Top Ten Underrated Books

I’m linking up with The Broke and The Bookish to bring you ten of my favourite books with fewer than 2,000 ratings. All of my books on last week’s list, save for one, have fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads, so I haven’t included any of those books on this list (but you should totally check them out, too!)

Note: Book titles are linked to my reviews of them, or in the absence of a review, to their Goodreads listing.

  1. The Girl Without A Sound by Buhle Ngaba

30187012Number of ratings: 4

A South African picture book “born out of defiance and as a response to the fairytales we were told as little girls. Stories about white princesses with blue eyes, flowing locks of hair and an overwhelming awareness of their beauty.” And just like Coconut and Kwezi (see last week’s list), even though I’m not the intended target market, I think it is wonderful, and I intend to purchase it for as many kids as I can.

Also, you can get the digital file for free on their website!


  1. A Game Called Survival by Ian Reid

Number of ratings: 2

One of my favourite historical non-fiction books, and the first to teach me about WW2 in Italy. It is gripping, and thrilling. It’s out of print now but I wish it were more well-known.

  1. Yes I am! Writing by South African Gay Men edited by Robin Malan

Number of ratings: 8

One of my favourite short-story collections. Sad and witty and ever-relevant. I think it should be relatable to the quest for equality around the world, not just in South Africa.

  1. Kalyana by Rajni Mala Kelawan

Number of ratings: 13

For a book I loved so much and that is currently in print, I’m really sad that it has so few ratings. It’s a very portrayal of Fijian history, but also of the greater effects of sexual abuse and female oppression.

  1. Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away by Maria Phalime

Number of ratings: 37

We are living in an age of heightened awareness of the mental well-being of doctors, and where more and more doctors are leaving the profession. The book is South African, but it should have significance for medical professionals the world over.


  1. The Backwash of War by Ellen N. La Motte

Number of ratings: 107

Apart from the fact that this is a salient work of reflections by a nurse during WWI, it’s also available for FREE online via the Gutenberg Project.

  1. Skin by Ilka Tampke

Number of ratings: 263

Uhm guys. Such a fantastic piece of historical fiction with some magical realism mixed in. I don’t understand how this isn’t more popular. Also I just love the cover.

  1. The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman

Number of ratings: 370

I loved this epistolary YA novel of an exchange between a child refugee in Sudan and an American girl. So relevant.

  1. The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

Number of Ratings: 1,425

This is a technically difficult book to read, with many different invented dialects in the vein of Atlas Cloud. I found it to be a magnificent piece of work. I think it qualifies as YA but it certainly asks for a committed reader with good proficiency. And enough time and patience. Probably part of the reason it did not get as much acclaim but I seriously love it.

  1. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Number of Ratings: 1,502

Her most underrated book, and I can’t help wondering if it’s because the setting is Ethiopia as opposed to Europe, which is more relatable to most of Wein’s audience. BDWR does not manipulate the emotions as much as her other books, but I learned a lot and it’s a fantastic book about friendship.


I’m all for supporting underrated books! Are you going to read any of these?


  1. heather says:

    I’m adding Postmortem to my list.

  2. Kate W says:

    Haven’t read any of these… But I think that’s the point of this week’s TTT! Here’s mine:

  3. readerbuzz says:

    I wish more books from Africa would make their way to America.

    I like how we are pulling books out that have been sadly neglected. Thanks for sharing yours!

    Here’s my Books I’ve Enjoyed That You Might Have Missed!

  4. Rachel says:

    Excellent selection, and so diverse! Makes me rethink a lot of what I read, thanks for the recs, going to go check some of these out, so many have such low numbers of ratings!

    My TTT:

  5. The only one of these I’ve heard of is Black Dove, White Raven and I loved the first Elizabeth Wein book I read (Code Name Verity), so I will definitely be checking it out at one point.
    My TTT:

  6. The Country of Ice Cream Star sounds like a challenge I’d like hehe. I don’t have enough underrated books read to make my own list so I did my own topic hahah. Happy reading!

  7. All of these are new to me, even though I’m sure they’ve probably been around for a while. I really like the sound of A Game Called Survival. I’m fascinated by that era and even though it’s saturating the book market lately, I’ve never gotten too much of WWII in books and especially the different locales.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Yes! I do feel that WWII books are saturating the market a bit, but there is so much more to the era than Germany and England. Once I realised that, I found many more wonderful books about the time period! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Interesting list of books! The Backwash of War sounds particularly intriguing, I’ll have to check it out 🙂 (yay for Gutenberg Project!)

    My TTT

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I hope you’ll enjoy it – let me know what you think!

  9. kaseygiard says:

    I’ve been meaning to read The Country of Ice Cream Star. I’m glad to have read your notes on it first, though. I think that will help to know going in. I love Elizabeth Wein, but I’ve managed to miss some of her books! I definitely want to read Black Dove, White Raven. Here’s my TTT

  10. moniquets1 says:

    Hi, I love reading! But books are so expensive, paperback and on eBook, and I can’t afford to buy new books all the time. I’m part of a library but I’ve already read most of the books. Where do you buy your books? Do you know of any websites where you can download free eBooks? Can you recommend some good Young Adult books? Thanks 🙂

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Hi Monique. I felt the same way before I was working (and even now books are expensive). I buy most of my books from bargain bookstores (in South Africa: Reader’s Warehouse offers free delivery). Here’s a link that offers some legal options for getting free ebooks:
      If you have a blog, you can review books for free via
      The other option is to join a bookclub with some friends, and to share books with one another.
      I hope this helps!

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