Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week, on this sad anniversary, we’re discussing books that makes us think about the world around us.
That’s what’s so wonderfully powerfully about the written word isn’t it? That it can make us feel something so profoundly and so deeply, whether it takes us back to a time we recognize or makes us understand something we could never dream of experiencing. Each of these books, some in good ways, some in sad ways, made me take a deep breath and look twice at the words; they made me consider my surroundings and, hopefully, made me grateful for what I have or emboldened me to begin being grateful or kinder or more aware.
1. If I Stay by Gayle Forman– This book had a profound impact one me. Of course I expected the idea that life is precious, but I loved how this story made me see life from all perspectives: as the daughter, as the one grieving, as the one being grieved, as the one in love, as the big sister, as the best friend, as the granddaughter. We all play so many different roles in life, our impact on those around us, not always evident until something dramatic happens. This story reiterates what truly matters in life. It’s moments and love and everything in between.
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- I’m that person, probably not unlike you, who has lost too many loved ones to cancer. And I’m that girl who will donate money, who will walk in the Relay for Life to raise my for The American Cancer Society, but who literally has to turn the channel when I see stories of sick children. And I don’t mean it to be heartless. I ache for them. I cry, I pray, but I have such a a hard time accepting a world where children die from horrible diseases or where they even have to worry about battling through them. This book, though it’s sad and painful at times, reminded me of the hope there is in life. That life, even when it isn’t perfect and when it’s jaded by the sad things none of us want to happen, can still be incredible and beautiful, possibly even more beautiful than so many lives that go on without taking time to grasp those moments and embrace the good.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– Oh yes, this is a book about the horrors of the Holocaust. And it’s sad and sometimes dark. But what I loved is how Zuzak showed, especially through Liesel and Hans, how even in the smallest ways you can fight for what you believe. Sometimes the tiniest things can make the biggest difference. And here Liesel and her family find small ways to rebel, and of course, they find a big way, and while it doesn’t change the outcome of WWII or the treachery of Hitler, it certainly impacts at least one or two lives.
4. How to Save A Life by Sara Zarr– Books that attempt to define family and that show hope are books I want to read. Zarr tackled the issue of teen pregnancy and abuse and loss here with such grace. And instead of this being a book that felt preachy or full of its own moral ideals (ideals that I very much believe in), it took such a lovely turn. That’s what I love about Zarr’s writing.
5. I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan– This is such a wonderful book that again shows love in so many forms. The abuse and neglect that Sam and Riddle face broke me heart because it’s not at all uncommon. There are children abused and neglected each day. And on the flip side, there are amazing families out there, families so full of love.
6. The List by Siobhan Vivian– While this isn’t meant to be a super-deep book, I felt it was such a vivid picture of the nasty way kids, especially girls, tend to treat each other. Young girls now are so fixated on their weight, their looks and popularity and it’s so completely encouraged by the media and peers and by environments like the one in this book. The story may be fiction, but the idea rang so true.
7. Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr– Again, I love Sara Zarr. This book resonated with me as a girl who was raised in Christian schools, going to church and chapel and bible class constantly. I think it’s so natural to wonder where your faith comes from, why you believe it, IF you believe it. These are such healthy questions and ones we shouldn’t be afraid to ask. And we shouldn’t be afraid, especially in a believing community (meaning in the church) to be flawed. The issues in this book–faith struggles and a family that grapples with an alcoholic wife–are common. They may not necessarily be World Problems, but they were things I saw in my world (no, my mom wasn’t like that mom, but I saw so may people struggle with a need for spiritual perfection).
8. Bumped by Megan McCafferty– I know this book is a satire, but it definitely caused me to reflect on the state of the world we live in. In fact, the author herself mentioned this on the author page of this book. Today, we pooh-pooh teen pregnancy and abstinence, and sex education, and everything else attached to those issues, and yet we fawn all over the stars of reality television, young girls who are pregnant and somewhat lost, or we make celebs out of girls whose biggest accomplishments are fake tanning and slutting it up. It makes absolutely no sense.
9. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini– These are both fantastic, beautiful books and though they’re works of fiction, they paint a vivid picture of life in Afghanistan. I found A Thousand Splendid Suns to be particularly riveting, as it deals with life for two women caught up in that area. Imagine living in a society where you cannot be seen in public without a man, where you cannot work to support your family (too bad for your if your husband has been killed). I feel so blessed to live in this amazing, incredible country and while we certainly aren’t perfect, we have the right here to pursue our individual liberties and I think, being born here, it’s so easy to forget that those rights were hard-fought and paid for by generations of men and women. What’s that saying? Freedom isn’t free.
That’s all today. Happy Tuesday and God Bless America! 🙂