It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday!!! For those of you who don’t know, Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme revolves around either your Top 10 Books with Historical Settings or your Top 10 Books with Futuristic Societies! I decided to highlight both by splitting my Top 10 into two Top 5 lists! Within this Top 10 Tuesday list, you will find the best of both worlds!
Top 5 Historical Settings
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
All The Light We Cannot See takes place during World War II. I know there are PLENTY of novels and films and other forms of entertainment that have depicted this time in history, but there was something about the way that All The Light We Cannot See dealt with this topic that made it stand out from others. It was told from the perspective of two children as they grew up while the war was taking place and it was written so beautifully.
Goodreads Synopsis: WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE. From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
I still have some issues with On The Road, but in terms of depicting what life was like in America in the late 1940’s / early 1950’s, it’s pretty fantastic. After reading On The Road I seriously wished that I could have been alive during this time period. On The Road also sparked my love for all things related to the Beat Generation.
Goodreads Synopsis: On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The Alienist was probably one of the best historical fictions novels I have ever read. I actually found out about it after my Beat Generation craze as The Alienist was written by Caleb Carr, the son of Lucien Carr. This book is so detailed it’s insane. Usually, that might be something that would bore me to death, but in this case every bit of detail was relevant!
Goodreads Synopsis: The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or “alienist.” On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan’s infamous brothels. The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler’s intellect and Moore’s knowledge of New York’s vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology– amassing a psychological profile of the man they’re looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before–and will kill again before the hunt is over. Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian’s exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Now I’m not sure if this necessarily qualifies as a historical setting, but I mean, it does time jump! Look, I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction okay, it’s not really my thing, but I do believe that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children definitely consists of some historical elements. I love how quirky this novel is, especially in the way that it uses photography. Miss Peregrine’s is definitely a series you should check out if you haven’t yet!
Goodreads Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was another product of my love for the Beat Generation. This crazy depiction of the psychedelic 1960’s follows some of the Beat Generation members as they go on yet another road trip that quickly escalates into one hell of an adventure.
Goodreads Synopsis: Tom Wolfe’s much-discussed kaleidoscopic non-fiction novel chronicles the tale of novelist Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. In the 1960s, Kesey led a group of psychedelic sympathizers around the country in a painted bus, presiding over LSD-induced “acid tests” all along the way. Long considered one of the greatest books about the history of the hippies, Wolfe’s ability to research like a reporter and simultaneously evoke the hallucinogenic indulgence of the era ensures that this book, written in 1967, will live long in the counter-culture canon of American literature.
Top 5 Futuristic Societies
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
I recently read Illuminae due to the incredible amount of hype that was surrounding it. I loved the way the story was told using only files and documents. Illuminae takes place way into the distant future and yet it felt so relatable, as if similar moments could take place today. Of course, we don’t have the ability to travel from planet to planet, but I love stories that make me believe that it could be possible some day!
Goodreads Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Here we have my favourite book that I read during 2015 and probably one of my favourite books of all time. It was honestly like this book was catered to me and my interests specifically. I absolutely adored it and the very plausible futuristic society that takes place within. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly suggest that you get to it ASAP as you are severely missing out!
Goodreads Synopsis: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Here we have yet another favourite of mine that I read last year. It’s also definitely on A LOT of people’s favourites lists as The Martian was probably one of the best science fiction stories I have ever read. If this were told in any other way using the same language, I’m sure I would have been confused and/or bored BUT, mixed with the genius levels of humour and satire, The Martian delivers quite the unique story. Of course this is futuristic as we clearly don’t have the resources to send people to Mars just yet, but I could easily see this becoming reality in the not too distant future.
Goodreads Synopsis: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth. As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet. Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Who hasn’t read Saga? Honestly, it was probably one of the most talked about comic series of last year! After reading the first installment, I purchased the rest of the series that has been released so far and read them right away. Saga is literally filled to the brim with an amazing futuristic interplanetary action adventure story. It’s almost impossible to explain, but it’s damn fantastic.
Goodreads synopsis: When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go was recommended to me so many times, I can’t even count them all, especially after people found out that my first Patrick Ness novel was More Than This. The Knife of Never Letting Go contains a futuristic society that is so unique that I have definitely never read anything like it before. I still have the last book to read in the series and I’m not sure what’s taking me so long, but hopefully I get to it soon!
Goodreads Synopsis: Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.