This week the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish have given us a Top Ten Tuesday prompt about books we picked up on a whim. I decided to go the route of books I got from the library or store without knowing much -- or anything at all -- about them, and all of the books below ended up being pleasant surprises. In fact, 8 of the 10 are 5-star reads.
But the prompt got me thinking again about something that's been on my mind lately. Since I started blogging, using Goodreads and working at a library filled with bookish people, I seldom go browse in the stacks, picking up whatever strikes my fancy that day. That's how I always used to do it -- I'd go to the library every couple of weeks, maybe I had a hold to pick up, maybe I didn't, and I'd gander through the shelves and pick out three or four interesting-looking books to take home with me.
Those days are long past. Now almost every book I read is planned, either a new release I've put on request at the library or an older book I've been meaning to get to forever. There's almost a frenzied pace to my reading now, too -- read as many books as I can as quickly as I can. That makes it hard to revisit old favorite authors or continue series. And it makes it nearly impossible to have the happy accident of randomly picking up a brilliant 5-star read off a library shelf -- and I want to get back to those days.
Do tell: What are the best books you've picked up on a whim?
Back when we were stationed in Hawaii and I was working at the base library in 2012, "Unbroken" was on the Chief of Staff of the Air Force recommended reading list. I kept seeing it on our shelves and one day I decided to grab it. I'm SO very glad I did. It was a few years before the movie came out and I had the privilege of recommending it to several people before it started popping up everywhere.
I also discovered "A Discovery of Witches" when I was working at the Hickam AFB Library. It caught my eye, I read the jacket -- vampires, witches, magic, oh my! -- and took it home with me. It's one I probably would've read eventually as the series got more and more notice since it's right up my alley, but it was nice to be able to read it minus any hype.
The single most hilarious book I've ever read is "Let's Pretend This Never Happened," which I'm sure every book blogger has heard of by now with the major hype surrounding The Bloggess's second book, "Furiously Happy" (also good). But I had no clue what awaited me between the pages when picked up "Let's Pretend." I was intrigued by the taxidermied mouse on the cover and the fact that one of the review blurbs on the back contained the f-word. That's how I used to choose books, folks!
I snagged Julia Child's autobiography during the Borders going-out-of-business sale several years ago. Really all I knew of Julia Child was the movie "Julie and Julia," but I was intrigued enough to grab this bargain book -- and what a treat it was! Anyone who enjoys food or France should pick this up.
"Pen & Ink" review
"Pen & Ink" caught my eye while I was processing new books at the library where I worked in Ohio until a month ago (we're in the process of moving again) and just knew I had to grab it. It's full of illustrations of tattoos and, like the cover says, the stories behind them, some of which are in-depth and full of meaning and some of which are a simple line or two. As a tattoo enthusiast who's always wondering about other people's ink, I thought this book was awesome!
I only had a vague notion of what "Outlander" was about when I picked it up for $1 at the base thrift shop in Hawaii, along with "Dragonfly in Amber," the second book in the series (which I still need to read -- especially before watching season 2 of the TV show!). I was totally enthralled by "Outlander," which I'm sure you all know involves time travel back to 1700s Scotland.
"The Secret Keeper" was my first Kate Morton book and I snagged it from the new books shelf at the library where I worked in Hawaii right before we moved. I have a clear memory of lying across our bed in base lodging furiously reading so I could get it turned back in on our last day in Hawaii. It was absolutely engrossing -- the best kind of book to pick up on a whim! And it was a great introduction to Kate Morton; I'm hoping to work my way through all her books.
I came across "The River of No Return" processing new books at my library in Ohio and the cover just drew me in. I couldn't resist taking it home with me, especially since it was a brand new copy, which is a real treat when it comes to library books. It's a time travel novel (to 1815) and a romance, and it was such a wonderful surprise! I keep hoping Bee Ridgway writes a sequel.
I discovered one of my favorite authors, Tasha Alexander, back in 2008. We were stationed in San Angelo, Texas, at the time, and that was back in the good ol' days when I'd just go browse the library stacks every couple weeks and see what struck my fancy. "A Fatal Waltz," the third book in the Lady Emily series, was calling to me from the new books shelf. I loved it, and I immediately went back and read the first two books in the series. I highly recommend the Lady Emily cozy-ish mysteries to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, mysteries and spunky, badass, ahead-of-their-time heroines. Book 11 of the series comes out this October.
Like "Pen & Ink" and "The River of No Return," I came across "Boo" while processing new books at work. It was a Friday, and I was drawn in by the cover, and I decided it would be coming home with me for a quick weekend read. I really had no idea what it was about, but it ended up being heartwarming, heartbreaking and hilarious.