Top 10 Books I Can’t Believe I Read

I have seen the “Top 10 Tuesdays” meme floating around the internet for awhile now and have thought it looked like a lot of fun, so for 2018 I am going to participate. I can’t promise that I will do so every week, but hopefully I will more often than not! For more information, visit That Artsy Reader Girl‘s blog.

1. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I know that most women my age have read Twilight, but I really thought that I wouldn’t be one of them. When I was in high school, I spoke passionately about standing out from the crowd, and making your own decisions in life, and not falling into a fan group – and then I read this one anyway. And let me just say – I really enjoyed the start of this series and was quite disappointed by the end of it. Until about halfway through Eclipse, I thought that Edward was the villain of the novels – I thought that it was just a drawn-out backstory for Bella the vampire hunter. I still feel like the books could have been 100 times better if Stephanie Meyer had taken it that way!

2. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The number of YA fantasy novels I have read in my lifetime is probably a little over the top, to be completely honest. However, in the last few years I have really moved away from YA, especially YA fantasy, to give myself a little more variety in my reading. That is what makes this read particularly surprising to me – when I first read the summary, it sounded to me a lot like every other YA fantasy I have read. However, my sister The Effervescent Bookworm gave this to me as a present, and she is often knows me better than I know myself, so a couple of years ago I decided I would read this one. And it is great! I love it any time a girl is the strongest one in the room, but this one is particularly enjoyable because Mare (the main character) is strong and smart and people actually fear her – that was a really fun dynamic to read about.

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I came onto Divergent rather late in the game, so this had already gotten a lot of bad press before I picked it up. I finally decided to just get through it so I understood what everyone was talking about, and I was pleasantly surprised! The Divergent series, I feel, got even more interesting and complex the further into the series you went. All of the interesting science of the series definitely made up for the boring romance, and even that had some interesting complexity by the end of the series.

4. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Because of the  subject material and the tone of this book, I would not have picked this one up in most circumstances. However, in the summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, I found myself low on reading materials with a work schedule that seemed grueling to me at the time (30 hours per week! Oh, no!), and my mom had borrowed this book from a co-worker, so I picked it up – and loved it! David Sedaris is hilarious and creative and relatable, and this book was the perfect fit for me to read right before starting college.

5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I am usually not a big reader of non-fiction, and when I first picked up In Cold Blood, it honestly sounded incredibly dry to me. However, this was a selection in my very first grown-up book club, and not only did I find the details of this case fascinating, but it kicked off an interest in true crime. Even now, I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, and I’m still hoping to find another book to read that will be as intriguing as this one. I admittedly haven’t looked very hard though, so if you know of a good one, I would love recommendations!

6. The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

Upon first reading the summary for this one, it sounds like exactly the kind of historical fiction I love. However, I am not a big reader of “Christian fiction”, and I had not realized until about a third of the way through that this was Christian fiction. I am Christian (in my own way) and even go to church most Sundays, but most Christian fiction I have accidentally picked up just sounds too desperate to me – like the author wants to convince you by the end of the novel that your soul needs saving. However, this one felt a lot more natural than many I have read, and while I wouldn’t consider this one to be top quality fiction, I was still glad I finished it.

7. Dubliners by James Joyce

I am generally not a big short story reader, and I tend to prefer recently published fiction over classics. However, the spring that I was pregnant with Annabel (my first kiddo), I signed up for a night class that was Irish Renaissance literature, and was introduced to James Joyce. I cannot convey to you the love that I have for Dubliners. It was exactly what I needed at the time – challenging and compelling and sometimes crude, and something about the brutal honesty of Joyce’s writing made me feel like I could handle motherhood during an overwhelming time in my life. I followed up that class with an independent study that summer on Ulysses – and that was a fantastic experience! I was so glad I could tackle that book one-on-one with a teacher, and it was a pretty crazy read during my long and crazy labor with Annabel.

8. Cosmopolis by Don Delillo

This was another English lit read – definitely not a book I ever would have picked up on my own, and this one was totally not my style. I am glad I had the class discussion to help with my understanding, but even then, I finished it feeling like I had just been hit with a brick. Still not my taste, but I was in the end glad that I had pushed my boundaries.

9. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

I actually read this in the same class that taught Cosmopolis, and when I first started it, Haroun seemed like such a bizarre choice for a college-level lit class. However, I loved this one! I definitely feel like there was a lot to unpack in this as an adult (like any Rushdie book), but I am looking forward to Annabel being old enough to read this book again with me someday. The characters were dynamic and the fantasy was so lighthearted while still remaining meaningful.

10. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

This was the very first Louise Erdrich book I read, and I almost didn’t read it because of the heavy subject matter. However, I really wanted to read something that took place on a reservation to start getting in touch with my own indigenous heritage, and I wasn’t really sure where to start, so when this book fell into my lap I decided to try it. I am so glad I did! Louise Erdrich writes so beautifully, and her characters always feel incredibly real. I am so glad that I gave this a chance, as she is now one of my auto-buys.

 

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