This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about those books you enjoy, but are underrated on Goodreads. And by underrated I mean those that have received less than 2000 ratings on Goodreads (The Hunger Games, meanwhile, has received a whopping 4,268,756 ratings at the time of scheduling this post).
There are a couple of new books on my list, but the majority of them are older books that for some reason haven’t been read by enough people. So if you’re after something new to read that you may have never heard of, then I can guarantee there’ll be something for you here.
Messages from a Lost World: Europe on the Brink by Stefan Zweig.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 9
I don’t think there’s a book more appropriate for the current state of the world – both in terms of content and title – than this collection of essays penned by Stefan Zweig. Between the refugee crisis, the United Kingdom’s Brexit fiasco (which just gets more and more farcical), and Donald Trump, Zweig’s essays read almost like premonitions. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some of the essays are so beautiful they will make you heart leap out of your chest, especially those in which he writes about history and art. [My review]
The Long Green Shore by John Hepworth.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 22
This book has been described as “Australia’s All Quiet on the Western Front” (it says that right there on the cover). If you’re at all familiar with Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, then it should tell you a lot about The Long Green Shore. This is a piece of Australian fiction about a group of Aussie soldiers under fire in New Guinea during WWII. It’s roughly based on the author’s own experiences of the war and was written in 1947 for a contest held by a newspaper, however the book was never published until 1995. If war novels are your thing, then you need to read this.
The Art of Reading by Damon Young.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 27
I’ll stop mentioning this book eventually (it was on last week’s Top Ten Tuesday as well), but it’s a book about reading you guys. Reading. And this is a blog about books, so it’s kind of completely appropriate for me to mention it over and over again. If I mention it enough, maybe you’ll all go read it and it will get more Goodreads ratings?? But seriously, if you enjoy reading (what are you doing on this blog if you don’t?) then you need to read this book – it might just make you a better reader. [My review]
The Last Ride by Thomas Eidson.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 351
In 2003, an excellent film called The Missing was released, starring Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones. It was a film set in the American West and I personally loved it. So when I discovered that it was adapted from a book, I knew I had to read it. The book was Thomas Eidson’s The Last Ride, and I actually read it all the way in 2003 (back when I used to read book as soon as I got them). Westerns aren’t a genre that I see around much on blogs (or even written that much anymore for all I know), but there are some really good ones out there if you know what to look for. This was the first one I ever read and it’s always stuck with me for the beauty of the writing, and the vivid and brutal story it told.
Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 505
505 ratings isn’t too bad I guess. But it’s not enough because this book is so much fun and everyone should read it so they can have a fun time. I hear what you’re saying. You think poetry isn’t fun. Well it isn’t sometimes, but it is when the sonnets are actually rewrites of well-known songs by artists like Beyoncé, The Backstreet Boys, and a bunch of others I can’t remember right now. The important thing with this book is that you read it out loud to someone for extra fun times. [My review]
Bereft by Chris Womersley.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 1258
Having spent the earliest years of my childhood in the red dirt of the Australian outback, novels set in regional Australia always have a special place in my heart, but this one in particular stands out. There’s a soldier returned home from WWI to a town that would kill him on sight; a flu epidemic; and a years old mystery that needs to be solved (or, rather, resolved), all set against a stormy Aussie backdrop. It reads beautifully and you’ll probably be thinking about your life’s path a lot when you’re done. [My review]
The Giant, O’Brien by Hilary Mantel.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 842
Contrary to popular belief, Hilary Mantel has written other books besides Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. I can’t name any others aside from this one that I’m writing about now as I write this (what?). You should know that The Giant, O’Brien is a fictional story loosely based on real events – but in my mind it’s pretty much how the real events would have happened. You should also know that it’s a fraction of the length of Wolf Hall and is much less of a slog, so if you’ve ever wanted to read Mantel but have been too scared to, then this is a good starting place. [My sort of review, including some info about the real life events]
Stammered Songbook by Erwin Mortier.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 280
A book that I’ve seen doing the rounds A LOT lately is Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers. I’ve not read it (yet), but the general consensus is that it captures grief perfectly and communicates it beautifully. That’s pretty much how I feel about Stammered Songbook. In this book, Mortier watches himself disappear from the mind of his mother as she succumbs to the ravages of Alzheimer’s. It’s a super intimate portrait of the relationship between parent and child, and is completely heartbreaking (as you’d probably expect). [My review]
Asking for Trouble: The Autobiography Of A Banned Journalist by Donald Woods.
Number of Goodreads ratings: 52
It’s been more than 10 years since I read this and I can’t remember much about it, except that it deserves to have more than 52 ratings. So here’s a short bio about Donald Woods from Goodreads: “Donald Woods was editor-in-chief of the Daily Dispatch, a newspaper in South Africa. While editor, he integrated the editorial staff (in direct opposition to apartheid) and took up an anti-apartheid stance. However, Woods was originally opposed also to the Black Consciousness Movement, and in particular Steve Biko; they became friends, and Woods was put under ban after the Soweto Uprising. Woods and his entire family (wife and five surviving children) escaped to England via Lesotho after Biko died, and there Woods became an active speaker against apartheid.”
Airmail: Women of Letters by Michaela McGuire & Marieke Hardy.
Number of Goodreads rating: 21
Only 21 ratings? I actually can’t even believe it. I challenge everyone who read this far into this post to get a copy of this book from somewhere and read the crap out of it. I can guarantee that Airmail has a lot more to offer you than this post, so I’ll stop writing so you can stop reading and go get the book. [But you can read my review/letter of/about it first if you want]