The Broke and the Bookish, a brilliant book blog,
hosts a weekly top ten list meme.
I like this meme because I like lists. I like this meme because it reminds me of the Top 5 lists from High Fidelity (by Nick Hornby as a book, starring John Cusak as a movie). And I like this meme because it causes me to think long and hard about book-related topics. So here goes:
Top Ten Underrated Books
1. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Not only a charming movie starring Frances McDormand, Ciaran Hinds, Amy Adams, and Lee Pace, this was originally a book published in 1938. It is one day in the life of a woman who pretends to be a social secretary. A fabulous slice-of-life look into the lives of women of many social standings in the late 1930s.
2. Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague
Sadly Nora Hague's only published novel, this is an epistolary novel taking place in the 1860s that spans two continents, and discusses race relations, slavery, socio-economic standing, early feminism, Europe's fashionable obsession with the spirit world, and interracial love among many other topics in this incredibly researched, well-written, dual-narrated epic.
3. Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott
I think this YA novel got lost somehow among all the other more paranormal books coming out in 2008, but this fantasy novel features a very strong female protagonist who not only kicks butt, finds love, saves her man rather than the other way around, but matures to lead the people she was born to lead.
4. Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume
This stand-alone middle grade reader is perfect for all audiences charmed by the National Book Award winning series The Penderwicks. A little quieter, yet equally engrossing, this book tells the story of lonely Cornelia who befriends Ms. Somerset across the hall and hears all about her amazing adventures with her sisters. In retelling these stories, soon Cornelia makes friends of her own age. Encourages travel, independent young women, imagination, and friendship.
5. M.A.S.H.: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker
Though the movie version starring Donald Sutherland is a scream, the short story chapters contained in this novel are equally hilarious and worth the read.
6. Alexandra Ripley as an author
You knew I was going to sneak this in here. Yes, she's the author of my favorite book, Scarlett, and though that was originally a New York Times bestseller when first published, no one remembers it now. They don't remember it almost as much as they don't remember Alexandra Ripley wrote several other books, too, and they were just as good.
7. Nicola Griffith as an author
I don't read much "lesbian fiction" and in fact, picked up my first book from this author without knowing the main character or the author was gay. What draws me to the series Nicola Griffith writes about Aud Torvingen are the complexities of her characters, the noir feel of her writing, and the setting descriptions that enable me to see the place without having her give me a drop-by-drop description of the weather conditions. I absolutely recommend her for gay and non-gay readers alike.
8. You by Charles Benoit
I firmly believe every person who has a teenager in their life in any way should read this book. Especially those who have teenagers who "showed so much potential" but seem to have lost it along the way somewhere. Read this. Understand what might be happening. Work to change it.
9. Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
Despite what you may think, working in a bookstore does not mean you get to sit there and read all day. I picked up this book intending to only read enough to know what it was about to recommend it, and 100 pages later got a scolding because I was still standing in the same place at the cash register completely enthralled. Spine-tingling but not nightmare-inducing, this is Christian Moerk's only novel published in the States, and in fact, may be his only novel published in English, which means I now need to go learn Dutch so I can read everything else he's written.
10. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Last but not least, this is a heart-wrenching and heart-warming memoir about the lifelong friendship between Ann Patchett and her BFF. It really reveres female friendships and discusses how they change as people grow up and move away and yet still are connected to those we love.