Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems

This one was a fun list to put together, especially because it feels like the world only reads a select few number of books each year and it’s usually the ones on the best seller lists.

Here are a few we think deserve another shot or at least a spot on your shelf:


Pete’s Five

Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill

I picked this one up in a used bookstore for a funny reason—the publishing company was my last name. I knew little else about the book, and I don’t think any jacket-flap summary could have prepared me for this strange journey. This book has a disjointed narrative that skips forward and backward in time, with each “chapter” lasting only a few sentences. It’s jarring and at times tiring, but the overall result is an unusual story that surprises you the whole way.

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

Ali Smith isn’t exactly an unknown writer, but this is one of her works that I don’t hear talked about often. It’s a part of the Canongate Myth series, and it retells the myth of Iphis in Smith’s classic style. I can’t say this one surprised me since it’s written by Smith, but I didn’t expect it to become my favorite book of hers.

Conversations by César Aira

I picked this one up from a bookstore I worked at—I was grabbed by the strange title and slimness of the book. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a conversation. The two characters have a strange misunderstanding and spend the entire book trying to convince the other one of their error. Strange, hilarious, and readable within an hour or two.

Myst: The Book of Atrus by Rand Miller, Robyn Miller, and David Wingrove

Video game book spinoffs have never really appealed to me, but the Myst games are so much about books that I figured I’d give this one a try. Not only did it capture the feel of the games well, it also stands up well as a fantasy novel even without the support of the game franchise.

City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin

You hear a lot about The Left Hand of Darkness, but City of Illusions is an earlier work in the Hainish cycle that I think tells a much more powerful story, even if its concepts aren’t as ground-breaking.


Indiana’s Five

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Those who have been following Lit Lens for awhile probably remember the review where I spent much of the time talking about why this book is like Bronte’s hidden gems. For those who liked Jane Eyre, please give this one a try. It’s a little longer but just as strong.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

I read this one about two years ago now and it has stuck with me. Westfeld is coming out with another book in the Uglies world, which is great. But I was really cheering for a follow-up to Afterworlds. It deserves one and from my conversations with others in the book blogging community, I know I’m not alone. Westerfeld, if you’re somehow reading this, please consider writing a sequel to Afterworlds!

Touch by Courtney Maum

This is not the sort of book I’d usually pick up. At first glance it seemed like it was simply about a troubled marriage and a family drama, which is not the most intriguing genre to me. However, this book turned out to be so much more than I’d hoped or expected. It grapples with technology’s impact on our ability to connect and love one another; a topic that many find themselves unconsciously mulling over and eventually shying away from. In a world where it feels like everyone is becoming increasingly “zombified” by our phones, the premise of this book seems all too close to reality.  

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

I grabbed this one from a library book sale on a whim, I’m not sure I even read the description before I bought it. But I started it that day and I fell asleep with it in my hands that night (and I finished it shortly after I woke up the next morning). It’s a thrilling paranormal YA book that gets right the things that I’ve always felt like many in the genre get wrong. I just picked up the second book (The Brink of Darkness) and am trying to carefully plan out when I’m going to read it because I know I probably won’t be able to put the thing down once I start the thing.

Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben

America today seems more divided than ever (it may or may not be true, but that’s what it seems like . . . que civil war reference). But this book was loved by my conservative friends and family members just as much as my liberal friends and family members. Basically, Vermont tries to break away from the rest of the country for the best and most hilarious reasons. Its humor is on point as is the way that McKibben is able to talk about traditional liberal ideas and traditional conservative ideas. It made a bit of a splash when it came out but I think it should be given a lot more fanfare . . . or should I say air time?

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