the person the sisters’ wealthy patrons want to see. There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff, a lot of historical flourishes, and a really fascinating main character, which all combine to make this a heck of a read.
5) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
All right, I know: This book is a Printz Honor Book! How could anyone forget about it? Honestly I’m not sure. This is a pick that I chose simply because I wanted to remind people of its existence, because this is seriously one of the best books I have ever read. When this book was first released, I was working at Barnes & Noble, and they were really pushing it hard. Out of curiosity, I checked it out (one of the employee perks!) and took it home. Several hours later I was a giant sobbing mess with a whole box of used tissues sitting around me, blubbering about this book. Let me tell you, I have never hand-sold a book like I did The Book Thief! This book has a unique narrative and an interesting storyline: it takes place during World War II, and the Holocaust plays a role, but that’s not all this book is about, and to say it is does it a disservice. All I know is that if you haven’t read it, you need to do so immediately. But have those tissues handy!
6) Impossible by Nancy Werlin
I have mentioned previously on this blog just how much I love faerie books. Impossible is – and isn’t – a faerie book. It was another required reading title for my YA Literature course, and was another that I absolutely loved. Nancy Werlin used the famous Scarborough Fair poem to craft the plot for this book, and she did it in a very unique way. There’s a family curse, some impossible tasks, and a rather headstrong and stubborn main character, who was quite delightful to read about. There’s also a really sweet romance that made me smile quite a lot. For those of you who aren’t big on faerie books, this might just be the faerie book for you!
7) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I don’t know if this really counts as a “backlisted” title, but it IS older, and I definitely don’t want people to forget about it. In my opinion, this series is the one that brought about the resurgence of mythology-themed YA titles. Percy Jackson is probably my all-time favorite narrator, and while the original series (of which The Lightning Thief is a part) is geared toward that MG age group, the new series, Heroes of Olympus (which I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment of; come on UPS, bring me my book!), is definitely aimed more toward YAs, simply because Percy and Co. are sixteen years old themselves. These books are full of characters with quick wits, funny oneliners, and loads and loads of death-defying adventures. Percy is snarky, heroic, and so wonderful he makes you wish he were real; never has a boy with Dyslexia and ADHD looked so good!
8) Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
This was another required title for my Grad School coursework, this time for my Fantasy Media and Literature for Youth course (yes, I’ll admit it: my courses rocked!). I was familiar with the title, but had a complete misconception about the book, mostly because of the movie version, which I also hadn’t seen. I wrongfully assumed that this was manga! Silly me! What it is instead is a fabulous story about a headstrong girl, a crazy wizard, and a magical castle. I pretty much smiled my way through this book; I loved the snark, the humor, and the way that Sophie drove Howl crazy. I loved Calcifer and the magical door and the showdown with the Witch of the Waste. Basically I just loved this book, and I think you would, too! So go read it!
9) Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I was late to the Neil Gaiman game. The first book I read was actually Good Omens (which almost made this list), and then I tried my hand at American Gods and Neverwhere, and while I enjoyed them for the most part, it was Stardust that I completely fell in love with. When the film version was released (featuring a young Ben Barnes prior to his Narnia days), I decided I’d go ahead and read the book prior to seeing it, as is my usual method. What I found was a book so full of magic that it reminded me of a fairy tale, particularly with the search for a falling star and the star turning out to be a girl. Tristran’s entire journey seemed straight out of my favorite fantasy novels, and I basically ate it up like candy. I’ve since read more Gaiman (most recently The Graveyard Book, which I really enjoyed), but Stardust remains my favorite. I’d love to get some time in my reading schedule to give it a re-read!
10) Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
I’m wrapping this list up with yet another former required reading title. What I loved about this book was the fact that a) it wasn’t set in the US and b) featured characters of color doing something fantastical, which generally doesn’t happen. I mean, let’s face it: books about magic generally feature white characters. And while Sunny was born in the US, she no longer lives there, so the entire book had a very different feel about it. The world-building is phenomenal, the magic used is unique, and the entire premise of the book is amazing. Sunny has to withstand some very difficult things, from her parents’ expectations to the constant teasing from her classmates regarding her “disability”. I loved the look at Nigerian culture, and all the talk about their Spirit faces and their abilities. This is another one that I’d LOVE to re-read at some point, because the details are unfortunately a bit hazy. But if you want a fantasy novel that’s different from the norm, give this one a try!
So those are my choices for this week. What are yours? Please link me!