Hello and happy Top Ten Tuesday, guys! This week’s theme is books to read for a book club. Now, I’ve never actually been in a physical, in-person book club before and prefer being ‘free’ with my reading, but I do love the idea of sitting around with everyone who’s read the same book and ready to discuss its themes, characters, plot, etc. I mean, that’s part of why I started blogging, after all. 😂
In my experience, not all books make for an extensive discussion. The ones that are usually are books that make you think, books that have more to discuss than just “oh my god do you like this character? ME TOO!”, books that go deeper than the surface and perhaps even provide some sort of social commentary. The below are my book club picks. 😊
1) When Michael Met Mina – Randa Abdel-Fattah
“You all seem to be pretty big on assimilation for migrants too. So help me to understand because I’m struggling. Is there some kind of scale? What about a woman who wears a sari and speaks the Queen’s English, compared to, say, a guy in jeans and a T-shirt with an accent? How would you rate them?”
THEMES: refugees, asylum seekers, migration, racism, culture, identity, assimilation
LEADING QUESTIONS: We are a product of our home, but sometimes we must move beyond it. How does home trap or liberate us? To what extent, if any at all, is Michael responsible for changing the way his parents act and think? More questions and teaching notes here.
2) Stolen – Lucy Christopher
“All I could think about was you. I wanted you in the apartment. I wanted your arms around me, your face close to mine. I wanted your smell. And I knew I couldn’t — shouldn’t — have it. That’s what I hated most. The uncertainty of you. You’d kidnapped me, put my life in danger… but I loved you, too.”
THEMES: isolation, mental health, abduction, Stockholm syndrome, loss of innocence
LEADING QUESTIONS: What’s the motivation behind Ty’s kindness to Gemma? Do you believe Gemma has Stockholm Syndrome in the end or is she seeing Ty as he really is?
3) One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid
“There is other love out there for me. But it’s different. It isn’t this. It isn’t this exact love. It’s better and it’s worse. But I guess that’s sort of the point of love between two people—you can’t re-create it. Every time you love, everyone you love, the love is different. You’re different in it.”
THEMES: second loves, death, grief, relationships
LEADING QUESTIONS: What would you do if you were in the protagonist’s position? Do you think you’ll be able to love two people the way the protagonist does?
4) The Way I Used to be – Amber Smith
As the girl closes her eyes, she was thinking of him. Thinking that maybe he was thinking of her, too.
But he wasn’t thinking of her in that way. He was holding her in the palm of his hand, wrapping her around his fingers, one at a time, twisting and molding and bending her brain.
THEMES: sexual assault, rape, rape culture, identity
LEADING QUESTIONS: What does Eden fear, and how does she decide to address her fear moving forward? Do you think that her method of coping might be common among rape victims?
5) Girl Against the Universe – Paula Stokes
“The first thing you need to realize is that mental health is fluid. It’s not like you have an infection and a doctor gives you antibiotics and then you’re cured. No matter what the two of us accomplish together, you’re still going to have good days and bad days.”
THEMES: anxiety, therapy, mental health, self-acceptance
LEADING QUESTIONS: How does therapy help Maguire accept herself? Do you think that her method of coping previously worked for her?
6) Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin
We’re all taught from a young age that there are only two choices: pink or blue, Bratz or Power Rangers, cheerleading or football. We see gender in two dimensions because that’s what society has taught us from birth. But, are you ready for a shocking revelation?
SOCIETY NEEDS TO CHANGE.
THEMES: gender identity, gender fluidity, bullying
LEADING QUESTIONS: Why do you think we as humans have a need to identify others as boys or girls? How does this become problematic? What should you do when you aren’t sure which pronoun to use when addressing someone?
7) The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
“So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. the pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter’s tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and giver her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter.”
THEMES: mother-daughter relationships, culture, family, women
LEADING QUESTIONS: How were the daughters in the book influenced by their mothers, and vice versa? Who did you identify with the most? Why do you think this book has been so widely read, in schools and other settings?
8) Highly Illogical Behaviour – John Corey Whaley
He didn’t really know if he wanted a friend. Some days were lonely, sure. Always quiet, but that was something he’d gotten used to a long time ago. And, like his mom said, he hadn’t had a real friend in ages, so what did he know about being one? Jack squat. That’s what.
He didn’t fit in when he was in school, so how would he feel now, around someone whose life is out there where he’s nothing but an alien? What he feared most was that all this hiding had made it impossible for him to ever be found again.
There was no denying it. Now he knew it to be absolutely true: he had a friend. And he was terrified of her.
THEMES: mental illness, therapy, agoraphobia, friendships
LEADING QUESTIONS: What do you think of the idea that people suffering from mental can be “fixed”? How does this book show that such thinking may be problematic? What role does friendship play in this book?
9) Something in Between – Melissa de la Cruz
I wasn’t considered an American, I lost sight of who I was. I thought a piece of paper defined me, that I was a different person, lesser. But throughout this entire year, I’ve found out that who I was never changed. I let what the law said about me-that I did, as a human being, was illegal, that I didn’t belong in the place I’d always known as my own home-change my own perception of who I am.
THEMES: immigration, migration, belonging, family, cultural dissonance
LEADING QUESTIONS: What does belonging mean? What do you think of the term ‘illegal immigrants’ — in what circumstances, and to what extent, if any, is it a suitable term to use? What is it like to be a minority?
10) None of the Above – I. W. Gregorio
“That was when I realized that life was a multiple-choice test with two answers: Male and Female, And I was None Of The Above.”
THEMES: intersex, gender identity, sexual identity, bullying, self-acceptance
LEADING QUESTIONS: How does gender identity differ from sexual identity? What makes a person a ‘boy’, a ‘girl’, or something in between?
What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments! 💖