Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books That Don’t Suck





Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is popular books that live up to the hype. Honestly, I’m usually disappointed with popular* books. That’s why I don’t read many of them. But, the books on this list deserve their popularity. All of them are excellent.

*I’m defining “popular” as more than 500,000 ratings on Goodreads. 



Popular Books That Don’t Suck










Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling


Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Like most of the world, I love Harry Potter. The first book came out when I was in elementary school. The final book came out when I was in college. I’ve spent most of my life obsessing over this series and will always love it. If I ever have kids, I might disown them if they refuse to read Harry Potter. Sorry, future kids.


It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone





















The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins


This is the first non-Harry-Potter book that kept me awake all night. Once the action starts, it doesn’t let up. I couldn’t sleep until I knew how it ended.

I remember learning about The Hunger Games from an article in an actual newspaper. Remember newspapers? Those news thingies that aren’t Twitter? Anyway, I was flipping through the local paper when I came across an article about kids and summer reading. The reporter interviewed random kids at the library and asked them for book recommendations. Several kids recommended The Hunger Games. That’s why I read it. Great recommendation, random library kids!  


Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.The Hunger Games

















To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee


This book was forced upon me by 7th grade language arts class. I didn’t hate it! When I reread it as an adult, I didn’t hate it then, either. Since I grew up in a small town, I could relate to Scout and all of the mysteries and confusion that come along with life in a rural place.


Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another) . . . There are just some kind of men who—who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.To Kill a Mockingbird




















A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin


I don’t usually like high fantasy because the plots, settings, and characters are too similar, but I adore this series. I fell in love with the TV show and needed the books to get me through the show’s hiatus. I recently finished the third one in the series. These books definitely give me my fill of murder, betrayal, and royals behaving badly.


Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.A Game of Thrones






















The Book Thief – Markus Zusak


If I had to make a list of my favorite books ever, The Book Thief would be high on the list. I love it so much that I wrote my grad school thesis about it. It’s a story about children growing up in WWII Germany, narrated by Death itself. It’s creative and beautifully written. I’ve read it approximately eleven billion times and haven’t gotten sick of it yet.


I am haunted by humans.The Book Thief






















The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon


Earlier this year, I was talking to a literary agent about books with autistic or mentally disabled narrators. She mentioned this novel and was surprised that I hadn’t read it. I guess it’s a modern classic? Well, I can now report that I’ve read it. I think the plot becomes tedious at the end, but the rest is excellent. The narrator has a unique way of seeing the world. When his neighbor’s dog is stabbed to death in the middle of the night, he sets out to find the killer and ends up uncovering years of family secrets.


All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I'm not meant to call them stupid, even though this is what they are.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
















Looking for Alaska – John Green


I read Looking for Alaska for the first time when I was in my late teens or early 20s. I don’t remember exactly when I read it, but it quickly became a favorite. I think I was drawn to the funny, intelligent teen characters and how the author doesn’t write down to his readers. Now that I’m an adult, I may be outgrowing John Green. I don’t like his recent books as much as his older books. Not sure if that’s my fault or his.


The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.Looking for Alaska





















Holes – Louis Sachar


Another childhood favorite. I was in middle school when I first read this one. I’ve reread it many, many, many times since then. The characters are loveable, and anything can happen in the dangerous desert setting. For a kid’s book, the structure is surprisingly intricate. There are several different storylines that somehow fit together perfectly at the end. I’m currently in the process of reading all of the Newbery winners, and Holes will definitely make my list of favorite winners.


I'm not stupid. I know everybody thinks I am. I just don't like answering their questions. - Holes



















The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton


Another book that was forced upon me by middle school (and again later by grad school). I still have the first line memorized: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. (You’ll just have to trust that I didn’t Google that. Also, I hope it’s correct. That’s embarrassing if it’s not. Please don’t Google it and check my work.) The “greaser” characters in this novel have a lifestyle that is very different from anything I’ve experienced, but they’re still relatable. They act tougher than they actually are. This novel taught me that I love reading about found families.


