Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
This week’s theme was sensory reading memories—books that you have a strong memory attached to or that evoke your senses. This was a tough theme at first, but it ended up being really fun to look back on the books that stand out in my memories. Click the book titles to view the Goodreads summary and add it to your TBR.
Here’s my picks:
1. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
This is a book I love but that I actually have a horrible sensory memory of. The day I read this, I had the world’s worst migraine that refused to go away. The fact that I kept reading this book and finished it in one day despite the migraine should attest to how amazing it was.
The migraine isn’t the only thing that makes this book stand out in my memory, of course. It’s an incredible, violently real take down of rape culture that is unforgettable.
2. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Maurene Goo has described this book as her love letter to LA, and that’s the perfect way to put it. It’s a lovely depiction of the vibrant cultures, neighborhoods, food, and scenes in Los Angeles that will totally make you feel like you’re there. Not to mention the drool-worthy descriptions of the dishes Clara’s dad serves on his Korean-Brazilian fusion food truck. The Way You Make Me Feel really ignites your senses (and makes you very hungry).
3. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
This one is a vivid memory for me because I checked it out from the library and it was so good, I took it on a trip with me–and I NEVER travel with library books because I’m so scared of losing them. I took this book to the ALA conference in 2017 and could not stop reading it. I carried it with me and read it in between sessions, during lunch, and during any spare time I had. I stayed up late in my hotel room reading it and I was seriously sad when it was over. Anyone who has spoken to me since then knows that I’m obsessed with it and that Shaun is now easily one of my favorite authors.
4. The Murmurings by Carly Anne West
I have a strong memory attached to The Murmurings because it was one of the first books I read after moving across the country in 2016. No school, no job, no way to get to the library— I was bored at home and saw The Murmurings on my shelf. After getting it years ago and never reading it, I decided to give it a try. It was super spooky, chilling, and I devoured it in one day. After years of mostly only reading for school, this book helped reignite my love for YA.
5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This book is a fun read that I’m sure everyone has already heard a ton about, and while it’s not my favorite, it’s the one that got me hooked on audiobooks. Up until listening to this one, I had a hard time getting into audiobooks. My partner and I had fun listening to this one in the car, and now I love listening to audiobooks. I’ll always remember this one as the first audiobook I listened to all the way through.
By the way, if you love Ready Player One, Marie Lu’s Warcross should be next on your list.
6. Like Water by Rebecca Podos
I’m a huge sucker for water imagery, and Like Water has some of the best. Rebecca Podos uses water to mirror love, loss, pain, and the main character Savannah’s relationship with her body. This queer love story evokes the feeling of weightlessness and peace found in water. Reading it is like diving into clear, crisp water, and you can practically feel the coolness of the water as you swim with Savannah.
Like Water is full of queer love, sex positivity, and also, performing mermaids (so basically, it’s the best book ever).
7. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
If The Way You Make Me Feel is a love letter to LA, then When Dimple Met Rishi is one to San Francisco. I loved the vivid descriptions of SF haunts, and you can practically feel the fog that Sandhya Menon writes about. I live in the Bay Area, and this book felt so true to the feelings and sensations of SF.
It should be required to read this while drinking iced coffee or tea and sitting on an SF hill, enjoying the foggy view.
8. Something In Between by Melissa De La Cruz
There are so few YA books featuring Filipinx characters, and this was one that really showed the beauty of Filipinx culture. The descriptions of traditional dishes like adobo, bibingka, and calamansi juice took me back to my childhood and reminded me so much of my lola (Tagalog for grandmother), who was from the Philippines.
I hope to see more Filipinx characters in YA, and definitely more books about undocumented immigrants.
9. The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
I love a sad book, and ones about grief always get me. The Beauty That Remains uses music to tell a story of loss experienced by three teens, each connected through a now-defunct band. Music plays such a huge role in this novel as it’s the thread that connects the characters, and each one must find their way back to music in the wake of losing their loved ones. This is a great one to read while listening to your favorite playlist.
10. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
This is a recent book that I know will stand out in my memories for a long time. As a biracial kid/teen, I had such a hard time finding books about people like me. Now, as an adult, I’m so happy I can find YA books about teens who are part Asian and part white like myself. The main character Kiko’s experiences felt so much like my own that it felt like this book was written just for me. Akemi Dawn Bowman also writes incredible descriptions of Kiko’s artwork, and you feel as if you can see the art coming alive.
This is an #OwnVoices book that speaks volumes about the experiences of mixed-race folks. Some other YA authors that write great books about biracial Asian-Americans include Emily X. R. Pan and Jenny Han.
Do you have any sensory memories attached to certain books?