I got this idea from Regan over at Peruse Project on YouTube. These are the books that I picked up never expecting to like as much as I did. Some of these are quite popular, which is mainly why I was skeptical about them to begin with. Others were outside of my comfort zone or I initially went into them with little expectations.
Anyway, here about my top ten unexpected favorite books:
Saga graphic novel series
At the time I picked up the first volume of Saga, I was interested in branching out into graphic novels. Everyone and their mother on BookTube were obsessed with them, so it seemed like a good place to start. Prior to that, I was not really into science fiction.
Then, I read Saga, Vol. 1 in less than 48 hours and loved it. I grew attached to Marko, Alana, and baby Hazel. The artwork was beautiful. The story was compelling. As soon as I got my next paycheck, I went to Newbury Comics to buy the volumes that were out at the time. Since then, when a new Saga volume comes out, I pre-order it.
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Wink Poppy Midnight was the second novel by April Genevieve Tucholke I read. The previous one I read, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I was disappointed by. I had heard of Wink Poppy Midnight but had no interest in reading it.
Then, I saw it in Target and the cover drew me in. So, I said “to hell with it” and bought it. When I read Wink Poppy Midnight, I had great fun. The story read like its own folklore. The characters were like the ones you see in fairy tales. It was weird in an entertaining way. Wink Poppy Midnight is what encouraged me to give April Genevieve Tucholke a second chance.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I first read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie my freshman year of high school for the book club I was a part of. I thought the title was dumb, so I expected the book to be, too. Then, I read it, finishing it in two days.
Junior Spirit, a fourteen-year-old Native American boy, attends an all-white school off his reservation in hopes of building a better future for himself. He faces racism at his new school and everyone but his family on the reservation turns against him. Despite this, and several tragedies, Junior triumphs.
I have read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian at least five times over the years. I used it when I was a teaching assistant in college. I still laugh when I read it, even though I know what is going to happen. I totally judged it by the cover when I first read it.
Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
Love and First Sight was recommended to me on Goodreads because of certain books I liked. It is about a teenaged boy named Will, who was born blind, that transfers to a mainstream high school. There, he makes new friends and meets his first love, Cecily. Shortly after he starts dating Cecily, Will is offered the opportunity to undergo an experimental surgery to give him his sight. The surgery works, but when he lays eyes on Cecily, he realizes his friends exaggerated her appearance, and Will tries to deal with that.
Love and First Sight is mainly a discussion about body image and living with a disability, and how it can affect your relationships with others and how people treat you. I enjoyed Will as a protagonist and the comedic writing style was similar to John Green’s. It was adorable and funny, though it had depth to it. I expected to enjoy this book, but loved it way more than I thought I would.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Young adult contemporary is not a genre I typically reach for. The Upside of Unrequited is about Molly, a teenaged girl who has had twenty-six crushes but no boyfriend. When her twin sister Cassie’s new girlfriend Mina tries to set her up with her friend Will, Molly thinks it is the perfect situation for her first boyfriend. That is, until her nerdy new co-worker Reid comes along.
While the writing style was juvenile, The Upside of Unrequited was a lighthearted, fluffy book I found myself relating to. It was filled with diversity, portraying real life families and teenagers in 2017. I suspected I would like this book if I gave it a chance. I just never expected to enjoy it so much.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Three years ago, the book Me Before You was everywhere. I bought it during a Books a Million “buy two, get one free” online sale, thinking it was another chick-lit novel. In case you are unaware, the story follows Lou, a quirky English girl who takes on a job as a caretaker of cranky quadriplegic Will Traynor. When she discovers some startling information about her client, she sets out to prove to him that life is still worth living.
The ending of Me Before You was not what I expected. It is one of the few books that brought me to tears. Though I see the problematic things now, at the time the story introduced some interesting questions that made me think about individual people’s choices regarding how they choose to live, or end, their lives.
We Believe You by Annie E. Clark
We Believe You is a book I bought my senior year of college during my school’s annual Consent Day. It is a nonfiction book that took me completely by surprise: a collection of stories from survivors of campus sexual assault and the aftermath of the attacks.
We Believe You is powerful and empowering, as well as incredibly sad and uncomfortable at times. There were times I literally felt sick to my stomach, not because of the graphic accounts of the victims (though many were hard to read) but because the way the survivors were treated afterwards by the justice system as well as friends and family. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk about this book, I take it. Every college girl should read this.
A World Without You by Beth Revis
A World Without You is about a teenaged mental patient, Bo, who thinks he can time travel. At the beginning of the book, his girlfriend Sofia commits suicide, only Bo firmly believes she is trapped somewhere in time. Beth Revis writes in a way that blurs the fantasy with reality. In my opinion, A World Without You could possibly fall under the magical realism genre. But the way the story played out, there were times I honestly believed Bo was time-travelling and everyone around him thought he was crazy, which is a common theme in young adult novels.
In short, I had expected to like A World Without You when I picked it up from the library last year. Only I anticipated a 4-star read instead of a 5-star read.
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Last year, I picked up Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit from my local library for two reasons: I loved the cover and I wanted to read more diversely. It follows Jo, an openly gay preacher’s daughter that is forced to go back in the closet for her senior year when she leaves Atlanta to live with her father and his new wife in a small Georgia town. Naturally, she meets a girl and the promise she made to her father is put to the test.
For the first half of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, I was thinking the book was a 3-star/3.5 star. Then, something happened in the middle that bumped it up to a 4 star. Jo is a sassy protagonist and there was some great talk about religion’s relationship with sexuality, and how certain communities are more accepting than others. There was also a strong family presence, which I appreciated, and Jo’s stepmother, Elizabeth, was not the “wicked stepmother” stereotype.
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
The DUFF is about sassy, strong-willed Bianca that gets in a sexual relationship with her worst enemy, Wesley, to distract herself from her problems at home. Wesley calls her the DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Despite some problematic stuff going on, the book is all about body image, high school expectations, and accepting yourself for who you are. The DUFF was a lighthearted, funny read with some serious topics thrown in.
What books did you never expect to be a favorite when you read them?