Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Books That Make Me Think

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish

 I love thought-provoking books. Some people decide a book is great from their inability to put it down. I know I'm reading a favourite book when every chapter forces me to stop and think hard about what I'm reading. This made choosing my favourites both very easy and very difficult.

10. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I'll be honest with you: Mockingjay is my least favourite book in The Hunger Games trilogy, and quite possibly the most disappointing book I've ever read. But the one thing Mockingjay did right was its discussion the trauma and aftermath of war. The real, honest portrayal of Katniss' world after revolution showed the true scars of battle. After Harry Potter's cheery epilogue and Twilight's non-existent climax, Collins gets points for focusing on how violence permanently alters people.

                       9. Coming of Age on Zoloft by Katherine Sharpe

 Coming of Age made me stop and think about how much I relate to the mentally ill narrative, and how much it's a part of our society. It forced me to see how I equate negative feelings with being depressed, ill, or wrong. That paradigm isn't discussed on a regular basis, and learning more about it was fascinating for me.

8. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Like Mockingjay, Little Brother focused on revolution. Unlike Mockingjay, I left Little Brother empowered, inspired and restless. It made me ponder over what the dominant culture, narrative and authority really are in North America, and how we can change it.

                                                                                                                                                                       7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Reading Lolita required me to see the humanity in villains - the underlying and universal struggles Humbert Humbert faces are what make the book disturbing, not his pedophilia or manipulative nature. It also had a lot of interesting themes regarding enigmas, projecting personalities onto children, and timing.

 6.  Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I read this one earlier this year, and I loved how it shaped my perspective of religion and survival. The way the entire moral shifts in the third act was also spectacular. I can't recommend this one enough.

5. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie Gokey is the only character who is at all close to Gemma Doyle in my book. But she didn't just speak to my emotions. She also made me think about sacrifice and personal freedom in a complex way. She's a character that would make me so confused and angry that I'd have to step away from the book every chapter. I read A Northern Light three years ago, but even now, I can go back to my internal debate about responsibility vs. opportunity.

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dorian Gray is such a strange Victorian trip of a book, and I love it for that reason. It has some radically different ideas about hedonism and youth that were fun to watch play out. And Wilde's prose is really the cherry on top.

3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray

If there's one book that's challenged my perception of reality and its importance, it's Going Bovine. Not to mention how it talks about death, cults, and art. It's a bizarre experience of a book, but it's very thought-provoking in its craziness.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
One of the best commentaries on the American Dream, and recreating the people around us to fit our own needs, The Great Gatsby is quite the masterpiece. I love everything about this novel. It's not an overrated classic by any means.

                                             1. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

It's no surprise, but the last book of The Gemma Doyle Trilogy challenges me every time I read it. How it tackles sexuality, relationships, coming of age, heroism, responsibility, power, war and religion make me think hard every time I reread it.

What books have challenged you intellectually?


  1. I rarely cry in books, but God, I cried like a baby in Mockingjay. For Finnick. For Prim. For Katniss. I loved this serie so much because it didn't wanted to make the world look better. It made it look like the real one. But still, I was shocked that almost everyone died in the end. I really hoped that Finnick and Prim and some others would live.

    Great list! ;)

    1. Mockingjay is crying-worthy, absolutely. Thank you!

  2. Great list! The most recent one that really made me think (and cry) was Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. So emotionally charged, but in a quiet way.

    1. I love books like that. Their emotional resonance is more understated, and that tone is wonderful to read. Thanks for commenting, and I love your name.