Today’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, centers on books you read and loved but never wrote a review for. The reasoning behind a lack of review might be because you read it before you had a blog or because you didn’t know how to put your love for the book into words. Whatever the reason, today’s list aims to share some of that love with the rest of the blogosphere. Onward.
1. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel: I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this book on the blog before, but I know I’ve never written a proper review of it. (Seriously though, I’ve been gripped with the most ridiculous deja vu lately that I find myself second-guessing every thing I post about.) Kimmel’s memoir about her early childhood growing up in the tiny town of Moreland, Indiana is very funny, very sweet, and a book that has stayed with me for years after initially reading it. It is the book that I once used to write a paper about memoirs for a history class in college (oddly enough, my professor didn’t see the humor in Kimmel’s writing the way I did), and it is a book that is absolutely one of my comfort books. I return to it when I need to feel safe and happy and secure in my reading.
2. Before I Die by Jenny Downham: Another book that I’ve written about but never reviewed, Downham’s book was one that I read before I started blogging. I re-read it last year and was just as moved by it as I was the first time. Tessa is dying of cancer and conceives a list of things she wants to experience before she dies. While this book could easily fall into trite, Lurlene-McDaniel-territory, Downham’s stripped-down prose and attention to detail and characterization make this a tear-jerker that you’ll stay up late into the night to finish. It honestly is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Thinking about the last few pages brings tears to my eyes.
3. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker: This collection of Parker’s work (short stories, essays, and poems) is usually the first book I list when asked what my all-time favorite book is. This book would be one of my desert-island books, because it contains a little bit of everything: the short stories are sharp and often a little haunting, the poetry is well-crafted, witty, and painfully true, and the essays and articles provide a glimpse into Parker’s keen eye for pop culture. Readers remotely interested in Parker should check out this book and skip around in it to get a taste of her brilliance.
4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Okay, so I wrote about this one in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday. It’s that good, you guys. Narrated by Offred, this story is about a woman whose sole purpose is to bear the Commander’s child. Her only value comes from the possibility of her fertility. Atwood’s grim commentary on feminism, gender, and a possible future is one that shouldn’t be missed. I wrote a research paper about this novel in college, and it remains to this day a piece of writing that I am very proud of.
5. Lucy Peale by Colby Rodowsky: This little gem is a remnant from my childhood. Lucy Peale is the daughter of a fanatical minister who has lived a very sheltered night. Pregnant after being raped by a boy she met while handing out church fliers, Lucy is at a loss as to what to do. Cast out of her family, she heads to Ocean City to try to make a life for herself. She meets the kind, patient Jake, and the two form an unlikely friendship. Well-written and poignant, this is one of those underrated books that I hope to always have a copy of.
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: In all honesty, I haven’t written reviews for any of the books in the Hunger Games trilogy, but Mockingjay stands out to me because I was regularly reviewing books when I read it. It’s one of those instances where there was so much hype surrounding the book and so many people reacting to what happened in it that I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t feel as though I could add anything to the discussion, and so I abstained.
7. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr: This sweet little novel about a girl named Jenna who reconnects with her childhood best friend Cameron Quick is quiet and heartbreaking. Zarr is a master of characterization, and the way that she gets into the psyche of Jenna is truly remarkable. I read this one in a day, in between taking exams to get my teaching license, and I was truly moved by it. Of course, this was before I was blogging.
8. Just Friends by Norma Klein: One of those books I discovered by accident when I was young and left unattended in the teen section of my local library. Isobel and Stuart have been best friends forever, but Isobel is secretly in love with him. When he starts going out with another one of her friends, she decides to get even by going out with someone else. It’s a pretty basic premise that could be rife with contrivances, but Klein’s deft writing keeps it from becoming stale, and her frank, realistic depictions of teenage sex (normal, healthy sex) made this book fascinating and a little scandalous. It’s my favorite Klein book, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to check out one of the YA pioneers.
9. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver: Kind of like the book version of Sliding Doors, Shriver’s book follows Irina as she alternates between two realities: one in which she chooses to leave her longtime partner for the dashing, charming snooker player Ramsey Acton and one in which she doesn’t succumb to temptation. Both stories are compelling and offer wonderful juxtapositions between loyalty and temptation, love and lust, and all that other good stuff. In the interest of full disclosure, it took me a full year to finish this book. I kept putting it down, not because it wasn’t interesting (it is!) or because I didn’t like it (I do!) but because it was dense and complicated and I kept getting distracted by it. But I will say this: when I finally did finish it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. They still sit with me, years later. READ IT.
10. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: An interpretation of the story of Dinah (whose life is given about one line in the actual Bible), Diamant’s novel tells the story of Dinah’s female relatives who gave birth to her and raised her. The richly-realized world in which these women live is fascinating and beautiful and worth your time. I read the book years ago, before the thought of ever having a book blog ever entered my mind. It’s a book that I think has some crossover appeal to YA, as well, as it features Dinah when she’s quite young.
What about you guys? What books make the list of titles you’ve never reviewed? Does anything keep you from reviewing a book (provided you have an outlet for such review)?