Reading preferences are an extremely personal thing. And while a lot of us are pretty sure we know what we like, sometimes a book recommendation can take you utterly by surprise. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about books that you never would have read if someone (or even something) hadn’t recommended them to you. I’m going to count not just personal recommendations from family and friends here, but also recommendations from other authors, TV, and of course the good old internet (because I spend way too much of my time browsing through Goodreads these days).
Top Ten Recommended Reads
1. Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta – This has got to be one of the best recommendations I’ve ever received in my life, even though I didn’t realise it at the time. My mother bought me a copy of Alibrandi when I was a teenager and encouraged me to read it, and although it took me a while to warm up to Marchetta’s novel, once I did I never looked back.
2. The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak – I heard about Shafak’s novels more than a year ago on the radio, during a segment with a well-known arts and culture journalist. I’ve been a big fan of Orhan Pamuk’s work for a few years now, but apart from that I’ve never read any other Turkish novelists. When this journalist began discussing Shafak’s work, particularly her interest in feminist issues, I knew I had to track down her books.
3. Witches Abroad, by Terry Pratchett – It’s weird to think that although these days I’m a massive fan of Terry Pratchett’s work, I might never have thought to pick up his hilarious and brilliant books if it hadn’t been for a good friend of mine insisting, years ago, that I read Witches Abroad. Needless to say, I’m forever in her debt for that.
4. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, by Kate Atkinson – This book was recommended to be my someone in my university reading group. Not only did it provide me with some handy fodder for one of my essays, but it was an interesting read that I might never have picked up if not for the recommendation.
5. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, by Stephanie Oakes – I got this book as a present one year, and ended up staying up late just to finish it. It was dark and disturbing, not normally the kind of thing I tend to read, but it was absolutely impossible to put down.
6. Bossypants, by Tina Fey – Another birthday present from a friend that turned into the best few hours of reading I’ve ever spent. I must admit, I’m not overly fond of memoirs, especially those ‘by’ celebrities, not least because I don’t like the feeling of not knowing if it’s been written by a ghostwriter. I don’t think there’s much need to fear here, though – Bossypants is Tina Fey all over, and it’s easy to see the overlap between the characters she writes and plays on film, and her writing in this book.
7. South Riding, by Winifred Holtby and Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner – These are just two of the most memorable novels I read as a direct result of Samatha Ellis’ book How to be a Heroine (which, incidentally, I decided to read thanks to the book blogging community, so in a way they’re second-generation recommendations).
8. The Table of Less Valued Knights, by Marie Phillips – I don’t usually read books just because they were nominated for awards, but I was browsing through the longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2015, and this title caught my eye. Comical look at Arthurian Legends? It sounded promising, so even though I didn’t really know much about the author or the book, I decided to give it a go.
9. Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton – Tim Winton is Western Australia’s pride and joy, and I’ve been bombarded with recommendations from teachers, parents, booksellers, and friends for years now. I finally decided to try reading one of his books a few years ago, and Cloudstreet, surprisingly, turned out to be worth the hype.
10. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine – I became obsessed with this book in primary school after a friend recommended it to me. It broke my little heart that I didn’t own a copy myself, and the school library didn’t have one either. So I kept bugging my friend to lend me her copy which, thankfully, she regularly did with good humour.
What are the best book recommendations you’ve ever received?