Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish wherein each week bloggers list out their Top Ten. This week’s topic is books that were picked up without recommendations or without knowing what they were about. In my pre-Goodreads era, I was pretty indiscriminate about books – I would check out what was in the library if it looked interesting, or maybe look up on Wikipedia for books I would like (it was dark time, but I found Meg Cabot and Kim Harrison this way so it wasn’t entirely a lost cause). I don’t even remember reading the blurbs closely. Then when I found Goodreads, I went into a frenzy. Those first few months, I would add books to my TBR like nobody’s business – I was so hungry for stories, and here was the world of fiction on a platter for me to gobble up. I would check my recommendations every few days to add books and that is how my TBR grew to its enormous size. But these days, I am mostly reading ARCs or getting the up and coming books of authors I already know or have heard of, which means even though they aren’t through recommendations, I still read the blurb carefully to see if it is a book I would like. What I mean to say by this whole spiel is that the time when I would pick up books on a whim has certainly passed, but I do it occasionally these days too; however, most of them are old. Here are some such books, and their stories:
Madison Avery series by Kim Harrison
Okay, this is actually a pretty interesting story. I was never into short stories, but I had come across this one anthology called Prom Nights from Hell (because there was a story by Meg Cabot in it and I was on a Meg Cabot binge at that time), and there was this short by Kim Harrison – Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper, which was sort of where this series was born. I liked the story and writing so much I wiki’d her to see what other books she wrote, and viola, found that Madison Avery is actually a series. This was one of earlier urban fantasies I used to adore reading, and it was pretty unique. I still haven’t found a reaper story that was as good as this one.
Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
I had actually found the companion book, Keys to the Repository, in my library first and in the train ride back home, devoured half of the book. Two days later I was back for the first book of the series, despite having been spoiled for some plot points in the companion novel. I had liked how the author had blended vampire fiction with biblical and norse mythology, with a whole new mythology created around it.
Privilege by Kate Brian
I don’t remember exactly how I came across this book, but I think it had to do with some her other books, written as Kieran Scott. Anyway, private boarding school were the three words I needed to get into this high school mystery drama series.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
This one was certainly during the vampire fiction post-Twilight, and though the cover didn’t really impress, I was interested because (a)vampires, and (b) boarding school.
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
This was the first historical fiction I had picked up, and it was solely because it was Nefertiti and Egyptian mythology had always interested me. Though this book doesn’t fall into YA, it was an impulse read that I really liked. Plus, I learnt a lot about Egyptian history (even though it IS fiction, Moran always sprinkled liberal amounts of research into her stories).
If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
This one predated my knowledge of the YA genre or even Cecelia Ahern’s more popular book ‘P.S. I Love You’. It was one of the first books that I had checked out at the first (and only) library I had joined (which was close to my violin class and hence a double treat). It was also the first book to make me cry ugly tears. It was a modern fairytale about imaginary friends and was so beautiful, that I consider this the best book she has ever written (sorry, P.S. I Love You but you are not all that great).
Strange Angels by Lili St Crow
Oh, I remember when I checked this out of the library. I was there for the sequel of some other book, but it wasn’t available and after about half an hour of looking through some blurbs, this one caught my eye. The blurb was vague and sounded a little like Supernatural (which I had started watching a few months before) so I grabbed it, and my, was it good! It wasn’t really the Supernatural-like novel I was expecting, but it still was a great urban fantasy novel. (P.S. There are no angels in the book)
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
You know those end pages of a paperback that have advertisements for other books from the same publisher? That’s where I found this gem. The cover looked interesting and the premise was, well, fairytale retelling was enough to get me interested. I hunted down the book and was glad to meet this author’s writing.
The Book of Blood & Shadow by Robin Wasserman
Another one of those ‘I can’t find the book I am looking for, so let’s go with something else’ check out at the library. The book itself was a bit confusing and the ending a little underwhelming, but the writing shone through, and I’ve been her fan ever since. I recently pre-ordered her new book, Girls on Fire, because the premise sounds interesting.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
I had found the third book of this series, Fragile Eternity, in my library and brought it home without knowing it was a sequel. When I went to add it to my Goodreads, I realized that I was missing the first two. I then went back to the library, to hunt the two down, but it seemed my library did not have the copies of those books at all. I finally got the first two as ebooks, then continued with the series. But you know what, it was worth the whole confusion and wait, because Marr’s writing and characterization was amazing, and I can’t believe how close I was to missing out on it if I had become lazy and not tried to get the first two books.
Wow, so while writing this post, I became nostalgic for the time when I used to actually ‘discover’ books. Not that I don’t mind Goodreads and the blogging community for helping me choose some amazing books (I found some truly amazing books I never would have otherwise – blame the poor YA market in India!), but there was something to be said for going into a library and getting a random book because the cover or blurb appealed to you. Sure, there were a lot of hits and misses then, but some of these authors I discovered this way, I truly loved their writing. Just on my own, not because someone suggested it might be good or because it was popular or something. And I surely don’t have such stories and memories associated with books I have read in recent years. In fact, right until I started writing this post, I didn’t even know I had such clear memories of the times I had gotten these books. It feels like a certain kind of magic that drew me and these books close.
Do you have any such stories associated with books you picked up on a whim?