top ten books dealing with tough subjects

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 |
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we all get to exercise our OCD tendencies and come up with bookish lists.  If you’d like to play along, check out this post.

top ten tuesday

Today didn’t start well.  First I thought it was Wednesday, and I posted my Waiting on Wednesday blog a day early.  It turns out that it is Tuesday instead.  I am okay with this, but the confusion got to me.  I may go get a chocolate peanut butter milkshake on my lunch break, because: reasons.  To get back to the subject at hand...I am very interested to see peoples’ lists for this week’s topic.  I think reactions to ‘issue’ books are personal, and I expect them to vary widely.  I know I was surprised by my own list as it took shape on the page (or post-it note, as it were).  I tend to avoid tough subjects and read for escape, but these stories have all stolen pieces of my heart. 

Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects


1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Conor’s mother has cancer, and his grief, anger, and despair make for heart-wrenching reading.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Oh, this book.  It gutted me.  The racism, injustice and violence made me long for peace.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Alexie’s dark humor carries the reader through the depths of poverty, alcoholism, racism and other staples of Reservation life.

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth C. Wein – History shows us harrowing things, and the anti-Semitism and fascism of Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied France is the definition of a ‘tough subject.’  Plus, the book is just amazing.

5. The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel – I tend to think of family dysfunction as a tough subject, and this book is full of it.  And life.  And growing up (another tough subject!).


6. The Psycopath Test by Jon Ronson – Ronson investigates the darkest side of human nature and the world of mental illness.  Also, I gave this book to my mom for Mother’s Day a few years ago.  She liked it!

7. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach – This is a hilarious book with an amazing narrator.  It’s also about dealing with neglectful parents, death and growing up in weird ways.  It’s special.

8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – Urban poverty, family disappointments and alcoholism are the backdrop of one girl’s coming of age in Brooklyn, and somehow it is beautiful.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry – Lowry’s dystopian future muses on the importance of memory, the depths of pain and human ethics.

10. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – Anderson gives voice to a teenager who is the victim of rape, shame, guilt, and social ostracism. It’s an *important* book.

Are any of these books on your list?  What does your list look like?

19 comments:

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Speak made my list too! I can't believe I left A Monster Calls off my list. I love that book.

Shelby Swing said...

Great list! The Giver is one of my favorite books. Thanks for sharing. New follower. =)

My TTT: http://gobsandgobsofbooks.blogspot.com/2013/05/top-ten-books-dealing-with-tough.html

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I adore your list. (It's my favorite of all the ones I've seen so far)

vvb32 reads said...

Curious, is there a hopeful ending and uplifting end to A Monster Calls? I am considering reading this one. Feel free to answer this in a separate email to avoid spoilers.

Susan said...

Great picks! I've read most of the novels you list and I agree, they are gut-wrenching. Tough issues, but really good books.

Happy TTT!

Sana said...

I've only read To Kill A Mockingbird from your list and it is a great book. Some of the others are on my to-read list.

Lizzy said...

Fabulous list! I've only heard great things about Code Name Verity, and I need to read it ASAP! I'd also add basically every book by Jennifer Brown (school violence, abuse, mental illness, etc).

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

I keep hearing about the STUPID FAST book and I'm starting to think I need to read them, even though they aren't books that I'd normally read... or I guess I assumed they were books I wouldn't normally read. I need to stop judging them by their sporty covers!

http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/2013/05/top-ten-books-dealing-with-tough.html

Shannon (Giraffe Days) said...

I have Code Name Verity and am looking forward to reading it. I've had Part-time Indian for years and still haven't got around to reading it, shame on me. Ooh and I got A Monster Calls last year, was so excited to read it, and yet still haven't fitted it into my reading schedule! (why do we bother eh? ;) )

Quite a few books here that I'm not familiar with that sound really interesting. And you're right, these lists vary widely and I love that.

rockyriverteenlibrarian said...

Thanks for stopping by! I can't believe I forgot so many awesome books-To Kill a Mockingbird, Code Name Verity, Part-Time Indian, Psychopath Test (nice call!)-all books I loved! I don't know if I can handle A Monsters Call, but I sure do love Ness's Chaos Walking series.

Briana said...

What is wrong with me?! I still haven't read Code Name Verity. I'm ashamed of myself :P

elena said...

when a monster calls + code name verity are obviously v good cohices! i want to read the absolutely true diary one day.

Amanda said...

Code Name Verity and The Giver are both great choices - I was too focused on contemps to even consider other genres while making my list, but I agree with those. I definitely plan on reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Monster Calls soon.

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

I LOVE your eclectic selection for this topic! Have so far read 3 of those. Ugh. A Monster Calls gutted me hard. To Kill A Mockingbird was SO good. And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn... such a beautiful book.

Can't wait to read Code Name Verity (just bought a copy a few weeks ago) and some of the others. I constantly hear that Speak is a must-read for YA lit.

Angela @ Reading Angels said...

Sadly, I haven't read any of these yet! I need to get busy!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really want to read The Psychopath Test and Code Name Verity. Both sound amazing!

I'm glad to see you added Stupid Fast. That would have been a good addition for my own list- Geoff is a publicity client of mine, but I loved the first two Felton books beforehand. Don't forget the third novel is out!

-Lauren

Ryan said...

I really want to read A Monsters Call. Hopefully I will get that added in somewhere down the road.

Steven Bateman said...

Great subject for a book list. Thanks for this. You've bumped up my booklist today. A definite add for me would be Journey (If Where You're Going Isn't Home) by Max Zimmer. This story follows a teenage boy in late 50's, early 60's America as he pursues his passion and dream of playing jazz trumpet while rooted in a strictly Mormon family. His coming of age journey of discovery is fascinating and the details of Mormon life in America at the time is insightful to say the least. http://maxzimmer.com/journey/

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