Top Ten Tuesday

toptennonfiction

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 was to make any list we wanted.  So, in honor of my friend Nate, lover of all things non-fiction, I decided to make a list of my top ten favorite non-fiction books.  They may not be ones that he would like, but it goes to show that I do read and enjoy non-fiction now and then!

  1. Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder – My geekiness comes out here, part of me will always be an engineer and I loved this story of a group of brilliant and dedicated engineers at Data General as they design and build a new computer in just one year.
  2. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham – Thomas Jefferson is probably the figure from American history that I most admire and this biography was engrossing and enlightening.
  3. Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough – Although the task is daunting and the statistics sometimes overwhelming and depressing, the story of the work that Geoffrey Canada is doing for literacy and learning through the Harlem Zone is inspiring.
  4. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – McDougall provides an engrossing story about ultra-runners, from scientific research to the natives in an isolated part of Mexico that run hundreds of miles, to a race between those very natives and the world’s best ultra-distance runners.  Makes me want to run and fell the wind in my hair and the earth beneath my feet…
  5. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand The story of Louis Zamperini’s life, from his delinquent childhood to the Berlin Olympics to harrowing experiences during World War II and his recovery upon returning home, is an amazing tale of perseverance and faith.
  6. Ghost in the Wires by Kevin MitnikNow the dork in me comes out again… For years Kevin Mitnik was the most elusive computer hacker in the world, and hacking was a game to him, a cross between a puzzle and a con.  This story of his escapades, his run from the authorities, and his ultimate capture is an amazing thrill-ride.
  7. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – A fascinating biography about a fascinating man – a jerk and a genius, one inseparable from the other in his pursuit of absolute perfection.  A technological revolutionary who connected art and technology and consumers as never before.  This story of his life is well-balanced and interesting (and the geek in me loved to read about the development of some of the most famous products in technology history), providing an unbiased glimpse into the life of a unique man.
  8. Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls – I found Jeanette Walls’ memoir, Glass Castles, to be compelling, but I absolutely loved this story of her grandmother, a tough, no-nonsense woman who was breaking horses when she was six, travelling along to an isolated town to teach when she was fifteen, learning to fly planes and running a vast ranch through both personal and natural disasters. A truly captivating story about an amazing woman and her life.
  9. Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma – I love to read with my kids, and although I do try, we don’t manage to make it every night.  In fourth grade, Alice and her father decide that they are going to read together for at least ten minutes every night for 100 nights.  After the 100 nights are over, they keep going, reading together every night until Alice goes to college.  This book tells the story of their relationship through the stories that they shared together, making me hope that the stories I have shared with my children will have an impact as well.
  10. The Outermost House by Henry Beston – For years my husband and I would take the kids and stay for a week in a small ramshackle cottage on the dunes of Cape Cod on the National Seashore.  Henry Beston’s descriptions of his solitary year spent there are beautiful and captivating; they always take me back to one of my favorite places to be.
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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.

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

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 list the books that we recommend the most.  Each experience with a book is intensely personal, recommending a book is dangerous business.  What you love may not be loved by others since every person’s experience with a book is distinct.  You may not love the books that I love, but these are those that I love enough to recommend to others…

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – If I had to pick one book that has impacted me the most, which I found to be the greatest book I have ever read, this would be it.  I believe that we are watching a classic be born and someday I will be telling my grandkids that I remember when it was a new release!  If you have not read this book please do so, immediately.
  2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – A fantastic coming-of-age story about two boys (all they have in common is the name) who are figuring out who they are, how to be that person, and how to find acceptance.  There are a ton of coming-of-age books out there, but I have never read one that tells the story so beautifully.
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry – Can a utopian society really exist?  What has to be given up?  And is it worth the price?  What if you decide it isn’t worth the cost?  There are a lot of books out now that deal with dystopian societies, but this is definitely my favorite, dealing with the core questions artfully.
  4. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny – I love the Inspector Gamache series and it only gets better with each book that is released.  While there are a lot of mystery series that I enjoy, this series has a depth and beauty that I have not found elsewhere.  The character development, history, settings, depth of interactions and emotions, make this my favorite to recommend for mystery lovers.
  5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – An inspired work of art.  The story is told through a combination of words and amazing illustrations and is done seamlessly.  His second book, Wonderstruck, is just as wonderful and I recommend both of these books to children and adults alike.
  6. Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough – I am passionate about the importance of education, particularly literacy.  This book about Geoffrey Canada’s work in starting The Harlem Children’s Zone is information and inspiring.
  7. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – The story of Louis Zamperini’s life, from his delinquent childhood to the Berlin Olympics through harrowing experiences during World War II, is an amazing tale of perseverance and faith.
  8. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo – My favorite DiCamillo book and the book that I enjoyed reading to the kids the most.  A new fairy tale – another one that I will tell my grandkids about someday!
  9. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – Both humorous and heart-wrenching, the story of people as told from the point of view of a dog.  Sounds a hokey but somehow it really does work, leaving you loving the soul of this amazing animal.
  10. Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers by Thich Nhat Hanh – I love the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk exiled from Vietnam.  This book is a conversation between Jesus and Buddha, centered in compassion and the similarities that are at the core of both beliefs.