I am just going to copy/paste the directions for this one from The Broke and the Bookish:
Thanks to Lenore at Celebrity Readers for suggesting this topic as a new way to talk about underrated books especially when underrated is subjective. An easy way to find this — go to Goodreads, your read list, at the top of your read list where it says settings you can add a column for # of ratings, then you can sort by that.
I put together this list a while ago, and I set a bunch of criteria for myself about which books I would include, and I have NO IDEA what they were. Books I haven’t really talked about on the blog before? Books published before 2010? Who knows? All descriptions from Goodreads.
1. Green Thumb by Rob Thomas (creator of Veronica Mars, btw): Thirteen-year-old genius Grady Jacobs thinks junior high is a snore. His radical science experiments have earned him plenty of national awards, but not a lot of friends. So when an invitation comes to join the famous scientist, Dr. Carter, in the Brazilian rain forest, Grady is on the next plane to the Amazon. But Grady’s ultimate field trip turns ultimately awful when he discovers what Dr. Carter is really up to: he isn’t there to save the rain forest — he is there to destroy it! Can one eight-grade science whiz put a stop to Dr. Carter’s evil plans? He can when he is joined by the Urah-Wau tribe of Indians and a supernatural power that no amount of science can ever explain.
# of ratings: 71
My comments: This book is so fun! Adventure stories for the win.
2. Never Trust a Dead Man by Vivian Vande Velde: Selwyn is brokenhearted when the beautiful Anora chooses to marry the awful-but-rich Farold. It’s bad enough when Farold beats him up in front of the villagers, but nothing prepares him for when Farold is found murdered. All accusing fingers point to Selwyn, who is promptly sealed in a burial cave with Farold’s corpse.
But they’re not alone in the cave. A witch appears with an offer of escape if Selwyn will be her servant. The witch brings Farold back from the dead in the form of a bat–too bad he doesn’t know who really killed him! There’s no choice left for Selwyn except to join forces with his worst enemy, a dead man, to find the real murderer.
# of ratings: 777
My comments: After reading this book, I pretty much made my way through as much of Velde’s catalog as I could get my hands on.
3. Don’t Think Twice by Ruth Pennebaker: Anne Harper, a seventeen-year-old with a hard-hitting, yet hilarious, sense of sarcasm, is living in a group home for pregnant teenagers. As the weeks pass, she comes to realize that what is growing inside her is not just a child, but also a new awareness of herself.
# of ratings: 270
My comments: What the description doesn’t say (and what you can probably guess) is that this book is set during the time when parents would send their pregnant teen daughters to “visit a family member,” so the girls could have their babies and give them up for adoption without anyone knowing.
4. Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson: A fascinating fusion of two literary models of the nineteenth century, the sentimental novel and the slave narrative, Our Nig, apart from its historical significance, is a deeply ironic and highly readable work, tracing the trials and tribulations of Frado, a mulatto girl abandoned by her white mother after the death of the child’s black father, who grows up as an indentured servant to a white family in nineteenth-century Massachusetts.
# of ratings: 1,583
My comments: This book also made my Top Ten Books I Was Forced to Read list!
5. The Spellbook of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty: The Zing family lives in a world of misguided spell books, singular poetry, and state-of-the-art surveillance equipment. They use these things to protect the Zing Family Secret — one so huge it draws the family to the garden shed for meetings every Friday night.
Into their world comes socially isolated middle grader Listen Taylor, whose father is dating a Zing. Enter Cath Murphy, a young teacher at the elementary school that Cassie Zing attends, suffering from a broken heart. How will the worlds of these two young woman connect? Only the reader can know!
# of ratings: 1,438
My comments: Okay, this book is not nearly as twee as the description is making it sound. It does have that J. Moriarty whimsy going for it, though. Apparently, I had very strong feelings about this book being categorized as YA, so make of that what you will.
6. Getting Mother’s Body by Suzan-Lori Parks: Like a country quilt, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s spellbinding first novel, Getting Mother’s Body, is pieced together from rags: short and slanted scraps of narrative recounted by various friends and members of the hard-luck Beede clan of Ector County, Texas. These sad, wily, bickering voices tell the story of Billy Beede–poor, unmarried, and pregnant–and her dead mother, the “hot and wild” blues singer, Willa Mae Beede, who may or may not have been laid to rest with a fortune of diamonds and pearls in her coffin. When a letter arrives announcing that a supermarket is being built on the ground where Willa Mae was buried, Billy determines to dig her up and get the jewels. But Willa Mae’s embittered female lover, Dill Smiles, is just as intent on keeping the corpse in the ground. Deeper and richer than a typical quest novel, Getting Mother’s Body is also the story of an African-American family, of beauty winding like bright thread through long-held grudges, hopelessness, and greed.
# of ratings: 1,085
My comments: This is a retelling of As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (which is one of my favorite books) with black people, so yeah.
7. The Grounding of Group 6 by Julian F. Thompson: As part of their high school orientation, a group of students hikes into the woods. What they don’t immediately realize is that their parents do not plan for them to come out alive.
# of ratings: 502
My comments: The parents in this book are so petty, and I am here for it.
8. Likely Story by David Van Etten: Mallory is a teenage girl living in L.A. and her mother is the oft nominated, never-winning star of a daytime soap; she is, in fact, the ultimate drama queen. After yet another blow-out about her mother’s awful plotlines and overacting, Mallory starts blogging about how she wishes soap operas were more like real kids’ lives instead of the ridiculous storylines the shows usually feature.
When her mother’s agent reads the blog, Mallory ends up in her own whirlwind drama, both at school and on the lot, as she works to protect the integrity of her original idea, cope with her mother’s jealousy, and get her best friend a lead role on the show. Factor in her boyfriend with the girlfriend, the cute but bad brother to said-best-friend, and the super-cute male lead on her show, and Mallory’s got plenty of her own melodrama to cope with.
# of ratings: 173 ratings
My comments: SOAPS! YA LIT! My two favorite things converging into one book of awesomeness with lots of drama and SOAPS!
9. Dancer by Lorri Hewett: Ballet is the most important thing in Stephanie’s life. But the reality of dance is tough, and Stephanie’s parents fear that she doesn’t realize how few opportunities there are for black ballerinas. Then, the remarkable Miss Winnie and her handsome and talented nephew, Vance, show up in ballet class one day. Miss Winnie, a glamorous retired ballerina, takes Stephanie on as a pupil and gives her the encouragement she needs. And Stephanie begins to discover a different kind of love . . . and a different understanding of what’s important.
# of ratings: 296
My comments: I am so, so sad that I have read every book Lorri Hewett has published and that there are no more. 😦
10. Twice Told by Scott Hunt: For this intriguing collection, Hunt sent nine hauntingly surreal images to 18 authors and asked each one to write a story based on the image. Sometimes the same picture can tell two different stories, as this collection shows. Illustrations.
# of ratings: 247
My comments: Sarah Dessen and John Green are among the contributors. Also, my favorite thing about this collection is that almost all of the paired stories have shared thematic elements. It’s pretty cool.
Maybe next time I’ll set the criteria at books published after Goodreads was created (2006, for the record) so I can get some more current books on my list. Next freebie or rewind topic maybe? Maybe.