I am a greaser. I am a JD and a hood. I blacken the name of our fair city. I beat up people. I rob gas stations. I am a menace to society. Man do I have fun!The Outsiders
















All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr


I gave a lecture on this book a few years ago, and I didn’t end up loathing the book! I can’t say the same about Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I taught a class on that book and now want to throw up every time I see the cover. That’s a random tangent. Back on topic: All The Light We Cannot See. There are so many WWII novels in the world that it’s hard to find a unique one. This one is unique. It’s about a blind girl, a stolen gem, some Nazis trapped in a basement, and the city that’s crumbling around them.


You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.All the Light We Cannot See










Do you read popular books? Which ones have lived up to the hype for you?










88 comments:

  1. I mostly read Indie books these days except series I follow by mainstream authors and a few that catch my eye as I see them on blogs and Amazon so I don't read many hyped books. I agree with you on Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and The Book Thief. I'm sure I read The Outsiders but I don't remember for certain. I loved the film and was obsessed by it when I was at school!

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    1. I vaguely remember seeing the film when I was a kid. I should probably track it down and re-watch it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I've actually never read anything by John Green and I think I missed that train.

    I saw the Holes movie and thought it was good. My husband adored the book!

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    1. The Holes book and movie are so good! I love the ideas that John Green explores in his books, but all his characters seem like the same person.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. All the books I've read from your list I completely agree with. The Book Thief is one I still need to get to.

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  4. I've read all but the seventh Harry Potter books (I love them, of course) and I've read To Kill a Mockingbird (which, like you, I didn't hate). The Book Thief is on my TBR list. I started Looking for Alaska, but the swearing and sexual content got to be too much for me personally. I wish I had been able to finish it!

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    1. I was surprised I didn’t hate To Kill A Mockingbird. I hated almost all of my assigned reading.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games made my list as well. Holes is such a fun book too! Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.

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  6. I've read about half of these. Most of the ones I haven't read I hadn't even heard of. Some sound interesting. Thanks for the suggestions. :)

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    1. You’re welcome. That’s what I’m here for.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I haven't read a few of these---need to get to Holes, Curious Incident, Looking for Alaska and (sadly) The Book Thief.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  8. Game of Thrones made my list too! And Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are also total winners. I hope I enjoy Looking For Alaska as much as you did...that one's coming up fairly soon on my TBR!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! It seems to have passionate lovers and passionate haters. There aren’t many people in the middle.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. The plotting in Holes is so clever and I love how original it is. And Harry Potter surprises me every re-read, like I've forgotten just how good it is - and it never petered out, the best part was that the last book lived up to all expectations, even after all the hype and the years of build up. :)

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    1. I’ve read Holes and Harry Potter more times than I’d care to admit. They never get old or boring.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. I read The Outsiders in middle school as well. And I actually liked it as well. Some books suck massively to read in school but that was not one of them. I looked forward to class when we were reading it!

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    1. Yes! I was always surprised when we read a good book in school. Most of them were boring.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. Of course how could harry Potter suck right? ;-)

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  12. hahah I love your title for this TTT! XD. Yup I agree with HP. I haven't read the others. Yup I know. I should be kick out of Bookwormland! I will I will I promise I will. Especially The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time! Sound sso good!

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    1. Thanks! I hope you like Curious Incident. It’s an unusual book.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  13. I of course completely agree with Harry Potter. My boyfriend is finally-after six entire years of being with me, an insane obsessive HP fan-reading the books! He's loving them, thankfully (he's not a huge reader)! I must say, to be able to teach a book and not end up hating it is a huge accomplishment, so that speaks super highly of All the Light We Cannot See--I really need to pick it up! Holes is a fantastic book also, though I will admit I read it because I fell in love with the movie way back in the day. I still love both equally!

