This week’s Top Ten topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is about books that were just too good to review. About a year and a half ago, I posted about books I loved that I didn’t get around to reviewing. Probably this was because of time constraints, though there are other factors: sometimes enough has been said that I don’t feel I have something compelling to add to the discussion, or the book is too hard to describe, or I’m afraid to reveal too much about it. Some books, like classics, are intimidating to review. I also tend not to review books that are part of a series, and I often don’t review romances because I think our reactions to them are very personal.
Here are ten books, since that last post, that I loved but didn’t review — this allows me to call attention to some great reads even if I didn’t have a chance to review them.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro: This was one of my favorite books last year, but it got so much attention I didn’t feel I needed to add anything. But I still think about this story.
Broken: Jenny Lawson’s books are impossible to review, but I love them so much. She has a unique sense of humor and writing style. She can go from laugh out loud funny to heartbreaking in an instant, and I love how much she brings her husband and daughter into her writing.
You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamarr: I recommend this book all the time, but I’d have a very hard time reviewing it. How do you make racism funny? Amber Ruffin does it, and in the process makes it very real.
Neverwhere: This is Neil Gaiman’s first novel and it’s wonderful. A lot of times you read older fantasy and you feel like you’ve seen it all before. This one certainly has common elements but I loved every minute. And Gaiman narrating his own book was wonderful, I could listen to him all day long.
Concrete Rose: Read everything by Angie Thomas. Enough said.
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy: I can review a classic novel only with a lot of effort and research; otherwise I don’t feel I can do justice to it. I love all of Hardy’s books, and this one was no exception. His characters just leap off the page for me.
A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore. I find romances among the hardest genres to review, because reactions to them tend to be very personal, so I rarely do unless it’s an ARC. I loved the first in the series, Bringing Down the Duke, and this one was maybe even better. I rarely see historical romances with this much depth of character and the history is fascinating.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones: I found it hard to articulate what I liked so much about this story, but I loved the characters and was moved by the situations they struggled with. I’ve visited Barbados as a tourist but I love a book that gives me new insights about what it’s like to live somewhere.
Transcendent Kingdom: I loved everything about this second novel by Yaa Gyasi. It’s such a compelling story about grief and trauma, and how that affects us as adults.
The Night Watchman: I read almost everything I can by Erdrich and she keeps getting better. I loved that this story is based on her own family.
Those are ten of my favorite recent reads that I didn’t get to review. What keeps you from reviewing a book?
When I started blogging I used to review all the books I read … but not anymore. If I have a very prolific reading period (like it happened in January), I prefer to take advantage of it and spend my free time reading rather than blogging. But when I’m in a reading slump I have more mental bandwidth to write about books 🙂
I agree, I find I don’t review most of the books I read, although this year I’m making more of an effort to get back to reviewing. The last few years I’ve wanted to read more than blog.
I read Neverwhere way before I started blogging, so I never got around to reviewing. I remember liking it those.
I read Neverwhere last year as part of an effort to read more backlist books. I’m pretty sure Neil Gaiman can do no wrong, but I had no idea what a good narrator he is. I need to listen to more of his books.
I’m glad you liked Concrete Rose so much. I still need to read that book.
My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-books-too-good-to-review-properly/
Everything Angie Thomas writes is so good! I’d recommend The Hate U Give first if you haven’t read that one.
I’ll take your word for it. I haven’t read any of these though I did consider One Armed Step Sister
How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House was an unexpected favorite last year, I read it because it was on the Women’s Prize longlist and I try to read as many of those as I can. It’s very good.
I LOVED Broken! I listened to it on Audio and it was so good. I read her previous one too but haven’t gotten to her first yet! Great list. I totally agree about romances being much more personal.
Thanks Leslie! I’ve read three of her books, but Broken was the first one I listened to, and I loved hearing her read.
Yes! She’s amazing at the audio!!
I really want to read Broken really soon. I’ve heard so many good things about it.
Jenny Lawson is wonderful! I don’t know if you’ve read her blog, that will give you a very good idea of how she writes. All her books are great but they’ve gotten more serious over the years, which makes sense.
This is a great list, and I totally relate to your comment about books getting so much attention that nothing I can say would add to that — it’s true for me with a bunch of books. And ditto when it comes to classic. I’m not a literature scholar, so I don’t feel that I can add much to a discussion about Dickens or Hardy, other than to just say whether I enjoyed the reading experience as a whole.
With classics I’ve found that if I spend some time researching the author, I treat it more like a “book report” than a review. But I barely have time anymore to read really long works, much less spending the time to do them justice in a review.
That’s such a great list! I loved Neverwhere too and couldn’t review it either. There was so much to say and yet I couldn’t find the words.
Neverwhere would be hard to do justice to! It felt very classic — I love those stories where an awkward hero goes on an epic journey and finds strength. I fell in love with that character, and Neil Gaiman’s voice.
I’ve got to read Neverwhere! Or listen, though I’m not usually an audiobook person. Neil Gaiman is a great narrator.
I wasn’t aware you are a Hardy fan. I read Mayor of C for college but I should really give it a revisit.
Lately I give few books a full review. Mostly if I’m inspired to talk at length for some reason. I’ve been doing notes on Goodreads for each book I finish, sometimes just a sentence or two. That at least gives me some kind of record for future reference.
I’m actually trying to write more reviews than I have the last few years – the last two years all I’ve really wanted to do was read. I’d like to get better about posting on Goodreads, though.
Hardy is one of my favorite authors! I fell in love with Return of the Native my senior year in high school. I try to read something by him every few years, I think now I’ve read all the well known ones. I just love his characters.
Klara and the Sun was in my top 3 reads last year. so good! And yes, I didn’t review it either. Happy reading. My TTT https://readwithstefani.com/books-too-good-to-review-properly/
Klara was so good, I was glad it lived up to all the hype. The audiobook was excellent.
Concrete Rose! I was shocked by how much I liked that book (I like it better than The Hate U Give). It was so fascinating to learn more about Maverick and his life.
I was a little surprised too – maybe because it was about a male character but also because it’s about a teen who fathers a child. I was surprised to like him so much! Angie Thomas is a brilliant writer.
I think I’ve read Neverwhere but I really don’t remember much about it. But I’m itching to read it (again?)
Nice choices! I haven’t read any of these yet, but several are on my tbr. Neverwhere and Transcendent Kingdom have been on many lists this week.
That’s interesting that Neverwhere appeared often, since it was published so long ago! It was a great book though.
That’s what I was thinking, too!