Some of my best reads have been the ones I randomly stumbled upon – either in a second hand bookstore or was lucky enough to be gifted.
These are the books that I have never seen anyone talk about either in my personal social circle or in the bookish community online. They are books that I have re-read multiple times because the writing is that beautiful and emotionally sharp.
And today, I want to finally hype these two books up!
1. Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer
Genre: Contemporary romance, epistolary, translated
How I stumbled upon it: My sister gifted me this book on my 16th birthday after spending hours in a bookstore trying to get me 16 gifts for my sweet sixteen. She got me this book because she knew I had many online connections that I valued.
Love Virtually is an epistolary book – A book written entirely in the form of emails being exchanged between two people. These two people are Emmi and Leo.
I love Love Virtually so much, and have re-read it at least 3 times, that I think Emmi and Leo are camping in one corner of my mind at all times.
What is the plot?
Emmi is trying to cancel a magazine subscription, and because of a typo she makes in the email address of the magazine, that email reaches Leo. And that’s how these two people end up crossing paths.
They slowly start to get to know each other, through long, invested, sometimes passionate emails – that are often arguments – and come to mean so much to each other.
Saying anything more about them or what happens would be spoiling the thrill of the book. The characters find out things about each other as we as readers find out things about them. The journey is intimate.
What I love
I love this book because the writing has been able to capture the intimacy, the excitement, the overthinking, and the undeniable connection it is possible to feel when you meet someone online and the two of you connect on a whole other level.
The book is translated from German and that fact has always amused me because even in translation, the writing and the emotions it is able to evoke is remarkable.
Bonus: It has a sequel! As you can probably tell by looking at the left upper corner of my bookshelf. It’s called Every Seventh Wave and is just as beautiful :’)
2. A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Genre: Literary fiction, Part YA fiction, Contemporary, Japanese Lit
How I stumbled upon it: When I was in college, I stumbled upon this book online – don’t remember where – and instantly ordered it after reading the blurb.
TW: Bullying, Suicide
A Tale for the Time Being is one of the most unique books I have read. It is contemplative and depressing, yet close to my heart.
What is the plot?
The book is divided into two parts. The first half is from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl in Tokyo called Nao. The first half is written in an epistolary format – it’s in the form of Nao’s journal entries.
Nao is having a hard time at school and at home. Loneliness, bullying, suicidal thoughts. She decides to sit in a French maid café and document the life of great grandmother who is a Buddhist Monk. But really it captures her emotions and thoughts and intriguing observations.
The second part of the book is from Ruth’s perspective who is an author living in Canada. She stumbles upon a Hello Kitty lunchbox on the shore after a devastating 2011 tsunami. Inside the lunchbox she discovers Nao’s diary. She instantly gets pulled into Nao’s life not knowing how it ends for Nao. But reading through her journal Ruth is able to unravel her own emotions.
What I love
The premise itself is *chef’s kiss*.
And the writing? It really touched my heart. The way Nao writes in her journal – it’s so candid and no bullshit. She is self aware and is really just a victim of her environment.
Honestly, I don’t remember much of Ruth’s part. It was Nao’s journal that really opened up my heart and found a place to settle in forever.
Writing about both these books makes me want to pick each of them up right now for a re-read. For like the fourth time. But I’m just as excited!
What are some books that you think are criminally underrated? Let’s hype them up in the comments section! ^^