Top Ten Tuesday: Books That were Totally Deceiving

This is a great topic. Every reader has had the experience of coming to a book with certain expectations and finding something very different indeed.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

Culprits for raising unhelpful expectations may include misleading covers, back-jacket summaries that were clearly written by marketers who hadn't read the books, reviews or recommendations by people with tastes unlike your own, and popular misunderstanding. Among other things.

I'm not sure I can make ten off the top of my head, but here's a try.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.
What I expected: Heavy influence from various forms of modern paganism.
What I found: Jesus. And a whole new set of insights into literature and symbolism.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
What I expected: Romance so smarmy that even I, with my high tolerance for cheesiness, could only laugh.
What I found: One of the more compelling images to come out of YA fiction, ever, with a lot to say about conscience and faith.

3. A Creed for the Third Millenium by Colleen McCullough.
What I expected: Tell me this is not a light romance novel cover. (With a sci-fi title, admittedly.)

What I found: A bizarre, futuristic and tragic replay of the Gospel narrative.

4. Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy.
What I expected: Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery.*
What I found: Lewis' Mere Christianity in novel form.

5. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.
What I expected: A cheesy story about a kid with a dog named after a supermarket.
What I found: An intensely beautiful and empathetic portrayal of friendship in deep Southern poverty.

6. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.
What I expected: A tale about approaching death.
What I found: Scenes from the life of an archbishop. (Good, though.)

7. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin.
What I expected: Harry Potter, but underwater and with more mermaids. (I have no idea how I got this.)
What I found: How Harry Potter might have read if it had been imagined and written by an Old Testament scribe with Taoist leanings.

What about you? What books have proven, on the inside, to be unlike what you expected?

* Yes, I'm quoting Hee Haw. My Southern mama used to sing those two lines whenever my sisters and I started complaining too much.


  1. I love Kate DiCamillo, all of her books are excellent. I just love it when a book surprises you in a good way, nice post today. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

  2. I love your list and I agree with you about The Wizard of Earthsea.

  3. Your #3 looks exactly like a Really Bad romance cover..I would expect characters like Aster and Percy, struggling to deal with life in a world where love is forbidden and learning to believe in romance, and in each other. Smarmy and fake, with lots of bad dialogue! Now I'm disappointed it's not a romance.

    My biggest mistake,honestly, through no fault of their own, were the Narnia books. I expected cheesy Christian fiction and cardboard characters, and I just liked them so much!

    Another was the book Middlesex (I can't remember the author's name). I assumed it's have something to do with England. It was about a hermaphordite. Disappointing.

    1. HAHAHAHA! OK, that is really good to know about Middlesex, because I've always thought it was about England, too. :D

      Narnia is so made of awesome....

    2. You might be thinking of Middlemarch by George Eliot. :)

    3. HAHA! You might be right, George... although Middlesex is a place in England, so there's loads of room for confusion...

  4. Jeffery Eugenides! Middlesex is also a street name in Grosse Pointe, MI, where much of Middlesex-the-book takes place. I've been meaning to read it for a long time, but haven't gotten around to it (mostly because I have unrelated *feelings* about the title of Eugenidies' first book, The Virgin Suicides (which I also haven't read) (entirely because of the title).

    I have read Middlemarch and it's completely awesome and *does* take place in England, so Jenna, if you're looking for a book that takes place in England, that is a great one to choose. Eliot's writing style is unusually dense even for Victorian novelists, but so rewarding and fun.

    1. Seriously, the title of that book might as well be "Read Only If You Want to be Deeply Embarrassed and Horrified."

      I'll have to look up Middlemarch at some point, as I've never read Eliot. Thanks!


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