Today’s TTT post is underrated books. I had a tough time making this list because a lot of the books I would normally include, I’ve already included in previous posts. I don’t want to be a repetitive slag, so I had to search. Admittedly, there are still some on here I’ve mentioned in other posts, but so be it. Nobody’s perfect. That also means that not all of these are five star books. Some of them might not even be that underrated, but they’re ones I think are worth reading and don’t know a lot of people who have read them.
I’ve included a quote from each of the books so that you can get an idea of why I think you should read it.
Jeanette Winterson – Written on the Body
The language in this book is gorgeous. It’s fluid and graceful and pulls you right in. This is a love story about the pain of loss. The MC isn’t given a gender, so the perspective shifts based on who is reading it. It’s perfection in paper.
“Cheating is easy. There’s no swank to infidelity. To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. You get away with it, you take a little more and a little more until there is no more to draw on. Oddly, your hands should be full with all that taking but when you open them there’s nothing there.”
Diane Setterfield – The Thirteenth Tale
Again, we have a book with delicate and carefully thought out writing. While some people might find this book a little pretentious, lovers of books – books themselves, not just the stories they contain – will be drawn in. It’s a story within a story which hits me right in the centre of my book love.
“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”
Hillary Jordan – When She Woke
This book is shelved with other dystopian fiction, so it’s obviously gotten lost in the shuffle. It’s a hard look at how morality is formed and warped by the beliefs of others. If our current social acceptance of shaming others continues, is our penal system that far away from what Jordan portrays in this book?
“One by one, she conjured all the boxes she’d been put into: The good girl box and the good Christian box…the mistress box…the bad daughter and fallen woman boxes…She saw with a painful blaze of clarity that every one of these boxes had been of her own making, either by consent or lack of resistance. She had no right to bitterness; she had put herself in them.”
Jeanette Walls – The Glass Castle
One of the better memoirs I’ve read. That’s really all I have to say about this one. Our lives do not have to be the ones our parents set out for us.
“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. “You’d be destroying what makes it special,” she said. “It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty.”
John Harwood – The Séance
Gothic fiction is a hit or miss genre. Lots of authors think they get it right, but instead, they write a simple ghost story. Harwood hits a lot of the tropes of gothic literature and creates a damn entertaining read.
“sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plough the earth with salt if you will; but never live there.”
Jasper Fforde – The Eyre Affair
If you’ve ever wished there was some kind of book control system to stop people messing with the classics, this is a must read. It’s dense and exceptionally quirky, but delightful and strange all stirred up together.
“The barriers between reality and fiction are softer than we think; a bit like a frozen lake. Hundreds of people can walk across it, but then one evening a thin spot develops and someone falls through; the hole is frozen over by the following morning.”
Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Another book that’s gotten lost in an influx of genre books. This is a zombie book – kind of. Civilization has fallen under the hoards and this is the last surviving community. The book follows one girl as she tries to find a way to survive. It is much slower and quieter than other books in the genre. This is actually the first of a trilogy, but can be read as a stand alone.
“Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there’s no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed? What if we are the only ones left — who will know our stories then? Who will remember those?”
Joshua Braff – The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green
A coming of age story set in the 70s/80s that is equal parts hilarious and gut-wrenching. I noticed this book because of the author’s famous sibling, but this Braff holds his own with a masterful understanding of character development.
“Underlying all of the constant campaigning needed to uphold this position is a profound vulnerability that lies at the very core of his psyche. Such is the narcissist who must mask his fears of inadequacy by ensuring that he is perceived to be a unique and brilliant stone. In his offspring he finds the grave limits he cannot admit in himself. And he will stop at nothing to make certain that his child continually tries to correct these flaws.”
Justin Evans – The White Devil
I read this book a couple years ago, so I’m going to admit I don’t remember all the details. What I do remember is loving it. I powered through it in a day I think. Maybe a day and a half. There might be some questionable historical references to Lord Byron (a focal point within the story), but this was an engaging, entertaining ghost story.
“She heard a sharp intake of breath – human breath, shaped by lips, but ghastly, ragged, popping – that struck a note she knew. The deep inhalation before somebody started a nasty task, say, beating to death the old lady they were robbing. She saw four white orbs appear on the rim of the door. What were they? Her heart thrummed a beat before she realized. Fingertips. She felt something at her feet. She looked down. Now she screamed.”
Stuart MacBride – Halfhead
MacBride is known in the mystery community for a detective series, but this is a different kind of book. This is a futuristic, sci-fi-ish, crime drama. Set in a future where criminals are punished by being lobotomized and disfigured and then used for menial labour. It’s a totally disturbing, and sometimes overly gory, look at the justice system and television/gaming culture. The violence in this book is pretty extreme, so be prepared for that going in.
I don’t have this book on me, and I can’t find a single quote on the internet… take that to mean whatever you want it to mean.