WED. | Dec. 5 – #AMonthofFaves Popular Books Worth the Hype (and/or Not Worth the Hype)
I’m not exactly one who reads bestsellers and hyped books, at least I don’t think so. I am never quite sure what ‘hype’ means with books. Does it mean those lists of “most anticipated releases” that get published every so often? Or does it mean that I see it appear on the blogs and Instagrammers that I follow?
I was looking at my Goodreads ‘read’ list for the year and started noticing the number of ratings that each book had. There were the rare ones, like Wonder, that numbered in the 500,000s. And we don’t need to talk about the Harry Potter books which are in the sky high 5 million plus! But anything in the six figures were definitely popular books like Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. In contrast, an excellent book like Mishell Baker’s The Impostor Syndrome only has 445! (Note to self, always put a rating in Goodreads, especially for books like this)
But if I were only to count those in the six figures, I wouldn’t have read many. So instead I decided to go for those books with more than 25,000 ratings. There were some that I read, not that many, but some that surprised me as I had expected more ratings for them, as, to me, they were ‘hyped’. For instance, it felt that I keep seeing the Jackaby series by William Ritter, but surprisingly, just 18,663 ratings, so that means I can’t quite call it ‘hyped’, can I?
Ok, grumblings aside, here are….
Books read in 2018 that were worth the hype!
The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish (26,535 ratings)
I listened to the audiobook and it was a lot of fun.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (254,854 ratings)
Eleanor is such an awkward but endearing character, you can’t help but root for her.
Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah (161,674 ratings)
I don’t watch late night TV but I was interested in Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa and it definitely was a fascinating read. His mother was quite a force to be reckoned with! Unfortunately my library didn’t have an audiobook version but I’m sure it would make for a great listen.
Pachinko – Min Jin Lee (80,172 ratings)
Loved this intergenerational saga that begins in Korea and ends in Japan. Such details and lovely writing!
Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë (43,705 ratings)
For a classic, that’s not a huge number of ratings actually. But I really was surprised to find myself liking this short (251 pages) story based on Brontë’s own experience as a governess.
I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – Michelle McNamara (56,806 ratings)
Oh man this book, just thinking about it gives me the chills. An absolutely terrifying, well-written true crime book.
Books read in 2018 that weren’t worth the hype
I don’t think there were really books that made me go “Ugh not worth it!”. So just a couple that made me think that maybe it’s more like, “eh, not for me”. Maybe these books are just more for someone else.
The Cuckoo’s Calling – JK Rowling (400,033 ratings)
A decent enough read, but I haven’t been hooked enough yet to start on the next book in the series…
The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin (58,632 ratings)
It was an intriguing premise but for me, I kept wanting more of the stories of two of the siblings and wasn’t so interested in the others.
Books read in 2018 that I wish had far more hype
I know it’s not mentioned in the prompt but there are so many great books out there that don’t have enough hype.
Everything Here is Beautiful – Mira T Lee (6,634 ratings)
Lee has written an absolutely gorgeous book about two Chinese-American sisters, of mental illness, of immigrants. Read it! Read it!
The Arcadia Project series – Mishell Baker
This urban fantasy series begins with Borderline (3,322 ratings), goes onto Phantom Pains (1,082 ratings), and ends with Impostor Syndrome (447 ratings). Baker creates great settings and very memorable characters – her lead is a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder!
Forty Rooms – Olga Grushin (1,060 ratings)
Such a beautiful book – a kind of collection of short stories taking place in different rooms that a woman has lived in over her lifetime.
Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery #1) – Vivien Chien (just 582 ratings)
This was such a cute and fun foodie cozy mystery series set in an Asian mall in Cleveland. I really appreciate the way Chien draws her protagonist, not as your typical successful Asian but instead somehow who’s not done so well – bad breakup, quit her job, moved back in with her parents.
What books lived (or not) up to hype for you this year?