Pleasant Surprises: Books That Exceeded Our Expectations

List of the Month
August 2022 (see all)
Description
Our List of the Month this August is devoted to those pleasant surprises that come into our reading lives—books that exceeded our expectations, and ending up providing far more enjoyment than we thought they would. Each participant may vote on ten titles.
2
18,518 members
1,246 reviews
½ 4.3
17 Members
timspalding, raidergirl3, perennialreader, Localhostess, nancjones, nagasravika.bodapati, bookmuse56, CKHarwood, larocco, Vegas_Fiber_Arts, saraLucilleIngram, ErinBraam, HH_Library, VioletL, ConantheLibrarianJr, dandalf, Craftybilda
Explanations
perennialreader: I don't read much in the way of Science Fiction but read a review and thought I would give it a try.
bookmuse56: I could not put down this book and it felt so real to me and I kept wondering what I would in the various situations.
ConantheLibrarianJr: Great "hard" Science Fiction. The book reminded me that if you are marooned on Mars, humor is your most important survival skill.
3
1,161 members
86 reviews
4.1
12 Members
kxn11, magneticvoyager, RBeffa, elkiedee, nancjones, ominogue, bookmuse56, Vegas_Fiber_Arts, saraLucilleIngram, pacificquest, VioletL, dandalf
Explanations
elkiedee: I had no particular expectations of this book but picked it up because it was shortlisted for an award and it was excellent.
bookmuse56: I fell in with the writing, the time period, and the characters - perfect for armchair travelers.
4
19,163 members
887 reviews
½ 4.3
5
4,608 members
341 reviews
4
7
5,416 members
401 reviews
4
13 Members
timspalding, anglemark, erinclark, magneticvoyager, PitcherBooks, nagasravika.bodapati, kara.shamy, HeatherMoss, CKHarwood, Vegas_Fiber_Arts, saraLucilleIngram, pacificquest, moc2902
Explanations
anglemark: I don't like zombie stories. Color me surprised at how good this book was!
8
16,729 members
445 reviews
½ 4.3
9
43,554 members
1,746 reviews
4
11 Members
pgmcc, lahochstetler, knerd.knitter, deldevries, perennialreader, JuliaMaria, nagasravika.bodapati, Dammie, HH_Library, finnleyjames, ConantheLibrarianJr,EMS_24 ,Thelamon1
Explanations
EMS_24 : It's all about expectations and what you like in a book
perennialreader: Not my kind of book at all, but I took a chance and have read the whole series, even the ones by David Lagercrantz. Just love the Lisbeth Salander character.
JuliaMaria: Ich habe die Serie erst gelesen als der Hype vorbei war - und war dann traurig, dass ich sie nicht doch früher schon für mich entdeckt hatte.
ConantheLibrarianJr: Powerful. What Solander goes thru is horrific, but she proves she is more than just a heroine. She is a survivor!
11
70,757 members
1,314 reviews
½ 3.5
12
17,249 members
911 reviews
4
13
25,928 members
430 reviews
½ 4.3
14
9,437 members
523 reviews
½ 4.4
8 Members
raidergirl3, CDVicarage, LDVoorberg, CarltonC, nagasravika.bodapati, Yarnucopia, steller0707, HH_Library
Explanations
LDVoorberg: A long book set in Russia?! I kept expecting tragedy upon tragedy but I got the enjoyable, daily happenings of a gentleman in a hotel!
CarltonC: I didn’t expect that I would find this as unexpected, seemingly short and warm hearted as it is.
15
3,166 members
94 reviews
½ 3.6
8 Members
RBeffa, Porua, elkiedee, Smits, kara.shamy, Vegas_Fiber_Arts, Xotomix, RMiller30
Explanations
Porua: I rarely read books I know nothing of, from authors I know nothing of. Both were true for this book and yet I not only read and enjoyed it, I actually bought a print copy of it.
16
12,955 members
339 reviews
4.1
17
17,958 members
330 reviews
4.2
18
43,944 members
1,011 reviews
3.9
19
41,518 members
1,052 reviews
½ 4.3
20
9,821 members
206 reviews
4
21
12,937 members
477 reviews
½ 4.3
6 Members
CarltonC, vwinsloe, kara.shamy, nyowh, Algernon11, dandalf
Explanations
CarltonC: Wowed by the imaginative rewriting of the epic from a different perspective and in such readable prose.
22
27,213 members
780 reviews
3.9
7 Members
CDVicarage, amanda4242, Vegas_Fiber_Arts, ManWithAnAgenda, Boand, steller0707, RMiller30,Thelamon1
Explanations
Boand: Original tales of magic, madness and mystery set in the early C19th. Clarke constructs a fantasy world like no other where customs and fey characters collide. Endless fun and brilliant imaginative twists make this a book to cherish.
