Books I Liked but I Am Reluctant to Recommend to Everyone

Books I Like,But I Am Reluctantto Recommend

There are some books that I absolutely love and I recommend that everyone should read or give a chance, and there are some books I love that I know will not be for everyone and I am hesitant to recommend. Some times I love a book but I know that it will have mixed reviews. In cases like this I am reluctant to scream at the top of my lungs “YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!” because I am nervous someone will read it based on my recommendation and then not enjoy it.

Today, I thought it might be interesting to talk about some of the books that fit in to this category and try to explain why I loved them but also why I am hesitant to recommend them to everyone.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer


I truly loved Less and thought it had heartwarming and hilarious moments but I can see how it might come across as pretentious. It is about a middle-aged, gay author who is travelling through Europe to avoid his ex-boyfriends wedding. He is feeling really sorry for himself, and I understand why other readers might find him frustrating. It is definitely character-driven versus plot-driven, which is what I personally prefer. Less is satire and while I love stories like that, I can appreciate the fact that it is not for everyone!

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


When I first started Lincoln in the Bardo I was so confused! I decided to persevere and finally worked out what was happening and began to appreciate the unique way that it was written. I have seen a lot of people DNF the book early on, and I completely understand why. I am happy I pushed through it because it is a truly original story and I loved all the different characters. I think there might be too many voices for some people!

White Oleander by Janet Fitch


White Oleander is so dark and depressing! Nothing good happens to the main character, and reading it is like one punch to the gut after another. I am not sure if a lot of people enjoy books like that! While the writing is beautiful and I was so invested in the story, I would only recommend it to someone who I knew for sure enjoyed books similar to this one.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman


The Light Between Oceans is historical fiction, which I am often reluctant to recommend because it is a genre that not everyone gets along with. It is very atmospheric and slow-paced, and while I love that, I can completely understand why a lot of people would find it boring!

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt


Much like White Oleander, Angela’s Ashes is very hard to read because it is utterly gut-wrenching! Not everyone loves memoirs, especially when they are this devastating, so it is not a book I talk about a lot, even though it is one of my favourites.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins


There are a lot of mixed reviews for Into the Water, and I can completely understand why some people did not get along with it. There are so many characters and I did find myself getting a bit confused in the beginning. Once I got the hang of it I was completely engrossed! I would only recommend this book to people who are okay with multiple POV’s and a confusing plot.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan


I adore Ian McEwan’s writing and when I saw Nutshell I picked it up not knowing anything about it just because he had written it. This book was weird!! It is told from the perspective of a fetus and the story is completely original, and I know will not be for everyone. I would have to have a complete understanding of someone’s reading tastes before I recommended Nutshell to them! That said, there are Ian McEwan novels I would recommend to everyone, such as Atonement!

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry


The Essex Serpent is very descriptive, atmospheric, and slow-paced. This is a book that took me forever to read but in the end I appreciated the journey. There were moments when I thought that I was going to DNF it, but I am so happy that I pushed through because it ended up being beautiful. I am reluctant to recommend this one because it is very slow and there is not much of a plot.


I know this is a random topic but it is something I think about every once in awhile! I am always nervous to recommend books to someone to begin with because everyone has such different tastes! I would love to know if you have any books like this!


47 thoughts on “Books I Liked but I Am Reluctant to Recommend to Everyone

  1. Such a good blog post – thank you! It’s so important to recognise the objective merits of a book whilst acknowledging that particular features of it will attract some readers and deter others!

    1. Thank you so much! I completely agree with you! I try to look at books I loved objectively and see why they might not work for some people. I do the same with books I didn’t like! I try to see why someone else might love it. I do think it is important!

  2. I love this post. As an author who reminds myself daily that every reader has his or her own tastes and preferences, this sums up perfectly the reasons behind conflicting reviews. I very much enjoyed your descriptions of these books and your understanding of yourself as a reader in comparison to other readers. I will definitely read a slower-paced, character-driven book with beautiful language, but also understand that others find them boring and slow. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed it! That is exactly it! No two readers have the exact same taste in books which is why I try not to say everyone will love this or that book because I know that they won’t. They same thing goes for books I disliked. I try to say here is why it didn’t work for me but here are reason you might enjoy it!

  3. I loved The Essex Serpent (and continue to recommend it to others!), and I agree with your point about Lincoln in the Bardo – although it’s a fantastic book, I found it strange to read as it’s so different from what I expected in terms of narrative and style. I really liked this post! 🙂

    1. Yay for The Essex Serpent. I find myself recommending it when I hear someone loves books that are Gothic and atmospheric. It is always the first book that pops in to my head! Lincoln in the Bardo is written in such an unusual way! Thank you!

