This week's theme: Top Ten Books that made me THINK. Here they are, in no particular order...
1. Of Mice and Men - I can remember reading this book... I was in middle school. I cried. If I tell you why, though, it'll give away the ending. John Steinbeck really made me think about innocence (and the loss of...) and responsibility. Haunting.
2. Everything is Illuminated - Profoundly beautiful and devastating, all at once. Jonathan Safran Foer... I am humbled to think that he is the same age as me... his writing, his storytelling, blows me away. The second World War features large in this book, as does the theme of forgiveness.
3. The Wicked Day - This is the 4th book in Mary Stewart's Arthurian series... and she once again worked her magic. Mordred, a classic villain, became a sympathetic character to me. So much so that I had to ask myself questions about fate, unavoidable destiny, and evil.
4. The Longings of Women - I know what you're thinking, but it's not like that. Marge Piercy (my absolute favorite poet) has written a zillion novels too... and this one's affecting characters will make you reconsider the assumptions you make about strangers and near strangers (like the girl who works at the coffee shop, or your housekeeper...).
5. My Year of Meats - I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago here. This book, by Ruth Ozeki, isn't designed to convert people to vegetarianism... but that's just what it did for me. A thought provoking look at American culture (as marketed to the rest of the world), the media culture (as part of that marketing machine), the meat industry (doing the marketing), and marketing (as a vehicle for telling the story you want, whether it's true, or applicable, or none of the above)... all wrapped up in an ironic novel full of sarcasm and humor.
6. Wicked - Another book that made me reconsider a classic villain... and how the face of evil, and the face of beauty, sometimes changes with knowledge and perspective. Gregory Maguire... you really know how to mess with the establishment. Thank you.
7. The Other End of the Leash - This is a non-fiction entry by Patricial McConnell. Yes, I'm one of those people that spends an inordinate amount of time staring at my dog wondering if he's content, what he's thinking, how to make him understand what I am thinking... and this book really lays it out in detail. It's a beautiful way to open the door of understanding between you and your canine companion.
8. Of Wolves and Men - Another non-fiction entry by Barry Lopez. This comprehensive look at wolves (biological, historical, mythological, political) really shed some light on the world of wolves... the people who demonize them and the people who romanticize them.
9. More Ready Than You Realize - Back in 2003, this book by Brian Mclaren pushed me outside of my comfortable little conservative Christian bubble... my life has not been the same since. Non-fiction entry.
10. Little House in the Big Woods - yeah, sure, we all read Little House by Laura Ingalls Wilder when we were kids... and we joke about the "purity" and the "simplicity" of it now... but you want a picture of how daily life went for the pioneers? You want to take the time to really think about how harsh that simple life really was? Read it again as an adult... and think about how few generations removed we are from that reality. I tell you, it boggles the mind.