reading my way through every country in the world…

Top Ten Tuesday – Books that touched a nerve

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.

8 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday – Books that touched a nerve”

  1. Falaise says:

    I’ve got the Reluctant Fundamentalist on my shelf at home so I was interested to see you list it here. I also see you are currently in Albania. How are you finding Kadare? One of the very first books I reviewed was one of his.

  2. Willa says:

    I am so with you on “Under The Skin”. It made me almost physically sick because of the violence. Could eat after reading it. I have “The Crimson Petal and the White” by Michel Faber on my list.

  3. Amen to “Three Men in a Boat”. I was listening to it in audiobook and must have seemed crazy, laughing by myself in public. The description about the cheese delivery was my favorite.

  4. Alex says:

    @Alex-The Sleepless Reader: Oh you are so right – I loved that bit as well! I also loved it when he was talking about packing his toothbrush and, later, when the dog bites the mouth of the kettle and then does laps of the island.

  5. Alex says:

    @ Willa: I haven’t read The Crimson Petal and the White yet but having recently seen the miniseries, I suspect I’d find it pretty hard-going!

  6. Alex says:

    Hi Falaise! I am in two minds about Kadare – I think he is an amazingly imaginative and unpredictable writer but the lack of plot and his constant divergences make me feel like I am reading a series of essays rather than a novel. Read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and let me know what you think!

  7. We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of my all time favourite books. Funny, considering what it’s about, but it is so well written. I loved it. I agree with The Child in Time too…. so believable.

    I laughed when you mentioned that episode of Friends ;) hehe too funny! Love that show, and this book!’

    Great choices.

  8. Alex says:

    Thanks Rachel! Are you going to see the film version of We Need To Talk About Kevin? I am going to just to see how well they pull it off! :)

Leave a Reply