Hidden Gems: 5 Books that Deserve to be Bestsellers

Book Critic and author of "Between the Covers," Ellen Heltzel joined us today with 5 books she calls hidden gems -- books that aren't bestsellers but should be!

For more information about Ellen Heltzel, check out the Book Babes website.

Here's her list:

  1. Brooklyn,” by Colm Toibin. This critically acclaimed Irish author deserves to find a wider audience with his latest novel, about a young Irish woman who emigrates to New York City to find a job in the 1950s. Toibin captures both how hard it is to start anew and how such experience permanently changes your way of looking at the world. The heroine of this book is true to life, neither beautiful nor ruthlessly ambitious but with too much ability to stay in a place that offered her no opportunity.  A perfect book club booik!
  2. The Translator,” by Daoud Hari. The author escaped the genocide in Darfur but couldn’t stay away. He returned to work as a translator and guide in hopes of bringing international attention to the terrible crimes that are taking place there. This is as good a primer as you can get about how innocent people get caught up in the power struggles between groups fighting for the same land – in this case, Sudanese Arabs and African tribes. An eye-opening read for anyone, but especially appropriate for high school classrooms.
  3. “The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders,” by Emmanuel Guibert, Dider Lefevre and Frederic Lemercier. This graphic novel recording a French photographer’s trip through Afghanistan combines his black and white photos, comic strips and words. Together these elements are more than the sum of the parts, showing the primitive and brutal nature of Afghan society and the dedication of those intent on serving as healers there. A bestseller in France, it is newly available in English this year.  
  4. “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” by Alan Bradley. Fans of the British “cozies” – the kind of mysteries that emphasize unraveling the puzzle, not blood and gore – will love this story of an 11-year-old English girl who lives in a rundown mansion and is constantly tormented by her older sisters. The stakes suddenly get higher when she discovers the corpse in the cucumber patch. “Clue” buffs unite, and remember the name Flavia de Luce – with another book about her already on the way, she could become a household name in the mystery genre. Great beach read!
  5. Fragment,” by Warren Fahy. Alas, Michael Crichton is no longer with us. But this first novel by a writer from California promises life after “Jurassic Park.” Think Darwin on steroids, and you end up with a novel about scientists in the field who are grappling with natural selection in a new way. Their locale: a remote island in the South Pacific where life forms evolved on a whole different track. Fahy has cleverly wrapped evolutionary science in a package of suspense and even humor… As one of the characters says, “My God, this planet will be lucky enough to survive one intelligent species – but two? Are you all mad?

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