  4. Great post! I adored Lincoln In the Bardo and The Essex Serpent too and totally understand your reasons for being reluctant to recommend them as I know many people who just didn’t get the same feelings when they read them!

    1. Thank you! I am so glad that you agree with me. I just recommended Lincoln in the Bardo to a friend but I had to give her so many warnings like the narration takes a while to get used to, there are many characters etc etc. I don’t have to do that with most books I recommend!

  5. Kristen: thanks for a great post. I honestly don’t think you should ever hesitate to post on a book that you truly loved – even if you suspect that it might have limited appeal. The pleasure you create by bringing an amazing book to a couple of people far outweighs the cost of a few minutes from your subscribers reading a post on a book that doesn’t resonate with most. I read so many posts every day on books and genres that generally would not go into my TBR pile and I do it for 2 reasons – I like to experience other bloggers’ writing and perspectives and every once in a while – I do find an intriguing book way outside my normal genres that I read and fall in love with. If you’re recommending a book you think might have limited appeal, just caveat up front. Cheers, Brian

  6. Such a great post! I also definitely have several books that I like but wouldn’t recommend to everyone. Less and Into The Water sound great and I’ll check them both out for sure!

  7. Oh my God I love White Oleander. Yes, the story is a bit of a downer. But the writing! Some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. Definitely a favorite and so happy to see it on this list haha

  8. Interesting that so many of these are literary fiction, which can be so hard to recommend bc they’re so hit or miss. I really enjoyed reading this post and it got me thinking about what books I love that I hesitate to recommend!

  9. This is such a great topic! This is exactly how I feel about A Little Life, I adore that book so much but it’s so brutal I think I’ve told more people that they shouldn’t read it than that they should… I love a lot of these books too, Angela’s Ashes is so brilliant.

    1. Thank you! I was going to put A Little Life on my list but I just finished it and I’m still sorting out my thoughts on it. That books was so hard to read but those characters will stay with me forever! I am so happy you loved Angela’s Ashes as well!

      1. Ahh I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! I completely understand why some people passionately hate it and it’s not a perfect book by any means but ugh I just love those characters with all my heart. But yes, definitely one that I never actually recommend to people!

  10. White Oleander is such a difficult book to recommend. I rarely do since the storytelling may be too dark for some readers, but it’s one of my faves though. You have a great list!

  11. This is a great idea for a post! There are plenty of books that I love that others wouldn’t (just because they’re slow and descriptive), and I can see your picks being not the books that others would traditionally gush over. (I’ll be checking out Essex Serpent though haha.) 😛

  12. It’s so hard to recommend a book that is heart-wrenching, yes it’s well written but doesn’t mean it will be for everyone. I find multiple POV’s can really be hit or miss for people too, so another one I would agree is hard to know when to recommend. Great post:)

  13. I agree 100% on “The Light Between Oceans”, as it is very slow-paced I am not sure I could recommend it to all people either. I finished it a few days ago and it took me longer than most books because it just felt that nothing was happening for endless pages, but arriving at the ending felt worth it. Though I must say I am still mad at one of the characters days later. It definitely was a challenging book though.

    1. You put in to words exactly how I felt about that book. It also took me awhile to finish and I found the characters to be wildly frustrating but it’s a book I read years ago and still think about. I think that says something!

  14. Descriptive and atmospheric will sell me on any book. Since it’s slow, I’ll try to remember to be patient with the Essex Serpent when I get to it. I really want to read it.

  15. I totally get where you’re coming from. I like plot drive, introspective novels while a lot of my friends like character driven, YA romances. It’s all a matter of taste.

  16. Hey sometimes you just have to recommend the books that you thought no one else would read. You never know who might be interested and who might just end up loving that particular book or author. 😉

  17. Less looks like a great read, I’ll have to check it out!
    I read Into the Water a while back and I agree its not for everyone, I had trouble following the plot and felt the ending to be lackluster but I can see why people like it.

  18. Great post idea, Kristin ❤️

    Definitely have to agree with Into The Water – the multiple POV was hard to get used to at first and there were just SO many characters! Also the storyline was a bit messy and I was that content with the ending, but it still remains a good book!

  19. Oy, you have two of my faves – White Oleander and Angela’s Ashes – I was amazed by how much the Irish Catholic upbringing resonated with me and my Caribbean Catholic upbringing and just the tone of the writing lifts the tragedy; it’s been a while but I remember White Oleander being heavier, but then toxic relationships can be like that. Both great books in my opinion. Your other mentions are interesting; I think I like your taste.

    1. That is really interesting about the links between your upbringing and the Irish Catholic upbringing. White Oleander is definitely an accurate portrayal of what a toxic relationship can be like. Thank you so much! We obviously have very similar tastes!

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