Monday, April 10, 2017

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic title probably made some grammar purists cringe, but I know exactly what the prompt means. Every book has something in common with other books, but some books are so unlike anything you've ever read that they stand out. These are some of the "unique" books I've read.

1. Citizen by Claudia Rankine
This book is hard to describe — it's kind of memoir, but it deals with a collection of different people's experiences all told in second person. There's poetic, abstract language in a lot of it, but I wouldn't call it poetry. It also includes scripts for a number of "Situation" videos that Rankine made with another artist, which use quotes from news reports to create a feeling of a situation while not involving a straightforward retelling of events. Even if you don't understand half the (very short) book, as I didn't, it's still worth a read, especially for non-black Americans to try to put themselves in the shoes of experiencing the kinds of daily microaggressions this book recounts.

2. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
This book manages to be utterly compelling while also being utterly mundane. It's the story of the friendship of two married couples over their lifetime. There's no drama, no scandals — they're just ordinary lives made up of everyday trials and celebrations. I'd never read a book like this before that had so little plot and yet that I loved so much.

3. Every Day by David Levithan
I know there are other books out there that deal with people being "possessed," but I'd never read or heard of a book where the main character is the one — the average American teenager — who wakes up in a different person's body every day. It's much more a YA book than a horror book, and yet even thinking about the book now makes me shiver, though more out of sadness for the main character than anything? I don't know, the premise is just unlike anything I've ever read.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
There have been plenty of copycat books and series since this one came out, but when I read this book I could not get it out of my head because it was such a new, fascinating, horrific world that Collins had created.

5. If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
I had mixed feelings about this book, but it was definitely different than any other book I'd read. Every other chapter is about the main character, "you," reading a book and then unsuccessfully trying to find and read the rest of the book, but every "version" of the book is actually the start of a completely different book. It's like a combination mystery / adventure book / collection of short stories.

6. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I've read science fiction books before, and I've read nostalgic memoirs of boarding school and friendship, but this is the only case where I've read one masquerading as the other.

7. Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber
It's not often that a Christian book opens with the word "shit." In fact, that doesn't ever happen, except in this insanely beautiful, honest, hilarious, heartfelt book about loving Jesus in a world full of people who suck, and having to try to love them too.

8. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
This book was an epic undertaking — the entire history of the United States as told through primary sources from everyday people of each era. Every other history I've read has focused on the individuals who had a large impact on history, not on capturing the experiences of the common American — that's typically left to the historical novels, which have the freedom to blend fact and fiction.

9. What If? by Randall Munroe
Physics, cartoons, and bizarre hypothetical questions — not your typical combination.

10. Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor
I'd read books that dealt with the prison-industrial complex, bias, and wrongful convictions, and I'd read books about people held captive for other reasons, but I hadn't before read a memoir by a person who served a prison sentence for a crime he fully admits to committing. It was surprisingly informative, and I'm glad it exists.

What are the most unique books you've read?

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