Tuesday Top Ten

top ten history

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to pick a particular setting and then list our favorite books in that setting.  Since my book choices tend to be all over the place I chose to list my favorite books that take place in the past, that have some type of historical setting.

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Masterfully crafted (in case I haven’t said it enough!) story that takes place in Germany during WWII.
  2. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – Moving story about a Lithuanian family taken by the Russians during WWII.
  3. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – I loved the characters in this novel that takes place in French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950.
  4. Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra – Beautiful yet horrible story about the wars in Chechnya.  OK, so much of the story does not take place too far back in history (1994-2004), but there is much to be learned about the history of the area through this novel.
  5. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty – A great look at the early twentieth century as Cora becomes a chaperone to the young Louise Brooks in New York City before she becomes a silent film star.
  6. A Good American by Alex George – An epic novel following three generations of a family beginning with their immigration in 1904.
  7. Thieves of Book Row by Travis McDade – An amazing story of a ring of book thieves during the Great Depression.
  8. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power  by Jon Meacham – One of my favorite figures in American history and a engrossing portrait of his life.
  9. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – A masterful work of art and a touching novel which travels back and forth between New York City in 1927 and Minnesota in 1977.
  10. Onion Street by Reed Farrel Coleman – A gritty detective novel set in 1960’s Brooklyn by one of my favorite mystery authors.

Tuesday Top Ten

toptentoughsubjects

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge is to create a list of the books that you have read that deal with tough subjects.  Interestingly, many of the books on my list ended up being young adult books, while there is plenty that is light and fluffy in the YA genre, teens also deal with a lot of tough issues and there are many books that are beautifully written yet address tremendously difficult subjects.

Young Adult Books:

  1. America by E.R. Frank – One of the most difficult books I have ever read, a boy named America ends up lost within the social service system for over 11 years, ending up in a treatment facility after trying to commit suicide.  The story of his life, the years when he fell between the cracks, is heart-wrenching, raw, and brands your heart.
  2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – No one is speaking to Melinda – she called the cops on an end-of-summer party – while she silently tries to come to terms with the fact that she was raped at the very same party.  Bullying, sexual violence, and depression all come together to remind one how awful the teenage years can be for some.
  3. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – Laurie Halse Anderson writes some really tough teen literature, although she does so beautifully.  Wintergirls is another example and one that I found even more difficult to read than Speak.  Two best friends with terrifying eating disorders, one who dies, and the other who lives while continuing to starve herself and engage in self-mutilation while dealing with her guilt over her friend’s death.  Stark and real, very tough stuff.
  4. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – Hannah has committed suicide and sends cassette tapes to thirteen of her friends telling them why – and what part they played in her decision to end her life.  Clay Jensen receives one of these tapes and listens to it as he spends the night traveling through Hannah’s life.  A difficult story about guilt and the impact that seemingly small interactions can have on others.
  5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This story of the Holocaust as told through the life of a young girl in Germany is heart-wrenching.  The characters are so well-developed and so beloved that I felt a greater sense of loss in this book than in any other I have read.
  6. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys Another harrowing story set during World War II, but this time following a 15-year old Lithuanian, Lina, and her family as they are forcibly removed from their country by the Soviets and sent to Siberian work camps.

Adult Books:

  1. Unbroken by Laura HillebrandAs long as I’m talking about stories set during WWII…  This true story of Louis Zamperini had many hopeful moments, displaying the power of human resiliency, but the central parts of the story, during the war and when he was held captive, were horrifying.
  2. With or Without You by Domenica Ruta – Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and because I believe that being a mom is the most important role I will ever play in my life, but books about horrific parents and the impact on their children are always hard for me to read.  This memoir definitely fell into that category for me.
  3. The Dinner by Herman Koch – The disturbing actions of the children in this story, and their parents’ complete lack of moral fiber left me disgusted and disturbed.
  4. Defending Jacob by William Landay – I loved this book, but as a parent I found it very difficult to read.  As a parent, how blind can we be to our children’s faults?  And how far will we go to deny the truth and protect the one that we love more than ourselves?  Tough questions with no simple answers.