Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today's Top Ten features books we can't believe aren't more popular, or are perhaps more obscure.

1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: Jane Austen's first completed novel (though last published), it doesn't have the nuance of her other works but it does have all the biting wit and satire. Northanger Abbey is hilarious, a definite must for any true Austenite. I'm amazed how few people seem to have read this one -- it's one of my favorites.
2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: This one is the oddball among Austen's novels, and the most questionable happy ending, but it has deep themes that can be interpreted as either radical or conservative -- which is a pretty bizarre feat.
3. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot: As far as I know, this is not one of Meg Cabot's most well-known novels, but I adore it. The heroine is simultaneously fierce and uncertain, a girl you feel like you know. She does something incredibly heroic without ever wanting to be a hero -- it's just a great, wish fulfillment fantasy.
4. Shadow of the Sun by Laura Kreitzer: I believe this series started out as self-published, but soon got picked up by a press. Shadow of the Sun is such an original mythology, unlike anything I've read before, and with a terrific, brilliant heroine -- what's not to love? I would love to see this one get more widespread attention.
5. Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel: This one is pretty popular, but not nearly as popular as I would expect. I know we're tired of vampires, but this is hardly a vampire story. It's really a tale of humanity and sacrifice -- a truly original take on the vampire mythology.
6. Bumped by Megan McCafferty: I can see why a lot of people don't like this one -- it's definitely controversial.The absolutely outrageous satire serves its purpose though -- it makes you think, and isn't that the best thing a book can do?
7. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: Everyone talks about The Age of Innocence, but I just love this one because it defies expectations. Life doesn't always have a happy ending, and this novel embraces its inevitable conclusion.
8. Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Most people think Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations -- and I honestly don't blame them for being put off by this 1000 page tome. I probably wouldn't have read it outside of school, but I'm really glad I did. The way Dickens weaves together things that don't even seem to be in the same ballpark -- no matter how irrelevant something may seem, it always comes back in the end. And to do that in a novel this huge? Genius.
9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: I think this one is actually the most underrated AND the most overrated book of the decade. On the one hand, the spectacle it has created is absurd. On the other hand, I don't get what the haters are so worked up about. Stephenie Meyer doesn't claim to have written the Great American Novel. She wrote a love story, with characters that stick with you even if you don't know why. Clearly she was doing something right, and I don't think it's fair to fault her OR her fans for not writing/reading "Literature with a Capital L".
10. Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton: I haven't seen a lot of mention of this one, but what I have seen has been overwhelmingly positive. I personally loved this story, and the Irish mythology I hadn't encountered before. I'd love for more people to read this unusual, mystical book.

What about you? Do you find any of these books underrated? Or perhaps the opposite -- overrated? With classic lit especially, people often seem to fall into both camps.


Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

Oh I LOVE 'All-American Girl'! It's actually one of my favourite Cabots. I remember reading it back in high school and I wrote out the whole passage about being left handed and how left handed people die sooner because the world is made for right handed people, etc, etc. It just cracked me up, and still today I love mentions of left-handedness.

SweetMarie83 said...

Great list! I actually have several of these on my TBR list, but have only read Twilight so far. I completely agree with you - it's come to the point where I'm almost afraid to admit I enjoyed the book(s) because the haters are so rampant. When it first came out, people couldn't get enough, so I'm thinking that a lot of people felt the way I do - that the movies butchered the books and made people turn against the books. Still, as a love story, and a supernatural story, I couldn't find much fault with it and really enjoyed it.

Trish said...

Yes, Northanger Abbey!

I've also been curious about House of Mirth and Bleak House. I'm glad to see them on your list here . . . I think I'll give them a closer look.

Willa said...

House of Mirth is so beautiful! I haven't read Bumped but it sounds quite cool. Great list :-)

Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info said...

I definitely agree with you about Kersten Hamilton's Tyger, Tyger. I loved that book and like you said, I haven't seen much on it. You have a great list. Sad to say I am not much of an Austen reader, but perhaps it is time to pick up some.

Sash and Em said...

Bumped was a little hard for me to get into!

Check out my Top 10!

Lisa said...

I really like All American Girl too, but haven't met many people who've read it. I want to read Bumped and Tyger, Tyger but haven't gotten around to them yet.

Kat said...

I really want to read Shadow of the Sun. And Tyger Tyger is fantastic! Great list. :)

My Top Ten

Lauren M said...

All-American Girl! Tyger, Tyger! Bumped! I definitely agree with most of your choices. :) I really like that you brought up Twilight, too. Because of the hype and type of people who love it, it's instantly disregarded.

chelleyreads said...

i agree about mansfield park--it's one of my favorites right up there with emma. it deserves more love.

The Book Gatherer said...

I was totally opposed to reading Twilight - until I picked it up that is. Then I couldn't put it down! Totally agree - if you read it and enjoy it for what it is, then you can't help but enjoy it!

New follower :)


couchpotatocritic said...

I adored Northanger Abbey! I read it for the Gothic Reading Challenge. I always associate Austen with gentle satire, but this was way over the top (for her) and I thought it was great! Sadly, I must agree that most people I know haven't read it.

scattered_laura said...

I love that you included some of the classics which are so often ignored until they his a class reading list!

I included a Stephenie Meyer book in My Top Ten too. :)

LBC said...

Good variety in your list. House of Mirth is a wonderful book. I also just reviewed Bumped. I liked it, but I felt disappointed that it is part of a series, which made the book feel a little like a bunch of set up for something else.

Check out mine at The Scarlet Letter.

Alison Can Read said...

What a wonderful commentary! I adore Twilight and really feel like people should enjoy it for what it is and not take it too seriously.
I enjoyed All-American Girl although it's been years since I read it.

danya said...

Yay, Northanger Abbey! Also, I have a copy of Tyger, Tyger but haven't gotten to it yet. Must do so soon!

Small Review said...

I'm so glad you mentioned Northanger Abbey! That's my favorite Austen so far but so few people have read it. I love her humor in that book.

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