Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books that Make You Think

As usual, the prompt is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish!




Top Ten Books That Make You Think
(About the World, Life, People, etc):
1. An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance
--I really loved this book, because it is surprising and really gives you a good picture of late-nineteenth-century women. 

2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
--I think this appears on nearly every top ten list for me. It is the most meaningful book published during the nineteenth century that I have ever read. You can feel Dickens's anger and frustration with a society that is very much like our own today.

--This book is only meaningful if you have read the entire series, I guess. For me, it is the most meaningful because it allowed me to see just how easily Harry was manipulated throughout the series. In my opinion, that is the most important lesson to take from these books. 

4. Darwin's Plots by Gillian Beer
--This book is not a novel, but it is one of the most important works of literary criticism that I have come across. Beer's book helped me form my thesis for my dissertation. Her insight into nineteenth-century literature/genetics/evolution is amazing. Still a classic.

5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
--I put this one on here for the same reasons as I put Fifty Shades of Grey on the list. I am constantly amazed by people's attitude towards this book. Don't get me wrong: I think that the book is very "readable," and I don't object to it for certain aspects of entertainment value. It is definitely a great novel for "people watching"--both in terms of watching characters and watching readers. In my opinion, Rhett Butler is the only sane person in the book, because he had enough sense to get the hell out of the plot.

6. The Night Trilogy by Elie Wiesel
--If you have never read this holocaust narrative, please do so now. Amazing.

7. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
--Another story about manipulation, much like Harry Potter. I guess that is the one theme in my list: each of these books deals with how the book's imaginary society manipulates its characters or how our own society has manipulated us into thinking that certain books/issues are amazing, acceptable, or important.

8. Portraits and Other Poems by Augusta Webster
--She is my favorite poet. Check her out.

9. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
--These books are amazing, too. I love Catching Fire, but all three are good. Again: manipulation. Watching Kat strive against the manipulation is amazing, and you can check out my other thoughts about her and the series by searching this blog.

10. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
--No, it isn't a mistake that I left off the link to her novel. I am horrified that this book has outsold so many other amazing books. The writing is terrible, and the message is even worse. Listen up people: 
1) It is NEVER okay to hit women or men if you are doing so to inflict humiliation or because you get off on seeing someone else in pain. It isn't sexy. (I clarify this because I do think it is okay to hit someone if you are in danger. God knows I would do anything to get away from someone attacking me.)  
2) A "good girl" can't change a man.Ask any survivor of domestic violence.
3) A 22-yr-old virgin would run away screaming if someone like Christian presented her with a contract. And if she didn't...well, there are severe issues there. Also: Do you think he is sexy just because he is supposed to be a twenty-something billionaire? You know, Tom Cruise romanced Katie Holmes the same way--helicopters, lavish presents, etc. Looks like that didn't work out so well either. Nothing about these books is real or healthy. 
In short: I don't understand how women today can condone this book and message. It says a lot about our culture and what we have allowed ourselves to become. Women have made it into the best seller that it is, and that is incredibly sad. It ranks up there with allowing male musicians to call us bitches and parading our daughters in the guise of a prostitute to win a cheap crown on Toddlers and Tiaras. Have any of you fans of Fifty Shades ever researched women's rights or what women went through (and still go through) when beating isn't a choice but a way of life? Have you ever watched Iron-Jawed Angels? You are taking us backwards--not forwards. 
Yes, I have heard the "feminist" views about this book. No, I don't agree with them. It is not empowering. You are not empowering yourself sexually by reading this book or by acting it out. Searching for the next new sensation is not meaningful. Your "inner goddess" does not cry out to be beaten, humiliated, or degraded. You might think that these sensations seem sexy at the time you are reading, but the reality is something different. Ask any woman or man who has been abused or manipulated or emotionally scarred by a partner. Ask any woman who doesn't have a choice. I doubt that women in countries without domestic protection laws for women would be saying that the lifestyle in Fifty Shades of Grey is just so awesome. Christian would not be their dream man. For many of them, Christian is their real walking nightmare. Do yourself a favor and instead read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I guarantee you that Gaskell's Margaret Hale or Austen's Elizabeth Bennet would not have put up with Christian for a second. 

I am quite sure that my opinions will outrage some dedicated E. L. James fans. That is okay.

My rant is over. Unfortunately for the world, the obsession with Fifty Shades is not.

2 comments:

Trish said...

I am not much of a DIckens fan but Bleak House is one I've been wanting to try. And I totally agree with your take on Fifty Shades of Grey. I couldn't believe such an awful, terrible book has been so applauded by so many people. The writing is atrocious to say nothing of the message. I did a brief 'review' of book one and posted some links to other scathing reviews as well. I consider myself pretty open-minded but that this passed as 'fantasy' is quite alarming.

Susie said...

I agree, too, Trish. It is just amazing.

"Bleak House" is a long read, but I really loved it. If you have never seen the BBC miniseries, you might want to check it out. They did a good job translating the book into film.

Thanks for posting!