This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Freebie week! I thought I would take this opportunity to revisit one of the Top Ten Tuesday topics I never did because uh it was 2011 and I didn’t know Top Ten Tuesdays was a thing then. So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, for me, is all about my Top Ten Books I Loved But Never Reviewed.
Now, there are a variety of reasons why I might not review a book – if I don’t have anything more to say than has already been said the world over, if I don’t feel inspired enough to write a review, if I’m feeling super lazy, or if the book is just so.damn.good. that I couldn’t even begin to do it justice in my review. That last reason applies to all of the books I’m about to mention but, regardless, I still truly regret never having reviewed these books because I loved every single one of them. This post goes some way to righting this wrong – for every book I mention, I’ll do my best to do a mini review/gush/why-you-should-definitely-stop-reading-this-post-and-go-read-the-book-instead. Everyone understand? Ok, good, enough of me babbling and onto the books I loved but never reviewed, because I’m dumb.
10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I studied this book in my postgrad Posthumanism class and I didn’t hate it at the end of analysing it to death in an essay so, hey, you know it’s good stuff. I could say a bunch of things about it but basically, if you like dystopia, you need to read this. It takes place in a future, allegedly utopian society featuring genetic engineering, sexual freedom, and liberal drug policies, all of which make its citizens very happy… and very easy to manipulate.
9. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
I constantly struggle to review graphic novels because the whole beauty of the graphic novel is in the artwork, not necessarily the words. And The Arrival has no words, no dialogue, no captions, and yet it manages to convey an absolutely amazing story about immigrant experience. The world is whimsical and mystical and almost dream-like, but it also portrays the gritty reality of life as an immigrant, isolated from faraway family and friends in a new country. The artistry, though, is the real MVP so, in lieu of a review, I should just show you the artwork because it’s stunningly gorgeous. I mean…
8. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fates and Furies was a case of right-book-right-time. It tells the story of a seemingly perfect couple but, as ever, the reality is never that simple underneath the blissful surface. It truly is a story of two halves – we begin by hearing about the couple’s lives through Lotto, whose view of his wife is blinkered due to his love for her, and then the novel abruptly shifts, telling the same story of their marriage from Mathilde’s point of view – and what she reveals casts their relationship in an entirely different light. This book succeeded in capturing one of the facts of life that I’m fascinated by – the fact that you can never, ever truly know how you are perceived by others, nor can you ever truly know another person, be it parent, sibling, lover, or friend.
7. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I was never much for memoirs, but I’d implore each and every one of you to read Paul Kalanithi’s memoir. A young doctor, he’d almost completed a decade’s worth of training to become a neurosurgeon, and then he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Once a doctor, he then became a patient, and saw the other side of this doctor-patient relationship that is so vital. Paul muses on the big questions – what makes life worth living? What does it mean to have a child, when you know you will imminently die yourself? What does your life become when the living you’ve been working towards for years is no longer a possibility for the future? Both scientifically and literarily minded, Paul had a way with words that is truly touching, and his memoir is a wonderful read.
6. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is once again a case of a book being so stunning that I couldn’t do it justice if I tried to review it. All The Light We Cannot See tells the story of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who must flee Nazi-occupied Paris and moves in with her great-uncle in coastal Saint-Malo, and Werner, a German boy whose is an expert at fixing radios and is given a mission to locate enemy transmissions for the Fuhrer. Obviously, their paths intertwine, but it’s a slow burn to that meeting point, and in the meantime the novel will slowly creep into your body and steal your heart away. Hey, it won the Pulitzer for a reason, guys.
5. Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig (& The Humans by Matt Haig)
Much like Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive is one of those Important Books. Matt has this amazing way with words that seems so simple on the surface but is so deeply astute and clever that it leaves you stunned, as is evident in his novel, The Humans. Reasons To Stay Alive tackles the subject of mental health in an unfalteringly honest manner, exploring it from the point at which, at age 24, Matt Haig almost jumped off a cliff. Reasons To Stay Alive not only charts how he stepped back from that brink, and what it was that made him want to stay alive, but looks at what makes life worth living for everyone – or, as the title says, reasons to stay alive. I found it almost jarringly hilarious and profound, I think you should read it.
4. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
If asked, I’d volunteer The Aeronaut’s Windlass as one of my favourite fantasy novels in recent years. And it’s because of this very fact that I find myself incapable of reviewing it and doing it justice. Basically, imagine sky pirates crossed with sci-fi setting crossed with the aristocratic house tensions of Game of Thrones crossed with cats that talk (and condescend to humans)… and even then you still don’t get close to seeing how great this first book in The Cinder Spires series was. If it sounds at all appealing you should definitely jump on this series now whilst it only has one book in it – it’s easy to catch up!
3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I reviewed its sequel Crooked Kingdom for Cuckoo Review but I never went back and reviewed the first in the duology, to my lasting regret. Six of Crows, in a nutshell, is Ocean’s Eleven in a fantasy world… need I say more? Go read it.
2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Less of a whodunit, more of a whydunit, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is full of pretentious students, college classes, philosophy, classical references, and it’s so damn beautiful I don’t even know how to explain the singularly unique tone of this book. Do not mistake me – some people will loathe the characters, but there’s kind of a joy in that loathing. The narrator, Richard, is insufferable, but that’s kind of the beauty – none of these characters are without flaws, and its in their flaws that Tartt’s brilliance really shines through. You know what? You should just go read it, do that.
1. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Much like Fates and Furies, The Interestings was a right-place-right-time book for me. I’d just finished university, I was faced with the prospect of never again stepping foot in a classroom, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. I’m not sure if Wolitzer’s book comforted me, per say, but it did remind me that life does (shock horror) go on once you leave academia. And, yes, you might very well see your peers soar in a fulfilling, creative career whilst you flounder around at a crappy dead-end job, but everyone’s stories are never that simple underneath. I loved this book, so much so I’m scared to re-read it in case I don’t enjoy it quite as much. I constantly regret that I didn’t review this book when it was fresh in my mind, because it turned out to be one of my new favourite reads of all-time.
Are there any books you loved but didn’t end up reviewing? Why was this? Like me, do you sometimes feel pressure to review books eloquently (or not at all) because the book itself was written so wonderfully?
Please do share any book recommendations (and gushes about how great they are) below, I’d love to hear your recommendations!