I LOVE this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and Bookish. It’s Top Ten Books that Have Less Than 2000 ratings on Goodreads. I didn’t even know that you could manipulate your shelves to reflect the number of ratings a book has had – such a cool feature! I was quite surprised to find how few ratings some of the books I’d read had. I think the lowest number I came across was 39, which was for the not very good and totally forgettable children’s book The Boy Who Could Fly Without A Motor by Theodore Taylor. Also, as I’ve been looking over my “read” books on Goodreads, there are a heck of a lot of books that I remember absolutely nothing about! Such is the life of a passionate reader, I suppose. One only has so many brain cells.
I could have picked ten different books, but these were the ones that grabbed me first. In no particular order, here are 10 books that deserve more people reading and rating them on Goodreads:
Saffron Sky: A Life Between Iran and America by Gelareh Asayesh. It’s been years since I read this but I remember just loving it, loving reading about a woman torn between her Iranian childhood memories and the family still there, and her identity as an American immigrant and wanting her American-born children to know their Iranian heritage. (135 Goodreads ratings.)
Dancing With Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s by Lauren Kessler. I loved this book. Following her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s the author spends a year working inside a care-giving facility and tells so many touching, funny, sad, beautiful stories. (357 ratings.)
Morningside Heights by Cheryl Mendelson. Just a really well-written family saga about relationships and money in New York City. It’s just my cup of tea. It’s the first in a trilogy but in my case I vastly preferred the first one to the next two, so you have my permission to skip them. (412 ratings.)
Remember Me to Harold Square by Paula Danziger. One I read as a pre-teen (first published in 1987) and haven’t read since, so I don’t remember much about it except that it involved a really fun scavenger hunt all over New York City. I need to read this again. (666 ratings.)
Look at Me by Anita Brookner. Brookner is amazing. She is very much an “interior” sort of author, not very plotty, but her novels and slim and exquisite character studies, usually of lonely, intelligent, anxious people. I adore her. (653 ratings.)
Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields. One of my VERY FAVORITE AUTHORS, and one that I feel is criminally underrated. This was her first novel, and it’s one of my favorites. (757 ratings.)
Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Fletcher Geniesse. “Leaving behind a miserable family life, Freya set out, at the age of thirty-four, to explore remote and dangerous regions of the Middle East. She was captured in 1927 by the French military police after penetrating their cordon around the rebellious Druze. She explored the mountainous territory of the mysterious Assassins of Persia, became the first woman to explore Luristan in western Iran, and followed ancient frankincense routes to locate a lost city.” Fascinating woman, highly readable biography. (762 ratings.)
The Wishing Year: An Experiment in Desire by Noelle Oxenhandler. A charming, year-in-the-life memoir. I found it to be life-affirming. (672 ratings.)
The Way Men Act by Elinor Lipman. I might as well have titled this post “Authors Who Are Underrated,” because here’s another one. Elinor Lipman writes fun, intelligent, charming novels that are usually in the comedy-of-manners genre. I have enjoyed all of her novels, and this one was a four-star book for me with only 814 ratings.
John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead. I read this about 15 years ago, and I remember just loving it, and still haven’t read anything quite like it. Here’s the blurb: “…on one level a multifaceted retelling of the story of John Henry, the black steel-driver who died outracing a machine designed to replace him. On another level it’s the story of a disaffected, middle-aged black journalist on a mission to set a record for junketeering who attends the annual John Henry Days festival.” (1437 ratings.)
I can’t wait to read other lists – it seems like this topic will bring to the forefront lots of older, underappreciated backlist titles!