Top Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim Recently


The Broke and Bookish interpreted ‘on a whim’ as books we picked up without really hearing or knowing much about them. In my experience, this means a lot of judging the book by the cover (Is it pretty? Does it look like something I want to read? Does it promise a good time?) as well as the title (Is it unique? Maybe a bit weird? Catchy?), which may or may not pay off. Here are some books I picked up more or less on a whim. 🙂

1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens AgendaSixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Cute cover. Weird title. YES, I MUST HAVE THIS.”

VERDICT: 4/5! It was definitely a worthwhile pick and one of my best whim-picks to date. Just super adorable and easy to get through, perfect when you want something light but still sweet.

NOTABLE QUOTE: “People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

2) Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Kohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily's Book of DaresLily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

FIRST IMPRESSION: “It’s nearing Christmas, better pick up something Christmassy before this whole thing explodes in my face…”

VERDICT: 2/5. Not so hot, unfortunately. The book started out really fun but kind of petered off until it was just kind of dull. Also, last Christmas was literally my worst Christmas ever so I just wasn’t much in the mood to do anything. :/

NOTABLE QUOTE: “The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There’s no getting over that.”

3) George – Alex Gino

GeorgeWhen people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “This cover reminds me of Google’s logo.”

VERDICT: 4/5! Quite a good Middle Grade book about transgenderism.

NOTABLE LINE: “George, whatever it is, you can tell me.” Mom took George’s hand in one of her own, and covered it with the other. “Whatever happens in your life, you can share it, and I will love you. You will always be my little boy, and that will never change. Even when you grow up to be an old man, I will still love you as my son.”

4) First and Then – Emma Mills

First and ThenDevon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “What ADORABLE cover. So colourful!”

VERDICT: 5/5. The flirting was cute, the protagonist went through a bit of character development, and the family theme was strong with this one. Sometimes, that’s all I need.

NOTABLE LINE: “As far as I was concerned, physical education was evil. You take a bunch of teenagers, make them strip down in front of each other in a locker room, have them don hideous matching uniforms, and then measure their worth based on their ability to chuck balls at a net, into a hoop, or at each other. It was just. Evil.”

5) The Martian – Andy Weir

The MartianI’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Hey, The Martian! That’s a popular movie. Better read the book before I watch it. Oh no, this is a seven-day loan so I gotta breeze through this…”

VERDICT: 3/5. Loved how light-hearted it was for a book with such a depressing plot (man stranded alone on Mars), but a lot of the scientific explanation flew straight past my head and I skimmed… a lot.

NOTABLE LINE: “Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

6) The Truth Commission – Susan Juby

The Truth CommissionThis was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Looks cute. Looks easy. Oooh, it has scribbles inside!”

VERDICT: 3/5. This book went into a totally different direction than I expected. Some parts of it were downright disturbing in that rage-inducing way, and that’s kind of a dissonance considering the happy, pastel-coloured cover.

NOTABLE LINE: “I think we learn the truth about ourselves by telling it to someone else.”

7) Mechanica – Betsy Cornwell

YA - Cornwell - MechanicaNicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Steampunk and Cinderella would work so well. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!”

VERDICT: 2/5. The story focused too much on setting the stage that the characters were thrown out of the window, and there wasn’t much plot to go on with.

NOTABLE LINE: “When your heart is broken, it’s easier to follow rules.”

8) The Sea Queen – Jovee Winters

The Sea QueenCalypso, Queen of the Seas, is mad. Spitting mad. Ghosts of the dead are fouling her waters. She wants this problem fixed, and she wants it fixed now. Rushing off in search of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, to demand answers, she’s soon shocked to discover him bound and standing trial before a jury of his peers—for nothing less than murder.

Calypso normally despises the beastly gods, all of them, but there’s something about seeing Hades bound as he is that gives her an evilly clever idea. Tired of being a virgin queen, she wishes to shed that boring image once and for all, and no one seems quite as fit for the task as the gorgeous and brooding Hades.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Oh my god, sea goddess in what looks like YA fiction!”

VERDICT: 1/5. This book turned out to be an erotica, which I wasn’t prepared for, and it also wasn’t very good erotica. It was vapid, empty and infuriatingly cheesy. (Read my review for more, I swear you won’t regret it.)

NOTABLE LINE: “The way the blanket draped over his hipbones hid nothing from my view, but it did make him look much more naughty and had me sweating above the brow. Damn, he was hawt.

9) To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

She Latitude - To All The Boys I've Loved BeforeTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.

But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Cute girl on the cover! SCORE.”

VERDICT: 4/5. Cute, sweet, not terribly complicated. Has a strong family theme, which I really enjoyed.

NOTABLE LINE: “Life doesn’t have to be so planned. Just roll with it and let it happen.”

10) Fifteen Lanes – S. J. Laidlaw

Fifteen LanesNoor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade.

Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury.

When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?

FIRST IMPRESSION: “Haven’t read a Netgalley book recently. This one looks like fun, plus it’s a Read Now!”

VERDICT: 3/5. Full of cultural realities which might make some readers uncomfortable. Has two female protagonists, who alternate in telling their stories. Good, but in some parts also lacking. Recommended, though.

NOTABLE LINE: “There is a whole world of possibilities beyond our fifteen lanes. Don’t you want more for yourself?”

What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments!

62 thoughts on “Top Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim Recently

  1. I really, really need to read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I’ve heard so many good things about it and hearing that you loved it makes me even more excited. I’m hoping to squeeze it in sometime before the end of the month. I really want to read The Martian too. I started it, but then life got in the way so I put it on hold. I really enjoyed what I’d read so far though!


    • I’d recommend it! I wouldn’t say it’s life-changing or anything but it was really quite cute, and Simon’s family was so heart-warming. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

      God, The Martian. Had to read that real fast because I had to return it to the library so I just skimmed the parts I couldn’t be bothered to process (i.e. the sciencey/math parts). 😛


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