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broodings from the burrow

February 20, 2019

top ten tuesday: unloved books you should read
posted by soe 1:08 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic at That Artsy Reader Girl asks us to promote books we’ve loved that need more readers. Specifically, we’re asked about books that have fewer than 2,000 readers on our review site of choice. According to Goodreads, I’ve read nearly 200 books that fall into that category.

Here are ten of them that I’ve enjoyed quite a bit (with the current number of ratings noted):

  1. Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History by Cait Murphy (1,852 rankings): This history looked at the 1908 baseball season and ranked third on my list of favorite books way back in 2007.
  2. The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1,145): This is one of those sentimental reads of mine. By the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, this Victorian picture book focuses on the too-good-to-live Carol Bird who wants pleads with her family that her Christmas wish is to share her Dec. 25th birthday with the brood of poor children who live next door. It’s overly sentimental, bordering on mawkish, predictable for its time, and guaranteed to make you bawl. Sometimes you need that in a holiday read, though.
  3. Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance (1,223): Where are my mystery lovers at?! This series is set in Prohibition Era New York and centers around the recently widowed Lola Woodby who discovers the day they bury her philandering husband that he was in debt up to his eyeballs and that their estate has been entailed to his health doctor younger brother. Desperate to avoid having to move home with her parents, she escapes to her late husband’s paramour nest in the City with her Swedish cook, Berta, where, inspired by their shared love of a particular potboiler series, they decide to become detectives for highbrow society. This is the first novel in the Discreet Retrieval Agency series, and you should really read it.
  4. The Harlem Charade by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley (624): You all know I love a good heist novel. Here’s one set in a middle-grade novel that will also give you some information on the Harlem Renaissance and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Its protagonists are two classmates working on a class project, one the Korean granddaughter of bodega owners and the other the white daughter of a wealthy developer who gives away food and metro cards to the needy, and the grandson of a Black man attacked in their neighborhood, who is now living on the street to avoid getting picked up by DCFS. As they seek to discover the cause of the attack on Elvin’s grandfather, the trail leads them to a decades-old art mystery and the way to save their neighborhood from being bulldozed.
  5. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan (1,178): On the first day of 5th grade, a teacher informs her students they’re going to write a poem every day in class. This Cybils-winning verse novel shares a selection from each of the 18 students over the course of a tumultuous year of change and activism. Magnificently, Shovan succeeds in giving each kid enough of a distinct voice that you get so you can recognize a poem’s author without checking first.
  6. If God Invented Baseball by E. Ethelbert Miller (14): I wasn’t going to include 2018 publications in this list, because it seems like it’s not unreasonable that they haven’t gotten the readership of other books yet. But with only 14 rankings of this stellar collection from a renowned D.C. journalist and poet, I had to make an exception. He writes about baseball as a metaphor and baseball as baseball from the early glory days to the contemporary game and exalts in all the things that make baseball great — that it is completely and utterly human — something I wish the commissioner’s office and tv execs would keep in mind.
  7. Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt (903): I can only assume this middle-grade girl detective series hasn’t caught on because it’s Australian and thus hasn’t gotten the marketing for books written in the U.S. or Canada. Its protagonist, Friday Barnes, is a Sherlockian thinker who uses reward money from solving a bank heist to send herself to a boarding school, where she sets to unraveling mysteries for her classmates.
  8. A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander (231): Rosa Ramona Díaz and her ghost-appeasing mother have just moved to the library’s basement apartment in the only town in America where no spirits live. Rosa, irritated by her mother’s choice and missing her father, makes friends with Jasper Chevalier, whose parents run the local Ren Faire. When ghosts seem to descend upon the fair, she is able to fight them off, but there’s trouble afoot, and she is the only one who knows enough to be able to stop it. Apparently a sequel to this middle-grade ghost novel is in the works!
  9. Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan (41): When I read this collection of poems about loss back in 2016, I promoted it as “running the gamut from the State of the Union to sleep deprivation to a dozen or so poems about loved ones gone from this earth, with a surprising amount of science fiction fandom thrown in for good measure.” Apparently that’s a big sell, but I hope the verse lovers among you will seek out this volume from one of D.C.’s poets.
  10. Storybook Travels: From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature by Colleen Dunn Bates and Susan La Tempa (48): Let’s be honest. One of the great things about reading is that you get to travel places near and far without cost or trouble. But sometimes, wouldn’t you like to experience the settings yourself? If children’s and middle grade novels are one of your true loves, this is the travel guide for you. It offered up ideas for books I’ve read and those I haven’t yet had the pleasure of yet, so consider glancing at it if you’re planning — or dreaming of — a vacation.

Honorable mentions go to Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace, The Collected Prose of Elizabeth Bishop, 101 Two-Letter Words by Stephin Merritt (with illustrations by Roz Chast), and James Thurber’s The White Deer.

What less-popular works do you recommend?

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.

You’re making me curious about The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.

My Top Ten Tuesday post.

Comment by Lydia 02.20.19 @ 8:27 am

Crossing to Safety by Stegnar

Do you have a link that allows me to get your newest post sent to my emaiL? Im trying to find it….
Id like all my favorites to notify me that way….

Comment by kathy b 02.20.19 @ 6:16 pm