Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Anticipating Their Second Books & Tuesday Intro (The Underground Girls of Kabul)

November 3, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 43

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday
 is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that asks bloggers to create Top Ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. I was so excited to see that this week’s topic focused on fantastic debut authors because I feel like the debut crop over the past two years has been outstanding. Many of my overall favorites have been debuts.

I chose to include nonfiction in this list and the only reason Bill Clegg isn’t on here is because he wrote a memoir before writing Did You Ever Have A Family, so Family wasn’t technically his first book, although you could say it was his debut “novel”. 

Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Anticipating Their Second Books

Top 10 Debut Authors With Anticipated Sophomore Books


Claire Fuller (author of Our Endless Numbered Days)
She made a remote forest seem magical.

Chad Harbach (author of The Art of Fielding)
It took Harbach 11 years to write his debut campus novel (published in 2011). Let’s hope we get his sophomore effort before 2022!

Naomi Jackson (author of The Star Side of Bird Hill)
Her Barbados coming of age novel was beautifully written.

Laura Lane McNeal (author of Dollbaby)
She added to the plethera of Southern family drama page turners last year.

Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You)
Her debut effort racked up the awards last year (including Amazon’s Best Book of 2014)!

Jenny Nordberg (author of The Underground Girls of Kabul)
I’d love to see another one of her investigative journalism efforts take book form. Could she become the female Jon Krakauer?

Brian Panowich (author of Bull Mountain)
He’s my big 2015 addition to the Grit Lit club.

Sara Taylor (author of The Shore)
And she joins all those men in the Grit Lit club.

M.O. Walsh (author of My Sunshine Away)
He managed to successfully combine suspense with literary fiction.

Christopher J. Yates (author of Black Chalk)
He joins Donna Tartt (i.e. The Secret History) with a great addition to the demented students/campus novel category.

Tuesday Intro

First Chapter First Paragraph
Every Tuesday, fellow blogger Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon.

Underground Girls of Kabul, Jenny Nordberg


I’m almost finished with this darling of last year’s Nonfiction November and I’m sorry I waited a whole year to read it. It’s eye-opening and heartbreaking.

Plot Summary from Amazon (adapted for length)

An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Azita, a few years earlier

“Out brother is really a girl.”

One of the eager-looking twins nods to reaffirm her words. Then she turns to her sister. She agrees. Yes, it is true. She can confirm it.

Would you keep reading?

43 Responses to “Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Anticipating Their Second Books & Tuesday Intro (The Underground Girls of Kabul)”

  1. Diane

    Wow, this sounds like a sad yet powerful story. First I’ve heard of it, so thanks for sharing.

    • admin

      I hear ya…if you’re in the mood for some fantastic investigative journalism, this one is great.

  2. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    Sarah, The Art of Fielding is one of my favorite books of all time; I would LOVE to see another one by Harbach, but I haven’t been able to find anything suggesting that possibility. I’m also definitely excited to see what M.O. Walsh will share with us next; hope it’ll be soon! So many on this list that I’ve yet to read…ugh. I need a reading vacation!!

  3. Laurel-Rain Snow

    Girls of Kabul sounds sad…and what I would expect of a story about girls growing up in this part of the world. Sadly, I don’t enjoy reading this kind of book.

    Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog.

    • admin

      Sadly, it is pretty much what one would expect…heart-breaking, but fantastic and important.

  4. Literary Feline

    Seeing Celeste Ng on this and other lists has me even more eager to read Everything I Never Told You. All of your choices sound good, Sarah!

    I like the intro you shared. I have been wanting to read The Underground Girls of Kabul since I first heard about it.

    • admin

      Everything I Never Told You is great – was one of my fave debuts of 2014! And I finished Girls of Kabul…also fantastic, especially if you like investigative journalism and/or women’s rights.

  5. Sandra Nachlinger

    Underground Girls of Kabul sounds depressing. It’s hard to imagine a society where this kind of thing happens, isn’t it? Sounds like something out of the Middle Ages!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog today.
    Sandy @ TEXAS TWANG

    • admin

      Actually, while I was reading, I kept saying to myself that this was like something out of the middle ages! The book states over and over that when girls feel the need to live as boys in order to live a halfway decent life, it’s a sign of a broken society.

  6. Margot @ Joyfully Retired

    Your list of debut novels has inspired me to look for more debuts. I don’t read enough of them. Of your Top Ten I have only read The Art of Fielding.

    Underground Girls of Kabul is one I’ll read. The opening didn’t grab me but your summary did.

    • admin

      For some reason, I’ve been reading lots of debuts the past two years…and they’ve been some of my favorite books!

  7. Lindsay

    The only book I’ve read from your list is “Our Endless Numbered Days” (which ALMOST made my list) — but I’m encouraged to see a whole bunch of my to-read books on here! Hopefully I’ll enjoy them as much as you did. 🙂

  8. Amanda

    Excellent list. I am dying to get Bull Mountain! I haven’t heard of Black Chalk and I’ll definitely be looking that up. Underground Girls is my next book!

    • admin

      Bull Mountain is SO good! And – Black Chalk was a totally random book I read early last year…never saw it much around the blogosphere, but it was SO good if you like demented students type stuff. It’s one of my favorite underrated books.

  9. Carmen

    I still have Everything I never Told You on my wishlist (waiting for Amazon to drop the price). I would love to read Bull Mountain and Black Chalk. They sounded so intriguing when you reviewed them…
    TUGOK doesn’t have an enticing beginning but its premise is very good. Looking forward to your review.

    • admin

      Girls of Kabul was fantastic (I finished it yesterday)…so eye-opening and heart-breaking. Hope you get to the others as well!

  10. Catherine

    Such a good list! What the heck is going on with Chad Harbach?! He needs to get after it with his second book!

    I have Black Chalk but hadn’t read it yet and am now making my next book. You’re a wicked woman for always messing with my TBR list! 😉

    • admin

      I know, right?! I feel like he’s literally gone underground! Judging by his debut, this could be just the way he works…

      Yay for Black Chalk…demented students bonanza! Haha – you’ve added a couple to my “must read before EOY list” as well!

  11. Deb

    I have Celeste Ng on my list too, and I’ve heard great things about some of the other books on your list, especially The Shore and My Sunshine Away. Girls of Kabul sounds really interesting.

    • admin

      My Sunshine Away is one of my favorites of 2015…and The Shore is totally unique and challenging.

  12. Lia

    I first heard about ‘The Underground Girls of Kabul’ yesterday on someone’s First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros post and I’m very intrigued by it. Your teaser left me even more interested. I’m going to add it to my January TBR for sure.

  13. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I had Naomi Jackson on my list (loved that book) and replaced it with another. That first paragraph intro is definitely a keeper. I’m not a non-fiction reader normally, but the first paragraph has me interested in this one.

  14. susan

    Yeah I would tear thru a 2nd novel of Celeste Ng and Chad Harbach — those can’t come soon enough. I also enjoyed M.O. Walsh’s book. So those 3 are musts.

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