10 Books I Want More People to Read and Appreciate

In today’s episode of “I make a book list out of pettiness”…

There have been some people in the book community complaining about “underrated books” that no one else has read… and then those books turn it out to have 100k ratings on Goodreads and are NYT-bestselling books. So today, I thought I would talk about books that actually haven’t gotten as much hype as they should have that I really wish more people read!!

Most of these have under 5,000 ratings on Goodreads, and it was so depressing to see that some of my absolute favorites had only 2-3,000. And even then, there are many books on my TBR that have less than 700 ratings—which is why this list is more about books I want more people to read versus underhyped books (since there are books that are more underhyped than these).

You might have already seen these books mentioned on my blog before, because I’ve talked about quite a few of them many times before and no one listens to poor me… but hopefully now that will change!!

(Fun fact: most of these feature books about/by QPOC! Aka read more QPOC!!)

A WISH IN THE DARK

A Wish in the Dark

This Thai book of my heart deserves so much more love than it is getting. I say this not just because it’s Thai, but because it truly is written so perfectly, from its characters to its story to its messages! A Les Miserables retelling set in a Thai-inspired world, this book manages to convey social themes and character growth in a way that speaks to younger and older readers alike.

I think some people might not be interested in this one because it’s a Middle Grade book, and for some reason there’s this weird superiority complex when it comes to MG… But I promise that even if you don’t usually read MG, you will love this one! It’s all around absolutely fantastic, and not “juvenile” like many older readers describe some MG books.

Representation: Thai-coded cast
Content warnings: death, fire, drowning

ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE’S BOOKS

When the Moon Was Ours  Wild Beauty  Blanca & Roja  The Weight of Feathers  Dark and Deepest Red

I haven’t read all their books yet (though I’m about 15% of Dark and Deepest Red, the only one I haven’t read!), but I’ve read enough to know that Anna-Marie McLemore is one of my favorite authors and it is a travesty that not everyone has heard of them or been blessed with their books. Their writing is truly some of the best in YA, in my opinion, and their fairytale-like storytelling is like no other, though I do understand that it can be a bit too flowery for some people.

My personal favorite is When the Moon Was Ours, but I truly do love all of their books! (The Weight of Feathers is the one I don’t care for as much as the others, though.)

Representation: all of their works center on Latine/x characters, trans & non-binary characters, and queer characters in general
Content warnings: if you’re looking for some for a specific book, feel free to ask me! but overall, some things I’ve seen across multiple books include transphobia, abuse,

PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT

Picture Us in the Light

This was one of my top favorite books last year; it was genuinely so amazing that I still get shocked (and sad) every time I remember how few people have read it? If you know me, then you know I give full 5-star ratings out very rarely and particularly—so you know what it means when I say that I didn’t hesitate to give this 5 stars.

While definitely tackling heavier topics related to mental health (check CWs below!), this book is ultimately, to me, a story of identity, family, and discovery. It’s so hard to describe what this book is about, and I guess I will mention that there’s a bit of a “mystery” feel to it with the uncovering of secrets in the main character’s family’s past. But I think the best way to go into this book is to not know much at all, and to become utterly transfixed by its pages.

Representation: Chinese gay MC, Taiwanese mlm LI, Chinese and Taiwanese side characters, side character with depression
Content warnings: depression, suicide, car accident, death of loved one, immigration fears, child trafficking

THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS

The Weight of the Stars

It genuinely hurts me so much to see that this book has so few ratings on Goodreads. Like, logically I know that these ratings are not indicative of the actual number of people who have read this book, but still… ONLY 2K??

I know I’ve talked a lot about this book on my blog, so I may sound repetitive, but what more could you want from a book? Sapphics, space, found family, sibling love, gorgeous writing, and an ending that will make you cry! Actually, let me take a quote from my review: “It’s the beautiful narrative of a girl who didn’t fight for herself until the last moment, and the people who helped her see it was okay to stand for herself, and the girl who promised she would come for her and she did.”

Representation: almost all POC and/or queer cast, Black lesbian MC, half-Black wlw LI, Black mlm character with selective mutism (?), side polyamory rep
Content warnings: alcohol and drug use, mention of parental death, mild violence, mention of suicide, mention of homophobia

THE STARS AND THE BLACKNESS BETWEEN THEM

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Following two Black girls, one who was forced to move to the US after her mother discovered her with another girl, one whose life changes when she’s diagnosed with terminal cancer, this is the story of the love that bloomed between them, written so gorgeously in a way that made me ache.

