This week’s topic for 'Top Ten Tuesday' (yes, I know it's Friday. Whoops.) was ‘Top Ten Books Dealing with Difficult Subjects’ which plays right into my hands actually, because I read rather a lot of books dealing with difficult subjects. I was practically rubbing my hands together because books that are challenging and emotive and punch me right in the feels? Those are the kinds of books I can’t seem to not read.Often I'll be in a bookshop and Helen will call out to me from the other side of the shop, 'hey, Jo, this is a book about Hitler, you'll love it' and I'll be able to feel everybody's eyes on me as I look around cagily and protesting, like some kind of confused Tinkerbelle: I don't love Hitler, I don't, I don't.
What I do love is being affected by a book. I don't always want to read a book, smile and say 'well, that was good' before moving onto the next one. I like a dystopia that makes me think; I like characters that are raw and funny and human and palpable; and, I like books that break my heart and stay with me for days.
So, have at it. The best of the bunch (today at least):
Wasted: This incredible book about Myra Hornbacher’s struggle with eating disorders is the very definition of a book dealing with a difficult situation. It’s raw and hard-hitting, it pulls no punches. It's so brave too. Hornbacher really does bare her soul inside the pages, so it feels.
The Book Thief is one of my favourite books of all time. Set in Nazi Germany, it broke me into tiny pieces. I love it so much I daren’t re-read it. I have no words.
This story is that of a cellist – based, I believe, on Vedran Smailovic - who played for 22 days as snipers fought each other in the buildings surrounding him during the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990’s. It will make you bone crushingly sad but it will also fill you with wonder.
My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece deals beautifully with loss and what that means, particularly to children. S'good. I think I blogged about it when I read it actually because I thought at the time that it was good at what it did. Children deal with death - grandparents, pets, maybe even a parent or a sibling and it's a hard thing to understand - it's hard for adults so it's got to be a million times harder for children. Books like this definitely have a place. It also handles the topic of racism pretty nicely too.The best thing I think is that it remains accessible: the subject matter is tough but the story itself isn't and that's really important.