Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Today’s theme is books with question as title but…I don’t own any of these!
So I decided to rebel and chose to talk about ten books that opened my eyes. These books made me wonder what I would have done in the main character’s shoes. Or made me question my culture, the things we have done through centuries to other races or religion.
In short: books that made me richer, better.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
From the very first sentences I was horrified by what Shirin had to endure every day. Just for her choice to wear a scarf around the head.
How many violences were imparted on her.
Because of the heinous actions of some she was assimilated to terrorists and treated like one.
And then I thought:” how many times haven’t you be slightly frigthened by someone looking muslim and looking menacing to you? How many times have you been suspicious because they were different and terrorists had taken a stand, drawn a line?”
And each time I felt guilty because my frightened mind kept associating stranger with danger. Yet I knew this was false and wrong.
How many times did I think “Don’t let them win. Don’t let them create a cleavage. Don’t let them manipulate you and turn you into someone you are not: a hater.”
Reading Shirin’s struggle was both heartbreaking, humbling and enlightening.
Birthday by Meredith Russo
This book hit me hard.
I am someone who will empathize with the character, live his life, suffer with him if the author does it right.
Well it is to believed that Meredith Russo is extremely gifted as I walked in Morgan shoes all along, crying inside, raging against the unfairness of the situation.
I read it till the wee hours of the morning and ended up with puffy eyes, a congested nose and not one tissue left, thankful for being more educated and aware of some transgender ordeals and sufferings.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
This is a story about healing. Not only your body but your soul. How some people fate makes you meet will walk with you on that path and help you see the light again.
This is a story about a mysterious kid who will teach so much to adults!
This is a story of wonder and magic. That will make you constantly wonder what the truth is. Does Ursa really come from the stars? That one did nearly make me believe in aliens!
From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
Reading it I was always wondering: What would have I done? Would have I been courageous like my grand- father and refuse to help the Germans? Hid Jews? Or been a coward looking the other way?
What would it be to be hunted? To constantly fear for my own life? And if I was arrested how would I face the certainty of death?
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
That one was a real eye opener about racism!
I am a white woman but Tracy did an amazing job explaining, showing what being black meant for many.
When Bree realized that the Legendborns had a family tree dating back to Arthurian’s time whereas she could only go as far as three max four generations, like most black people in the US, it was truly shocking and eye opening.
The same could be said about a table with “black folks raising the round slab like hundred of Atlases holding the world.”
Or again, the cemetery with all tombs neatly marked and embellished for the white people whereas tombs of former slaves were completely unmarked, unadorned, lost even.
And again, racism is broached when some of the Order leer at Bree, considering her like an object at best, an impostor at worst.
One expression brilliantly explained what most colored people have to endure in the US and in so many countries, from the day of their birth: “death by a thousand cuts” generating a deep fatigue for POC.
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt
This book may be YA romance with young main characters but reading it was thought provoking.
We take so many things for granted that we don’t even see we’re very lucky, spoiled even. We pay a fortune to have cut fruits at the grocery store while whole fruits cost just a penny. Phoenix was grateful just to be alive and in a safe surrounding without bullets flying or gang members taking your dearest possession. He was grateful for everything he’s been given, second hand clothes, a bed, a roof upon his head. His American dream was not to become rich or successful. He just wanted to have a little house, to walk freely and fearlessly in the countryside and maybe have a beer with a friend. This made me realize I was lucky.
Reading about Phoenix and Ari’s life in El Salvador, about their traumatizing journey and about their hope to be safe, to live made me truly see these migrant’s utter despair. Most don’t leave their country on a whim but out of sheer necessity. When they reach a border, they’re contained in camps and begin the long wait to see if their hope will come true or be crushed again. To witness Phoenix and Ari having to prove they’re worthy was heartbreaking. They had to be cleaned and judged and deemed worthy. How many succeed? How many are rebuked? What do they become once they’ve been sent back? Phoenix knew the statistics and how very few got permission to stay in the US.
