Emotional Reads

I like to be moved by literature, which is why I don’t go crazy for metafiction or postmodernism or overly intellectual fiction (Don DeLillo, Thomas Pyncheon, etc.). Such was the book I read yesterday for work.

Otter asks,

What are the five books in your library (or memory) that stirred the greatest emotive reaction in you?

What I mean is, what five (or more) books most brought you close to tears, laughter, anger, whatever?

My five:

Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis
. The retelling of the tale of Cupid and Psyche, Till We Have Faces is a moving meditation on sacrifice and the pain of feeling shame and unworthiness. It’s also beautifully written, and for those afraid of being proselytized to, it’s not overtly Christian like his other fiction.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
. First of all, Meg Murray is the best heroine a regular girl could ask for, with her brown hair, glasses, low self-esteem. Her father has disappeared, and she and her younger brother Charles Wallace (gifted but withdrawn) and cute older boy Calvin end up traveling to another planet to find him in thrall to a disembodied brain called IT. Skillfully blending dystopian science fiction with family melodrama, the book brings me to tears when Meg has to make her final sacrifice to save her father.

Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz
. The true account of the rape of a mentally challenged girl in New Jersey in 1989, this book horrified and angered me with the depth of entitlement displayed by the attackers. This book is a well-researched, in-depth account of what happens when evil comes to town.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
. This is the true story of two Dutch sisters who hid Jews during the Anschluss, and what happened when they were caught and sent to a concentration camp. These women are true humble heroes, and their tale lifts up my heart every time I read it. The best part, though, is Corrie’s self-castigation over not being as perfect as her sister Betsie. That touch of sibling rivalry cuts through the bravery to keep the story grounded and accessible.

Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America by Wesley J. Smith
and The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James Kunstler. I love me some good rabble-rousing, and these two books both made me want to run out into the streets and tell everybody what’s wrong with our world. Get me in a conversation that touches on politics and I’m sure to bring in one or both of these books.

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