This book is just… an otherworldly experience. I’ve described it that way before, and I’ll describe it that way again, because there are so few words I can use to express what reading this felt like. Not to quote myself again, but a line from my review that I think sums up my feelings pretty much: “Everything about [this book] feels like it was a gift to this world that I wasn’t worthy of experiencing.”

Representation: Black Trinidadian lesbian MC, Black wlw MC, Black (incl. Trinidadian) side characters, Black (incl. Trinidadian & South African) wlw side characters
Content warnings: homophobic violence, homophobia, parental abuse death (off-page) and themes of dying, leukemia/terminal cancer

THE GRIEF KEEPER

The Grief Keeper

A masterful exploration of grief and trauma, this book just… makes you ache. The main character, an immigrant from El Salvador, joins an experiment where someone else’s grief is transferred to her, and she ends up developing a relationship with that person while also working through her own trauma.

I know I keep saying I’m upset that so few people have read these books, but: I’m upset!! This book is just such a masterpiece, and I’m sorry for all the people who haven’t gotten the chance to experience its beauty for themselves. However, it is a heavy and difficult book to read. I promise that there is a happy ending for the gays, but I definitely recommend taking a look at the content warnings I listed below!

Representation: El Salvadoran lesbian MC, wlw LI, El Salvadoran side characters
Content warnings: on-page suicide attempt, violence (murder), death of loved one, xenophobia & racism (immigration-related), depression & PTSD, lesbophobia (incl. slurs), bombing, drug use, medical abuse, depiction of trauma & grief, threat of rape

BENEATH THE CITADEL

Beneath the Citadel

Another day of being extremely saddened that only a handful of people I know have read this book, when I know so many others would absolutely fall in love with it. This book features QPOC, found family, prophecies, heists, and absolutely excellent plot twists (the ending was… truly an experience)—what more could you want!

From what I remember, I feel like the book’s strong point is its characters, which worked out perfectly for me as I absolutely fell in love with them. It’s also a standalone fantasy, which I know a lot more people are looking for nowadays!

Representation: POC bisexual MC, POC MC, POC fat asexual MC with anxiety, gay MC
Content warnings: death, murder, torture, abuse, captivity, medical experimentation, loss of loved ones, depictions of grief/trauma, panic attacks

FULL DISCLOSURE

Full Disclosure

This book took me by surprise when I read it earlier this year. My Goodreads pre-review says “can’t believe a m/f romance made me Yearn this much” and I think that says it all.

But, speaking more seriously, I think this contemporary is one of those stories on the softer, quieter side that leaves a profound impact on you. The character work in here is so strong and I adore all of them, and the author manages to portray being a teen in such an authentic way (which makes sense, considering how young she is!). It’s also an important book, telling the story of someone with HIV, and I definitely feel that this is something everyone should read.

Representation: Black bisexual MC with HIV, Black LI, lesbian side character, asexual side character, two dads (one Latine/x)
Content warnings: blackmail, HIV prejudice & stigma, racist microaggressions & fetishization (thank you, Fadwa!)

THE BEST LIES

The Best Lies

I think the average rating for this book on Goodreads (3.38) might scare off some people, but I… honestly have no idea how it is that low? I guess I don’t read a lot of mysteries or thrillers, so you could take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I truly found this twisting, addictive book to be so intriguing.

Told in alternating timelines, this follows Remy after her boyfriend was murdered by her best friend, tracing back to the development of the relationship between her and her best friend. It’s an obsessive, co-dependent, toxic friendship, and the book messed with my mind in the best possible way. Definitely take a look at the CWs to know what you’re getting into, but this was a highly entertaining, unputdownable read in my opinion!

Representation: Chinese MC, wlw (?) character
Content warnings: abuse (emotional & physical), domestic violence, manipulation, alcohol use, smoking, death, murder, frequent mentions of a gun, blood mention, suicidal ideation, intense & distressing familial conflict (thank you CW!)

