Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing with Tough Subjects

Last week’s post for Top Ten Tuesday was light-hearted with the things to read when you want something light and fun theme, but this week is more up my ally since I’m attracted to all the dark & twisty – problematic, heartbreaking, turned up lifting novels. Even when I think I’m picking something light, it ends up being INTENSE probably 98% of the time (like My Life Next Door a week ago, or Eleanor & Park!) Today’s topic from The Broke and The Bookish is “books dealing with tough subjects.” I don’t even have to ponder recommendations, they’re already oozing out of my fingertips, but the problem is narrowing, so I’m not even going to dwell on that part right now. I’ve done a combo of some YA Fiction, “middle-grade” (what? I know, I don’t even know. Labels are stupid, but you’ll see what I mean when you’re  like oh! I read that in third grade) and adult contemporary fiction. I thought of books that inspired intense feelings, ones I couldn’t put down, ones I had to take breaks from, ones that reached deep into my gut. Books that made me cry. Books I have memories of that feel like friends and family.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky. In my top favorite books of all time. Enough said.

The Fault In Our Stars 
John Green. Death. Loss. Questions. Growing up. Teen love. Friendship. It will break your heart, but read it anyway.

Thirteen Reasons Why Jay Asher. I couldn’t put this down. Though at times it felt like it was hard to breathe while I was reading because I was so anxious, it’s an amazing story. This one deals with teen suicide, bullying, gossip, SO many subjects are covered. Plus it’s told in a really non-conventional way that’s like a compulsive read.

The Probability of Miracles Wendy Wunder. I started crying early on, but still this is an amazing book. I read it last year and I wish I could experience it for the first time again because it’s just that great. I couldn’t stop talking about it. Terminal illness. Love. Friendship. Family. Absorbing the greatness of life.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour Morgan Matson. This is a great one that involves putting back together the pieces of life after things seem to have fallen apart. Accidents. Guilt. Stages of grief.

Second Chance Summer Morgan Matson. Even though I knew it was coming I still found tears streaming down my face when the final stages of death ascended in this one. So intense, but so great.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz A.S. King. I didn’t know what to expect with this story. It’s so layered and complicated, but that’s part of what makes it such a compelling read. It’s painful but it’s brilliant.

Becoming Chloe Catherine Ryan Hyde. This is definitely a story about finding light in the darkness. Putting together broken pieces through friendship, the glue of life. It’s heavy, but it’s beautiful.

Speak Laurie Halse Anderson. Isolation. Being outcasted in highschool. Rape. Bullying. Finding courage. This story has provided a voice to so many.

See You At Harry’s
Jo Knowles. Oh my heart. This is one of those I had to take a moment to collect myself because I couldn’t see the pages through my tears. This covers so much and I don’t even want to tell you what so you won’t be looking for them in each chapter, but it’s SO GOOD.

Silent to the Bone E.L. Konigsburg. This is an incredibly intense story. Accusations. Mystery. Painful, but powerful. Even though I read this years and years ago, I still consider it a favorite, and it’s quite memorable not just in plot but in the emotions I felt while reading it.

Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson. I cannot even go here because I do not need to involve myself in a sob fest at the front desk at work, buuut this is an amazing store. Fair warning though, my mom and I both cried for probably about two weeks after reading it.

Letters from Rifka Karen Hesse. This is what I mean by “hey! I read that a long time ago.” But yeah, and it’s always stuck with me. A look into the life of immigration from Russia to America in 1919.

The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold. Sebold covers a lot of ground here. Sexual abuse, grief, tragedy, how loss affects the family and it’s all from a very unique narrative perspective.

The Help
Kathryn Stockett1962 Jackson, Mississippi. What it’s like to be a maid to some pretty hateful spoiled white women. But it’s about so much more than that. I laughed a lot, but I cried a lot too. The deep kind where I had to catch my breath.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Jonathan Safran Foer. Again – grief, but this one is different told from the perspective of a child who lost his father in the tragedy of 9/11. It’s an exquisite story, ripe with the inquisitive, tender wonder of life through a child’s eyes.

Same Kind of Different As Me Ron Hall & Denver Moore. The only non-fiction book I have on this list, but it’s life changing. (The subtitle is a quick explanation that should start you wondering: “A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together.”) Read this. Don’t even question it, just go read!

Okay, so obviously my listing got a little out of hand. Don’t start counting, I’ve surpassed ten and when I look at the link ups I just want to add everything to my list. Seriously. (Everyone else is so good at making these pretty little color coded charts all categorized and my posts are always like word vomit lists!) It might sound crazy but I am attracted to the emotional, heart-wrenching novels but I really like when an author connects with a reader – creates a world with relatable characters showing that you’re not the only one to have these experiences, but then takes the opportunity to shine a light as well, not just tell a story that rips your heart out.


11 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing with Tough Subjects

  1. I love how long your list is! I could’ve made mine longer but chose not to for the sake of my readers haha. I’m so happy to see Second Chance Summer on here. I read it a few weeks ago and I can definitely say it’s my favorite book of all-time. That ending absolutely ruined me.

    • Oh, I agree! I was like “I’ll be fine, I’m prepared, I know what’s coming.” Then BAM! I’m just falling apart, tears everywhere, such a mess. It made my heart hurt and I woke up and I could still feel the heaviness, That being said it’s still wonderful! Did you read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour? (It’s INCREDIBLE and didn’t tear me apart the same way.) Eek! I feel kind of bad that I couldn’t condense into ten, but I just didn’t even count. I look at everyone else’s lists and I’m like wow! Basically everything I read and love falls into place with this one. I’ll have to go check out yours! 🙂

    • I know right?! I first encountered this one back when my mom would read stories aloud to me…we did not know what we’d gotten ourselves into. It’s on SEVERAL of the lists I’ve skimmed. Apparently, it’s affected most readers at some point or another…

  2. Great list! I loved TFIOS, Perks, 13RW, Speak, The Lovely Bones, & The Bridge to Terabithia. I started listening to Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, but I didn’t like the narrator, so I bought the book[but I haven’t read it yet!].

    Here’s my Top Ten!

    -Kait @ The Reading Vixens

    • Awesome! We have similar tastes 🙂 I’ll have to go check out your list. As for A&RED – I haven’t listened to audio but good call on stopping and getting the hard copy instead. It’d be awful for the narrator to ruin it for you. (I listened to “Life As We Knew It” and the narrator drove me nuts and I think it really influenced my opinion of the book.) This was one of my favorite Top Ten topics in awhile! Thanks for checking out my list 🙂

    • Man, I think I would like ANYTHING Morgan Matson writes, she just has that touch ya know? As for Becoming Chloe – I don’t know many people who have read it anyway, (which kind of drives me nuts because I’d love to talk about it.) Thanks for the taste comment! 🙂

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