What I have learned from attempting to put together this list is that I am able to find a way to talk about most books. It was hard to come up with books that I don’t manage to squeeze into a conversation and/or a blog post. With that in mind, here are my favourite recent reads that are perhaps the less popular in the blogsphere; the ones you don’t see around quite as much (and therefore talk about less).
1) The To-Do List and Other Debacles by Amy Jones
The To-Do List is a hilarious but relatable memoir about mental health, depression and the inability to get absolutely anything done. I laughed out loud, I genuinely cried and it made me consider how I’ve been doing lately. Really doing.
I haven’t seen this around anywhere and only heard about it because I subscribe to the author’s newsletter. It’s often difficult to work memoirs into general conversation, especially when they’re about mental health, but perhaps that’s all the more reason to make them known.
2) Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
I was completely taken by surprise when I picked up this book on a whim from the library, and ended up loving it. It’s a light-hearted story of secret societies, French aristocrats and some not-awful romance. Add in the ghost of Marie Antoinette and you can’t go wrong. Also, I don’t tend to like YA contemporaries, but I still loved this.
Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer just don’t seem to be one of those novels that features on all the bestseller and Top Ten Tuesday lists, although perhaps it should. It probably won’t win many literary prizes, but it’s memorable and just generally made me feel content and relaxed as I was reading it.
3) Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
I loved this book. It was easily one of the best books I read in 2019, if not the best book. I actually read all three books in the Tower of Babel series in the same year, which is practically unheard of. It’s one of the most unique things I have ever read, and the quality stays unique throughout all of the books published to date. I will read anything Josiah Bancroft publishes.
It’s probably inaccurate to say I never get to talk about this series, as I’ve already made one of my friends read it. She loved it too, by the way. But I don’t get to talk about it online much? Maybe? At the very least, I can’t say I see it around many blogs… shut up, it’s my list.
4) HHhH by Laurent Binet
This is non-fiction about the two Czechoslovakian parachutists sent on a daring mission by London to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich during World War Two. What makes this so unique, however, is that the author discusses writing this book, as he’s writing it. The blurb concudes with, ‘All the characters in HHhH are real. All the events depicted are true. But alongside the nerve-shredding preparations for the attack runs another story: when you are a novelist writing about real people, how do you resist the temptation to make things up?’
I don’t know how well known it is, but I don’t really see it featured much. It’s a shame, because I honestly wish every non-fiction book was written this way!
5) The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J.W. Ironmonger
This book completely blew me away when I read it, but I never came across anybody else who read it and I haven’t managed to force it on anybody since. It follows an older man who, with his assistant, is trying to document everything in his brain so that it can be accurately used for research after his death.
It jumps back and forth between the process of chronicling and the facts/memories he is recalling, but each part is so incredible. I’ve never gone back and reread it, just in case its not as amazing as I remember and I end up spoiling it for myself!
6) If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
I reviewed this whilst half asleep but massively hyperactive. I finished reading If We Were Villains and immediately had to talk about it without waiting for one more second. It’s sort of like The Secret History, but that doesn’t really do this book justice because it can definitely stand on its own two feet.
A group of highly academic Shakespeare students murder one of their own. But who, and how, and why!? It’s dark and twisting, and so gripping that I stayed up until stupid’o’clock just to get down all my thoughts about it.
I know this is a strange book to rave about, but I never get to include it on any lists or even talk about it really.
It took me eight years to get around to read this book, but then I adored every single page. She writes in a very informal, self-deprecating way, and at times she’s actually really witty and funny. Click the link and read the quotes I used for my review.
I was actually disappointed when I finished reading this autobiography, just because I hadn’t wanted it to end. If she had kept a diary, I would have gleefully read every single page.
8) Absent in the Spring by Mary Westmacott
Another book by Agatha Christie, although one published under her penname. Her non-crime books just don’t get as much attention as her more famous novels, which is a shame. Absent in the Spring is a bit of a masterpiece, to be honest.
It’s only about a middle-aged woman, who is left alone with her thoughts for several days when her train home is cancelled. She has no books, no puzzles, and no companions, and so her only option is to sit still and contemplate her life. Do her children really even like her? Is her marriage loveless? Is she honest with herself?
It’s a slow build and it’s so gently done – but it’s just so beautifully written. Agatha Christie herself said that ‘‘(It was) the one book that has satisfied me completely… the book that I had always wanted to write, that had been clear in my mind. It was the picture of a woman with a complete image of herself, of what she was, but about which she was completely mistaken.’
9) Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
This book kept me awake at night. I remember lying there, trying to sleep, but having Neverworld Wake just go round and round in my head. In the end, I had to get up and finish it.
It’s about a group of teenagers who are visited by a mysterious, creepy man (whom I definitely saw in my mind as Christoph Waltz) who tells them that they’ve all died, and to get out of that limbo, they have to vote for one person to survive. It’s so unique and so twisted, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months.
I already want to reread it.
10) The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
I don’t read much middle-grade at all, but I made an exception for the Nevermoor series and I’m so glad I did.
It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before; so much fun and light-hearted. However there is still an actual, interesting plot that has managed to actively excite my interest for two books now. I’m really looking forward to the next book, Hollowpox, which comes out in August 2020.
Have you read any of these books? What books do you love but never get to mention?