Five Books That Weren’t What I Expected

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm.

I love this week’s topic because it is not something I have ever really thought about. These days the books I pick up are largely influenced by this community and I go into them with certain expectations. It is always interesting when a book turns out to be completely different from what I would thought I would be!

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert


City of Girls is the perfect example of not letting your experiences of reading an author’s past work deter you from trying something else by them. I very much disliked Eat, Pray, Love and if it were not for the hype around City of Girls I never would have picked it up. In all honesty, I went into this I would dislike it. I was proven wrong and it is a book that I think about all of the time. I am not exciting to see what Elizabeth Gilbert writes next and I could not say that a year ago.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

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I had heard a lot about Exit West before picking it up, but I did not know that a romantic relationship was at the heart of the story. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it and it completely caught me off guard. I soon became deeply invested and it was an emotional ride. I expected the book to be emotional but in a completely different way.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

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I will admit that I went into Normal People completely cynical thinking there was no way that it could possibly live up to the hype. Could a story about the relationship between two people really be that interesting? Well, it was. Normal People quickly became one of my favourite books of all time. I do not think I have ever read a book that quite captures the intricacy of a romantic relationship in such a realistic way. I certainly wasn’t expecting that when I picked it up!

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

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As much as I love dystopians, they are often predictable and follow a certain formula. I went into The Dreamers fully expecting that to be the case. But what I got was something much more quiet and character-driven. There were a lot of different storylines to keep track of, but somehow I found myself fully invested in every single one. I did not expect to come out of this book with real fears. This book is truly a reflection of what could be out future, and it is terrifying.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

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It is very rare that humour works for me in fiction. I kept hearing about how hilarious My Lady Jane was, but I was skeptical. I went into it expecting to not connect with the humour and to have an unpopular opinion. I was so surprised to find that My Lady Jane turned out to be exactly my sense of humour! It is the book that made me realize I enjoy satire. I love that the authors took a tragic story and turned it on its head.


27 thoughts on “Five Books That Weren’t What I Expected

  1. Great list! I felt the same way about Gilbert’s fiction. Since I disliked Eat, Pray, Love, I went into her fiction thinking I would dislike it too, but I was pleasantly surprised. Her “Signature of All Things” and “City of Girls” remain very memorable reads for me.

  2. I’ve just started reading Normal People and am not sure what to make of it. I loved City of Girls but I also loved Eat, Love, Pray and Big Magic so I think I must be an Elizabeth Gilbert fan! I read City of Girls because it was written by her and not because of the hype. Great list.

  3. I haven’t read any of the books you’ve mentioned here, Kristin, but I know what you mean about trying to keep an open mind about an author if you’ve read a book of theirs that wasn’t your cup of tea.
    Kelly Armstrong is my big author that let me down; I’ve read two of her books – liked one and thought the other wasn’t up to the hype. I’m leaving it a good long while before I venture into her books again.
    I hope that 2020 has more wonderful surprising reads than bitter disappointing ones for both of us. x

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