Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.
This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Thought I’d Like More/Less Than I Did. Expectations are funny things, aren’t they? It’s easy to pre-judge a book, either because of author, genre, cover, size, or any of a zillion other factors. Here are the books that surpassed my expectations, and those that fell far short, alas…
Books that I ended up not liking nearly as much as I’d hoped:
1) This One Is Mine by Maria Semple. I adored Where’d You Go, Bernadette when I read it last year — at which point, I decided I simply had to read more by this author, so I picked up her earlier novel… and hated it. Seriously, I hated almost everything about it. (You can check out my review to find out why!).
2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I didn’t hate this book, but I also didn’t love it the way I’d expected to. The Night Circus is beautifully written and the fantastical elements of the circus are lovely, but the plot itself just didn’t do anything for me. The love story was underdeveloped, the rivalry made no sense, and ultimately, I just didn’t feel as though the story was as dramatic as it wanted to be. Plus, I never do like novels that revolve around magicians… but that’s a pet peeve of mine to explore another time.
3 & 4) American Gods and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I love Neil Gaiman, almost all of the time. I’ve had his upcoming novel on preorder for months now. But both of these books disappointed me. I just could not get into American Gods (I know, I know, it’s supposed to be his masterpiece), and I found Neverwhere too scattered for my taste. Ah, well. I still count Stardust and The Graveyard Book among my favorites.
5) Untold Story by Monica Ali. I thought this book would be terrific — a reimagined history in which Princess Diana did not die, but rather faked her own death in order to escape the pressures of her miserable life and start a new, anonymous life where she could be at peace. It sounded promising, but after reading it, I thought it was just awful. The Diana character was so vague that she could have been anyone, and really, haven’t we already read books about a woman who runs away, changes her identity, and starts over? The whole thing was just unbelievable, and I ended up not caring about the characters or the resolution of the story at all.
Okay, enough of the negative. Let’s turn this list around! Here are five books that I ended up LOVING, when I really wasn’t sure I’d even like them:
1) Doc by Mary Doria Russell. I’ve learned a lesson by now. If Mary Doria Russell writes a book, I will love it. End of story. When Doc was published, I really wasn’t interested. Who, me? Read a Western? What do I care about Doc Holliday? If I were really interested, couldn’t I just rent the Tombstone DVD? Hence the lesson. I have loved every single book written by Mary Doria Russell, and Doc is no exception. I could gush more, but I’ll restrain myself.
2) Redshirts by John Scalzi. I like science fiction, but I was never a Star Trek fan. In fact, I think I’ve maybe only seen one or two episodes, and those were watched under duress. Still, Redshirts sounded like a lot of fun, and yes, I’m so happy I read it! Funny, smart, full of clever twists — Redshirts was a blast to read.
3) Revenge of the Girl With a Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg. With the lipstick on the cover and the cutesy title, I expected a typical variety of a “Mean Girls” YA novel. Instead, I found Revenge to be a sensitive portrayal of a girl who faces challenges and has to make some decisions about the kind of person — and friend — she wants to be. This book manages to be funny and full of girl power at the same time as it asks some hard questions about popularity and fitting in.
4) 11/22/63 by Stephen King. OMG, this is a huge doorstop of a book, and most of it takes place in the late 1950s! Can you say long, boring trip down memory lane? That’s what I expected, but I was drawn to it anyway because of the time travel elements as well as the focus on the JFK assassination. As usual, I should have had more faith in the amazing writing powers of Stephen King. With an incredibly intricate plot, tense drama, a love story, and some truly scary, good old human evil nature, 11/22/63 is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years.
5) You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon. I really, really don’t like short stories. I usually avoid them like the plague. Still, I’d heard such good things about this particular story collection that I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. This set of interconnected stories about a group of army wives at a Texas base is moving and lovely, and so worth the time. .
What books were a surprise to you? Any favorites that you really didn’t expect to like? Sound off!
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