You may be thinking, why would you pick up a book you aren’t expecting to love? Listen, I wonder the same thing, too. Sometimes I read books just for the hype. Other times I read them because my brain wants a break and I know they won’t be hard to get through. Other times…I don’t know what happens!
But fortunately, sometimes that pays off. Today I’ll be sharing with you the books I wasn’t expecting to love and did… Pleasant surprises for once!
The White Moth: The Story of Three Generations at a Tuscan Villa by Camilla Calhoun
Despite knowing I loved every little thing about this book, I was still weary picking it up. Fortunately, I was wrong. The White Moth surprised me the most in the way it mixes lyricism and authenticity. There are moments when it feels like we’re reading a World War Two novel, others when it feels like we’re listening to the author talk. It was slow and lovely and I’m so glad I read it.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler
I remember buying a paperback copy of this book simply because it had a stunning cover and it was super cheap. One night, when I couldn’t sleep or decide what to read, I picked it up. I was a crying mess by the time I finished it. It hit me in the feels and I was not expecting that ending. It quickly took a piece of my heart, which it is still holding today.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My love affair with Adichie started when I first read this book. I remember being on the bus, on my way to school, and thinking this will be a quick, forgettable read. Boy, was I wrong! This is one of the most insightful books I have ever read. The commentary on race, education, class, and money is impactful and completely blew me away. I now recommend this book to anyone looking to start reading adult fiction.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavander by Leslye Walton
This book made its rounds on Booktube in 2014, which is how I learned about it. However, by that time, I was already realizing many of the “popular” books I saw on Booktube weren’t my cup of tea. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself glued to the pages of this book. It’s magical, it’s lyrical, and it’s oh-so charming.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A couple years back, I started hearing great things about this modern classic. However, I was scared to pick it up because I thought (for some reason) I wouldn’t like it. The only reason I bought this copy was because I had forgotten a book at home and wanted to read on the bus! By the second chapter, I was sucked in. This is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read and I still think about it often. One of my favorite books of all time.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trans (But Were Afraid to Ask) by Brynn Tannehill
I was expecting to learn a lot from this book. I picked it up because I felt like I didn’t understand much of the discourse surrounding transgender people and genderqueer people. What I wasn’t expecting was to love this book so deeply. The writing blew me away and the amazing way every section is organized made the whole experience better. Despite having read it only in January, it’s become one of my favorite books of the year.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
When a book is so hyped up, I have a hard time not suspecting I won’t like it. It’s a stupid thought, but I have it! So, when I decided to pick this baby up for a little heartwarming session, I was surprised at how freaking funny it is! I’ve raved about it lately here on my channel, but it’s never too late to say “Stop what you’re doing and go read it yourself!”
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
I am usually not a fan of “serious” novels (read: put on a pedestal) written by men. Something about the way men write women irks me out. Oddly enough, though, this quickly became a favorite of mine. I’m sure the irky way men write is there—but it’s intentional, or at least it feels like it! It’s so damn sarcastic and ridiculous, I found myself laughing out loud at some portions of the novel (and then gagging in my mouth because this is super explicit).
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Looking at the cover and reading the synopsis, I was expecting this book to be ridiculous and mind fluff. But it wasn’t, at all, which shocked me! I quickly became engrossed in Bernadette’s story and I didn’t see any of the “plot twists” coming. I wish I could go back in time and have fun reading it again for the first time. It’s so funny and memorable!
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Is it a Bookish Rita post if I don’t proclaim my love for this novel? Well, it would be if I were writing this before June 2019! I saw Rooney’s novel at the library on display and remembered all the good reviews I’d seen around. Yet, I wasn’t certain it would be up my alley. I was wrong—this is my new all-time favorite book! I’m so surprised I wasn’t expecting to love this. I mean, story-told-over-several-years, class struggles, and privilege being questioned? Come on, that’s super on brand for me!
What books were you surprised to love? I’d love some great recommendations for the summer!