Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic at The Broke and The Bookish:  The 10 most unique books you’ve read.

Here are mine, in roughly the order I read them:

1. Beowulf. I remember sitting in Mrs. Giltner’s English class and suddenly being aware of just how old this story was. Time shattered. I managed for a few moments to be simultaneously sitting in a 20th-century high school classroom and a 6th century medieval hall.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The R-rated classic that shocked me as a teenager

2. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This was another book I read in high school, but not in the classroom. It was unique in my experience because it was completely inappropriate for a high school student (well, back then, anyway — teenagers are more worldly now). The thing is, none of the adults who saw me reading it knew how inappropriate it was. They figured it was a classic book, how raunchy could it be?  Mrs. Giltner, I suspect, knew exactly what I was getting away with, but she wasn’t inclined to tell on me.

3. The Bible. I took a course in college called The Bible as Literature — a unique way to read a unique book.

4. Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock. This was a sensation at the time — a book for adults that was three-dimensional and required physical interaction.

5. The Grasmere Journal by Dorothy Wordsworth. This book is apparently out-of-print, but it’s a delight if you can get your hands on it. Look for a large-format, hardcover version of the journals by William Wordsworth’s sister with an introduction by Jonathan Wordsworth. The surprise is the mix of illustrations of artwork by artists of the time period.

Jack the Ripper by Rick Geary

Nonfiction in comic book styling

6. Jack the Ripper by Rick Geary. Not so unique now, but this was the first graphic-novel format book I read on a serious topic. I thought about it a lot a few weeks ago when I was reading The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

7. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This is the history of a huge group of people braided with the history of three individuals, an amazing way to tell a story.

8. Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating by Ari Weinzweig. The only book I’ve read or seen on how to choose food well, from vinegar to chocolate. This book improved the meals we eat every day.

9. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore. To me, this feels like the book that each coincidence we encounter asks us to write. But, in this case, someone wrote it. And, it turns out to have all the richness that those moments of coincidence promise if you take the time to dig into the depths of the story.

10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Reading this novel feels like you’re sitting in a dusty archives examining historical documents and discovering a great story in them.

What unique books have you read?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll



Unique Books — a Top Ten Tuesday list — 13 Comments

  1. Lovely list. I love the moment your high school self discovered the richness of time during the reading of Beowulf.

    One of the most unique books I read – well, story, really… it was a book of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations with a few other old, old things thrown in to make it long enough, and one of the supplementary pieces was a dialogue by Lucian entitled Icaromenippus, An Aerial Expedition, which contains, among other things, instructions on how to fly to the moon using a couple wings off of a couple different birds, and a scathing assessment of modern philosophy circa the second century CE.

  2. Great list! Love seeing the bible on your list! I feel like I’m the only one who hasn’t read Code Name Verity at this point. Must read this soon!

  3. Fun Home is a literary graphic-memoir by Alison Bechdel which is so good I recommend it to everyone. When you hear the words “graphic novel” the word literary rarely comes up but this one lives up to the highest expectations.

    The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt surprised me but it’s out of print probably because it is atypical.

    Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff is not the first young adult novel written in verse I’ve read but it was the most memorable.

    Orlando by Virginia Woolf is not my favorite novel by the author but it is, without a doubt, unique because it reads like a biography, the subject matter itself is unusual, and it has an index, much the way a non-fiction book would have.

    Any of the Discworld books. It’s not often I read a book that makes me laugh out loud but these books do every time! It doesn’t matter which one I pick up, whenever I need to distract myself from reality or need to lighten up a bit because life has become too serious, I can always rely on Pratchett for some fun.

    • Great list! Writers talk about the Bechdel test, but I hadn’t actually thought to read any of her books!

  4. What a great list. Your descriptions of what made each unique also reminded me that uniqueness is not only inherent to the book itself, but also in each reader’s reaction to that work. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my list!

  5. I would’ve struggled with this Top Ten list myself, but I liked your choices. I still have not read Canterbury Tales, though I’ve read a lot about it. I’ve dipped into the Bible a lot, but not even tried to read it through.

    I would love to have a copy of the Grasmere Journal–I love books like that.

    I’ve heard Code Name Verity is great–it’s on my TBR list.

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