List: 10 Books Underrated by Goodreads

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When I hear about a new book or am trying to decide which book to read next, without fail I head to Goodreads and check out the ratings and the reviews. My book choices live and die by the Goodreads rating. I have a hard time getting motivated to read a book that has a Goodreads rating below 3.80 and my preference is for them to hover near 4.00. I have come to rely on this method because I found it to be a great predictor of my level of enjoyment of a book. History has shown me that I usually like a book as well as the Goodreads rating or a little less. Occasionally, however, a book surprises me and I actually like the book more than the Goodreads rating. These are like finding hidden gems. Like a little secret that only I was privy to know. Well I am sharing the secret today about 10 books that I believe are vastly underrated by Goodreads and could be your next hidden gem book find:


Title: The Post-Birthday World

Author: Lionel Shriver

Published: March 2007

Goodreads Rating: 3.52

My Rating: ★★★★

This book is a dense read about a woman whose life splits into two parallel universe arcs after a night out with a male friend while her long-time partner is away. I can understand why this may not be a crowd pleasing book. More than any other book I love, I do hesitate to recommend it to everyone. This is a true literary read. This book is great for someone who bows down at the altar of exceptional and poetic prose. This would not be a good book for someone who prefers a quick plot or any bit of lightness. I stand by my rating and have sometimes considered bumping my rating up to 5 stars.


Title: Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: July 2014

Goodreads Rating: 3.55

My Rating: ★★★★★

Rainbow Rowell is pretty much a guaranteed 5-star read for me. I have not read her most recent book, Carry On, but all of the others have been stories I have loved. This is one of her 2 contemporary adult novels, as opposed to her more well-known ya contemporary novels, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. My guess is that people are off-put by the slight bit of fantasy/magic that takes place in this story. It is about a woman who is a writer for a T.V. series who lives to work. She tends to neglect her husband and children and things come to a head when she chooses staying home for Christmas to work on her show rather than travel with her family to her in-laws’ house. You then get to see the beginning her relationship with her husband and get transported back in time via an old landline telephone. I really enjoyed this story and thought it struck a realistic chord about marriage. It can be really easy to take those you love the most for granted so it is important to check yourself.


Title: The House on Mango Street

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Published: 1984

Goodreads Rating: 3.57

My Rating: ★★★★★

This classic middle-grades book is a quick read about a young girl growing up in Spanish Harlem. She experiences many hardships and sees many unsavory aspects of her neighborhood, but you get to see these experiences through her own words and innocent perspective. It truly feels like a child is the author of the little vignettes that make up this short book. I found this book to be very poignant and moving. Others perhaps do not enjoy the styling of the book, the use of the vignettes. Channeling a child, Cisneros uses simple sentence structure and a very straight forward approach to telling Esperanza’s story. Perhaps not everyone liked the simple (although I would say it is actually ingenious) and truncated structure of the book. Mostly I just have a hard time understanding why this book has such a low Goodreads rating.


Title: The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Published: June 2012

Goodreads Rating: 3.64

My Rating: ★★★★

This story follows an 11-year-old as she navigates the world as she grows up. More than just a coming-of-age novel, this book also takes place in a time when the Earth’s spinning has slowed, known as the Slowing. Growing up is hard enough without an end-of-times predicament. This story is not what I would call a page-turner and perhaps strikes a nerve with some as the end-of-times scenario seems fairly realistic. I very much enjoyed the different elements of this story and still feel a little uncomfortable on hot days in the winter.


Title: The Fever Tree

Author: Jennifer McVeigh

Published: 2012

Goodreads Rating: 3.65

My Rating: ★★★★

This book reminded me of Gone With the Wind in its epicness. This follows a woman as she is sent to South Africa to marry a missionary during a fever epidemic. You watch her make bad decision after bad decision. I can understand how one might get frustrated with the main character and perhaps not like her very much. This is my main guess at why the rating is lower than my own.

WindflalTitle: Windfall

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Published: May 2017

Goodreads Rating: 3.73

My Rating: ★★★★

This is a YA contemporary story about a set of friends whose lives are changed when one hits the jackpot and wins $140 million. I thought this was a great YA read and touched on some really nice elements. I can’t quite put my finger on what would make someone not like this story very much unless they were expecting a literary masterpiece.


Title: The Truth According to Us

Author: Annie Barrows

Published: June 2015

Goodreads Rating: 3.75

My Rating: ★★★★

This is the story of a close-knit family in West Virginia who take in a spoiled young woman who is assigned to write the history of their small town for a government project. This story is narrated by an 11-year-old girl, her single, spinster aunt, and the young woman who comes to live with them. There are elements of coming-of-age, of romance, of familial drama, as well as a little bit of mystery as a dark secret is uncovered. I wonder if other readers were maybe bothered by some of the poor decisions made in this story. I know the oldest brother in the family is a bit difficult to stomach.


Title: The Ship of Brides

Author: Jojo Moyes

Published: 2005

Goodreads Rating: 3.74

My Rating: ★★★★

Following three women as they sail from Australia to Great Britain to meet up with their husbands after the conclusion of WWII, this story touches on an unusual aspect in the literary world about this popular era. I admit that this book started quite slowly. I almost put it down several times. Moyes spends a great deal of time developing the characters and not the story in the first half of the book. If you stick through that part, you will be rewarded with a fast-paced, page-turning second half of the book. My guess is that the first half of the book is what brings its Goodreads rating down a bit.


Title: The Royal We

Author: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Published: April 2015

Goodreads Rating: 3.80

My Rating: ★★★★★

This cotton-candy contemporary read seems like a greatly fictionalized version of Kate Middleton and Prince William. You follow an American girl as she studies abroad in England and meets the heir to the British crown. Quite frankly, I don’t know why this book isn’t rated higher on Goodreads. It is just the perfect bit of feel-good romance with a dash of nostalgia for your days in college. Maybe some were expecting this to be more in the vein of Pulitzer writing? Ignore the 3.80 and trust me that this is an excellent, fluffy read…if you are into that sort of thing.

shelter-meTitle: Shelter Me

Author: Juliette Fay

Published: December 2008

Goodreads Rating: 3.87

My Rating: ★★★★★

I feel like this book is my little hidden gem. It only has 7,400 ratings on Goodreads, which is a shame, because I think this book is a star. Juliette Fay’s writing really resonated with me and I have found that to be the case in other books of her’s that I have read, but this one still is my favorite. This story is about a young mother of two who was recently widowed and having a tough time rebounding. You get to meet a lot of quirky characters in her small-town, close-knit community and watch her climb out of her dark hole. A very heartwarming and satisfying read in my opinion.



Do you have any books that you think the average Goodreads reader is under rating?

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