GIRL MADE OF STARS

Girl Made of Stars

This poignant YA contemporary was my top favorite book of 2018! If you were around back then, you’ll remember how I constantly talked about it, but lately I’ve slacked on hyping it so… here we go again! This follows the story of a girl whose twin brother rapes her best friend, and she is forced to navigate this atrocity while also dealing with her own trauma. It’s difficult and heartbreaking to read (absolutely check CWs first), but so, so powerful, beautifully written, and one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

I’m putting this last on my list, since it does have a significantly higher number of ratings than the other books. But I still feel like there’s such a small amount of people who’ve read this book, and it goes along with the title and theme of this post: I sorely want more people to read this!!

Representation: bisexual MC with anxiety, genderqueer LI
Content warnings: rape, sexual abuse and assault, pedophilia, victim blaming, depictions of trauma, anxiety/panic attacks


shall we chat

have you read any of these yet? (if not… knife emoji) what are some books you want more people read?

blog signoff

74 thoughts on “10 Books I Want More People to Read and Appreciate

  1. Definitely adding some of these onto my list after reading this! A Wish In the Dark sounds adorable (that cover is amazing!) and I’ve been meaning to read The Weight of the Stars, I’ll need to bump it up on my list! Thanks for sharing ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Literally… these books sound so cool, especially Girl Made of Stars and I cant believe I ahvent come across any of them!!

    I’m saving this, and definitely adding them to my TBR because of your strong recommendation🤔😁💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. you’re absolutely right! i need to read more QPOC!! i’ve read almost none of these. Anna-Marie Mclemore’s books sound pretty good, but A Wish In the Dark sounds so good too! ahhh i need to read all of these. thank you so much for these recs! i’ll make sure i check them out! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m definitely going to be on the look out for a lot of these and add them to my TBR. I will admit that I don’t really venture out for books that much. In the past couple of years, I’ve strictly read majority popular and hyped books. I really wished I took more time to look for the lesser known ones to see if I could find a hidden gem so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i am so happy to hear that, laura!! 🥺 i think i’ve also been reading pretty hyped books (i feel like it’s pretty normal, unless you’re someone who doesn’t really like the more popular books), but i definitely want to read some more lesser-known ones and give them some love too!!

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  5. I think this might be another instance where Book Twitter doesn’t always represent the wider reading public. (Or my personal feed doesn’t represent the wider public.) I can totally see myself thinking, “Ugh, why does no one read X book?” when what I really mean, “I haven’t seen bloggers talking about it a lot.” But maybe that book does have a million Goodreads ratings!

    Or, oppositely, I would have said I see people talking about Anna-Marie McLemore’s books all the time, so it’s really interesting to me that they don’t have as much love on Goodreads!

    The other books I really have not seen much about in the book community, so this is a really helpful list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. totally understand that! you definitely can’t say that x number of goodreads ratings or people talking about it on twitter dictates how well-known a book is. i guess language is also a thing here, because it seems like most people just haven’t seen others on their feed reading a certain book, but then they just end up saying that it’s “underrated” when, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t really underrated haha!

      but yes about anna-marie! i feel like book bloggers/twitter do a great job of talking about their books, so i was definitely expecting them to have more ratings on goodreads (as they deserve!)

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  6. I hope more people would read Rhoda Belleza’s Empress of a Thousand Skies duology. It’s a scifi space opera that I think deserves more love! It has lots of political intrigue and rich family dynamics. Also, thank you so much for sharing this list! Most of the books above are already on my TBR but I’ll be surely adding the others that aren’t yet in my list.

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  7. Oh some of these are actually on my TBR! I’ve read The Weight of the stars, but the writing style was not really for me. The Stars and the blackness Between Them, Full Disclosure, The Grief Keeper and Girl Made of sTars are on my TBR.

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  8. I love Girl Made of Stars! I read it last year and I liked it. It’s so, so, so well-written.
    Anne-Marie McLemore is such a great author. I love their books so much (well, I’ve only read When the Moon Was Ours and Wild Beauty……but I love those).
    I really need to check out the others.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i’m so happy you enjoyed girl made of stars!! it really is just… fantastic all-around 😭 and i’m really glad you love anna-marie mclemore as well! the two books you read are my favorite from them, but all their other books are great too. i hope you get the chance to read them soon!

