Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from the Broke and the Bookish.
I know I have been very absent from the blog in the past month or so, but I promise I will be better about that in the future. There are some changes coming to the blog, but I will talk about that in my next post. For now, my TTT.
I thought this topic was going to prove much harder to post about, but given that I have just shy of 140 books with less than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads, the only hard part was deciding which books to put on this list. So without further ado, here are 10 books that you should consider reading, even though they don’t have many ratings to back them up.
One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Italy by Paolo Lazzarin–38 ratings
This coffee table book has the most beautiful photos as well as in depth descriptions (for its genre) of 101 places to go in Italy that are not Venice, Rome, Florence, or Milan. Divided into geographic areas, this book will definitely make you wish you were in Italy right this second. You know, if you weren’t wishing that already…
Zebra Crossing by Meg Vandermerwe–63 ratings
I’ve used this book before to cook from (sugar beans and rice), and I am actually a little surprised this book doesn’t have more ratings because it’s quite good. It’s a fictional account of a young South African woman who is albino. It deals with ostracism, poverty, family, and hope. It’s fairly quick to read, but it stays with you.
Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside by Andrea di Robilant –127 ratings
If you haven’t read Robilant’s nonfiction and you’re interested in Venice, you’re missing out. I love the way he mines his family history for interesting stories and then backs them up with tons of research and an engaging nonfiction style. This particular book is an account of Robilant’s search for the identity of a very specific rose that grows at his family’s former home. Not even experts in the field have been able to identify it. The book talks about the people Robilant encounters and the significance of this rose and roses in general. It sounds like the weirdest, most specific subject, but I finished it in a single sitting. The two other works of his I’ve read, Lucia and A Venetian Affair, (which I made this Italian hot chocolate from) discuss the lives of his ancestors with plenty of Napoleonic goodies in the first and a wonderful forbidden love story in the second. They also have fewer than 2,000 ratings and are well worth reading.
Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright–130 ratings
It doesn’t surprise me that it’s mostly nonfiction that has such low rating counts, as it’s usually on very niche topics. But if you’re a reader, chances are you’re interested in what other people read. I found this tour through Wilde’s library to be a fascinating way to conduct an autobiography. This brioche recipe was inspired by the book.
xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths edited by Kate Bernheimer–347 ratings
Short story collections also populate the less than 2,000 ratings category. They’re not read quite as often as more lengthy fiction, but they can be treasure troves of great writing, especially when they revolve around an interesting theme. This collection includes 50 writers who reimagine popular myths.
Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change The Way We Think About Our Lives by David Sloan Wilson–558 ratings
This book was assigned in my anthropology class, and I found it both engaging and accessible. A great way to learn about the ways evolution affects our everyday lives.
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes–1,073 ratings
There’s some great poetry out there being written by modern poets, and this National Book Award winner is just one book that’s definitely worth perusing. This collection revolves around themes of fire and time. Hayes writes in a prose-like style with incredible rhythm and energy. Here’s a stanza from his poem “For Brothers of the Dragon”:
“I am full of dirt sometimes. I am trying to tell you a story/ without talking. I promise nothing I write about you/ tomorrow will be a lie. Instead of fiction, brother,/ I will offer you an apology. And if that fails,/ I will drag myself into your arms crying, Speak to me.”
Poetry is something that people tend to shy away from reading because they think they don’t “get it” and that it’s therefore not for them. But no one “gets” a poem. It’s a puzzle with no key, and it’s worth reading it, or better, listening to it just to think about why you enjoy or don’t enjoy it. It’s not about deciphering so much as grappling, thinking. You don’t have to understand it, you just have to let it move you. Okay. Poetry rant over.
Run River by Joan Didion–1,170 ratings
Didion is hard to read when you’re not expecting her style. She is one of the least sentimental writers I’ve ever encountered, but she’s the master of the odd, but interesting fact or detail that lends so much to characterization and atmosphere. This novel is her first published book, and of all her books it’s my second favorite (after her essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem), about a dysfunctional Californian family.
The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons–1,178 ratings
I really, really, really liked this book about a Jewish woman whose husband vanishes. It talks about identity, marriage, heritage, and longing. And it will make you so hungry.
Girl Reading by Katie Ward–1,909 ratings
This book just makes the list at 1900 ratings, but I couldn’t leave it out. Told in a series of long short stories, the book examines different women–all readers. There are some narrative connections, but for the most part they’re independent stories about women of various ages engaging in my favorite pastime. A really interesting book I can’t recommend enough.
Now over to you. Have you read anything on this list? What are your own favorite underrated books?