This week’s Top Ten Challenge from The Broke and the Bookish asked for the ten books that touched a nerve whether they made me laugh, cry, feel angry, or experience some other strong emotional reaction:
1. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – I have never read anything like this book and like many other readers I vascillated in my emotional response towards Kevin’s mother, at times I was sympathetic, at other times disbelieving that a woman could be so emotionally detached from her child. I also felt the author strongly conveyed the emotional reactions of the townspeople and parents affected by Kevin’s behaviour. An amazing book – can’t wait to see the movie!
2. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – as with most of Ellis’ work, this book provoked the frustratingly irreconciliable response of being both entertained and appalled at the same time. As a psychologist-in-training, I also thought it was a fascinating foray into the complex and disorganised mind of a psychopath.
3. Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa – I have previously provided an extensive review of this book for the Palestine leg of my book challenge. This novel completely wrung me out – I felt physically ill, emotionally wrecked and actually quite deflated after reading the constant and unrelenting atrocities that are inflicted upon a single family, let alone the wider community. I think I immediately turned to some Wodehouse afterwards as therapy!
4. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome – I also reviewed this book for the England part of my reading journey. I laughed so much that I can remember actually dropping the book a few times as I doubled over with mirth. So astute and entertaining.
5. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid – a timely book that is deeply unsettling yet compulsively readable and will have your emotional responses doing gymnastics.
6. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer – had to be on my list because it was not only a book that I found to be hilarious in parts, it was also one I actually detested and had to force my way through it – the ultimate prize, however, being the most eloquent and heartbreaking ending I have read in a long time.
7. Naked Lunch by Willian S Burroughs – as someone who prides myself on perservering with a book until its completion this one disgusted me so much that I threw it down about halfway through and felt violated!
8. The Child in Time by Ian McEwan – I listened to the audio version of this and whether it was the excellent delivery of the narrator or the prose or both, but the description of when the main character loses his daughter in a supermarket is so expertly done that I felt I was experiencing it with the character.
9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – there is an hilarious scene in one episode of Friends in which Joey is readng Little Women and is so upset by the impending death of Beth that he has to put the book in the freezer to get it away from him (you have to see it to, I guess). I felt much the same way when I read Little Women.
10. Under the Skin by Michel Faber – incredibly imaginative yet disturbing and often graphically violent. I have never read anything like it before.
It’s funny how sometimes the universe seems to be in sync with your thoughts. I had only been thinking this past weekend about writing a post on how I judge books by their titles when this very topic was chosen for this week’s top 10 at The Broke and the Bookish. Why I had been musing on this topic was because I am currently reading two books, one entitled The Grass is Singing (Doris Lessing) and the other, The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck. Based solely on the fact that I think the former title is boring and conveys the idea that the book will involve long-winded descriptions of nature and the environs of Zimbabwe, I was not particularly looking forward to reading this book. Indeed, my other choice for the same country was Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller) which I think is a much more interesting title, however, I came across the Lessing in a bookstore recently and decided to give it a go. It is actually a really enjoyable and quite riveting book so far, though betrayed by its dull title.
Anyway, onto this week’s task. These are some titles that particularly motivated me to pick up and/or read the book:
The Literary Nomad xx