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.

The Wonders of Brian Selznick

I had to write a post about the works of Brian Selznick because I wanted to share how utterly amazing I find them.  These are more than simple children’s books – they are works of art like no other.  These books combine text and illustrations magically, with the illustrations telling portions of the story seamlessly and artfully, yet without words.  As is apparent, the written word is at the heart of what I do and what I believe and what I love, so I have to admit to being doubtful when hearing of the concept.  Have no doubt; these are books worth reading, worth owning, and worth looking at again and again.

hugoAt the turn of the 20th century Hugo Cabret is hiding in the train station in Paris, keeping the clocks running now that his uncle is gone, and stealing to provide himself with food.  His deceased father left him a notebook full of drawings and a non-working automaton – in Hugo’s spare time he works on bringing it back to life.  When he meets a strange girl and her grandfather in the train station he becomes embroiled in the mysteries of their lives while still trying to preserve his own.

“Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do…Maybe it’s the same with people,” Hugo continued. “If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.” 

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 533
Publication: Scholastic Press, January 2007

wonderstruckWonderstruck adds another level of complexity to a story told largely through illustrations.  It tells of the story of two different characters, Ben and Rose, fifty years apart in time.  Ben’s story is told through words while Rose’s is told through the illustrations.  Both embark on a quest to find what is missing in their lives and eventually their stories will come together.  The transition between the stories, and their ultimate intertwining, is seamless.  What could be confusing is instead artful and beautiful.

“Maybe, thought Ben, we are all cabinets of wonders.” 

Title: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 608
Publication: Scholastic Press, 2011