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 them was Hidden Gems: books that aren’t as popular or that we think deserve more recognition. I love this theme because being a librarian is all about helping people discover new books that they haven’t heard of yet.
HERE’S MY PICKS:
1. Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
This is such a sweet, lovable rom-com YA novel that deserves more recognition for the thoughtful way Winfrey writes about anxiety. Plus all the X-Files references win major points for me. It’s a sweet story about love, friendship, and coming into your own.
Goodreads summary: “Mallory hasn’t left the house in sixty-seven days–since the day her dad left. She attends her classes via webcam, rarely leaves her room (much to her brother’s chagrin), and spends most of her time watching The X-Files or chatting with the always obnoxious BeamMeUp on New Mexico’s premier alien message board.
But when she’s shockingly nominated for homecoming queen, her life takes a surprising turn. She slowly begins to open up to the world outside. And maybe if she can get her popular jock neighbor Brad Kirkpatrick to be her homecoming date, her classmates will stop calling her a freak.
In this heartwarming and humorous debut, Mallory discovers first love and the true meaning of home–just by taking one small step outside her house.”
2. The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith
This book was a super quick read that is unrealistic but somehow so charming and heartwarming. It’s a story of misfits finding each other and creating their own family. Bun is a socially awkward yet brilliant teen who learns how to build meaningful relationships. Heather Smith has a new book coming out soon that I’m looking forward to!
Goodreads summary: “Set in 1980s Newfoundland, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is the story of a 14-year-old girl who runs away to the city and is taken in by a street musician who lives with an eclectic cast of characters: a pot smoking dishwasher with culinary dreams; a drag queen with a tragic past; a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost.”
3. Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
This is one of the few YA books that discusses homelessness, and I love that Linden was not solely defined by being homeless: she still has passions and dreams. Where I Live also presents the resilience of friendship. This novel deserves more attention for tackling such big issues in an uplifting way.
Goodreads summary: “Linden Rose has a big secret–she is homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her position as school blog editor, her best friends, Ham and Seung, and the promise of a future far away are what keep Linden under the radar and moving forward.
But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea’s life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay more attention. And attention is the last thing she needs.
Linden knows the only way to put a stop to the violence is to tell Bea’s story and come to terms with her own painful past. Even if that means breaking her rules for survival and jeopardizing the secrets she’s worked so hard to keep.”
4. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani
This lyrical book exploring young Black girl’s relationship with faith is so beautiful. It’s an interesting read because it follows Taja throughout her childhood and teen years rather than following a specific plotline. It’s perfect for teens trying to figure out their own identity.
Goodreads summary: “Calling My Name is a striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self—ideal for readers of Jacqueline Woodson, Jandy Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros.
This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose.
Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Namefollows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel that captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.”
5. Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider
Invisible Ghosts presents a different take on loss, grief, and moving on. I love that it has Jewish rep, and that it’s full of Buffy the Vampire Slayer references. Plus, Rose and Logan have one of my favorite literary sibling relationships.
Goodreads summary: “Rose Asher believes in ghosts. She should, since she has one for a best friend: Logan, her annoying, Netflix-addicted brother, who is forever stuck at fifteen. But Rose is growing up, and when an old friend moves back to Laguna Canyon and appears in her drama class, things get complicated.
Jamie Aldridge is charming, confident, and a painful reminder of the life Rose has been missing out on since her brother’s death. She watches as Jamie easily rejoins their former friends–a group of magnificently silly theater nerds–while avoiding her so intensely that it must be deliberate.
Yet when the two of them unexpectedly cross paths, Rose learns that Jamie has a secret of his own, one that changes everything. Rose finds herself drawn back into her old life–and to Jamie. But she quickly starts to suspect that he isn’t telling her the whole truth.
All Rose knows is that it’s becoming harder to choose between the boy who makes her feel alive and the brother she isn’t ready to lose.”
6. Catboy by Benji Nate
I’ve featured Catboy on a Top Ten Tuesday post before, but I had to include it on this one because I’m still shocked at how few ratings/reviews it has on Goodreads. It’s about a cat who becomes human-like and must adapt to people life. I honestly don’t understand what else you could possibly want in a book. Plus, it’s a graphic novel full of cute outfits that Henry & Olive wear together. This is such a must-read for cat lovers. It’s so precious and deserves so much more attention.
Goodreads summary: “The adventures of young-adult Olive and her best friend Henry, turned from cat into a real human cat-boy after a poorly worded wish upon a shooting star. This graphic novel collects the hit ongoing weekly comic series from VICE.com along with all new exclusive and unreleased material and sketchbook pages. This contemporary series is cute, fierce, funny and adventurous!”
7. Sparrow by Sarah Moon
This book is perfect for upper middle school & lower high school ages, and discuses anxiety. I love that it presents different avenues for mental health care, including therapy, artistic expression, and building a support system. It’s also a great representation of a teen developing healthy mentorship/mentee relationships with adults.
Goodreads summary: “Sparrow has always had a difficult time making friends. She would always rather have stayed home on the weekends with her mother, an affluent IT Executive at a Brooklyn bank, reading, or watching the birds, than playing with other kids. And that’s made school a lonely experience for her. It’s made LIFE a lonely experience.
But when the one teacher who really understood her — Mrs. Wexler, the school librarian, a woman who let her eat her lunch in the library office rather than hide in a bathroom stall, a woman who shared her passion for novels and knew just the ones she’d love — is killed in a freak car accident, Sparrow’s world unravels and she’s found on the roof of her school in an apparent suicide attempt.
With the help of an insightful therapist, Sparrow finally reveals the truth of her inner life. And it’s here that she discovers an outlet in Rock & Roll music…”
8. Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
This book is such a complex, slow-burning story with elements of mystery and suspense mixed in. It’s one of those books that starts out seemingly with a very straight-forward story, but as you read on you slowly realize that there’s something going on that your main character isn’t telling you. This was such a compelling read that I hope gets more attention soon, since it’s perfect for Fall.
Goodreads summary: “The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she’s been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it’s time to evacuate.
Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey–and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks’s dark past come to light, Audrey can’t help but wonder if there’s danger in the pull she feels–both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance.”
9. Like Water by Rebecca Podos
Like Water is a beautiful queer summer love story all about identity, growing up, and feeling stuck. It’s about fear and bravery and hope. It deserves so much more attention for being so raw and real.
Goodreads summary: “A gorgeously written and deeply felt literary young adult novel of identity, millennial anxiety, and first love, from the widely acclaimed author of The Mystery of Hollow Places
In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.
That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.
With her signature stunning writing, Rebecca Podos, author of The Mystery of Hollow Places, has crafted a story of first love and of the complex ways in which the deepest parts of us are hidden, even from ourselves. ”
10. Your One & Only by Adrienne Finlay
This YA sci-fi romance was so twisty and unique. It had such a different premise & I’d love to see this book getting into the hands of more sci-fi and dystopian lovers.
Goodreads summary: “Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?
While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?”
What books do you think deserve more recognition?