Back again with another fine Top Ten Tuesday. I love thinking books (and movies) so this one should be a cinch! Thanks, as always, to The Broke and The Bookish for keeping this top ten train a-runnin’.
Top Ten Books That Made Me Think
1. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
I read this one to my husband while we drove from our remote coastal college town back to our suburban hometown for Thanksgiving. Thanks to the wreck of a propane truck on the 101 (which has no alternate routes for hundreds of miles), we got stuck on the road just outside Willits for hours and had time to not only finish the book, but discuss it in detail. This led to the formation of our Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan. Friends were informed of their roles via text.
2. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (as translated by Yuji Oniki)
This was just straight-up “What would I do?” musing. If I found myself in the position of being forced to fight my peers to the death, without weeks to prepare or review my strengths, in an unknown landscape and in possession of a randomly assigned weapon. The range of characters in the novel allows for the exploration of an incredible number of responses to an unbelievable situation.
3. Feed by M.T. Anderson
This is one that I think of often, though not consciously. I will see someone do something, hear a conversation or political soundbite, or read an article that reminds me of a passage from this well-observed novel. And then I despair for the future of America (and possibly humanity).
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I think of To Kill a Mockingbird often, for so many reasons. When I think about strong character and virtue I think of Atticus’ courage and integrity. When I think of childhood with my brother I think of Jem and Scout (mostly the baton-breaking). When I am reminded of how small and selfish people can be, or the awful things they will do out of fear, I think of the Ewells. When I think about conformity, Dolphus Raymond comes to mind. I could come up with a dozen more examples, but one thing I know is true: it is weird that I identify most strongly with Scout and Boo Radley.
5. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
I have read my copy of this book to pieces, and hardly a day passes without a line of Fitch’s prose drifting through my mind. It was the first time I read a book and felt like my life had been laid bare. That I had that “How did she know?” moment, wondering about an author. Between Astrid’s observation and experience, and Ingrid’s epistolary instruction, there is plenty to mull over long after the last page is turned.
6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Rumination on what the modern American finds worthy of worship, or worships without conscious thought.
7. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
I often find myself reflecting on the cultural and generational gap between Tan’s mothers and daughters in this novel. Their desire to please and care for one another, and their sometimes conflicting desires for independence and understanding. Hard-earned wisdom and secrets lost in translation.
8. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
One of the most satisfying things about reading the entire series to my husband was getting to discuss it with him. From the big themes like good vs. evil and the shades of gray in-between, to the minutiae of who made a good couple and why the epilogue makes me mad.
9. Higher Education by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle
As someone who works in education, after being the first in my extended family to attend college (and still the only one to graduate), I have a particular interest in speculative fiction based on the failure of the education system. Many times during my days at various educational sites scenes from this novel or certain lines will flash through my head. Based on my experience substituting today, I am still not convinced that this future is so implausible.
10. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
I gave this book a lot of thought as a child because I seriously considered running away on multiple occasions. I fully intended to take my little brother with me and I wanted to be just as well-prepared as Claudia. She really picked the primo hideout, and was quite a successful runaway in terms of time on the lam before being returned home.