Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read

Posted January 29, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 68 Comments

This week’s topic is “Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read”. I made this topic broad on purpose so that you could interpret it however you’d like. Were these books out of your comfort zone? Were they guilty pleasures you’re embarrassed to admit you read? Were they a genre you hate or for an age group you don’t typically read? Were you forced to read it in school and were surprised you actually did it instead o pretending you did? Perhaps they were intimidating to you, had a million pages, were on a topic you tend to shy away from, etc. I’m kind of all over the place with my list. lol. I’m excited to see how you’ve spun this topic!


1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The premise of this book (kids killing each other) seemed SUPER upsetting to me and like something I would NEVER want to read. Ever. I figured it would be way too disturbing, but then I kept hearing about it and my curiosity got the better of me. I really loved it, but I still can’t believe I actually took the plunge.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When I first heard about this book I was a sophomore in college, and the idea of sexy vampires was unheard of to me. In what universe would I ever fall in love with a vampire? Again, I kept hearing about it… And then a guy in my Color Theory class brought his wife’s copy in for an assignment where we had to get up in front of the class and analyze color choices of products. That was the first time I’d ever seen the cover of the book I’d been hearing about. My mom and I decided to read it together for fun, and I was hooked.

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
So… I found this book in a Scholastic book fair (in 1997) at my school library when I was a little kid and I thought the cover looked cool. I’d never heard about this book, and none of the other books had been released yet so nobody was really talking about it. I bought it and brought it home and read 3 pages before I gave up. And honestly, I went years before I even heard of these books again. I even donated my copy! I vowed to never force myself to read them because I was so not into the first one, but then the movies started coming out and the book blogging world became major pushers of the series for me. I still wasn’t interested, though, because I won’t succumb to peer pressure. The only reason I read this book is because a professor in my library and information science grad program required it for an assignment in my Children’s Literature course. 17 years after I DNFd the book I finally read it, and really enjoyed it. Now I’m working my way through the series and it’s so much fun!


4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Ok, so I only read this book because Marissa Meyer wrote it. I really hate Alice In Wonderland, so I was not at all interested in this book except for the fact that I love Marissa. And really, I didn’t like it much anyway. lol. But the writing was lovely!

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Blah. Another required reading in grad school, this time for my YA Lit class. I hate cancer books, I hate crying, and I was not at all a John Green person… this book had absolutely nothing going for it in my mind, and I had no interest in it. And… it was super meh. At least I didn’t cry, though! lol. Still not a John Green person either…

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I was terrified of this book. I wanted to read it because I had heard it was beautiful and unique and amazing, but I was so scared because of the subject matter. I have a hard time with holocaust books and crying and death. I met Markus at ALA one year and he personalized a beautiful hardback copy (free from the pub) of this for me. That was what made me decide to bite the bullet. He was soooo nice and I wanted to read his book. The final push, though, was when I was assigned to read this in grad school as well. It is beautiful and I loved it, but it was very hard to read.



7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This was my first YA contemporary romance! I was never a fan of contemporary novels, and stuck to dystopia or thriller or historical romance, so Anna was my gateway book. The cover is kinda cheesy and the title is a little gaggy, but this is now one of my favorite books of all time and it opened me up to a whole world of really great YA contemporary romances. I’m so glad I took the plunge!

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Another gateway book! This was my very first fantasy novel. Ever. I bought it because I was going to a Fierce Reads author signing (my first author signing) and I wanted all the autographs. I knew nothing about it, but when Leigh talked about it at the signing I became intrigued and decided to read it. It’s another one of my favorite novels ever, and I have read so many amazing fantasies because of it.

9. On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
This book. I have so much love for this book and the author. I read On the Island way back when, as a self-published novel a couple years before Penguin bought it, gave it a new cover, and published it. I got an email about a book tour and read the synopsis and thought there was no way the book was for me. I didn’t love the age gap between the couple, and I had had some bad experiences working with self-published authors so I was very uninterested. But the synopsis got under my skin and I kept thinking about it, so I decided to go ahead and sign up a few days later. I received my ebook and began reading one evening. I could. Not. Stop. I loved it so much. The writing was amazing and the story was so sweet and wonderful and exciting. This was the ultimate out of my comfort zone kind of book, and I am so proud of myself for being brave and saying yes! It’s now one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. I’ve pushed it on many, many people since I read it. And if you look in the acknowledgments of the sequel you’ll see my name. :)



10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
This was a required read in my Children’s Literature class and I hated it even more than I thought I would. Blech. I can’t believe I can claim I’ve read this. Clearly my dumb grad school never let me make my own decisions! I’m literally fuming as I write this that I will have to lie to people if I want to tell them I’ve never read a Wimpy Kid book.

Which books can you not believe you read?

