This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is Books You Read Because of Recommendations. I’ll be the first to tell you: I’m kind of really bad about reading books people specifically tell me to read? As soon as there’s any kind of expectation, as soon as I feel like they’re waiting for me to read the book, I panic and can’t handle the responsibility. So, flat-out recommendations don’t always work on me. I think I need to discover books for myself, and follow my random reader-ly whims?
Let me tell you what does work on me, hook, line, and sinker: pretty pictures on the internet. I am really, really, really bad about bouncing from my Instagram app to my Amazon app and nabbing a new book based on a pretty cover artfully posed next to a coffee cup. I don’t know what consumer itch that scratches, but it definitely works on me.
So, here are a few of my favorite books that I read
because of a superficial attraction to pretty pictures on the internet because of Bookstagram.
1. Illuminae, Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff
I’m not 100% on this, but I’m pretty sure I discovered Illuminae through gorgeous pictures on the internet. When the book first came out, people were gushing, exploding, convulsing over how exciting it was, how suspenseful, and how gorgeous the drawings inside were. This isn’t a book to listen to on audio, people, this is practically a graphic novel: the book is art, and it’s a feast for the eyes as much as it is a totally intense scifi thriller.
2. Stoner, by John Williams
There’s a bit of a cult for this book on Instagram (and, actually, all over the bookish community). It’s like, the classic book that wasn’t. The little gem of a novel that, much like it’s protagonist, just slipped a bit too far under the radar to be really remembered. Stoner isn’t a well known classic that sits on everyone’s shelves, but it should be. It’s protagonist is this bookish, emotionally closed off, quiet man who doesn’t quite live up to anyone’s expectations and is treated pretty terribly by life and the people he surrounds himself with. It’s a beautiful book, so well written, and I found it through bookstagramers who tirelessly promote this cult classic in the hopes it’ll find more readers.
3. Penguin Little Black Classics
I asked for this collection of short stories and essays for Christmas last year solely because of how pretty it looked online. I mean, the books are classic works and great too, but. Yeah.
4. I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson
THIS BOOK WAS AN INSTANT FIVE STARS. I’d seen it everywhere on Instagram, looking all pretty, and I knew I had to buy it. The book did not disappoint. (Though I’m super jealous that some people had editions with doodles or drawings interwoven with the text. My American version definitely didn’t have that.)
5. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
I had this book on my shelf for ages when someone I follow on Instagram randomly reminded me of its existence with a beautiful photograph. I finally got an itch sufficient enough to pull the book down from the shelf and give it a read — it’s so good. About a girl who is brilliant and an encyclopedia of pop culture, historical, scientific, and literary references, looks back on the mystery of her former teacher’s suicide and shows us her process of solving the strange incidents leading up to the death. The book’s mind-bending, but really a lot of fun.
6. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
This nonfiction work is a thoughtful piece on the act of writing, with a few splashes of memoir thrown in. It’s introspective, at times bitingly sarcastic, and has more than a few great lessons on writing! It wasn’t my favorite book on writing that I’ve ever read (omg self promotion opportunity: here’s ten books about writing worth your time) but it’s elegantly written and it’s always nice to hear someone’s musings on creativity, motivation, rejection, and jealousy.
7. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
THIS. THIS RIGHT HERE IS AN ADORABLE LITTLE NOVEL. I’d seen it all over the bookstagram bookstasphere (that’s not a thing) as a quintessential bookish book. (Let’s use BOOK more in a single sentence.) About a man who runs a little bookshop and eventually, as much as a surprise to himself as anyone else in the little town in which he works, he winds up taking care of an orphaned, abandoned girl. He, and members of the silly little town, raise her, in this book full of love for literary things.
8. The Winner’s Curse Trilogy, by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Curse trilogy I read almost exclusively because of the bookstagram community. (It doesn’t help that these books have gorgeous covers. I’m not sure when I became a sucker for a cover of a girl in a sparkly dress, but I’m apparently right smack in that market’s demographic.)
9. My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier
Even though I was over the moon about Rebecca, it never occurred to me to read anymore of du Maurier’s writing until I saw her book My Cousin Rachel featured in someone’s bookstagram photo. The story is about a man who suspects his cousin’s widow played some part in his untimely death and seeks to investigate the matter (while trying very hard not to fall in love her as he does so, accusations of murder being understandably awkward material for first dates). Fans of Rebecca will love this book.
10. Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon
Another DELIGHTFUL surprise of a YA novel that I really kind of adored. A girl allergic to just about everything, who has to stay confined in her house for the sake of her health, meets a boy from next door who really, really makes her want to venture out into the world.
Have you ever a read a book solely because someone posted a pretty picture of it online? (Come on, I know I’m not the only one who’s a sucker for a pretty book posed with a mug, a pair of socks, a random twig, and a couple pieces of origami. It gets me EVERY time.) Are you a bookstagrammer? Comment with your username!