The wonderful thing about book recommendations is that books can be read even when they’re not new. It’s like finding a new show on Netflix years later. (Hello, Parks and Rec. I know I’m a few years late to the game, but I love you.) And with just a few exceptions, you don’t need to read them at a certain time to love them. So what if I work my way through a Best Books of 2011 list this year? If the list was worth its salt, the books will be great reads now as well. Sometimes a book is so popular that I’m sure it could never live up to the hype. Sometimes, I miss the buzz completely and haven’t even heard of a book until years later. Sometimes, the book does not sound appealing to me no matter how effusive the praise from readers I trust. Here are 7 books I came to late (for one reason or another) that were worth the wait:
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak was making buzz and winning awards when it was published in 2005 and spent over 7 years on the NYT Bestseller List. It took me until 2011 to finally read it, despite intending to read it the minute I saw Janssen’s review in 2008. This is not a fast-paced book, but I loved the narrator and the way the book examines a large, heavy thing with small, everyday moments. Also, file this one under Reasons I Love Australian Authors.
Sabriel by Garth Nix. Despite considering myself a pretty thoroughly-read fantasy fan, I didn’t read this classic until it was over a decade old. This is the type of fantasy with a new magic system and fancy names for magical hierarchy, but if you’re not the type of reader to shy away from those things, I highly recommend this entire series. I’m a sucker for snarky minor characters, and Mogget (the sort of family cat/magical servant) definitely fit the bill.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was the first Rainbow Rowell book I read. It was a bit of a compromise when the buzz for Eleanor and Park was too much to ignore but also left me wary about expectations being too great. I opted to start with Attachments instead (and have since read everything Rowell has written). The characters were so likable and the situation a perfect blend of ridiculous and believable. It made a fantastic weekend read.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Even though I grew up reading Robin McKinley, Sunshine wasn’t on my radar at all until 4 or 5 years after publication. The Internet can’t seem to agree if this is a perfect book or a complete waste of space, but I loved every word. (This book is a tad more mature than some of McKinley’s others. It’s still solidly YA, but consider yourself warned.)
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan is a book I had no desire to read initially. Once I finally talked myself into picking it up at the library a few years ago, though, I understood all the buzz. I’ve always been drawn to simple, straightforward nutritional advice, so the basic premise (Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.) was something I could appreciate.
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. I read a ton of C.S. Lewis growing up, both The Chronicles of Narnia and his religious treatises, but I’d never even heard of The Great Divorce until a friend lent it to me in college. It is a quick, thoughtful read and one I come back to every few years when I want to feel more centered.
The Martian by Andrew Weir is hardly old news, but I put off reading it for who knows what reason. I even had a friend’s copy sitting on my nightstand for over a month before I even cracked the cover. (Sorry, Shanté!) I don’t know why I was surprised to like it so much after the many glowing recommendations, but I really enjoyed the humor and the pacing. I’d love to know what Josh would think about the science, but I’m not sure even The Martian can get him into reading. (I’m considering picking up the audio version before he heads off to a conference next month anyway.)
Let’s hear it for waiting a few years to read a popular book. It certainly makes it easier to get a copy at the library!