Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

top-ten-tuesdayThis is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

This week’s topic is a hard one for me, partly because I don’t tend to gravitate towards gritty contemporary books. So I’m choosing to interpret it as Top Ten Books Which Made Me Cry A Lot. THAT I can do.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Starting out old school here! Tale of Two Cities was one of those books where I can remember so vividly reading it for the first time (lying on on our old green couch in Columbus, sobbing my eyes out). I will admit that I’ve always been a Sidney Carton fan and that even now the last page, even out of context, will reduce me to tears. Heroism, redemption, and revenge.

2. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I read this one pretty early, as part of my homeschool curriculum in fifth grade. It’s still an incredible powerful book, and all the more so for being non-fiction. Also, this started my interest in/obsession with WWII stories. A story of quiet courage, family, and forgiveness.

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Speaking of WWII stories…probably regular readers here are rolling their eyes a bit because, erm, I really like Code Name Verity and I kind of talk about it a lot. Also, I cried for three hours after I finished it the first time. While the summary says this is about WWII–and it is–this book is really about friendship and bravery and grief.

4. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I can’t help but be touched by this wonderful multi-generational story. I love the characrters fiercely and partly because of their woundedness. And as much as I love Taylor and Jonah (which I really really do), the friendships between Raffy and Taylor, between Jonah and Chaz, between Narnie and Tate and jsut all of them–that’s what makes the book for me.

5. Plain Kate by Erin Bow. I defy you to read the last 30 pages of this book without crying.

6. The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan. SRB is one of those fiendish writers who lures you into thinking everything will turn out all right and then sucker punches you. In this case, a minor character dies and my heart just breaks a little bit. There’s one particular line that I just can’t read without choking up.

7. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold. For most of the book, Cryoburn is a science fiction mystery, featuring the inimitable Miles Vorkosigan. And then the end of the book comes and OW. Just OW. However, the impact will probably not be as great if you have not read your way through the series and become overly attached to fond of the characters.

8. All Clear by Connie Willis. With this book and the next, I’m not 100% certain that it’s fair to include them on this list. That’s because I did cry a lot…mostly out of sheer relief and love. But this duology does deal with tough things as well, which in a way is all the more vivid for being set against a science-fiction background.

9. Among Others by Jo Walton. The resolution of this book definitely makes me cry, because it’s so exactly what SF/F readers in their heart of hearts long for. And to see that actually acknowledged and played out, even in fiction, is just beautiful.

10. The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien. While all three of the movies make me cry, Return of the King has a special kind of emotional intensity. Whether it’s the Ride of the Rohirrim, or Frodo’s last voyage, RotK has both grandeur and personal journeys, and I love it.



Filed under bookish posts

10 responses to “Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

  1. wow, what an AWESOME LIST to be on. I think the reason you like CNV so much is because we are mind-meld sisters in our early reading. I read A Tale of Two Cities when I was 12, like about 84 times because I was so madly and deeply in love with Our Learned Friend, and The Hiding Place was *my* early intro to WWII when I was about 8. (And yeah. Essentially you are probably the Ideal Reader for Rose Under Fire.) πŸ˜€

    • Maureen E

      There are a couple of people who share so many favorite books with me that I start to be a little scared! (Karyn Silverman from Someday My Printz Will Come is another.) But clearly only the best people love Sidney.

      Out of curiosity, Swallows & Amazons too? There’s a line in CNV that made me think so–I pretended to be Nancy Blackett for a summer & read them all. Actually, I learned to sail in Ohio because of them.

      And I cannot wait for Rose…reading the first little taste in the back of the CNV paperback made me love her already. πŸ™‚

  2. Yes! my grandmother’s best friend gave me the first one when I was 7 – it was one of my “core curriculum” books I read when I was 7 and then again and again forever. But I didn’t know the rest of the series existed until I was in college, when the New Haven Public Library had them all. It was like discovering TREASURE. And that year I, too, took a sailing course.

    • Maureen E

      That’s awesome! I was just at the right age to buy a new one as they were reissuing them–usually every time we visited my grandparents in CT.

  3. comehometobooks

    Books that made me cry — wow, that could be a whole ‘nother list! I’m like you, I don’t like really gritty stories, but I do like those that make me FEEL and THINK. They don’t have to be really graphic or raw or anything like that — they just have to feel authentic and true.


    • Maureen E

      Yes to this whole comment! Especially the part about feeling and thinking–books that make me cry are the ones that engaged me, that pulled me right into the world they create and made me CARE about the characters!

  4. Wow! Several people have referenced Code Name Verity. Obviously an excellent book that belongs on my TBR. πŸ˜‰ I like that you chose a variety – current and older. So glad I came by to visit!

    Here is our Top Ten for the week. We look forward to seeing you on Harlie’s Books!

    • Maureen E

      Well, I think it should be on EVERYONE’S TBR, but I get a little weirdly evangelical about books I love. πŸ™‚ A lot of the books that really are important to me are older books I read as a child. Thanks for the comment!

  5. I like your interpretation of the topic. If I had thought of it I would have done it.
    SYDNEY! I teared up just reading that.

    And CNV, Jellicoe, and All Clear would be on my list too.

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