So You Have Issues…? A Top Ten List

Don’t we all.

This week’s top ten list? Books that deal with tough issues (as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish).

I happen to like the cover from a design perspective, but I also included anxiety and neurosis as the number one issue on my list – almost anything written by Roth qualifies. Rycroft was a post-Freudian psychoanalyst who had a much more reasoned approach to the interpretations of dreams (which I appreciate, given I dream extensively most nights).

10. White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Abandonment and adversity.

9. The Stand by Stephen King. Survival, the flu, and the evil machinations of the government.

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Love and honesty.

7. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Nature and technology (and aliens). I’ve mentioned that one of my greatest fears (of the scary movie sort) is aliens. I’ve also mentioned my fear of flying. Have you seen the previews for 7500? I won’t be seeing that.

6. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Quite depressing, but gives voice to the forgotten and the mistreated.

5. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Unmet expectations. Can you bear living a life you don’t want?

4. The Cider House Rules by John Irving. Abortion and women’s rights – it’s been 40 years since Roe v. Wade and it is still an incredibly divisive issue (in the US, at any rate).

3. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. A close look at small town life (and the issues pertaining to a place where everyone knows everything), it’s like reading a novel by a cross between Stephen King and Harper Lee – in other words most excellent.

2. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Suicide and the idea that you may never actually know why.

1. Letting Go by Philip Roth. Anxiety and Neurosis.

What issues do you enjoy reading about or, conversely, do not like reading about? I like reading about the issues above, but I don’t particularly enjoy books where infidelity and cheating are the primary issue (it doesn’t bother me as a secondary issue).

More importantly, doesn’t that cover look like it was created with a Spirograph? Please tell me someone else had a Spirograph when they were younger (and I’m not the only incredibly nerdy person who played with a geometric drawing toy that produces mathematical roulette curves).

Image found on the Sick Sad World Tumblr – original source unknown.

30 thoughts on “So You Have Issues…? A Top Ten List

  1. Ha! I had a spirograph (and never forgave my brother for misplacing one of the wheels). It was a ‘toy’ that brought me equal parts joy and frustration. About a year ago I bought a Spirograph on eBay, which amazingly had all but one wheel, the box and everything else still intact from the seventies. Needless to say, it’s mine and I haven’t let my kids near it! 😉


    1. It might be might favorite toy from childhood – clearly I was easy to please! Now I need to start looking for one on eBay, for me only of course…


  2. I had a spirograph too. Awesome toy. Revolutionary Road – tick. Still haven’t read The Cider House Rules but if you want a good book about abortion (I know that’s an odd phrase) I love Richard Brautigan’s ‘The Abortion’. Also, Harper Lee meets Stephen King? What the hell? That sounds so crazy I have to read it immediately!

    I love books about mental health problems, as you can see from my last top ten:


    1. I really loved my Spirograph.

      The Stephen King part of that comparison has to do with the way he creates small New England towns. I don’t know if you’ve ever read ‘Salem’s Lot, Bag of Bones, or IT, but in those books he really makes the town a character as well – complete with flaws, histories, nervous ticks, etc. Peyton Place is very much like that, nothing too dark and sinister (and no clowns or vampires).


      1. If that’s what it takes, then absolutely. Though I don’t know if that will work, I’m still working my way towards The Book Thief. Someday, when I’m ready for a good cry…


      2. Okay, here’s the deal: Kate will read Empire Falls, I will read the Cider House Rules and Rory will read The Book Thief. This year. Promise?


  3. That’s a great list, some heavy stuff there. Virgin Suicides and White Oleander definitely stuck with me for a long time after reading. Never read any Roth but it’s on my to-do list.
    And of course I had a Spirograph!!!! 🙂


  4. Great list! I like lots of those ones! And yes, I had a spirograph! Totally loved playing with that when I was in grade school instead of paying attention like I was supposed to. 😀
    My TTT


    1. I suppose if the issue you are looking at is the importance of honesty and commitment. At any rate, I enjoy sharing my favorite books, so it’s possible I skewed the list a little to be able to include it.


    1. I liked it because it wasn’t a wholly depressing book about suicide, a little bit yes, but mostly it just talked about the effects it had on those who (sort of) knew them…


  5. This list made me think of Flannery O’Conner’s stories, especially the one with the Bible-selling con artist who steals a woman’s prosthetic leg. She’s very good at making you admit that awful people exist and that there isn’t much you can do about it – but I prefer the kind of story where the woman can get revenge and get her leg back. 😉


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