Top 5 Wednesday:Favorite Underrated Books

“Give some love to those books that aren’t as widely talked about. Those hidden gems. Those books that maybe used to be popular but people have forgotten about and they still deserve some love.”

Some of these are known but not hyped and some are a bit forgotten in time which is always great for rediscovery!

  1. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
    The first feminist novel by an American writer is mostly known when assigned in college but this short novel, clocking in at under 120 pages details the story of Edna Pontellier and it’s very readable. Edga undergoes a transition of self-realization. One of my favorite lines of this book is right at the beginning when Edna comes back from the beach:
    “You are burnt beyond recognition,” he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.
  2. The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
    Another low-key super feminist book, this time in the YA dystopian genre, this is a low/no action reflective piece that studies how women are honed to desire certain things from childbirth. Ivy has been raised to kill her husband which she will marry via arranged marriage but of course he’s not what he seems. The sequel is OK, the strong one is the stellar one and it’s almost awesome to read it and be left not knowing Ivy’s fate. One of the best quotes:
    “But I want to be better than the lessons they taught me. I want my love to be greater that my hate, my mercy to be stronger than my vengeance.”
  3. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
    I fell in love with this story when I watched the Naomi Watts movie so I decided to pick up this modern classic set in China during a cholera epidemic in the 1920s. Kitty marries Walter in an attempt to get away from her mother and he promises to take her to Hong Kong which sounds very exciting and there she embarks in an affair with Lothario; Charlie. In a twisted tale of love and betrayal this social commentary is always overlooked in favor of The Great Gatsby. Line to entice you:
    “If a man hasn’t what’s necessary to make a woman love him, it’s his fault, not hers.”
  4. City of Thieves by David Benioff
    The book that set off my reading slump that had lasted for YEARS. This book introduces the reader to the hardships during the siege of Leningrad yet it injects the right amount of humor to make it readable. We follow two older teens as they are offered their freedom in exchange for eggs which is laughable given the extreme poverty in the area, where people are eating leather and barks of trees. I LOVED the exchange between the boys Lev and Kolya, I hated the Nazi sadists and I felt so much that I had to read random parts to friends and family. Line that I love:
    “Talent must be a fanatical mistress. She’s beautiful; when you’re with her, people watch you, they notice. But she bangs on your door at odd hours, and she disappears for long stretches, and she has no patience for the rest of your existence; your wife, your children, your friends. She is the most thrilling evening of your week, but some day she will leave you for good. One night, after she’s been gone for years, you will see her on the arm of a younger man, and she will pretend not to recognize you.”
  5. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
    No other book defined my teenage years like this one, this is the book I discovered magical realism done in such a way that it wove the story to magical perfection. I loved Tita’s doomed love story, how all of her emotions seeped into the food she loved and anyone who ate it was affected by it. I also have a vivid picture of Gertrudis overcome by lust running naked down a field to be taken by the handsome outlaw on his horse where they become passionate lovers and leaders of the resistance.
    “Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle would be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food. If one doesn’t find out in time what will set off these explosions, the box of matches dampens, and not a single match will ever be lighted.”
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