Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke & The Bookish. This week’s prompt is:
Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed (less love, more love, complicated feelings, indifference, thought it was great in a genre until you became more well read in that genre etc.)
1.) Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind:
When I first found this series, I flew through all 12 books. Around the halfway mark, I started skimming because of repeat passages and felt the books were being padded. But I continued on for the characters, the plot, and the setting.
Then I talked to people and realized a lot of things about his books. Beyond the deus ex machina and Macguffins, it’s the Libertarian politics (which I’d never heard of before), and how women are portrayed. His politics were what really drove me out though. It was so heavy-handed and preachy.
Orem Utah: What do you think distinguishes your books from all of the other fantasy books out there, and why should readers choose to read your series?
Terry Goodkind: There are several things. First of all, I don’t write fantasy. I write stories that have important human themes. They have elements of romance, history, adventure, mystery and philosophy. Most fantasy is one-dimensional. It’s either about magic or a world-building. I don’t do either.
And in most fantasy magic is a mystical element. In my books fantasy is a metaphysical reality that behaves according to its own laws of identity.
Because most fantasy is about world-building and magic, a lot of it is plotless and has no story. My primary interest is in telling stories that are fun to read and make people think. That puts my books in a genre all their own.
So I guess readers who are interested in story rather than world-building and details of magic would have a good time reading my books.
What I have done with my work has irrevocably changed the face of fantasy. In so doing I’ve raised the standards. I have not only injected thought into a tired empty genre, but, more importantly, I’ve transcended it showing what more it can be-and is so doing spread my readership to completely new groups who dont like and wont ready typical fantasy. Agents and editors are screaming for more books like mine
Haddonfield, NJ: Second Question – I’ve noticed similarities between your Sword of Truth series and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series…(Black Sisterhood vs. Black Ajah; The Order vs. The Seanchan; Richard vs. Rand both discovering their powers, both have Nameless evil Gods…etc.) I’ve often voiced my suspicion that these two series might be occurring on the same world…how crazy am I?
Terry Goodkind: If you notice a similarity, then you probably aren’t old enough to read my books.
Kansas City, KS: What made you choose to leave out other common races(dwarves, elves, etc) from your books?
Terry Goodkind: Please refer to the previous answer, in which I explain that I’m not writing fantasy … My purpose is not weirdo cultural diversity. I repeat: I am writing stories about important human beings.
Question: Lately I’ve found myself in many arguments defending your books against ‘fans’ who say they used to like your books but no longer do to the extent that they used to. Would you mind settling some debates by answering the question: What, if anything do you have to say to the people that voice the opinion that you’re latest four books haven’t been as good as the previous four and call them “too preachy”?
Answer: Don’t be fooled. The assertion made by these detractors is a note wrapped around a brick thrown through the window. These people are not fans. There are hundreds if not thousands of fantasy books that fulfill their professed taste in books. Why would they continue to read books they claim are bad? Because they hate that my novels exists. Values arouse hatred in these people. Their goal is not to enjoy life, but to destroy
2.) Luna by Julie Anne Peters:
Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen’s struggle for self-identity and acceptance.
This is another milestone in my progressive awakening. I first found this book in my middle school library in was a small, rural, conservative town. I was shocked to find it there but it was, because the school librarian was awesome. I loved this book so much. I’d never heard of trans* people before and it was so obviously wrong how they were treating Luna.
However, again, growing up and being exposed to other people I found out how problematic it is. Like how it switches between he and she pronouns, how Luna’s not a fully developed person we get to explore or understand, but an object, and how being from only Regan’s spoiled bratty selfish ignorant POV makes it a heteronormative book, not a QUILTBAG one.
It still has a special place in my heart, but now it’s for multiple, complex reasons.
3.) The Redwall series by Brian Jacques
I remember reading this series and loving it as middle-schooler. Now, I can’t remember a damn thing about it and have a hard time going back to read it. I just don’t want to with no clue as to why.
4.) A Child Called It by David Pelzer
Content Warning: Graphic horrible abuse, neglect, and rape.
This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games–games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother’s games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an “it.”
Dave’s bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive–dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.
This is a very difficult one for me. I kinda don’t even want to talk about it but…I’m hoping I’ll feel better after, honestly. Another read in middle school and I remember it being one of the very few books we had a wait list for. I did NOT like having to wait for a book for the first time and it hasn’t gotten any easier.
I vividly remember scenes from this book to this day, particularly a rape scene and a miscarriage. This is the first book to ever trigger me. This was the first time I saw everyone reading something and hoping it would get better for me as a child of abuse.
It did not, though that’s hardly the book or author’s fault. It was so hypocritical hearing spout “We need to be better!” when I was sitting right there and they didn’t say a damn thing.
And there’s controversy about the author buying his own books to stay on the bestseller list and whether his account is factual. The first is wrong, though it doesn’t have a bearing on the book exactly, and the latter makes me deeply uncomfortable.
Because I’ve read the articles, and those people have a point. I can’t shake them off completely. Maybe it’s just embellished, I don’t know. Because if I ever came out with my story, I know my estranged family and town would rise against me. (See Steubenville for a real life example). Because I default to believing the victims and now I feel like a hypocrite.
Then there’s Child Abuse As Entertainment issues. I just wish I’d never read this or heard of it.
Content Warning: Rape, Systematic Gender Abuse & Discrimination.
This powerful account of brutality against women in the Muslim world remains as shocking today as when it was first published, more than a quarter of a century ago. It was the horrific female genital mutilation that she suffered aged only six, which first awakened Nawal el Saadawi’s sense of the violence and injustice which permeated her society. Her experiences working as a doctor in villages around Egypt, witnessing prostitution, honour killings and sexual abuse, inspired her to write in order to give voice to this suffering. She goes on explore the causes of the situation through a discussion of the historical role of Arab women in religion and literature.Saadawi argues that the veil, polygamy and legal inequality are incompatible with the just and peaceful Islam which she envisages.
This book I found through assigned reading in a Philosophy class in community college. My teacher handed out one passage. I immediately went to the library to get the book and read the whole thing. And re-read it. I couldn’t give it back and kept renewing it, languishing over it. It was my first book hangover and it awakened my hunger for more.
I love it. I still love it. I love it even more now given what I’ve learned and seen. It’s amazing and I will never not recommend it to everyone.
6.) Jacqueline Carey‘s books (all of them) and 7.) The Black Jewel Series by Anne Bishop.
Combined because I love them for the same reason: feminist as fuck, sexy, sex positive with fantastic writing, settings, and characters. Even though I didn’t think it was possible, I love them even more now. I haven’t found another author or series like them.
If anyone has suggestions, PLEASE let me know!
8.) She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.
Content Warning: Rape, Abusive Relationships
In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years.
Meet Dolores Price. She’s 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.
My mother read this book and gave it to me. She was speechless, just shoved it into my hands and said “read this”. And I will never forget it.
This is the first book I really, truly saw myself in. Delores’s struggles with being raped, her weight, her peers, her romantic relationships, herself…all of it. I connected with her in such a way, I still haven’t with another book or character. The similarities were startling and Wally got it. all. right. I was so fucking shocked to find out Wally was a man. It was mind blowing that a man could understand so deeply and write it so purely.
Now older, a mother and free of my own abusive relationship, the relationship has gotten even stronger. While my daughter’s still too young and she hasn’t dealt with these issues (and hopely never will), I will be passing it along to her one day. It’s an amazing book, even if you’ve never been where we have.
Now, I’m going to stop here. I’m emotionally drained from all this, though I’m glad to have done so.
I can’t wait to read everyone else’s choices and reasons!