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  9. This is such a good post!! I did something similar to this last year because I also noticed that a lot of “underrated” books featured on lists were not ~actually~ underrated. Anna-Marie McLemore made my list as well; those books are AMAZING.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much! and haha yeah, it gets really annoying when people say books are underrated when they mean they just don’t have any friends who have read those books 😭 and i’m so happy you love anna-marie too!! they’re an amazing author ❤

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  10. Love this post! I actually bought A Wish in the Dark & The Best Lies recently (because of your reviews), I really want to read Beneath the Citadel, it sounds amazing! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. i’m so happy i’ve read so many of these books, and am looking for copies of others!! anna marie’s writing is simply gorgeous- out of their works i’ve only read WTMWO but i loved it. and yesss TWOTS and TSATBBT are both beautiful novels i love with all my heart 😭😭😭 lovely post may, hope you’re well xx

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  12. Excellent, excellent list. I most strongly second the recommendation of Anna Marie McLemore. They have such a particular, lovely, dreamy authorial voice, and it’s always a huge treat when a new book by them comes out. They remind me a bit of Sarah McCarry, who published these dreamy myth-inspired queer YA novels a few years back and they just… kind of missed their window? They weren’t quite of that publishing moment. Which I always think is a shame. And yeah, I want McLemore to just win every award and garner every accolade. I love their work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. definitely! anna-marie mclemore’s writing is just so lovely and beautiful, and i’m always so sad when people don’t know of their books. i haven’t heard of sarah mccarry but i’ll have to look into them if they make you think about anna-marie mclemore!

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  13. Oh I really want to read Wild Beauty! Her other books have some pretty covers too haha Beneath the Citadel sounds really interesting! Heists? Yes please! Great list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So many of these were just so shocking to me because I hype them up in my own brain all the time, and then I see posts like this, and I remember that people are missing out on some of the best books ever??? It’s wild, and so, so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for all the great recommendations, May! 💗 I had no idea that The Weight of the Stars is set in space, but now I’m intrigued as I’ve been trying to read more sci-fi books in general 🥰 I have also been meaning to read Destiny Soria’s books for ages and really need to get started on that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sorry if i was a bit misleading in my post! the weight of the stars is a contemporary, but there are parts where things take place in space and it is a pretty big aspect throughout the book! and aah i hope you get the chance to read destiny soria’s books soon — i need to read her backlist ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for all these recommendations, May!! One of my coworkers loved A Wish in the Dark too, so I guess I really need to read that one 👀 I’m so curious about what a middle grade Les Mis retelling will look like!

    Picture Us In the Light is high on my tbr and everything you said about it only makes me more excited to read it 😄 I just loved The Weight of the Stars and The Grief Keeper too and fully agree that they deserve much more love and attention 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aah i’m so happy to hear that one of your coworkers liked a wish in the dark!! i love knowing that there are people who read and enjoyed that book, it means so much to me 🥺

      yay, i hope you love picture us in the light!! i really need to reread it, it was amazing 😭 and yes! i think the weight of the stars is getting more attention but the grief keeper is still so unknown to so many people :((

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  17. I LOVE this post SO much and all of your recommendations are so on point ahh, there are so many of these on my TBR because of you. Especially Picture Us in the Light and The Weight of the Stars, both sound so, so, so good and right up my alley. I can’t wait to read them ❤ and Anna Marie McLemore's books are ALL on my TBR. I loved Miss Meteor, a book they co-wrote, so I can't wait to read their other books! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i can’t wait for you to read picture us in the light and the weight of the stars!! i have a feeling you’re going to absolutely adore both of them ❤ and ahh i'm so happy to hear that you loved miss meteor! i've been hearing such amazing things about it, and i'im sure if you loved that one, you'll like the rest of their books too 💓

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  18. Oh I 100% agree with Anna Marie McLemore’s books. I’d also like to add Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco (1,550 ratings), Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena (583 ratings), When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk (1,129 ratings) and All The Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani (316 ratings). I loved all of these.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Welp, I am so behind on blog posts so excuse any spam haha. Had to catch up on the (mango) queen *wink wink*

    And also aye aye ma’am I SHALL READ THEM ALL. I’ve been so excited to read from Anna-Marie McLemore and also ah Full Disclosure. Basically, all of these. Loved this post May xoxo

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  20. Wow. I’ve literally read none of these books *cowers in fear of knife emoji*. I love all the LGBTQIAP+ recommendations though! Not gonna lie, I almost completely scrolled past your recommendations of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books but then I read that like all the books are queer and I went, ‘yes, give me now.’ Queer fantasy books=my life. Thanks for this post!

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