Top 10 Underrated Books I Enjoyed Reading

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads.

One thing this week’s topic taught me is that I don’t read nearly enough underrated books, so I’m very excited to do a little blog hopping after work to see what others are posting so as to expand my reading horizons.


Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Underrated Books to add to your TBR List

1. Annapurna by Sharr White

03 I don’t know if drama in general is underrated on Goodreads or if Sharr White himself is because I’ve read two wonderful plays by him that both have less than 2,000 reviews. For those unfamiliar with Mr. White, he is a master at writing powerful roles for women. Even if you don’t read the plays, definitely don’t hesitate to check them out on stage. Brilliant stuff!

Synopsis from Goodreads: “Twenty years ago, Emma walked out on her husband, cowboy-poet Ulysses, in the middle of the night. Now hearing he’s in dire straits, she tracks him down in the wilds of Colorado to a filthy trailer, where he’s hooked to an oxygen tank and cooking sausage in the buff. Their reunion, charged by rage and compassion, brings back the worst and best of their former bond.”

2. A Stranger in the Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher

04 It has been a number of years since I read this so I don’t remember much about it other than that it reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird because of the themes it tackled.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Howard Frank Mosher has earned both critical acclaim and a wide readership for his vivid historical portraits of northern New England residents in his fictional Kingdom County, Vermont. A Stranger in the Kingdom tells the unforgettable story of a brutal murder in a small town and the devastating events that follow. The town’s new preacher, a black man, finds himself on trial more for who he is than for what he might have done in this powerful drama of passion, prejudice, and innocence suddenly lost . . . and perhaps found again.

3. The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

01 The Memory of Things actually hasn’t been published yet, so I’m kind of cheating a bit here because I think this should be on everyone’s radar for when it does come out in September. I just recently read it and thought it was such a moving and poignant read.

Synopsis from Goodreads: “The powerful story of two teenagers finding friendship, comfort, and first love in the days following 9/11 as their fractured city tries to put itself back together.” Read More…

4. Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter

05 This is a suspenseful page turner and a recent release that I’m frankly surprised hasn’t wracked up anymore reviews than it has.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death—and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her. Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it. You can also read my review HERE.

5. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

06 This book is a fairly recent release that, like Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, so far hasn’t gotten as much attention as I thought it would have. It reminded me a lot of Gone Girl and to The Girl on the Train, except with the added twist that it’s told in reverse.

Synopsis from Goodreads: “Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.” Read more…

6. Phoenix Island by John Dixon

02 Classified as young adult with a bit of science fiction thrown in, I remember liking Phoenix Island because it was so fast-paced and just action-packed. I also remember thinking that I wished this book had been around when I was teaching because I think a lot of my male students who were ‘reluctant readers’ would have enjoyed rooting for Carl as he is up against nearly impossible odds.

Synopsis from Goodreads: The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble, using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island. Read more…

7. Devil’s Pocket by John Dixon

11 This is actually the second book in the Phoenix Island series, and again, I’m surprised this series hasn’t attracted more attention than it has. It’s incredibly well written and both Phoenix Island and Devil’s Pocket were winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel.

Synopsis from Goodreads: “The follow-up to the critically acclaimed Phoenix Island, which reads like “Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke” (F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack) and inspired the CBS TV show Intelligence. With a chip in his head and hundreds more throughout his body, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman was turned from an orphan with impulse control issues into a super-soldier. Forced into the mercenary Phoenix Force group, he begins to fear he’ll never escape. Sent to a volcanic island to fight for them, he’ll compete in a combat tournament that awards teens with survival for merciless brutality. But just when all looks lost, he spies a friendly face…and possibly a way out.”

8. The Other Place by Sharr White

08 Another fantastic yet underrated play by Sharr White with a strong female lead role. It’s about a scientist who is an expert in the field of dementia but who ultimately ends up actually having early onset dementia herself. Heartbreaking but still hopeful in tone as well. In addition to reading this one, I’ve also seen it performed live and thought it was brilliant.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. But, piece by piece, a mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present, and the elusive truth about Juliana boils to the surface.”

9. Balloon Animals by Jonathan Dunne

09 I don’t remember much about this one now unfortunately, but I remember being thoroughly entertained by it and thinking that it was one of the more unique storylines I had read.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Follow me, Jonny Rowe, on a wild goose-chase from Ireland to the USA with my American grandfather’s remains in my red birthday balloon. I use ‘remains’ in the loosest sense of the word: my grandfather, 45, puffed his last breaths of air into my birthday balloon before suffering a massive heart attack right there at my birthday party which becomes his deathday party.

Feeling responsible for 45’s death, and as a thank-you for filling Clinical Dad’s void after leaving that questionable suicide note, I make it my quest to return 45 to his birthplace amongst the corn of Iowa, USA, suspended inside his soul-bubble. This journey might also help me with my identity-crisis … I’m a genealogy student, by the way. And who knows, maybe I’ll find love – I tend to find things when I’m not looking for them. Read more…

10. Who is George Lucas? by Pamela D. Pollack and Meg Belviso

13 In addition to books that I read for myself, I also read a lot of books with my son. This is one of our most favorite, underrated books. I read this one with my son together after taking him to see the new Star Wars movie. A very enjoyable, informative, and accessible read both for me and for him. We actually love this whole series of books for the same reason. If you have little ones, check out this series!

Synopsis from Goodreads: As a child his passions were comics and cars, but George Lucas grew up to be one of the most successful filmmakers of all time. He is a producer, screenwriter, director and entrepreneur whose company Lucasfilms pioneered the movie effects that changed the world of animation. He founded Industrial Light and Magic, which transformed special sound and visual effects throughout the Hollywood film industry. He is best known, of course, as the creator of the Star Wars movie, television, gaming, toy and merchandise empire, as well as the archeologist-adventure series Indiana Jones. Discover the man behind the magic in Who Is George Lucas?

Honorable Mention even though it has 2,100 Reviews:

11. White Dog Fell from The Sky by Eleanor Morse

12 It took me about 50 pages to really get hooked on this novel, but once I got going, I couldn’t put it down. The setting is unique, the characters are unforgettable, and Eleanor Morse tackles numerous challenging themes. Her writing style is beautiful as well. As I read, I kept thinking “Man, I wish I could write like this.”

Synopsis from Goodreads: “Eleanor Morse’s rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story. In apartheid South Africa in 1976, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to follow her husband to Africa. When Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land. Like the African terrain that Alice loves, Morse’s novel is alternately austere and lush, spare and lyrical. She is a writer of great and wide-ranging gifts.”

6 replies
  1. Resh Susan
    Resh Susan says:

    I haven’t read any of these. What a shame! Burying the Honeysuckle girls is such an interesting title, don’t you think so? This is a super great tag. Because the non famous books might be excellent reads. 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yes, the title of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls was actually what made me select it. It just really caught my attention and also made me think of home. And yes, I think this is a fantastic tag. As soon as I eat dinner, I plan to look through as many of the links people have shared as I can to see what other gems are out there just waiting to be read. 🙂

  2. Stacie
    Stacie says:

    I have not heard of any of these books. I’ll have to look some of them up and add them to my library, haha. Thank you for spotlighting them! 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      You’re welcome and thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ve really enjoyed this week’s Top 10 theme because it has introduced me to so many more potentially great new reads. 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, it’s really great. I’m hoping it won’t stay an underrated book for long. Thanks for stopping by my blog! 🙂

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