I love BookTube.. oh, how I love BookTube.
But you see, here’s the thing.
Sometimes it seems that a book is only as good as the amount of publicity it gets.
That’s the one thing I don’t like.. over-hyped books.
Only a few booktubers talk about the lesser known titles.
Coincidentally, those are the books I want to learn about.. The hidden gems.
Today, I thought I’d share some of the under-hyped books on my bookshelf.
They are all books I thought were brilliant.
I might have talked about these before, so excuse me if I repeat myself but I do hope that if/when you come across one of these titles, you’ll take a moment to consider picking them up.
San Miguel – T.C. Boyle ( 501 reviews on Goodreads)
On a tiny, desolate, windswept island off the coast of Southern California, two families, one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s, come to start new lives and pursue dreams of self-reliance and freedom.
This is a slow book. There’s a lot of family history to be told but I really liked it. I can still remember the way this book made me feel the harsh winds that swept around the island, the cold, the loneliness. I think if you liked Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, you might want to give this one a go.
The Story of Beautiful Girl – Rachel Simon (3221 reviews)
It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.
I read this book as a Dutch translated ARC back in 2011/2012 and man, this book packs a punch. I gave the ARC to my mother to read (she rarely reads books) and she said ‘it was good’ which pretty much means that it was amazing. (I mean it.. my mum reads magazines and that’s it, so this was a big deal 😉 ) This book talks about disabilities in great detail, both mental and physical. I’d say ‘for people who enjoyed The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer‘ but I’m not sure because I didn’t like The Shock of the Fall that much and I did really enjoy this one.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie – Ayana Mathis (4310 reviews)
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation.
This book broke my heart within the first fifty pages. I cried/wept/sobbed and had to put the book down. I was a new mom when I read it, my little girl was only a couple of months old and because of that, it hit me even harder. A friend borrowed this book and she read it right before she got pregnant. A couple of weeks ago we went to visit them (they had paternal twins 🙂 a boy and a girl, they are the cutest!!) and she told me that she couldn’t possibly have read the book after they were born. So the fact that it stayed with her (and me) after quite some time must mean that it’s a book that will captivate others, right? I’m not sure what to compare this too. It has a lot of racism in it so maybe How to kill a Mockingbird or maybe The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (which I also loved!!). (Also read this in Dutch as an ARC)
The Land of Decoration – Grace McCleen (496 reviews)
Judith and her father don’t have much — their house is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother she’s never known. But Judith sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith, and where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility. Bullied at school, she finds solace in making a model of the Promised Land — little people made from pipe cleaners, a sliver of moon, luminous stars and a mirror sea — a world of wonder that Judith calls The Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow indoors (using shaving foam and cotton wool and cellophane) there will be no school on Monday…
Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. She has performed her first miracle. And that’s when her troubles begin.
And yet another ARC, this time I read it in English though. I finished it in one day, I still remember. We went on a climbing trip to the Ardennes so we spent about 6 hours in the car and all that time I was reading. It wasn’t my fault, honestly.. I just couldn’t put it down. Okay, I didn’t WANT to put it down. Judith had such a great voice. I want to share what my copy says on the front because that’s what pulled me in:
In the beginning there was an empty room, a little bit op space, a little bit of light, a little bit of time.
I said: ‘I am going to make fields,’ and I made them
from table mats, carpet, brown corduroy and felt.
Then i made rivers from crêpe paper, cling film
and shiny tinfoil and mountains from papier mâché
and bark. And I looked at the fields and I looked
at the rivers and I looked at the mountains and
I saw they were good.
Yes, this book talks about religion. No, I am not actually a religious person. Yes, I liked it anyway.
High-Rise – JG Ballard
When a class war erupts inside a luxurious apartment block, modern elevators become violent battlegrounds and cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on “enemy” floors. In this visionary tale, human society slips into violent reverse as once-peaceful residents, driven by primal urges, re-create a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.
This book has a very slow build-up and then BAM everything is happening at once. You’d probably think, well, where did that come from? But when you think about it, you realize that it was always there.. you just didn’t notice. The first trailer for the movie has been released a couple of days ago and it’s PERFECT because there are clues to what’s about to happen but the overall picture is nice and pretty. (You can watch the trailer here.) I really, really, really enjoyed this book because it gave me the creeps in the same way that The Lord of The Flies gave me the creeps. Humans who stop being human. The loss of all things logical. Stepping away from reality and living a nightmare. This book left me feeling overwhelmed. I did not sleep well that night…
There you go, five books you may not have heard of but are worth your time.
I should really get my hands on more ARC’s because I seem to fall in love with those more often than not 😉
So publishers, you know where to find me…
Do let me know if you read any of these. I would love to know your thoughts!
See you tomorrow!
P.S. covers and blurbs can be found on Goodreads, since I referred to the amount of reviews given on the site..