Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme for The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read. Click under the cut to see my list. Don’t forget to share yours in the comments!
- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by: Susanna Clarke
I got into this book when I was fresh off of the Harry Potter craze in high school. All I knew was that it was about wizards and it took place in the past. I thought it would be a Harry Potter for adults and boy was I wrong. It was a historical fiction that happened to have wizards in it. I hated it when I was younger because I thought it was so boring, but as I got older, I appreciated how Clarke very intricately weaved historical fact with fantastical fiction and made it also so grounded in reality. There were fairies in it and it seemed absolutely commonplace. I really thought it was unique because most books like this would have everything over the top and fantastical. I really like that it seemed so…. Mundane. It was different and I liked it.
- Iron Man Noir by: Scott Snyder
I’ve read a million Iron Man comics and I’ve seen all of the recent Marvel movies. It seems like there’s only so many stories you can write about Tony Stark–he’s a rich alcoholic womanizing super genius who has *~feelings~* about being a super hero. But Iron Man Noir was part of a re-imagining of the Marvel universe called Marvel Noir which had all of the stories set in the early 20th century. Most of the stories were pulp detective stories, but Iron Man’s was a steampunk Indiana Jones Adventure. He was hunting treasure with a steam powered heart and his butler Jarvis had the biggest mutton chops you could ever see. I absolutely loved it and it wasn’t what I was expecting from an Iron Man story. They managed to stay true to the spirit of Tony Stark while at the same time putting him in a completely different setting. I’ve never had more fun with a comic than I had with Iron Man Noir.
- Lamb: The Gospel of Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by: Christopher Moore
I almost didn’t include this because of the controversial subject matter, but I decided to go with it anyway because I love this book so much. It’s a story about Jesus and portrays him in a positive light, but it isn’t a Christian book. It’s primarily a comedy, but there are some real heart-felt scenes in there. It was told from a character who did not appear in the Bible called Biff and he tells the story of what Jesus was doing in between his birth and his death. It’s silly at times and can be a little offensive, but it was a surprisingly heart-warming book. I thought it was an interesting take on such an important historical figure, even if most of it was fictionalized.
- Speak by: Laurie Halse Anderson
This book was unique to me in particular because I’d never read a book like this before. It was a YA book that dealt with heavy topics like rape and had the protagonist slowly come to terms with herself and her situation as a survivor. I read this as an adult and I couldn’t remember any books like this existing when I was a teenager. I was just so blown over by it and it’s one of my favorites to this day.
- Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by: G. Neri
This was one of my first introductions to non-fiction graphic novels. It’s the story of the tragic death of a child who was murdered by adult members of his own gang. It wasn’t unique to me because it was a work of non-fiction of which I’d never been exposed to in this format, but it was unique because of how it how it portrayed Robert “Yummy” Sandifer. It didn’t demonize him, but it didn’t show him as an innocent child either. You saw how he was a mix of the two and you are left to decide for yourself which was the real Yummy. It’s a sobering work that really makes you think and it’s one of my favorites. I will forever recommend this book to people.
- xxxHolic by CLAMP
I think I’ve included this title on a list before, but I love it so much. The subject matter of the series doesn’t make it unique, but the nature of it does. This series serves to tie together every other series CLAMP has ever written. Characters from other works make cameos and it’s basically a big giant crossover. It can get confusing at times, but it’s the first and only time I’ve ever seen authors attempt something like that with their works.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
It doesn’t seem so unique now, but I really can’t remember any YA dystopian novels that were really popular until this book and the subsequent sequels came out. It pretty much launched the genre. I’ve only included the first book here because it’s the only book of the series that I’ve finished. I’m still working on Catching Fire, but I’m not sure if I’ll manage to finish it because I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the first book.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by: J.K. Rowling
WIZARD BOARDING SCHOOLS. Now you have books like Vampire Academy and the Percy Jackson series that show supernatural people having adventures in relatively mundane settings, but I guarantee you wouldn’t ever have had it if J.K. Rowling hadn’t invented Hogwarts. I just thought that was so neat that she chose to have wizards go to school just like normal kids do. The school system is different from the one we have here in America, but it’s definitely just a magical British Public School. I thought that was so neat that she made the school system so relatable.
- Game of Thrones by: George R. R. Martin
This was the first time I’d seen a high fantasy series with dragons and elves (you can argue that that’s what the children of the forest and the Others are) that was grounded in reality. It’s not lofty and boring like The Lord of the Rings can sometimes be, but rather the characters have normal speech patterns and life is dirty. It’s grounded in real behavior from people of the middle class and, like real people would do, they’re mostly concerned with power and fighting each other rather than facing the true danger of the ice zombies that are threatening to kill everyone. I just really like that it’s a fantasy series where the fantasy seems to take second place to the story. I also like that in this series, Martin is not afraid to kill off main characters. Sometimes they don’t follow the set path of learning lessons and changing because they make mistakes and die. I like that he’s gutsy enough to have a story like that. You can never be sure that any of the characters will make it to the end, and I think that’s very unique for a book series.
- Maus by: Art Spiegelman
This is another non-fiction graphic novel. It’s biographical, which, I’ve come to find is not uncommon with graphic novels. However, this non-fiction work is told entirely with animals instead of people. They are humanoid animals, but they’re animals just the same. It almost serves to lessen the blow of the reality of the horrors of the Holocaust, but every once in a while, you will stop and think “wow, this happened to real people, not cartoon animals and that’s scary.” I think it’s one of my favorite holocaust survivor stories because of this.