(Belated) Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books

Posted April 12, 2017 by Madalyn || 8 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I know this is a day late, but I didn’t want to miss out on such a fun topic. This week’s topic is all about unique books, so I thought I’d tell you all about some of the most unique books I’ve read and the specific elements that make them so unique. Warning: this list contains WAY more than ten books.

books with unique settings


A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab // I mean, it’s set in four different, parallel versions of London, all with unique attributes and magic (or a lack thereof). What more could you ask for?

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire // This book is a spin on the portal fantasy, and it takes place at a boarding school for children who have been to another world and who desperately want to go back. The setting was so original and whimsical, and filled me with all sorts of longing and nostalgia.

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson // This is a spinoff series of the original Mistborn trilogy, set about 300 years after the end of The Hero of Ages. The world retains all of the metal-based magic that makes Mistborn so awesome, but it’s also kind of a Wild West setting, with guns and such. It’s so unique and fun!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent // This is a historical fiction novel set in Iceland in the 1800’s, chronicling the last days of the last person to be publicly executed in that country. Iceland was a very different place back then, filled with poverty and religious fervor. The setting is so atmospheric, and it truly made the book for me.

books with unique magic systems


Timekeeper by Tara Sim // This is the first magic system I’ve read that deals with clocks and time. It was absolutely original!

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson // Three words (or does the hyphenated word count as one word? idk): metal-based magic. Allomancy is my personal favorite magic system I’ve ever read about. There are two types of magic users in this world: Mistings, who can utilize one type of metal and its magic, and Mistborn, who can utilize ALL types of metal and their magic.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson // There’s a reason Sanderson is on this list so often. All of his works are unique! The magic system in Warbreaker is complicated, but it involves breath and color and sound and the senses and it’s just SO DARN FASCINATING.

books with unique formats

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff // I don’t support Jay Kristoff because I think he’s kind of a garbage human, but I really do enjoy this series. Both the physical books and the audiobooks are told in extremely unique formats. The audiobooks even have a full cast of narrators!

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates //  This is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Coates writes it in the form of an essay to his adolescent son, discussing the realities of being black in America today. This format further drives home the impact of the narrative, and personalizes it. A must-read.

books with uniquely beautiful writing

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi // Tahereh Mafi’s writing isn’t for everyone, and the Shatter Me trilogy isn’t my favorite ever, but I do adore her writing here. It reads like poetry. There are even words and sentences blacked out and rewritten. Super unique.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor // Laini Taylor’s writing is my favorite, ever. She’s one of those rare authors who is able to put feelings I could never for the life of me articulate into perfect sentences. I have yet to read Strange the Dreamer, but the entire DoSaB trilogy (including the companion novella!) contains the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore // This is a magical realism story about a queer girl who can grow roses from her wrist, the trans boy she falls in love with, and the family of sister-witches trying to sabotage them. McLemore’s writing lends itself so well to magical realism. The oddities of the story and the world are made completely believable because of the strength of her storytelling.

BONUS: All of Victoria Schwab’s books // Victoria/V. E. Schwab has a background in poetry, and you can certainly tell from the strength of her writing. Every word is deliberate, and every sentence has a remarkable sense of rhythm and flow. This gorgeous writing is a constant through all of her novels. Just one of the many reasons she remains my favorite author of all time!

books with unique plots


This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab // I think the idea of human acts of violence breeding actual monsters is incredibly unique and endlessly fascinating.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis // This is a dark contemporary that explores rape culture and misogyny, and the real, lasting effects they have on perpetrators, victims, and society as a whole.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray // One of the funniest, most clever books I’ve ever read. It’s a satire about a group of pageant queens who get stranded on a desert island. The social commentary is on point, and I just love Libba Bray for writing this book.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo // Heist story? Not super original. High fantasy? Also been done before. However, Six of Crows combines these two ideas in an incredibly original way. Add in a diverse cast of morally grey characters, some shipworthy romances, and some awesome action scenes? It makes this book one hell of a ride.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What are some of the most unique stories you’ve read, and why?

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Madalyn is a 20-something music student and lifelong lover of reading. When she's not reading or singing, you're likely to find her drinking coffee, traveling, or buying more lipstick than one person could possibly need.
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8 responses to “(Belated) Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books

  1. Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I have The Alloy of Law on my shelf, but haven’t read it yet. I’m curious though, to see how the amazing magic system gets translated into a more Wild West World. Great list!

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