Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Tackling Tough Issues

Well, it's been a while since I did my last Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish, so I was racking my brain to come up with 10 good issues novels to make a list for this week's "Books Tackling Tough Issues" topic. That got me nowhere, but eventually I remembered that non-fiction books are books, too (I know, I know, I'm sick okay? Cut me a break!), and it so happens that a fair few of my favorite non-fiction reads deal with some tough issues. Fear not, though, I didn't forget to include the few novels I scraped up for my list.

1. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta - This is the first book I thought of when I thought "issue" book. Perrotta tackles abstinence education in such a balanced way that you won't be able to help being pissed off regardless of which side you're on.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir with this one. If you haven't read this YA about a girl dealing with her rape, you probably don't need me to tell you to because those other thousand people probably got to you first. But, you know, just in case.

3. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. - Another YA, Dreamland tackles dating violence. It wasn't my favorite Dessen, but she handles the issue well.

4. Complications by Atul Gawande - The US healthcare system is an issue right? Gawande doesn't take on the whole thing at one shot, but his essays address issues like doctors' fallibility and uncertainty. The book is entertaining and useful should you ever need the attention of medical professionals.

5. Banker to the Poor by Muhammud Yunus - Yunus writes about realizing how the field of economics does so little to help the desperately poor and proposes the solution that became the micro-credit movement.

6. No Matter How Loud I Shout by Edward Humes - I read this for a class while I was still in college, but I'd read it again in a heartbeat. The juvenile justice system is a huge issue, and this book talks about it in a way that is totally engaging and gives you the real human stories behind the failing of the system.

7. Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton - Okay, I've got a thing for justice system issues, perhaps. This one is about a woman who mis-identified her rapist and sent him to prison for years before the mistake was discovered and the verdict reversed. It calls into question our reliance on eyewitness testimony as well as our ability to be impartial when it comes to judging guilt or innocence and explores its consequences for the justice system.

8. When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert - This one does an excellent job of exploring how, when we try to help people/communities/countries we feel are less well off than us, we tend to go about it all wrong. It questions our motives - to help others or feel good about ourselves? To help people create workable systems of their own or make them dependent on us?

9. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman - This one is an approachable, engaging memoir about the author's time in low-security women's prison that deals with the issue of how prisons are preparing inmates to re-enter society, or, well, not, as the case seems to be and the obvious repercussions of that failure.

10. The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine - Ok, one more novel. This is an unflinching look at sexual slavery/child prostitution.

How do you think? What books do a fantastic job of highlighting issues?


  1. The only one I've read is Speak and it's a great pick!

  2. Nice list! I don't think I've read any of these but there are definitely some I plan to check out!

  3. Opened my eyes to some great books that I have to read. Great list by the way.

    Holly @ In-Interest

  4. Besides Speak it seems that the lists are very varied this week. I am a new follower.

    Please visit my blog and sign-up for my first ever giveaway!


  5. I read a review on Picking Cotton recently and said I must read it.

    My Top Ten


  6. Speak seems to be on everyone's lists. I really need to read it.

  7. Speak made our list as well. I enjoyed seeing what you chose. I am a new follower.

    Reading Lark's Top 10

  8. I love seeing lists with books with which I am not familiar. Off to add a bunch to my Amazon wishlist!

    Here's my Top Ten Books Tackling Tough Issues. And don't forget to enter my July giveaway!

  9. Woo, books tackling tough issues sometimes wear me out! I remember reading Dreamland in high school and feeling very uneasy.