Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recommended Reading - Top Ten Tuesday #6

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most."  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

Upon discovering today's topic, I was rather pleased as it offers slightly more freedom than the last few topics have done (at least, according to my fairly strict interpretations of them).  As I can draw upon literally any book I have ever read (except maybe textbooks), I am not limited by restraints such as whether or not the book or its author happens to be one of my favorites.

Also, since I rarely ever recommend books to anyone, I can basically make up a list of whatever I want, though I can and will point people to it if they ask for my recommendations for books to read.  Therefore, without further ado, here is my list of Top Ten Recommendations:

1. The Bible - Various Authors or God, depending on your beliefs - Whether you're a Christian or not (if you are, I shouldn't need to recommend it to you), the Bible is fascinating read.  In print longer than most any other book on the market (there are older known works, though few are in wide circulation), it carries a great deal of historical significance beyond its importance to Judaism and Christianity.  If reading it is more of a hassle than you're interested in putting up with, the History Channel is currently showing a miniseries based upon it that is highlighting what most would consider the "interesting bits".

2. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen - For those of us of the male persuasion, the works of Austen rarely feature in our reading lists beyond required reading save for those of us who enjoy literature.  However, its reputation as chick lit (which I have heard it called several times by the more... athletically-inclined) is decidedly undeserved.  Well-written and genuinely fun, I recommend this without reservation.

3. Watership Down - Richard Adams - Rabbits! Talking ones! Offering a fairly unique glimpse into the life of a rabbit warren, this book finds a comfortable balance between making them easy to relate to without over-humanizing them à la Beatrix Potter.

4. The Princess Bride - William Goldman - The movie has proven to be a cult classic, and the book is just as good (and possibly even better).  Offers glimpses into the story of Buttercup and Westley and the kingdom of Florin that the movie doesn't include.

5. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green - A wonderful story about live, love, and loss, this one's been recommended by... well, almost everyone, including Time, Barnes & Noble, and a few others.  Arguably John Green's best book to date (though I've liked them all so it's a tough call).

6. Dracula - Bram Stoker - If you've never looked into this book before, what you'll find may prove far different than your expectations.  A great story, and one you should read if you want to know how the story of Dracula began.

7. The Giver - Lois Lowry - When trying to think of a way to describe this book, the best I can offer is that it is entirely other.  That's it, you'll have to read it to understand.

The next three I have grouped together, though their inclusion on this list was not the result of any premeditated act.  Three different perspectives on racism, progressing on from pre-emancipation to the Civil Rights Movement.

8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain - The classic (and controversial) tale of a vagabond boy from pre-Emancipation Missouri, the book has seen its share of troubles, from being banned in classrooms to being attacked by some of America's great writers.  However, the book still deserves consideration despite the controversy - the coarse and offensive language and its portrayal of Jim being the two main issues. People tend to forget (I think intentionally) that a large part of this country prior to (and still after) the Civil War viewed anyone who wasn't white in this way.  It may not be popular to own up to it, but the popularity of truth doesn't have an impact on its validity, last I checked.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - Partially based on the life of the author, Mockingbird once again takes us back to the South, this time some 80 years or so after the events contained within Huck Finn.  A powerful story, it covers life in the Depression-era Alabama with an honesty and simplicity that makes for a good read.  Once again, race plays a major role, revealing that, despite both war and the dividing decades, things aren't much better in the South.  Atticus is a fine example of integrity in the face of public opinion, even when that integrity leads to trouble for those he loves.

10. And the Walls Came Tumbling Down - Ralph David Abernathy - The only non-fiction book on this list, I will begin with an extremely short history lesson on the author, whom I have found is not as well known as he deserves.  Abernathy was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., his right hand man from Montgomery right on up to Memphis.  While I never met him (he died when I was 3), I did have the pleasure of meeting his wife, who signed my copy of the book, which may bias me towards this particular book.  An autobiography, Abernathy focuses primarily on the Civil Rights Movement, detailing the struggles they faced and how they overcame them.  An incredibly detailed book, it covers the entirety of the movement in a way that few others could have, giving you a real sense of what it really took to beat "Jim Crow". 

And there you have it!  It got a bit serious there at the end, but who says every list has to just be for fun?  If you end up reading any of these, let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you and I'll check out your recommendations as well.

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