Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016

January 17, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 26

Eight of the most underrated gems of 2016


I’m linking up at with the lovely ladies at The Broke and The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday! 

Yep, I’m throwing in one last 2016 round-up list. This might be one of my favorites because I think all these books deserve a ton of love and attention! And, it enables me to give some love to books that just missed making my Best Books of 2016 list.

Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
I think I understand why this book hasn’t taken off with the broad reading public…it’s supremely uncomfortable and icky at times, but turns into something sweet and beautiful by the end.

Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
I’m still thanking my lucky stars that Catherine at Gilmore Guide recommended this local-to-her author and I’m hoping his dysfunctional sailing family novel gets the broad acclaim it deserves.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron
I was surprised this dark vacation page turner didn’t take off more this summer.

The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
This novel got a fair amount of love from the book blogging world when it came out a year ago, but it came this close to making my Best Books of 2016 list…and I didn’t see it on a single other Best of the Year list.

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards
Not to be confused with The Mothers by Brit Bennett, this novel packs a serious punch despite its small package…it’s emotional, suspenseful, and makes important observations about life and crime in a tough neighborhood.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
So many people loved this book as a light and fun read, but I think it was more than that. Benjamin captured Capote’s voice so perfectly I occasionally forgot I wasn’t actually reading him and she went deep beneath the surface to the darker side of his swans’ (particularly Babe Paley) glittering lifestyles.

The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder
A Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and long-listed for the 2017 Tournament of Books, this novel isn’t lacking in critical acclaim. But, I’d love to see some popular appeal follow!

Why They Run the Way They Do by Susan Perabo
Short stories are a tough sell…and it’s rare that a collection ends up getting a lot of attention outside of the book world. But, this collection is accessible and would appeal to readers who are skittish about the genre.

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26 Responses to “Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016”

  1. Toady

    This is a great TTT topic. There are a couple of these that I haven’t even seen before. I am reading All the Ugly and Wonderful Things right now, and it is quite good, although I take issue with Wavy’s insight so early on. As someone who has worked in the field for my entire life, I know that children don’t know why they do what they do, even if it’s an obvious result of abuse. I am sure it makes for a better book that way anyway, but it is something that I can’t help noticing. Either way, I am half way through and finding the characters and story very interesting.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I was incredibly turned off early on, but Greenwood brought me around by the end…not to necessarily being on board with it, but to not being as creeped out and a little more understanding.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Me too! Loved the insights into what happens to the husbands over there.

      And I hope you try Before the Wind…I really can’t believe it’s stayed so under the radar.

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I agree with you on The Swans of Fifth Avenue. I gave it in my book club’s Dirty Santa swap and I could tell the woman who got it was less than thrilled. I keep urging her to read it because it’s so good!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Haha – tell her not to be such a literary snob! But it truly is extremely well done.

  3. Kay

    I read SIRACUSA and enjoyed it some, but didn’t love it. Creepy little girl. Have a couple of the others on my Kindle to read at some point. You always point us in interesting directions. 🙂

  4. Susie | Novel Visits

    I hadn’t even heard about The Mother until recently, but it sounds great.

    The Swans was wonderful. Maybe it was “brain candy” to many? I so agree with you about Expatriates. I really liked it, too and considered it for my top ten list.

  5. Ann Marie

    Great list. I totally agree with your thoughts on The Swans of Fifth Avenue. I can’t wait to read Melanie Benjamin’s next novel.

  6. Naomi

    I love giving under-rated books more attention! A couple of Canadian titles I’d put on my own list would be Under the Visible Life by Kim Echlin and Ledger of the Open Hand by Leslie Vryenhoek. (I have to take opportunities where I can find them!) 🙂

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I still have Ledger of the Open Hand on my TBR from reading your review…now I just need to get to it!

  7. Eva @ The Paperback Princess

    I so agree with you about Siracusa! I didn’t think it would be that dark! Why wasn’t everyone talking about it when they were headed to the beach?

    Love that the Swans got another shout out – you know how much I loved that one. I still haven’t been able to scratch the non-fiction itch I have with Babe and friends!

    Still need to read The Expatriates, The Mother is on my list too, and I’m curious about that short story collection…

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Me either! And I can’t believe it didn’t take off more…but I have heard some people were totally creeped out by Snow. My take is that’s what’s SUPPOSED to happen…it certainly didn’t make me dislike the book.

      And – I read La Cote Basque right after Swans and that story is just a disaster. The Gerald Clarke bio Capote is really good, though!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      oh – and Perabo (the short story author) has a novel coming out in March – The Fall of Lisa Bellow.

  8. Tara

    Oh, of course I’m so happy to see Why They Run the Way They Do (wasn’t that such a great find?) on your list and I STILL haven’t managed to read The Swans of Fifth Avenue, but it will likely be a great option for an “Advil” choice at some point this year – ha! Thanks for sharing these, Sarah!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      You haven’t read Swans?!! You’d love it – def save for an Advil this year!

  9. Lauren

    Nice list! I have five of these on my shelf waiting. More than one of them is likely there because of your original reviews. I will get to them!

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