23
2,851 members
175 reviews
4.2
24
53,269 members
1,305 reviews
4.2
25
7,826 members
659 reviews
3.8
6 Members
raidergirl3, terran, LDVoorberg, PitcherBooks, kara.shamy, Boand,EMS_24
Explanations
LDVoorberg: You must listen to the audiobook: the narrator makes the series amazing.
Boand: Another recommendation of a whodunnit led me to the first of this quirky series and sealed it as one of my all time favourites. What’s not to love about a pesky teenage girl who beats the grownups at their own games, negotiates troublesome sisters and adores her father while they all mourn her mother and saves Britain from evil masterminds.
26
6,783 members
286 reviews
4.1
27
1,079 members
73 reviews
4
5 Members
3togetready, bookmuse56, rmarcin, saraLucilleIngram, HH_Library
Explanations
bookmuse56: Just a wonderful read that I finished in one sitting!
28
19,515 members
1,250 reviews
4.2
29
3,510 members
249 reviews
3.8
30
5,699 members
281 reviews
½ 4.3
31
9,163 members
192 reviews
4
4 Members
hipdeep, RBeffa, elkiedee, saraLucilleIngram
Explanations
hipdeep: My only other experience of Hemingway was The Old Man And The Sea, which bored me to tears. But these autobiographical vignettes were captivating.
32
5,861 members
111 reviews
4.1
33
14,025 members
352 reviews
4.2
34
3,172 members
198 reviews
3.8
35
50,857 members
453 reviews
½ 4.5
36
2,824 members
172 reviews
½ 4.3
3 Members
anglemark, saraLucilleIngram, Tosta
Explanations
anglemark: A nice surprise after the boring feelgood The long way to a small, angry planet
37
108,460 members
987 reviews
½ 4.4
38
2,973 members
89 reviews
½ 4.3
39
20,654 members
798 reviews
4.2
40
5,324 members
152 reviews
4.2
3 Members
kxn11, dewasus1, CarltonC
Explanations
CarltonC: So much more than I expected, funny and perceptive.
41
5,927 members
340 reviews
3.9
4 Members
Localhostess, kara.shamy, BornAnalog, steller0707
Explanations
BornAnalog: One of the few books that everyone talked up to me, and then it actually delivered. And then some.
42
4,930 members
63 reviews
½ 4.3
43
5,644 members
362 reviews
4.1
44
17,697 members
153 reviews
4.1
3 Members
hipdeep, SF_fan_mae, msemmag
Explanations
hipdeep: Came for the theology, stayed for the clever use of language.
msemmag: Look, I didn't go into this book expecting C. S. Lewis to be funny. But goddamnit, he is in this. I don't agree with a lot of what he espouses, but fuck this was enjoyable to read.
45
20,713 members
553 reviews
4.1
46
26,550 members
503 reviews
4.2
3 Members
lahochstetler, Patricia.Ralston, elahrairah
Explanations
elahrairah: My girlfriend said I should read this. It didn't look like the sort of book I would even consider but I did and it was brilliant. It made me realise that there was whole swathes of literature that I was missing out on because of my preconceived notions of what markets were being aimed for by covers, and that I had subconsciously coded whole swathes of literature as aimed at female audiences and ignored it. This was a bit of a shock, because I thought that I was an indiscriminate reader. It is always painful to learn things about yourself that you don't want to be true. I hope that I no longer ignore books that are marketed in a feminine way, and I make an effort to remember this whenever I am considering buying or reading a book. The novel is incredible, by the way.
47
3,992 members
197 reviews
4.2
3 Members
anglemark, sundancer, conhauf
Explanations
anglemark: I didn't like the Temeraire books at all, but this one was great!
48
5,795 members
265 reviews
4
49
559 members
23 reviews
3.9
50
1,160 members
28 reviews
4
51
4,438 members
93 reviews
3.8
52
877 members
15 reviews
½ 3.7
3 Members
Localhostess, Boand, conhauf
Explanations
Boand: As a Londoner born and bred the Thames is part of my heritage and consciousness. Ackroyd weaves a wonderful historical journey covering millennia as well as miles as he follows the river from source to sea. It’s a really fascinating and captivating book which was a joy to read. For those who are interested there is also an accompanying TV series with highlights from the book and wonderful camera work.
53
36,030 members
614 reviews
4
54
3,515 members
197 reviews
3.9
3 Members
perennialreader, bogopea, kara.shamy
Explanations
perennialreader: I did not like Eat, Pray, Love but someone recommended this one and I actually like it.