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    1. I’m glad your boyfriend is enjoying Harry Potter. It is surprisingly hard to teach a book and not end up hating it. I get sick of looking at the same book after a while.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  14. I didn't read Harry Potter until I was an adult, and I resisted for so long, because it was just EVERYWHERE and I was like, eh, this is for kids. But I finally read it and loved it!

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    1. I read the books as they came out, so I read some as a kid and some as an adult. It was a long wait between books.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  15. Holes is brilliant. The way he wove all those people's lives together was incredible. Loved it! I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 14, but I remember liking it. I liked Looking for Alaska. I mean I love all JG's books, but I still don't understand all the gushing about it. It's probably my least favorite too.

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    1. I will forever insist that Holes is one of the best kids’ books ever. I have mixed feelings about John Green. I like his books, but I wish he’d write something different. They’re all too similar.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  16. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were so great! I really need to read Holes. I've watched the movie multiple times and really liked it.

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    1. Yes, read Holes! I liked the book more than the movie.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  17. The Hunger Games was on my list, when I started one but never finished and then deleted it. The Book Thief is another good one. And I will grudgingly agree with HP haha. I like it a lot more now that I am on Book 4 hah. I also liked Looking for Alaska too!

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    1. Harry Potter gets better as the series goes on. Everything gets more dangerous and complicated.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  18. I have actually read a few from your list. I LOVED All the Light We Cannot See and The Hunger Games is a favorite. I liked The Book Thief as well. I think that I have all of the rest on my tbr.

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  19. Your title totally made me snort out loud. I loved The Outsiders so much when I read it in school for the first time.

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    1. I’m glad it made you laugh. Too many popular books suck, so I had fun making a list of ones that don’t.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  20. I think books are often popular for a reason... people like them!

    I like your comment about the random library kid and the Hunger Games recommendation. It's strange how we find books. I found Divergent because of the movie... I found Legend because the librarian recommended it because I liked Divergent. Both of those led to me getting into YA, which is why I'm here. Thanks movie that was not as good as the book! ;-)

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    1. Before I got into blogging, I had to find creative ways to learn about books. Now I’m boring. I mostly just read what other people tell me to.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  21. The Hunger Games- so true. And I've never read The Outsiders, but the movie is pretty good- in an 80;s kinda way. I mean PAtrick swayze, Tom Cruise and various others as Greasers? Yes.

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    1. I’ve read the book a few times, but I only vaguely remember the movie. I need to find it and watch it again.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  22. Harry Potter isn't on my list but it kind of goes without saying, I guess? I just finished rereading for the I-don't-even-know-how-many-it-is-now-th time and I still find it really really good!

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    1. Yeah, I considered leaving it off the list. I probably mention it on the blog more often than necessary.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  23. Fantastic list! I really need to read All the Light We Cannot See!

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  24. I basically agree with ALL of these! The only ones I haven't read are All The Light We Cannot See and A Game of Thrones :)

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    1. I don’t blame you for not reading A Game of Thrones. It’s huge, and the author will probably never finish the series.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  25. I love every book on your list. I should have thought further back like you! Good list.

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    1. I don’t read many popular books, so I had to think way back to come up with 10.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  26. So many of my favorite books are on this list! I love it!

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  27. You have some amazing books on your list! I have enjoyed quite a few of these! Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday.

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  28. YES! To kill a Mockingbird is one that should be on ALL the lists! Have you read the sequel?

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    1. I haven’t read the sequel. All the hype and controversy scared me.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  29. I agree with all the books on your list! I actually just assigned The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time to my Intro to Lit class for this first time...and I just blogged about it over at Unfinished Intellectual.

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  30. I loved Holes when we read it in middle school - and you can't go wrong with the movie adaptation either. :)

    Check out my TTT and please vote in my Make Me Read It Readathon poll

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  31. Such a wonderful list! I also love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and I am very happy to see Looking for Alaska on your list, it is my favorite book of all times :) <3

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    1. Looking for Alaska was one of my favorites as a teen.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  32. I've been suggested to read The Book Thief a lot, but I still haven't yet :(

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    1. I think everybody should read it. I love everything about it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  33. so many yes books on your list. I was actually quite surprised on how much I adored to kill a mockingbird. Never read it until last year and loved it with all my heart.

