It’s the second day of the week! It is a new day to do another bookish post, particularly the Top 5 Tuesdays post. Top 5 Tuesdays and their topics are brought to you by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm. Do check out her blog, she’s got an awesome one. For the list of topics in February, click on this page.

This week’s topic: Top 5 Books That Exceeded my Expectations

So I guess February is for bookish expectations and habits. Hmmm. In the spirit of this week’s topic, I can recall a score of books that were way above and beyond my expectations. These are mostly books that were written by authors I have never heard of or whose works I have never read before. Before I go on, here is my list of books that exceeded my expectations.


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I picked up Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude out of sheer curiosity. Back then, I was just starting my immersion into literary classics, hence, I barely had an iota on what it was about. Three things drew me in – the interesting title, it was on the award-winning/classics row, and the author was a Nobel Prize in Literature winner. I knew it would be an enchanting experience; it was an understatement as I would later on realize. It was magical. It was surrealistic. It filled my mind with vivid imagery. As difficult as it was transitioning to magical realism, it gave me one of my most memorable experiences in the world of magical realism and of literature in general.


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Just like One Hundred Years of Solitude, I simply picked up J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye because of its fascinating title. I have never heard of J.D. Salinger before nor have I read any of his works. The fact that the book was shorter than most of the books I’ve read was a plus. Despite its deceptive length, the book packs a lot of punch. I never expected to be sucked into the whirlpool that is Holden Caulfield’s life. The written was so straightforward and honest. It was, honestly, one of the books that left a very big impression on me, despite the fact that it was banned in most US schools.


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I am no stranger to works by Arab writers, having previously read works by Afghan and Iranian writers. I knew immediately after purchasing Zeyn Joukhadar’s The Map of Salt and Stars that I would be in for a ride. Arab writers are natural Scheherazades and Joukhadar is no different. What I didn’t expect was I would be moved so much with the delightful fusion of folklore and of modern elements. In today’s world, it is a relevant piece about the immigration crisis that has swept Joukhadar’s native Syria.


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I barely had any expectations when I bought Dasa Drndic’s Trieste. I didn’t even know that it was about the Second World War until I opened its first few pages. Ugh. Second World War again. With how extensively it was dealt in in literature, I thought I’ve read everything I could about the Second World War. Drndic proved me wrong. In a very nuanced manner, she gave me a different perspective about the war, about the smaller voices that were stymied by the chaos and the pandemonium. It was a unique experience that is quite distinct from similar books written about the Second World War.


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I knew there was something special about Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, when I included it in my 2019 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To List. The hype that surrounded it was too overwhelming not to get excited with it. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype. Actually, it more than lived up to the hype – it exceeded it! Dog’s heartrending tale about his trouble relationship with his mother was beautifully and lyrically written by Vuong’s capable hands. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a wonderful intersection of prose and poetry.


There is still a lot of books that I can come up with but I guess this will do for now. How about you fellow reader? What books exceeded your expectations? I hope you get to share them as well.

Happy reading!