You’ve probably noticed that I’m not big on memes here. I really like doing Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts on Fridays as sort of a catch-all for the week, but that’s the only one I participate in regularly. I do my own version of Waiting on Wednesday once every few months. And I’ll do a Top Ten Tuesday if the topic strikes me.
And I was really planning on doing yesterday’s – Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read. All last week, I had it in the back of my mind. On Monday, I was going through my spreadsheet line by line. But I just wasn’t coming up with anything. It seems to me that either all books are unique, because they’re the only version of that particular story, or none are, because we’re just retelling the same basic stories in new ways.
Maybe I’m being a little too literal with the word “unique” – existing as the only one or as the sole example – rather than the generally accepted definition of simply being unusual or uncommon. As much as I know what the Broke and Bookish gang meant when they came up with the prompt, it’s just really hard for me to point out a book and say, “I’ve never read another book like this.”
And of the few books that were jumping out at me, most came from my 1- and 2-star lists. Everything Matters!, by Ron Currie, Jr., is one example. This book was definitely unusual. It’s uses second-person, for one thing… and even more surprisingly, it does it well! But the book as a whole just didn’t work for me.
I’m currently reading Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. In this one, whenever the main character dies, she starts her life over again, sort of a cross between resurrection and reincarnation that I’ve never seen before. And while it makes for an interesting premise, the actual substance of the story isn’t grabbing me. It’s a pleasant enough read, and I don’t like to judge until I finish it, but so far I’m just not that excited.
There were quite a few like this, and while I could have come up with several examples – maybe not ten, but that’s never stopped me in the past – it just didn’t seem fun to make a list of books, a good chunk of which I don’t particularly like.
Dante’s Equation, by Jane Jensen, is a rare example of a unique book that I absolutely love. Even so, I rated it 4-stars the first time I read it, because the fact that it was so different almost got in the way. I really liked it… but it wasn’t until I re-read it, knowing what I was in for, that I was able to give it that fifth star.
Writing a book that’s unique can be a gamble. You don’t want to rely on the uniqueness. It might draw people in, but it’s (probably) not enough to win people over all on its own.
What are your thoughts on books you’d consider unique? Which ones have worked for you? Are there any that haven’t?