The Best Book You’ve Never Heard of Carnival

A long, long time ago, I started sharing some of the “best books you’ve never heard of” here on MMD. We started with a little known but invaluable women’s health tome. I shared a genre-bending guide from one of my very favorite women, ever.  We covered cult classics about keeping house and making marriage work. We dove into an odd but invaluable architecture manual and a highly specific organizing handbook.

The Best Book You've Never Heard Of | Modern Mrs Darcy

Do you get what I’m saying? Anything is fair game. We want to hear your favorite books that never graced a bestseller list but deserve to be better known than they are.

If you have a blog, great. Whip up a post and link it here. Include the graphic or a text link and link it to this post (not the main page) so that others can find those sleeper hits they’re missing out on.

Don’t have a blog? Tell us all about the best book we’ve never heard of in comments.

I can’t wait to see what you choose! Thanks for joining in.

The Best Book You've Never Heard Of | Modern Mrs Darcy


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  1. A Song for Nagasaki, by Fr. Paul Glynn. It’s the biography of a Japanese radiologist who survives the bombing of Nagasaki during WW2. I can’t think of a single book I’ve read in my adult life that has moved me as much as this one–and that’s saying something! HIGHLY recommend.

  2. Jessica says:

    I picked up a book off a bargain table when I was in high school called Sea of Memory by Erri de Luca. It’s an Italian translation. It’s an Italian coming of age story post WW2 and lingering affects and attitudes/perspectives of wartime. It blew me away. There were turns and emotions I didn’t see coming. I’ve only read it twice and wonder if I read it again if it’d have the same effect.

  3. Tim says:

    Fun carnival, Anne, thanks for inviting us along. I’ve already checked out a handful of the links, and one of them led me to put a book on hold at the Library already!

  4. Jennifer H says:

    My favorite current series is by L.N. Cronk, started by the awesome “Chop Chop” I think it might be just for kindle right now.

    • Anne says:

      And Chop, Chop is free for kindle (for now at least)!

      Jen, would this be a good vacation read? I bought it when you recommended it the first time, but I haven’t read it yet. I can’t tell from the synopsis if it’s too heavy for the beach.

      • Jennifer says:

        It’s very light-hearted until the last few chapters. In fact, I was just telling Samuel I thought it might be our next read-aloud, and then 10 minutes later I’m bawling, saying I think maybe I’ll wait until he’s 13 or 14 🙂

        But I loved it so much, I keep buying the kindle sequels – I’m up to # 7 or 8, I think.

  5. AlyssaZ says:

    Searching for David’s Heart by Cherie Bennett (Goodreads Page found heret)

    It is a story about a young girl who feels responsible for her brother’s death. His heart is donated, and she goes on a search to find it.

    There are several books I could have picked, but this is one that has always stuck with me. For years. And always makes me cry.

  6. Shana Norris says:

    What is it about you all recommending just one book that makes me want to put every single one of them on my already overflowing to-read list?!

    I’m going to have to give this one some thought, in order to come up with just one.

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone, and Anne – thanks for the very cool link up idea.

  7. Sara says:

    Skylark, by Dezso Kosztolányi–a Hungarian classic that, along with its author, deserves to be better known. Pain and ambivalence are the key experiences that receive attention here. Don’t read the very good NY Review of Books review before diving into this novella!

  8. Maryn says:

    I love, love, love “My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell. A great memoir of a ten-year-old nature loving boy who spends a few years with his family on the Greek island of Corfu. Hilarious and very interesting with beautiful descriptions.

  9. Kym says:

    Windbreak by Linda M. Hasselstrom is an amazing memoir of a women rancher in the plains of the Dakotas. It touches on issues surrounding farmers, women’s issues with work and family, and it’s simply and beautifully written. I’ve re-read it many times since college (where I had to read it for a class), and I find something new every time. I love this book.

  10. Laura says:

    Losing Julia, by Jonathon Hull. I first read it about 15 years ago, and recently found it and read it again, and loved it just as much. The synopsis is more succinct than I would be: “Jonathan Hull’s debut novel is an epic story of love found and lost, of life in all its joy and tragedy, that takes readers as far as a French battlefield during World War I and as near as a California nursing home. Spanning the twentieth century in time, and forever in heartfelt emotion, Losing Julia is storytelling prowess at its most sublime. Through the eyes of Patrick Delaney, both bright as a nineteen-year-old American soldier off to fight the Great War and dim as an eighty-one-year-old man, Jonathan Hull shows readers one man’s world of discovery, of love, and ultimately, of regret.”

  11. Barbara says:

    I first read this book in the 80’s, then again in 90’s and just returned to it last year! A very moving novel but extremely long! This description is from Goodreads.
    Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn
    David Champlin is a black man born into poverty in Depression-era New Orleans who achieves great success and then sacrifices everything to lead his people in the difficult, day-by-day struggle of the civil rights movement. Sara Kent is the beloved and vital white girl who loved David from the moment she first saw him, but they struggle over David’s belief that a marriage for them would not be right in the violent world he had to confront. First published in 1966, this epic has become one of the most loved American bestsellers.

    Love your blog!

  12. susie says:

    by Shannon Huffman Polson

    This memoir is part adventure story, part father daughter relationship, and part grief journey. When we suffer loss, we are often looking for a road map. North of Hope offers an interesting glance at the cultures that do and don’t provide maps intertwined with an Alaskan wilderness adventure and one person’s healing through music. The author’s descriptive eloquence must not be over looked either, often writing like a painter. One rarely plans to embark on a journey of grieving but when it becomes our path, there is comfort in such a book.

  13. Beth says:

    Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker is a fantastic book about a daughter’s interpretation of her parents’ marriage. I absolutely loved it. I read about it in a book that suggested books for reading group.

  14. Amy says:

    Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie DeRosset… a GREAT theology book written memoir/literary crit style. One of the best books I’ve read in years.

  15. I LOVED Brunelleschi’s Dome. I had to read it in a Western history class (as in the Western World, not the Wild West) in college and I adored it. Granted, I was a history major, but still, if you love architecture or medieval history or stories about someone attaining a seemingly unattainable goal, it was great!

  16. Lyndsay says:

    Depending on the audience’s interests – Three Junes by Julia Glass is a moving book about the role men have through generations, and modern challenges to identity (*note includes a homosexual relationship).

    Crime Mystery – I highly recommend books in the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, Broken Harbour is a chilling and excellent story by Tana French.

    Gothic Mystery – The Merrily Watkins series written by Phil Rickman. Story of a female minister in the Anglican diocese, working as a modern exorcist (with a lot of interesting theological questions).

    Other/Reference- Addictions – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Mate, Man’s search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, Paul Tillich – History of Christian Thought, If you meet George Herbert on the Road – Kill Him (Radically Rethinking Priestly Ministry) Justin Lewis-Anthony.

    For the Beach – Elin Hilderbrand (Summer People, Silver Girl, Blue Bistro, The Island).

  17. Kate S. says:

    When I was in high school, I went through an Agatha Christie phase and devoured every book by her I could find. Luckily (for me), our library put her non-mystery novels under a pen name (Mary Westmacott) in the same section as her mysteries.
    These novels are sometimes called “romance,” but they’re not; rather, they’re haunting stories of love and selfishness.
    The one that stayed with me the most is called “Absent in the Spring,” and it is absolutely wonderful. It tells the thoughts of a Rachel Lynde-type woman when she is trapped on a train with none of her typical amusements for 3 days. Her analysis of her life is heartbreaking and wonderful, and its end is perfect.

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