Literary Blog Hop: Underappreciated

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Literary Blog Hop

I am so glad the LBH (hosted by The Blue Bookcase) is back this week! I love the opportunity to have some good discussion on the blog. This week's question is:

What literary title (fiction or nonfiction) that you love has been underappreciated? We all know about the latest Dan Brown, and James Patterson isn't hurting for publicity. What quiet masterpiece do you want more readers to know?

Honestly, there are probably quite a few books that I could list here, but there are two in particular that are popping into my head. The first is The Bean Trees, which I actually reviewed a few days ago. It is by Barbara Kingsolver, and while I know that she is a very popular writer, I'd never heard of this book until I picked it up for the Birth Year Challenge. It is one of my favorite books that I have read this year - the writing is beautiful, the plot is engaging, and by the end I felt like the characters were my best friends. I definitely think more people should be reading this book.

Another book that I think is underappreciated is my favorite, Kartography by Kamila Shamsie. (I have also blogged about this one before, in the very first literary blog hop!) I read this book for the first time in high school and it completely won me over. I think what I loved the most about it were the relationships. In high school I always wished that I had that "boy next door" best friend that I would eventually fall in love with and we would know everything about each other, blah blah blah (there were no boys in my neighborhood, just little kids and retired people). Anyway, this story displays the best and also the weirdest version of that relationship I've ever read about. And the other friendships surrounding the central pair were also so amazing - they were both typical of high school friendships and also different due to the strange dynamics of the political situation in Karachi. Anyway, I could go on about this book all day. Now that I look back on it after several rereads, I realize it is not a perfect book - but I am still in love with it. The only people I know that have read it are people I lent it to, so I think more people should try it out. Shamsie's other works are also fantastic - her most recent and publicized, Burnt Shadows, is the most well known but is my least favorite. Her writing is beautiful and engaging and her stories are unique. Anyway, enough ranting.

What are some of your unsung favorites? I have a feeling this hop is going to do disastrous things to the good ol' TBR.


  1. I think I need to give The Bean Trees another go at some point. I read it in high school and wasn't too big a fan. Kartography sounds interesting to me, I'm going to have to look into that one.

  2. Just found your site from the Literary Blog Hop - following now, and looking forward to keeping up with what you have to say!

    I've never read Barbara Kingsolver at all - she's sort of floated around the periphery of my reading picks. I sort of have this misperception that she's chick lit because The Poisonwood Bible was one of Oprah's picks many moons ago. I know that's silly. You've convinced me to try to give her a shot - The Bean Trees sounds interesting!

    Also, you're reading The Haj?! Nice! I read it years ago, and think it's a really underrated book. Have you read other Leon Uris? Trinity and Exodus are two of my favorite novels of all time.

  3. I was going to comment on The Haj too...then I read the comment before mine.:D I've read the Exodus a long time ago, and enjoyed it. I've been looking for The Haj ever since! Will be looking forward to your comments on it.:)

    As for the current post...I've got Kingsolver on my reading list next year...though it's The Poisonwood Bible. If I like it I guess I'll be adding The Bean Trees to my to-read list! I'm also on the lookout for Burnt Shadows...the story line is rather intriguing.

  4. Barbara Kingsolver has become an author I need to read purely because of this Lit-Blog-Hop, as she never crossed my sphere of interest before it, but she has many fans, so need to do some checking.

  5. I've only read The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna...I enjoyed both but somehow never crave to read more of Kingsolver's books. Weird. I will definitely add The Bean Trees to my list.

  6. I've told you before that I like Leon Uris; in addition to the other books people have mentioned you should also read Mila 18. I really enjoyed that one.

    I agree with your assessment of The Bean Trees, and I'm now very intrigued by Kartography. I'll look into it after I finish The Road and Anna Karenina.

    And for my own under appreciated book I'd say Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey. He was the one who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but people never talk about any of his other books. Sometimes A Great Notion is beautiful: the writing is gorgeous, particularly his descriptions (I remember a section describing geese most vividly), and his narration is amazing. It takes a little while to get used to it (50 pages?) but once you're in, it's fantastic.

  7. A couple interesting picks! Kingsolver in particular sounds like a good one. At this point, I've read a couple of her short stories, but not yet a long work.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Oddly, I don't think I read your initial post about Kartography (and I thought I'd read every post).

    Adding to Amazon wishlist now....

    My post:

  9. @IngridLola - It definitely took me a few pages to really get involved in The Bean Trees. It is a slow novel, but I love the characters.

    @Orhedea - Read it read it! Haha. I love that book.

    @Greg Zimmerman - I will say that the novels I've read of Kingsolver's do seem to focus on relationships between women, but I don't think they are chick lit. (To me chick lit is usually either silly or sentimental, focuses on romance, and usually has a formulaic feel) (Not that I don't like chick lit. It just has its own place). Kingsolver's work deals with more serious issues and the writing is beautiful. I think she is definitely worth a try! The Haj is my first Leon Uris. My dad has been trying to get me to read it for a while and I've finally gotten to it. I'm enjoying it although it is taking me quite a while (I have to water it down with other books between sections because it is so intense). I've heard good things about his other books and I'm thinking I will have to check some of those out. Also, thanks for the follow!

    @breadcrumbreads - I've heard many good things about Exodus, I think I will definitely have to read it at some point. Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees are very different stories, but I love them both. Hope you enjoy them!

    @parrish lantern - I think she is definitely worth checking out!

  10. @Melody - I felt that way after reading Poisonwood Bible, I think because the titles of Kingsolver's other books sounded weird. Which is a bad reason to not read a book, but... guilty as charged. I am hoping to read the Lacuna some time in the next year.

    @A Mitton - I will have to look up Mila 18 as well as Exodus. *Sigh* So many books to read... I have never read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but I probably should since I work in an institution for disabled people and am interested in psychological problems in general. I'll have to read that one and then look up the other Kesey you mentioned! And yes, read Kartography! I can't recommend it enough! If you still lived by me I would just bring it over right now. Haha.

    @Jillian - Oh, I have never read her short stories! I'm a short story lover in general - I usually read a few a day, so I'll have to look up some of hers!

    @readerbuzz - Thank you for reading my blog so much... I feel honored that you took the time to read every post! I added the book on your post to MY Amazon Wishlist. I think this hop has added at least 5 books to my wishlist!

  11. Adding these to my TBR pile! Thanks!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Have a wonderful time with them!

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  12. I LOVE the Bean Trees. Someone gave it to me as a gift when I was in high school, and I adored it. I've been a Kingsolver fan ever since, but it is still my favorite. I wanted to name my first born Turtle for years.

  13. The Bean Trees is a wonderful book--I still remember the characters years after reading the novel. I'll have to look up Kartography--that one is totally new to me. Thanks for bringing it to my attention...

  14. Barbara Kingsolver is great...this is a great question.

    I am new to this blog glad I found it. Nice to meet you. Love your side bars.



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