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    1. I was surprised that I liked it, too. I read it as a young, rebellious teenager who hated almost all of my assigned reading.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  34. Oh my gosh, I love a lot of the books on your list! Holes is such a treasure.

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    1. Yes! Holes will always be one of my all-time favorites.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  35. This is such a good list! I put off reading To Kill A Mockingbird for years because everyone told me I HAD to read it. I finally caved and I must admit, they were right! The Curious Incident... is such a good book. It's a while since I read it but it's another that I found lived up to the hype.

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    1. I’m the same way! If everybody tells me to read something, I put it off for years. Then I read it, love it, and wonder why I didn’t read it sooner.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  36. I so agree about Harry Potter. I read the first one a few years after it came out and thought there was no way it was going to be as wonderful as people said but if anything it was better! The Hunger Games was a surprise too as I really didn't expect to like it. I'm glad to see The Book Thief and All the Light You Cannot See on your list. Both are on my TBR.

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    1. I think I read The Hunger Games slightly before the hype got crazy. I was so happy when I discovered that other people loved it as much as I did.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  37. I'm lucky that I usually DO like popular books! Although there are some I loathe and yet they pop up everywhere so it's kind of tedious hahah. But afdjsal I love The Outsiders and this reminds me that I want to reread that sometime! And I loved TKAM in school (I named my dog Atticus!). Also TFIOS and Looking for Alaska and The Curious Incident...😍

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    1. Atticus is a cute name for a dog. I think I’ve seen him on your Instagram stories. I want to give my next dog a literary name, but I don’t know what name yet.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  38. Oooh To Kill A Mockingbird is a great answer. I read it for the first time not too long ago and I am so happy that I loved it so much. Especially since I was worried it was over hyped. Great list! :)

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    1. I think most classics are overhyped, but not that one. I liked it as a kid and as an adult.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  39. Oh man, you're right, these are all really great. I've only not read a few but I'll take your word that those are always excellent. :)

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  40. Remember reading The Outsiders and Holes in school. Still love them both. Read The Book Thief and All the Light We Cannot See for book club. Loved both of them. Great list, a mix of classic and modern. ♥️

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  41. GREAT list!! I haven't yet read The Book Thief but I'm hoping to soon! <3

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  42. Nice list of books for this week's TTT post. Thanks for visiting my blog post for this week's TTT topic. Happy reading!!!

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  43. I've read and enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Holes, and Harry Potter. Games of Thrones, The Outsiders, and The Book Thief are on my TBR list. (Can't believe I haven't read them yet!)

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  44. Ooooo To Kill a Mockingbird and The Outsiders are definitely two popular books that deserve all the hype!! They're two of my favorites. I love this list!

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  45. I've seen All the Light We Cannot See on so many, varying bookish lists, but haven't read it myself. Someday I should give it a second look because it has to be there for a reason, right?! :)

    Thanks for visiting Finding Wonderland.

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  46. Oh yes The Book Thief. That one made me cry. ._.

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  47. There are a couple on here that I haven't read, but I love your list! Especially Holes, I'm so happy you included it. That was a big deal in...4th?...grade when it came out, then the movie was pretty funny too. It always brings a wave of nostalgia when it comes up :)

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  48. I am in 100% agreement with you on every one of these.

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  49. Terrific list. The only one I haven't read is All The Light, and I know I need to. I was just talking up Holes to my 12 year old today!

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  50. I loved Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Holes, and The Outsiders. ♥♥♥

    My son is really liking the Song of Fire and Ice series and I should be getting to it next yesr. My cousin has been after me to read All the Light We Cannot See, and I want to read The Book Thief. πŸ“š

    I loved The Hunger Games, but the other two books fell flat for me.😏

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