18 Great Books You Probably Haven’t Read
Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.
So this week, my book The Fault in Our Stars is at number one on USA Today and New York
Times best seller list, which is bananas, and it's made me think about all the books
I've loved that aren't best sellers. So Hank today I want to introduce you to 18 books
I've loved that you haven't read and probably very few people watching this video have read.
And then Nerdfighters, in comments, if you could leave names of books that you love that
I probably haven't read, I'll read 18 of them and review them in a future video. Okay, let's
get to it!
Okay, let's start with sports! This Bloody Mary is the Last Thing I Own by Jonathan Rendall.
Best book title ever! Also my favorite boxing book ever.
Speaking of unusual areas of my expertise, One of Us by Alice Domurat Dreger, which is
by far the best non-fiction book ever written about conjoined twins. It's also just an amazing
book about disability and unusual anatomies and how people in power tend to essentialize
and marginalize the other.
Okay, couple of funny books: Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks, not Tony Hawk.
It's about a guy who hitchhikes around the circumference of Ireland with a refrigerator;
it is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Also excellent, Tony Hawks' follow-up
book, Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, in which he plays tennis with every member of
the Moldovan National Soccer team.
The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by, yes, that is Zach Braff's brother, Joshua.
Great coming-of-age novel, worth the price of admission just for Jacob Green's Bar Mitzvah
Now you may have read MT Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, one of the best
novels of the past decade, but you probably haven't read MT Anderson's surprisingly brilliant
vampire novel, Thirsty.
And speaking of great YA novels, Cecil Castellucci's book, Boy Proof came out in 2005, and the
haunting and beautiful story of this outcast girl named Egg, has stuck with me ever since.
Also E Lockhart's Fly on the Wall, a brilliant feminist reworking of Kafka's Metamorphosis,
ugh, it's so hard to say metamorphosis, [to himself]: they're gonna know about your lisp
now; they already know about your lisp now, no, just…moving on!
Tayari Jones is most famous for her book Leaving Atlanta, which is great, but this book, The
Untelling, captures the precariousness of working-class life just beautifully.
Speaking of beautiful, The Golden Rule by my mentor, Ilene Cooper. If you have a child
you may have noticed that they don't, like, inherently excel at empathy. This book has
been huge for us in talking to Henry about imagining how other people are feeling.
One more picture book: Show Way by Jacque Woodson, one of my all-time favorite picture
books and also one of Henry's favorites.
E.E. Cummings' first book, The Enormous Room. I don't know why this isn't famous. It's Cummings'
memoir of being imprisoned and falsely accused of treason during WWI, it's also a brilliant
examination of, like, the relationship between the individual and the collective.
Hugely influential book: Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others which made me think a lot
about the difference between representing and exploiting pain in art. Also in an image
saturated age, this is absolutely required reading about the unreliability of the image.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather may be the most important novel about American
religion. Why doesn't every American high school student have to read this? I don't
A book I'm almost sure you haven't read, This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun,
I'm probably saying his name wrong, I apologize. It's that, that, that name! This book fictionalizes
the story of real political prisoners who lived for decades in complete darkness in
6' x 3' rooms. It's a little intense but it's really, really good.
Speaking of which, Kendra by Coe Booth. Her first book Tyrell is more famous, I like this
one just as much.
The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty. Out of fashion these days, but I think the best
book by one of the best 20th century writers.
Speaking of the South, Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone: The Carter Family and their Legacy
in American Music. This book inspired an early VlogBrothers video, link in the dooblydoo,
but it's also just excellent!
And finally The Last Summer of Reason, a novel about a bookstore owner who lives in a country
overtaken by extremists who believe that art is evil.
So there you have it, 18 books I loved that aren't bestsellers but should be; I look forward
to your suggestions, Nerdfighters – I will see you in comments. Hank – I'll see you on