Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s TTT is a freebie, meaning I can create any Top Ten list I would like.
I have been so into reading Infinite Jest (which I finished last night) that I didn’t have a chance to enlist anyone to do this week’s Friday’s Five Books. So in lieu of FFB, I am going to list the next ten books from my TBR pile that I will be reading. I have heard great things about all of them, so consider them recommendations as well.
In no particular order:
1. Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, by Melissa Harris-Perry — This is actually the book that I am going to start reading today. I have been looking forward to this book coming out for quite a while. From Amazon.com:
In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women’s political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as a citizen links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current First Lady of the United States.
I am a big fan of Melissa Harris-Perry, and I know that this book is going to be good.
2. State of Wonder, by Anne Patchett — I have never read anything by Patchett, but this book has been described as wonderful by a bunch of people with whom I share a similar taste in books. From what I understand, the story takes place in Brazil, where a doctor/researcher has disappeared while working on some kind of valuable new drug. Another doctor from the same pharmaceutical company is sent to Brazil to search for her (the missing doctor is also this doctor’s former mentor), and hopes to find the answers to a bunch of other questions in the process. As Amazon.com describes it, “In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.” (I was lucky enough to win this book in a giveaway hosted by Rachel of a home between pages.)
3. Annabel, by Kathleen Winter — I first wrote about this book back in February in one of my Breakfast & Books posts. Annabel is a novel about Wayne, born a hermaphrodite, who grew up in a remote town in Canada. Only his parents and their neighbor (a midwife) know that Wayne was born both male and female, and though his parents decide to raise the baby as a boy, the women continue to secretly nurture his female side. Annabel is the name he has given his “shadow-self”, the result of this quiet, feminine upbringing. This book has been on my TBR pile for months, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it the whole time. It will be one of the next ten books I read.
An international sensation, Sofi Oksanen’s award-winning novel Purge is a breathtakingly suspenseful tale of two women dogged by their own shameful pasts and the dark, unspoken history that binds them.
When Aliide Truu, an older woman living alone in the Estonian countryside, finds a disheveled girl huddled in her front yard, she suppresses her misgivings and offers her shelter. Zara is a young sex-trafficking victim on the run from her captors, but a photo she carries with her soon makes it clear that her arrival at Aliide’s home is no coincidence. Survivors both, Aliide and Zara engage in a complex arithmetic of suspicion and revelation to distill each other’s motives; gradually, their stories emerge, the culmination of a tragic family drama of rivalry, lust, and loss that played out during the worst years of Estonia’s Soviet occupation.
5. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson — This nonfiction work chronicles the Great Migration of almost six million Black people who left the south between 1915 and 1970 to find better lives for themselves in the north and west. Wilkerson did a ton of research and interviewed more than a thousand people, and she tells the story through three people specifically. Wilkerson has won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 (which made her the first Black woman to win the award for journalism and individual reporting). Currently, she is Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. I bought this book when it first came out and meant to start reading it immediately. I vow to read it before the end of the year.
6. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving — John Irving became one of my favorite authors when I finally read The World According to Garp this year. His story-telling abilities and writing style are fantastic. A Prayer for Owen Meany is the story of John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany, a boy who believes that he is an instrument of God. It takes place in New England in the 1950s-60s and has been described as Irving’s most comic novel with the most heartbreaking character. This book inspired the 1998 Jim Carrey Film, Simon Birch. I’ve read two other books by Irving and have yet to be disappointed, so I know I’m going to love this one, too.
7. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller — This is going to be a re-read for me, so it will probably be the last of the ten books from this list that I read. I read Catch-22 in high school and loved it. It is set in Italy during WWII, and Yossarian is a bombardier who is completely pissed off at the fact that all of these people he doesn’t even know are trying to kill him. He’s also angry that his army keeps increasing the number of missions they must fly in order to finish out their time in service. Yossarian wants to find an excuse to leave the service, but this is where the Catch-22 comes in: if a man willingly continues to fly these missions, he is considered insane and therefore doesn’t have to fly them anymore… but if he formally requests to be removed from this dangerous duty, he is considered sane and is ineligible to be relieved. Catch-22 is full of dark humor, and is probably the most honest depiction of the craziness and silliness of war that I have ever read.
8. The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, by Sheril Kershinbaum — I learned of this book when it was reviewed by Julia of The Broke and the Bookish and I thought it sounded really interesting. Julia later hosted a giveaway of the book for the site’s one-year blogoversary and I ended up winning. From Amazon.com:
When did humans begin to kiss? Why is kissing integral to some cultures and alien to others? Do good kissers make the best lovers? And is that expensive lip-plumping gloss worth it? Sheril Kirshenbaum, a biologist and science journalist, tackles these questions and more in THE SCIENCE OF KISSING. It’s everything you always wanted to know about kissing but either haven’t asked, couldn’t find out, or didn’t realize you should understand. The book is informed by the latest studies and theories, but Kirshenbaum’s engaging voice gives the information a light touch. Topics range from the kind of kissing men like to do (as distinct from women) to what animals can teach us about the kiss to whether or not the true art of kissing was lost sometime in the Dark Ages. Drawing upon classical history, evolutionary biology, psychology, popular culture, and more, Kirshenbaum’s winning book will appeal to romantics and armchair scientists alike.
9. The Minds of Billy Milligan, by Daniel Keyes — This book came up in a conversation my husband and I were having a couple of weeks ago. Billy Milligan is a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and he supposedly has 24 different personalities. I say “supposedly” because I tend to be on the skeptical side of the debate surrounding DID. In the 1970s, Milligan committed many crimes (including armed robbery and rape) and was arrested for three rapes that occurred on the campus of Ohio State University. He was the first person diagnosed with DID (then called Multiple Personality Disorder) to use the insanity defense in court, claiming that it was his other personalities who committed the crimes and the crimes were committed without his knowledge. He was eventually put in various mental hospitals, including Athens State Hospital in Athens, OH (Athens, OH being the place where my husband spent a good portion of his childhood and adult life). This book is the story of Billy Milligan: his history, his disorder, his crimes, etc. Daniel Keyes was a professor at Ohio University in Athens for some time, and is also a friend of my husband’s parents (my husband’s father was also a professor at Ohio University). I’m interested in what Keyes has to say about Milligan and his disorder, so I’m going to give this a read.
10. A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates — This is JCO’s memoir about the loss of her husband, the man whom she had spent almost 50 years of her life with. In A Widow’s Story, JCO tells us how she dealt with the loss, the denial, the grief, and the disorientation caused by the loss of her husband. JCO has always been a very private person, so the fact that she wrote this book–in an attempt to help others who are, or will be, going through the same thing–gave me even more respect for her than I had before. JCO is another of my favorite authors, so reading this book is a no-brainer for me. I’ve held off reading it for too long already.
So there you have it–a list of the next ten books at the top of my TBR pile. I also have a bunch of reviews to post over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for those.
What are you reading right now? What do you have on deck to read in the future?
**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).