The Light of the Midnight Star by Rena Rossner
I am no writer and it’s sometimes difficult to convey my thoughts and feelings. But reading that book, written from three POV, one for each sister, alternating short chapters, between poetry and prose, following them from tragedy to tragedy, from sacrifice to sacrifice, opened my eyes like no history book has done before.
That people have suffered so much throughout centuries. It stopped being an abstract albeit awful concept to become MY reality while reading that story.
How soul crushing it must be to hide your true identity, your faith, your beliefs and to pretend just because you want to survive. I was hurting, my soul was screaming alongside Sarah’s, Hanna’s, Levana’s and their people.
“Some evil is so unspeakable that the only way we can fight it is by telling a story. Over and over again, until history stops repeating itself.”
I think books like this one should be read by everyone, in every school. To stop that circle of hate and fear of whom is different than us. To stop history from ever repeating itself.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Helen Hoang truly did an amazing job making me see the world through Esme’s eyes and she could not be more different than I am culturally and socially speaking. Aside a character’s driven story the focus of the book is very real and contemporary, broaching the immigration problematic, the huge difference in wealth and way of living between some “rich” western people compared with many individuals living from nearly nothing in other countries.
A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore
That one made me realize that I was so lucky to be born in this century being a woamn! Or rather a white woman. Because all the rights we have now where nowhere to be seen centuries ago!
This book follows lady Lucie, from noble birth but cast aside by her family once she decided to openly side for the suffragette’s cause.
Truly Lucie’s dedication and passion for that cause was admirable and awe inspiring.
I never realized how these women had to fight for what I consider my normality today: the right to vote, the right to retain my inheritance and income, the ….
The Silver Cage by Anonymous
This book was the one to send me over the edge and see “LGBTQ” literature for what it is: love stories. Pure and simple. No gay no lesbian no…I don’t want to label them M/M or F/F or… anymore because it’s just love.
Gone my preconceived ideas about the genre.
They have been reduced to ashes by Red Feather Lakes lightning.
Thanks for reading!
Love your twist on this week’s theme. A Rogue of One’s Own is such a great book. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.
I’ve only read 1 of these but as you loved them so much I’ll add some to my wishlist!
I love your take on the topic Sophie! It’s so true that book can really open our eyes, question our lives and see the world from a different perspective and that is so important. I love when a book makes me rethink and reevaluate things!
I have Legendborn and A Rogue of One’s Own to read. Thank you for sharing this list and how each book broadened your perspective! It’s one of the most remarkable things about reading, imo.
Can’t say I’ve read any of these, Sophie, but Legendborn has been on my list for a while.
Teri I hope you’ll finally read it one day because it’s a great book!
This is s list of some incredible books! I still need to read A Very Large Expanse of Sea! 🙂
I hope you’ll love it when you’ll do!
I loved The Radius of Us. It is a very underrated book.
I totally agree Sam!
Great idea for a list I’ve always wanted to read Birthday, I love how emotional it made you.
I hope you’ll read ot one day Tammy!
I love Amy Harmon! Birthday sounds like a must-read. Thanks, Sophie.
You are wlecome Jacquie!
From Sand and Ash was moving. I also enjoyed Legendborn. I will read Birthday!
May I recommend The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons? It is a trans YA romance.
Yes you may!! I have heard amazing things about that one ideed! Thank you 🙂
Not surprising but I like the sound of A Rogue of One’s Own!
Of course Stephanie :-))))
Birthday hit hard. It was painful being in Morgan’s head and feeling all those emotions. And From Sand and Ash was so memorable. Amy Harmon never disappoints!
Agreed Tanya! I cried so much with Birthday!
I had the same thoughts after finishing A Very Large Expanse of Sea!
Now I want to bump Legendborn up on my tbr!
I hope you’ll do it and will love it Hanna!
Glendy Vanderah & Amy Harmon have a way of changing the way you look at the world around you, and I totally agree with you.
And I will be eternally glad that you asked me to buddy read that on e with you Ari!