12 Most Worthwhile Books You May Not Have Heard About

12 Most Worthwhile Books You May Not Have Heard About

Don’t you love finding a gem of a book? Something that you may have missed when it was first published, or overlooked because it wasn’t a genre you usually enjoy?

I do. Over the years I’ve found some really unique and read-worthy books that I love to share with others who enjoy a good book as much as I do.

Here are 12 of my favorites.

1. Time and Again by Jack Finney

Written in 1970, this cult favorite is about a man who travels back and forth through a portal he discovers in his apartment in the famous Dakota building between the late 1960s New York City and 1882 New York City. A leisurely, lovely and evocative book, it can be read over and over. The descriptions of the smells, sights and society are so vivid and colorful that you understand his compulsion to continually return to the past, and want to go right along with him.

2. Word Freaks by Stefan Fastis

An insider’s account of the world of competitive Scrabble players. The passion and intensity with which they play this innocuous game brings the meaning of nerd to a whole new level — in a good way. On a side note, I had the opportunity to play with one of the competitors at my home, and it was, to say the least, a massacre.

3. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

As memoirs go, this is one of the most entertaining I’ve read. The story of a girl growing up in Mooreland, Indiana, Kimmel enchants with her depiction of life in a small town in the early 1970s through the eyes of a mischievous and precocious girl. Utterly delightful.

4. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, retold on a farm in Iowa. Drama, love, lust and family intrigue. A big, juicy book.

5. Shopgirl by Steve Martin

I’m a big, huge fan of Steve Martin. I mean, I think he’s amazing. Whether he’s acting, writing, or doing stand-up, I am awestruck. But even if I wasn’t, I would have loved Shopgirl. It’s the melancholy novella of an older man and a younger woman. Sounds ordinary, but it isn’t. And it’s also a terrific movie.

6. Broken for You by Stephanie Kallios

I absolutely LOVED this book — it took me a long time after reading it to find something else that could hold my attention. It’s purely character driven, and the characters are each so interesting, so unique, with such well-developed personalities – it just took my breath away. Trust me, it’s great.

7. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I know, you’ve seen the movie. Probably a few times. Maybe even a lot of times. But let me assure you, the book is much, much better — and I loved the movie. It’s a detailed and fascinating account of the civil war as seen by a southerner, with so many more characters and subplots than the movie. You can’t help but see Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in your mind’s eye when you read it, but they were so perfectly cast that it doesn’t matter.

8. The Passage by Justin Cronin

Vampires and the apocalypse in a not-so-distant future, and the world’s survival depends on a young girl named Amy. Science fiction for those of us who don’t usually read science fiction. Scary and fascinating — and I hear there’s a sequel on the way.

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Marquez is the master of magical realism, and this book is filled with beautiful imagery, a passionate love story, and a history of an imaginary town populated by people filled with insight. A Nobel prize winner, it’s not to be missed by anyone who loves literature.

10 . Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and

11. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

You’ve probably heard of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, especially since it’s now an Oscar nominated film. But please, read the book before you see the movie. The details of what happens, the personalities that are so vividly written are captivating and will bring you to tears. Amazingly, Foer’s wife Nicole Krauss is as talented as he is, and The History of Love is so charming and moving — the story of an elderly man in search of a long lost love from his childhood — that you will immediately want to read her next book, The Great House (got an extra one in there!). These two books are, in my opinion, companion pieces.

12. City of Thieves by David Benioff

Benioff is a true renaissance man, writing films (Troy, The Kite Runner), producing television shows (Game of Thrones) and writing this book – with hopefully more on the horizon. The premise is fascinating — what if, after World War II, all the Jews in Europe had been exiled to a city in Alaska? It’s a parallel universe which is so fascinating, so horrifying, but makes for a fabulous story.

Try one, try a few. Each book is so special, so unique, and so very worth reading.

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Featured image courtesy of maryn0503 via Creative Commons.

Sharon Greenthal


Sharon Greenthal is a former stay-at-home mom, now empty-nester. She lives in Orange County, CA with her husband Peter and their perfect dog, Lambeau. Her two children are away at college. Sharon blogs about her observations the world around her, from the important to the inconsequential.

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