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Reddit Stumbleupon Email

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

68 responses to “Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read

    • Jana

      Anna is definitely SO cute! It’s one of my favorites as well. :) And I’m not a depressing reads kind of reader either, which is why I was so reluctant to read TFIOS.

  1. I will admit I got super hooked on Twilight when it first came out. I read them all back-to-back and couldn’t put them down! I haven’t been back to them since but I still am glad that I read them. And, though I am a huge dystopia fan, I never picked up the Hunger Games. I watched part of the first movie and have to admit I was bored to tears. I own the entire boxed set of the books but I have yet to read them.
    Megan @ Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest recently posted…Our Origin Story – A Look Inside the Ginger Mom

    • Jana

      Oh, I LOVED Twilight! I’m so grateful for that series because it got me back into reading. :) I do think you should read The Hunger Games. Maybe you’d like the movie more if you knew what you were in for. :)

    • Jana

      lol. Too funny! I understand feeling the need to showcase other books as well. There’s a few I talk about a lot for one reason or another. But yay for not being alone! TFIOS was definitely a book I never would have read if I hadn’t been forced to. lol. I will never understand the hype surrounding it or the author.

    • Jana

      You’re not the only one who has switched up the topics. lol. No big deal! I’m glad you went ahead and posted anyway. :)

    • Jana

      Haha. WOW. Definitely opposite ends of the spectrum! Hopefully she branches out someday! There’s so many wonderful books!

  2. Kay

    I’ve read some of the books you listed and will likely never read others. I was a Harry Potter fan from way, way back – like when I had to order copies from the UK because they weren’t published here in the US yet. Ha! Also, a big fan of THE HUNGER GAMES and surprisingly, the TWILIGHT series. I can remember having a discussion with a library co-worker about ‘sparkly’ vampires. LOL
    Kay recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday – Books I can’t believe I read…or occasionally Kay reads out of her ‘normal’ mystery/thriller genre…

  3. The Grisha trilogy is one of my FAVORITE series, too! I’m so glad I picked up Shadow and Bone – I just picked it up one day because I wanted to know why everyone loved it so much (and why everyone was obsessed with the Darkling!), and SO happy that I fell in love with Leigh’s writing and characters!

  4. I didn’t think I would like The Hunger Games but, even though the premise is nasty, it is well written and I read the whole series. Never dabbled in Twilight and still don’t know what the big deal was about it. Not a John Green fan either. I was like you with the Harry Potter books: I refused to read them because they were wildly popular; but once I started, I loved them. I actually enjoyed the Wimpy Kid books when my kids were younger, but it seemed Greg never grew or changed so they became stale for me after a while.

    • Jana

      Yes, THG series is very well written. I was surprised how much I loved it! I can understand liking the Wimpy Kid books if you have a child to enjoy them with. Anything that will get a kid to read is good in my eyes. As an adult who has no kids, though, I struggled with it a lot.

    • Jana

      My mom did the same thing with me and Twilight! I’d never read a book with her before, so it was such a fun experience for me. I’ll never forget that. Now I’m 30 and reading the books she loves, so we’ve come full circle!

  5. I felt the same way about Twilight, but my sister read it and told me I NEEDED to read it, so I did. I was hooked at first, and then horrified about how it portrayed relationships. I’m glad I read it, though.

    • Jana

      Yeah… the relationships in Twilight were not the best. lol. But I was definitely hooked and am so glad I read the series.

  6. A couple of the books on my list today were also assigned to me in grad school, and I didn’t like either one. I think I just don’t like being told what to read. I also can’t stand Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but had to read it because I was a children’s librarian and parents were always asking me about it. And I totally understand how you feel about TFIOS. I am a John Green person, but I hate sad books, and I’m still angry at myself for letting that book manipulate me into ugly crying!
    Katie @ Read-at-Home Mom recently posted…I Can’t Believe I Read the Whole Thing! Books I Should Not Have Finished

    • Jana

      I definitely don’t like being told what to read either. lol.

      Which is your favorite John Green book that won’t make me cry?

    • Jana

      Oh my goodness, On the Island is AMAZING! I hope you’ll come back and tell me what you thought of it once you’ve read it. :)

  7. I’m not a John Green fan either and it took me a long while to read ‘the fault in our stars’, I think it’s because of the subject matter but Gus is such a great character, I finished the book because of him.

    I love the book thief, like you, I don’t like reading about holocaust but it turns out to be a fun read, at least for me.

    I think books find us even when we try not to find it but it’s always good to read a book even if you don’t like it.

    have a lovely day.
    lissa recently posted…Books I Can’t Believe I Read

    • p.s., I wonder why are the links not faded out or change colors when I visited them? I can’t tell if I have visited a certain link or not, just wondering if that could be change. I like to visit a lot of people just to see what’s on their list.

      have a lovely day.
      lissa recently posted…Books I Can’t Believe I Read

      • Jana

        It’s a setting in my blog’s design that I don’t know how to fix. I’ve looked into it and tried a few things with my CSS, and can’t figure it out. On the plus side, the links stay in the same order, so just keep note of the last one you visited and you’ll be able to catch them all. :)

    • Jana

      I did like Gus. He was the good thing about TFIOS for me as well.

      I like your thought about books finding us. I think you’re right. :)

  8. I love Marissa Meyer, but Heartless didn’t work for me either. I went a little more to the Hate side of TTT this week, but yes, I only picked up Twilight because of the cover, and it was before it was a huge craze. And then I first discovered Hunger Games because Stephenie Meyer mentioned loving the advance copy of the book she had read and it sounded similar to Battle Royale, which I had read and really loved. ;) Anna and the French Kiss was a peer pressure read because so many bloggers loved it, but I didn’t think I liked YA Contemporary Romance, but that book finally proved me wrong!

    • Jana

      It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who didn’t like Heartless very much. I love that Anna proved to you that YA contemporary romance was great, just like it did for me!

  9. Harry Potter is on my list too!! It took me a long time to read Harry Potter. I didn’t read it until a few years after watching all of the movies, and I absolutely fell in love. I’m glad I finally came around to reading the series.

    • Jana

      I’ve forbidden myself from watching the movies until I’ve read the books. lol. I know a few of the big spoilers because it’s hard to not hear about them when you’re SO late to the party, but for the most part I’m reading these blind and I love it. :)

  10. Great list. My son read Diary of wimpy Kid to me. I was just happy he found something he enjoyed! The only great book of John Green is his first Looking For Alaska. But I still enjoy most of his stories. But I understand why he’s not for everyone.

    • Jana

      Oh, I completely understand the worth of the Wimpy Kid books. They have gotten SO many children to read, which is wonderful. I’m an adult without kids, so I didn’t have that connection to make me enjoy it more. lol. I’ve heard good things about Looking for Alaska. I’m considering it, but it’s taking me a long time to talk myself into it. lol

  11. I totally cried when I read TFIOS, but I didn’t want to.

    So many of my reluctant readers love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I really would feel like a bad teacher if I’d never read any. Also, reading it let me know what a delusional jerk Greg is, aka unreliable narrator. So there are things I can hook onto when working with students.

    I read Twilight when it was new-ish, and thought it was good enough that I read the second one, but after about ten pages of the third one, I realized I was bored and nothing was actually changing. I have always loved The Hunger Games. I loved the Lunar Chronicles and actually really like Alice in Wonderland, but it took me a long time to get into Heartless. I still haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss, because that title, that cover–really? But so many people love it; maybe I should.

    • Jana

      I would have cried if I had not purposely spoiled myself forever ago because I never wanted to read it. lol. I went into it knowing exactly who not to get attached to, so I was fine. If I hadn’t know what was going to happen I know I would have cried.

      I’ve said this to a few other commenters, but I totally understand the worth of the Wimpy Kid books because they have introduced so many children to reading. And I LOVE that! If I had a kid who hated reading and showed interest in these I’d buy him/her all of them just because reading is so important. As an adult with no kids, though, I did not have that personal connection to the books.

      I’d DEFINITELY recommend Anna. It’s one of my very favorite books. Don’t let the cover turn you off! It’s an adorable story. :)

  12. Seeing Hunger Games on here reminds that I should have put that on my list because it was a list of books I should have DNFed cause I didn’t care for them…lol. I do like to see how people took this question. :)

  13. haha I read The Hunger Games before it became super popular, and now that I’m thinking about it not exactly sure what I picked it up. I only started becoming such a huge fan of dystopians because The Hunger Games. And I remember the craze of Twilight during middle school! It was such a big deal to read the books, and I read & watched the movies with my mom too! Aww :( I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy TFIOS or John Green. I honestly loved the book and cried my eyes out. Did you enjoy The Book Thief? It’s about a hard subject matter, but honestly one of my favorite books.

    • Jana

      The Hunger Games made me love dystopians as well. I love how many girls bonded with their moms over Twilight! That makes me happy. :) I’m so glad you loved TFiOS. There were definitely some good messages to take away from the story.

      I did LOVE The Book Thief! I can’t believe I forgot to mention that in me post. lol. I went up and edited it to include that I loved it because that’s really important information. lol

  14. I did the same thing with Harry Potter! Except I didn’t read it because my mom was reading it (big, BIG drama during those years…sort of justified on both our parts). I didn’t want to do anything like my mom or like anything she liked. And I grew up with one of the most sensational series published in my childhood and missed out on it all. :/ I love the books!