Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The meme was originally the brainchild of The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Loved with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads.
This was a fun one! To find the books, I went into Settings on my Goodreads “Read” page, and added the column for “num ratings.” Then I sorted on “num ratings” and looked at the books with the fewest ratings, to see which ones I had rated 4 or 5 stars. Of those, I picked the books that really count as favorites: books I’ve reread multiple times, or that have some meaning for me.
This exercise turned up some interesting facts. First, most of the books I’ve indexed over the years have only a handful of ratings on Goodreads. That’s probably because I index a lot of scholarly books, and Goodreads really isn’t the place where academic readers are likely to rate and review those books. While most of these books are good and well-written, they aren’t “books I loved,” so I didn’t include them here.
Second, some of the books I’ve loved with few ratings haven’t been published yet. I read and rated or reviewed the ARC. Since they aren’t yet published, it’s not reasonable to expect a lot of ratings, so I didn’t include them on this list, whether I loved them or not.
Third, a lot of the books I loved as a child or with my child (and still do!) have very few ratings on Goodreads for a variety of reasons, so this post is heavy on children’s books.
I’ve listed the books in order based on how many ratings they have, from lowest to highest. All of them got either four or five stars from me, but more than that, they are books that I’ve loved or that have meant something to me over the years.
Links take you to my review (where you can find a Goodreads link.) If I haven’t reviewed it, the link goes straight to Goodreads.
Ten Books I Loved With Fewer Than
2,000 300 Goodreads Ratings
The Princesses I Know by Ayla Mae Wild. 2 ratings; 4 stars. This is a personal favorite. Ayla was one of the student leaders on Robin’s college orientation wilderness trip, and this self-published book was part of Ayla’s senior project. I love the message, I enjoy Ayla’s art, but the real joy for me is that Robin is one of the characters portrayed in the book.
Cinders by Katherine Gibson. 5 ratings; 4 stars. A charming Cinderella retelling, from the point of view of one of the mice-turned-footmen, who avoids getting turned back into a mouse and ends up working at the Palace. My copy belonged to my mother when she was young, and it is one of the books from my childhood that I’ve hung on to.
Beyond the Weir Bridge by Hester Burton. 13 ratings; 4 stars. A YA historical novel set before and during England’s Civil War, this is one of the few novels featuring Quaker characters I could find in my childhood and early teens, and it’s one I still reread occasionally. (I was raised Quaker, and while I no longer worship in that tradition, it’s still very much a part of me.)
Ginger Jumps by Lisa Campbell Ernst. 34 ratings; 5 stars. I cannot believe there are only 34 ratings for this darling picture book about a circus dog in search of a family. The story is delightful, and the illustrations are charming. It was one of our favorites when Robin was little. It was popular enough that the library copy was falling apart, and I had a tough time finding a used copy in decent shape.
King Arthur and His Knights by Elizabeth Lodor Merchant. 43 ratings; 4 stars. I’m not surprised this children’s version of King Arthur only has 43 ratings; it was out of print long before my childhood. But I loved it, both for the stories and the illustrations. I stumbled on a beat-up copy in the tiny library in the lodge at my summer-long camp, and read and re-read it on many a hot afternoon during our rest time. And of course, my step-grandpa had a copy, because his father, Frank Godwin, illustrated it. Now I have two copies of my own, and I framed the color plates from a third, coverless copy for my walls. (The only reason this book gets 4 stars instead of 5 is that there are better retellings out there.)
Over and Over by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Garth Williams. 103 ratings; 5 stars. This picture book about a little girl experiencing the cycle of the year is one of the first I can remember my mother reading to me. Once I could read, I read it over and over to myself. Decades later, I sought out a copy to read to Robin. Along with Ginger Jumps, this book made my list of Ten Favorite Picture Books a few years ago.
The Belle of Amherst by William Luce. 139 ratings; 5 stars. I took Intro to Poetry in college because it was a prerequisite to the Shakespeare classes I wanted (and needed) for my theater degree. We spend two full weeks on Emily Dickinson, and I ended up falling in love with her poems. Instead of writing a paper, I read this play, condensed the best bits into a monologue of just under 20 minutes, and performed the monologue from memory for my class—in costume.
Never Pick Up Hitch-hikers by Ellis Peters. 159 ratings; 4.5 stars. What makes this mystery/adventure novel so charming are the two main characters, Willie and Calli, and the relationship between them. Even people who love Peters’s Brother Cadfael books don’t seem to know about this one, but I’ve reread it multiple times, and it never fails to lift my spirits.
The Blue Hills by Elizabeth Goudge. 175 ratings; 4.5 stars. The Blue Hills (also published as Henrietta’s House) is a sequel to Goudge’s A City of Bells, but unlike A City of Bells, it is more of a children’s book or fairy story than an adult novel. Regardless of the audience, it has all of Goudge’s charm and a touch of the magic that pervades her better-known children’s book, The Little White Horse.
A Most Contagious Game by Catherine Aird. 288 ratings; 5 stars. This is probably my favorite of Aird’s mysteries (by a hair; I love some of her others nearly as much.) It’s also the only one that doesn’t star Inspector Sloan and Constable Crosby. If you like Christie, give Aird a try, beginning with either this book or her first or second Sloan and Crosby novels, The Religious Body or Henrietta Who?
What are your favorite little-known Goodreads books?