T5W: Books that deal with tough topics

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday! I haven’t done one of these since November, which is shockingly long ago, and I seem to have missed some really interesting themes! Speaking of which: Today’s theme is books with “hard” topics, such as mental health, illness, sexual assault, etc. And since I’m a sucker for a good tear-jerker (as books that touch on these topics often are), I’ve managed to find quite a few on my bookshelves. 😉 As always, it was difficult narrowing it down to just five, but here are some of my favourites:

Katie McGarry//Crash Into You5) Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

The Pushing the Limits series is full of characters with difficult backgrounds (orphans, runaways, drug dealers, etc.) but I singled out Crash Into You for a couple of reasons, even though most of its themes aren’t quite so heavy as in the other books in the series. Firstly, because it’s my favourite book in the series – but more importantly, because Rachel (one of the book’s two protagonists) suffers from anxiety, which is something I’ve not come across often in my literary wanderings, and makes for a really interesting read.

Haruki Murakami//Norwegian Wood4) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

What to say about Norwegian Wood? It’s a hard-hitter right from the beginning, with Toru narrating his childhood best friend’s suicide, and much of the book also deals with depression… it only gets darker as it goes on. Murakami’s slow, ponderous – almost hypnotic – writing style fits the tone of the novel perfectly, and had me caught up in its atmosphere for a long time after I’d finished reading.

Lionel Shriver//We Need to Talk about Kevin3) We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The story of a woman trying to raise a child who hates her, and is strongly implied to be a psychopath. Of course, Eva is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and her opinions colour everything in this book – which is written in the form of letters to her husband – but I think it still counts. 🙂

Jenn Bennett//Night Owls2) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

The “tough topic” in this book came as something of a surprise to me when I first picked it up, but I thought it was incredibly well-integrated into the story. Really, this book is a cute romance between aspiring medical illustrator Beatrix, and notorious teenage graffiti artist Jack – but later on, there’s an important new character introduced, who suffers from schizophrenia.

Sally Green//Half Bad1) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green

Okay, so I’ll admit that this is mostly at no. 1 because I’m currently getting close to the end of Half Lost, and am obsessed. In my defence, though, it’s a brilliant series, and seriously dark in places (by which I mean from beginning to end). Even when we’re first introduced to Nathan (the main character), he’s locked in a cage, and is being tortured on a regular basis… and it never seems to let up. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll get a happy ending, but I’m definitely not going to hold my breath.

[Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey. To find out more, or to join in, please check out the Goodreads group.]

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Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Mid-Event Survey & More Challenges!

So, we’re halfway through the readathon, and it’s just passed midnight. I’m making pretty good progress so far (though I wish I’d saved more of my fudge), but I’ve got a couple of challenges to catch up on, plus a survey – so here we go:

MID-EVENT SURVEY

1) What are you reading right now?

Talon by Julie Kagawa.

2) How many books have you read so far?

Just one – Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. Though I’ve also finished the first act of All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

3) What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Apart from finishing Talon, I’m also excited about reading A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (which, now that I think about it, is very ominously titled… Hopefully I won’t conk out before I finish it. :/ ).

4) Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Unless you count snack breaks / mealtimes as interruptions, then no. I’ve had a pretty calm reading day.

5) What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I’ve not been reading as quickly as I expected to, which is a shame, though I’m thankfully still enjoying the books that I’m reading. The biggest surprise, though, is probably how much I liked Peter Pan in Scarlet – definitely a happy surprise! 😀

IN 100 YEARS CHALLENGE

This challenge was to come up with a list of three recent books that you think people will still be reading in 100 years, and to explain why, which is a really interesting idea.

1) The Harry Potter series (by J.K. Rowling). This kind of an obvious choice, but I’m pretty sure that it’ll still be very well known in 100 years, if only for the impact that it’s had on society and fan-culture. Who knows? It might even have become a set text in schools (it wouldn’t surprise me 😛 ).

2) The His Dark Materials trilogy (by Philip Pullman). This is one of those rare children’s series that actually provides a really powerful commentary on science, religion and humanity in general. It definitely doesn’t hurt that they’re also fantastic books.

3) We Need to Talk about Kevin (by Lionel Shriver). This was just a really, really, astonishingly powerfully-written book; the kind of book that’ll have you thinking about it for months after you’ve finished reading it.

PLAN A BOOKISH PARTY CHALLENGE

1) What book is your party themed around?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll!

2) What food will you serve?

Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream; cucumber sandwiches shaped like dormice; biscuits decorated to look like playing cards and top hats; and marshmallows shaped like mushrooms, with “eat me” labels on them.

3) What’s your signature drink?

Tea, naturally. 🙂 And maybe some brightly-coloured punch or cocktails in little “drink me” bottles.

4) What games will you play?

Croquet, with bright pink mallets, and the card game Hearts.

5) What party favors will you send home with your guests?

A deck of Alice in Wonderland-themed cards and a variety of interesting kinds of teabags.