Top Ten Books I Liked More Than I Thought I Would

1) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I decided to write this post almost entirely because of this book.

I do not go for romance stuff and I do not go for YA stuff, and I most especially do not go for romantic YA stuff. I wanted this book on a whim way back in 2011 and a friend bought it for me, because she’s nice.

It languished on a shelf for, oh, six years, until Saturday, when I shoved it in my bag as a quick read and to finally get it off my shelf. I started it last night… and finished it last night.

I know, I know. But it’s surprisingly good. The main character stood up for herself and the romantic lead wasn’t a colossal arse. It’s already surpassed my expectations for YA. I wouldn’t really want to read any of her other books, but I liked this, alright?

2) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Time to claw back some credibility.

I ran a read-a-long for this the year before last (good Lord) and I think we all found it to be surprisingly accessible. I mean, it definitely doesn’t need to be as long as it is and some of the Russian politics went over my head, but I did end up enjoying it.

Will I reread it? Probably not. But did I want to claw my eyes out constantly? Nope.

Chalking that down as a win for Tolstoy.  

3) Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’ve just realised that the majority of this post is going to be YA.

I feel sort of vindicated with Cinder though, because Charlotte bought it on my recommendation during the Bookshop Crawl and she’s already read it and bought the rest of the series.

I think I liked the rest of the series, Scarlet, Cress and Winter, more than Cinder, but the series as a whole completely defied my expectations. It doesn’t really need the fairytale link (which I ranted about in every. single. review.) but I really enjoyed the time spent with the characters of the Lunar Chronicles books.

4) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

This book completely blew me away.

I’d grabbed a book to read at work in a hurry one morning, without really paying too much attention to what it was. I think I actually thought this book was a western, despite the giant-ass poppy on the cover. I know, I knew.

But I started it reading it at lunchtime and then had to stop because I couldn’t handle it. It completely and utterly spaced me out and I spent weeks thinking about this book. It talks about the innocence of war in a relatable way that brings homes the true, genuine horrors without ever preaching or reaching for shock value. It’s truly amazing.

5) The Godfather by Mario Puzo

I only read this in the first place because somebody at work had asked me if I wanted to borrow it and I panicked and said yes. The only fuzzy memory I had of it was falling asleep whilst watching it with my boyfriend, and he being less than impressed with my appreciation of alleged cinematic masterpiece.

I really liked this book, aside from the three pages that detail vaginal surgery in absurdly graphic detail. It’s weird. Obviously. But aside from that, the characters are brilliant, the story is good and it was surprisingly easy to follow.

I’m still not likely to sit down with the film any time soon, but I do recommend the book.

6) Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I’d lost count of the people who told me how much they disliked this book before I actually got round to reading it. Apparently it’s on the school syllabus in some places (which is a strange idea), but even the people I spoke to who hadn’t studied it still hated it.

I therefore expected it to be dry, monotonous, boring and yet also full of mindless violence, but it ended up being none of those things. I’ve read it twice now, in 2012 and 2016. 

It’s atmospheric and exciting, and is probably symbolic of the potential ruin of society by mankind when chaos takes over, but I choose to take it as demonstrative of the fact that children can’t be trusted.

7) We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Whilst I expected to like this book, I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on me.

It’s powerful and amazing and awful, all at the same time. It took months, literally, for me to get over it. It’s not scary and it’s not a horror book, but it’s certainly haunting.

I read this in 2014 and I still can’t bear the thought of rereading it. I loved it, but I’m honestly, honestly just not ready to put myself through that again.

If you haven’t read it, do. It’s the most powerful piece of fiction written this century.

8) The Selection by Keira Cass

And now, on a completely different note…

I think I can count on one hand the amount of girl-in-pretty-dress books I’ve read. In my defence, that is a very pretty dress.

This is essentially a YA, dystopian version of The Bachelor. It has its faults and it’s not exactly high literature, but I really did enjoy reading this series. I haven’t bothered picking up any of the newer books because I was happy with the ending supplied by The One.

I’d be very surprised if this didn’t ended up as a Netflix TV show before too long.

9) Any Sarah J. Maas book

Objectively, I know that I love this series, I do. But every time a new installment comes out, this happens:

*buys immediately*
“Oh, but I don’t like fairies. Or Aelin. Or the romantic sub-plots. Ugh.”
*puts off reading*
*gets nagged into reading by Charlotte*
*reads a month later*
“Oh my God, this book is AMAZING!” 

This has honestly happened every time for at least the last three books. You’d think I’d learn. 

10) HHhH by Laurent Binet

It confuses me when I see this book in the fiction section of Waterstones. It’s blatantly non-fiction – it’s about the Czech parachutists who executed Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.

It’s written in a very chatty, informal tone that meant I ended up absolutely loving this book, but it’s still definitely non-fiction.   

I was expecting a run-of-the-mill but still interesting, informative book, and instead I got a chatty discussion on Czech history, but also about how the author came about writing this book as well.

What books did you like more than you thought you would? 


  1. Ellie Warren says:

    1. I do remember not liking the idea of this book on principle when it was everywhere. But I read it during a readthon and it was perfectly enjoyable. I *do* have the others on Kindle but not rushing to read them.

    3. Maybe next readathon I can read Scarlett. I wasn't that impressed with Cinder but your words are encouraging!

    4. This got rejected by book club a few times. I guess we all thought it would be dry.

    6. I want to read Lord of the Flies. We didn't study it officially at school but we did get to choose a lot and I know some people read it and liked it. I think that's an argument for allowing choice in English Lit classes!

    7. I've seen the film I'm not sure I need the trauma of reading the book too…

    8. I know, it's so ridiculous but these have been so enjoyable. I keep umming and ahhing over The Heir, but it's never discounted and I pass. I guess if I ever find it cheap I *might* give them a go.

    10. I have a copy but was also under the impression it was a possibly-bit-hard-going novel and I really haven't been in the mood for them for a long time now. You have made it sound much more inviting!

    1. admin says:

      1. Yes, exactly. It looks so twee and fluffy, and absolutely not my thing. Probably good read-a-thon fodder though?

      2. Also, yes, exactly! Cinder was… fine. I think I read that one during a read-a-thon, actually. The later three books are less… by-the-numbers.

      4. It does LOOK dry, but it's really, really not. Just read the first two pages and you'll see what I mean. I wish I had a book club…

      7. I haven't seen the film for that reason. Well, also, because I'm not a fan of the female actress, whose name I can't remember. But ONE dose of Kevin is more than enough!

  2. Etudesque says:

    Excellent choices!!

    1) I see this one being constantly 'bookstagrammed' so I've been hesitant to read since I've been flooded by free book marketing. However, I could use a quick read to lighten things up a bit (I've been reading depressing books lately)

    2) War & Peace was fantastic, but mostly because I read it with a fantastic group! 😉 It was surprisingly entertaining and much like watching a soap opera where you just want to yell at everyone for being an idiot, hahaha

    6) Hated it in high school because I was forced to read it and write an analytical paper, but a quick re-read years later and I ended up appreciating this one. Yes, children are terrible.

    7) This one's absolutely unforgettable and one of my faves. Yes, teens are terrible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *