My To-Read Books You Might Have Missed

Two children reading a bookWhen I was a little girl, my parents told me I could only take as many books out of the library as I could carry–the better to keep track of them. They quickly revised that rule when I asked to go back to the library every few days. We began to take home large shopping bags full each visit.

I’ve always been a huge reader, but in recent years had gotten sidetracked by grad school and new motherhood. My recent Read-cation jump-started my reading again; I remembered how much I loved entering into a book’s world. Since then, I’ve been making an effort to read a little bit almost every night before bed.

In my Read-cation post, I promised my to-read lists of nonfiction and fiction. I think what might be most interesting to readers, however, is if I just list a sampling of off-the-beaten-path books that you might otherwise miss. (I doubt anyone needs a reminder to read I am Malala).

So here goes, a sampling of what I’d like to add to my nightstand. I’ve omitted books by very well-known authors or that appeal to a particularly niche interest of mine as well as simply condensed my list for post length.

I hope you discover at least one book you might not have otherwise heard of that you enjoy or find useful!


  • Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams. This book by a science journalist sounds fascinating, weaving together information from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine as the writer follows the life-cycle of the body part half of us have but may not know nearly enough about.
  • Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon. Interviews with more than 300 families went into this book about parents “who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.” Solomon writes about children with autism, dwarfism, and Down syndrome as well as children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who are transgender, and more.
  • Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta. Who can’t use less (of almost everything) in their life? I’ve read and enjoyed Babauta’s popular ZenHabits blog, and based on it, I think this book will be both useful and well written.
  • Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. I’ve become very interested in food issues since my daughter was born with food allergies and we’ve had to greatly modify our diet. This book by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times reporter discusses how the processed food industry has employed (duh) salt, sugar, fat as their food scientists have worked to deliberately get us addicted.


  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. One of my book kryptonites (as my friend GG Andrew explains it, those unique elements that make you unable to resist reading a book) is lonely oddballs, because I spent a lot of my youth as a lonely oddball. Someone recommended this book, translated from the French, to me–so of course it went on my list.
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. A “brilliant but socially inept professor” tries to find love in this quirky novel. See above about lonely oddballs. Also, I’m a sucker for unique love stories (another type of book kryptonite).
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce. Twenty years ago an English teenager disappeared in an English wood. Then she appears, looking as if she hasn’t aged and claiming that she’s been abducted by fairies. I’m not big into fantasy usually, but the book seems to walk the line of magical realism,  which is a genre I greatly enjoy.

Talk back: What’s on your to-read lists that I might otherwise miss? Or what off-the-beaten-path books have you recently loved? Leave me a comment, shoot me an email, or tweet at me.

Photo by Jeremy Kunz and licensed through Creative Commons

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