Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.
This week’s theme is books that make you think. I took that two ways: books that make you pay attention, and books that make you ask questions. I went to a liberal arts college where a prize attribute is the ability to think critically and ask the right questions, which has both ruined my ability to just enjoy a book and also ensured that I learn something – either about the subject of the book, a related issue, or myself – every time I read.
1. “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. It’s not enough to suspend your disbelief at a magical land where lions talk and a girl can be born with green skin and an allergy to water – you also need to deal with some seriously weird language, steampunky brothels inhabited by characters from “Freaks,” and hardcore angst. This definitely isn’t a brainless beach read.
2. “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner, although to be honest the thoughts were usually along the lines of “what the heck is going on?”
3. “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville raises all kinds of questions about justice, the ethics of science, and the role of art in our lives. It’s another one that demands you pay attention or you will be blown away and trampled by its complex world-building.
4. The Bible. I still haven’t read much of it, but I have my critical-thinking hat on when I do. I compare translations, read historical notes for context, and take notes.
5. “Black Boy” by Richard Wright. I hated this when I first read it in high school just because it made me so uncomfortable. I didn’t like it much more when I re-read it in college, but by then I’d learned about everyone’s favorite topic, privilege, and I was able to read it in a different light that allowed me to at least learn more from the story, even if it still made me uncomfortable. (No amount of study is ever going to make the scene where he kills a kitten comfortable.)
6. “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler” by Italo Calvino is told as if you are reading “IOAWNAT,” making you the subject of the book, which you are reading at that moment…it’s really really weird.
7. “Ender’s Shadow” by Orson Scott Card. “Ender’s Game” raised its own questions about ethics in war, but “Ender’s Shadow” raised a dozen more. What makes a good leader? Is it ever okay to experiment on humans? How do you prevent, not just end, war?
8. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. I don’t really enjoy thinking when I read this book because so many plot details are so eerily relevant today. I don’t like thinking about how Atwood could very feasibly have plotted out the end of the world as we know it.
8. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. This was a denser book than I expected, but I loved Jane’s feminism and the story’s exploration of the give-and-take of relationships and marriage.
9. “Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley always makes me think about religion and how there are good eggs and bad eggs in every basket.
10. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. Compared with the current onslaught of YA dystopias, it’s clear that “The Giver” set the bar, and set it high. Lowry was so thorough – pills to control sexuality, genetic alterations to prevent the visibility of color, the myth of being “released” – that every new page has another shocking clue about the world Jonas lives in and how it compares to our own.
What thought-provoking books would make your list? See the other TTTs here.