55
7,419 members
164 reviews
3.8
56
4,162 members
226 reviews
4.2
57
1,684 members
80 reviews
½ 3.6
58
39,732 members
1,272 reviews
4.1
3 Members
kleo, cherpy, ErinBraam
59
1,017 members
67 reviews
4.2
2 Members
elorin, rmarcin
60
673 members
19 reviews
½ 3.7
61
12,564 members
190 reviews
4
62
204 members
47 reviews
½ 3.6
2 Members
hipdeep, conhauf
Explanations
hipdeep: Took a flyer on this one through Early Reviewers. It blew my mind as an introduction to leisure studies.
63
7,949 members
296 reviews
4.2
64
13,063 members
292 reviews
4
3 Members
Boand, steller0707, conhauf
Explanations
Boand: A book that has a split dual timeline and an irresistible story of star crossed lovers. Byatt’s writing intrigues and compels across different centuries and compares how social mores shape our lives bringing joy, heartache and sorrow.
65
7,521 members
245 reviews
4.1
3 Members
Minthe, Cecrow, conhauf
66
19,249 members
400 reviews
4.1
67
247 members
22 reviews
4
2 Members
nancjones, AbigailAdams26
Explanations
AbigailAdams26: I had no fixed ideas going into this book, and certainly did not expect it to be one of the best middle-grade novels I have ever read!
68
22 members
2 reviews
½ 4.7
2 Members
AbigailAdams26, alderwand
Explanations
AbigailAdams26: I expected to enjoy the artwork here, being an admirer of the illustrator (Frances Tyrrell), but I was surprised to find the story itself so beautifully-written and immensely poignant.
69
3,859 members
100 reviews
4
70
4,569 members
254 reviews
4.1
2 Members
edparks, conhauf
71
2,958 members
63 reviews
½ 3.4
72
2,770 members
104 reviews
3.8
73
2,977 members
41 reviews
4.1
2 Members
elkiedee, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
elkiedee: Read by mistake from the library when I was 14 and I think I thought it was something different, but I really loved this.
74
8,802 members
119 reviews
3.8
2 Members
JalenV, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
JalenV: I picked it because it was a classic, but the characters and their stories were much more interesting than I expected. BTW The Wheat and the Tares chapter is old name for the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.
75
8 members
5
76
5,726 members
93 reviews
3.8
2 Members
Cecrow, alderwand
77
784 members
24 reviews
3.8
78
98 members
2 reviews
4.1
2 Members
BornAnalog, alderwand
Explanations
BornAnalog: Read this argument for an ethics-driven technology sector. . .and then contemplate how far that is from our current reality.
79
1,044 members
65 reviews
4.2
2 Members
Micheller7, Ann_R
80
1,401 members
92 reviews
3.8
2 Members
JuliaMaria, nyowh
Explanations
JuliaMaria: Geschichten mit Tieren als Hauptprotakonisten interessieren mich normalerweise weniger, deshalb war ich positiv über die philosophische Tiefe des Romans überrascht.
81
43,335 members
713 reviews
3.8
82
1,092 members
3 reviews
½ 4.3
2 Members
cpg, Yarnucopia
Explanations
cpg: Surprisingly successful devotional work.
84
1,561 members
93 reviews
4.1
2 Members
vwinsloe, Ann_R
85
492 members
8 reviews
½ 3.6
2 Members
Cecrow, TechThing
86
2,165 members
65 reviews
3.9
87
4,023 members
202 reviews
½ 3.7
88
1,271 members
43 reviews
4.2
2 Members
CarltonC, nyowh
Explanations
CarltonC: I didn’t expect to be so engaged by this story, who for all his faults, comes across as very human.
89
73,080 members
1,164 reviews
3.8
2 Members
hipdeep, cbl_tn
Explanations
hipdeep: I have a vague memory of reading this in high school, but revisiting it as an adult was far more satisfying.
90
10,917 members
250 reviews
4
91
12,023 members
832 reviews
4.1
92
14,214 members
316 reviews
4.2
93
3,508 members
174 reviews
4.1
94
2,056 members
111 reviews
½ 4.3
95
1,282 members
21 reviews
½ 3.6
96
5,085 members
145 reviews
4.1
97
10,005 members
184 reviews
4
2 Members
hipdeep, Cecrow
Explanations
hipdeep: I didn't love Steinbeck in high school English class. I wish they'd taught this one.
98
4,548 members
234 reviews
4.2
2 Members
Micheller7, sturlington
Explanations
sturlington: I thought this was a book about Shakespeare, but it was so much more than that--such a moving depiction of motherhood and grief.
99
1,832 members
61 reviews
½ 3.4
100
5,508 members
184 reviews
½ 4.3