Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ten Books

My friend Jen Forbus from Jen's Book Thoughts recently tagged me on a Facebook post asking for a list of ten books that have stuck with me. The instructions said not to put too much thought into it, just make a list. So here is my list, in no particular order, and with brief explanation.  

I first heard of this book when my third grade teacher, Mrs. Alice McClelland, read it to our class. She read to us everyday, right after lunch, for about ten minutes. She read many great books to us that year: Superfudge, Charlotte's Web, The Boxcar Children, and Where the Red Fern Grows to name a few. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was first, and it introduced me to novels. I'm forever grateful.

The Twentieth Century is a textbook I was required to read in college at Eastern Michigan University. However, it is notable for a few reasons. One reason is that all four of its authors were professors at EMU, which, because I was a student there, was really cool. Another is that it was written differently than many of the text books I had read: it was interesting! It told a story. It wasn't dry and boring. It was very readable. But the biggest reason it made the list is because it introduced me to a history of more than just the west. It included Asian and Middle Eastern history, too, and it is fascinating. 

Son of the Revolution is a book I was required to read for the class that used The Twentieth Century as its text book. Of course, I didn't start it until the day before the final, and only got partially through! But, it was a great book written by a man that grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. It was so compelling, I finished it immediately after the semester was over. 

This is the first book I read after college even though I didn't have to. I was working a side job at my local library one day and as a staff member was leaving for the day he asked how I was. I told him I was bored. He said, "You're in a library, pick up a book!" He recommended The Death and Life of Bobby Z., and said if I didn't like it by the end of the first chapter, he'd never recommend another book again. He was right, the book grabbed me. But he didn't have to recommend another book, I was eager to find more on my own and have had a pile waiting for me ever since!

This book is about World War I, told from both the side of the military in Europe and the protesters and soldiers at home in England. First of all, it is the most I ever learned about World War I. It was the first ware of the Twentieth Century, when officers were still commissioned because of the family from which they came, and how much they could pay for their rank. It was a meeting of two eras. Second, it was a great example of how leaders are sometimes unable to changes, despite the devastation their actions, or inactions bring. Finally, it showed the birth of communism, which at that time was more of a means to end the tyranny of the Russian monarchy and a method to get England out of the war. It was a people's government, which at the time was practically unheard of. 

This book made the list for its title. Sorrow's anthem refers to the cacophony of sound made by the sirens of emergency vehicles responding to an emergency. It is a sound I know well, and it is almost always accompanied by sorrow. Someone hurt, sometimes killed, a home lost to fire, a couple fighting; the possibilities are endless. And the sorrow is not always lost on those who respond.

This is a book about the Iraq war during the Coalition Provisional Authority. It shows how political the Iraq War was from the beginning, and how the arrogance that ruled the day ruined any hope for success in post-Sadam Iraq.  

This book includes two murders. Neither are what you think. Things are not always black & white, and maybe a good friend might have to kill you for your own good.

I read this book in junior high school. It was the first time a book brought me to tears.

How can a tragic story be told with elegance? When it's written by Toni Morrison. 

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