5 Books Unafraid to Tackle Important Issues

Reads that cut to the core and make you think

In a world of fluffy contemporaries and dashing vampire romances, it can be hard to find books that cut you to the core and make you think. These are books that honestly and unapologetically tackle today’s most important issues, and they are often the reads that make the most impact on us. If you’re looking for more of those books to add to your to-read pile, you have to check out the following.

(Psst – want more bookish recommendations and ramblings? Check out my blog, On the Other Side of Reality.)

1. It Looks Like This

This is one that hits especially close to home for me. It Looks Like This is about 14-year-old Mike discovering he’s gay and falling in love with a guy in his class – until his insanely homophobic father finds out and sends him to conversion therapy. This book addresses how difficult and scary coming out can be and the horrors of conversion therapy. As someone who’s openly pansexual in a Christian school and has a lot of friends who have to remain closeted because of their family situation, I can definitely testify that this is a book everyone should read.

2. Made You Up

Made You Up tackles an issue I’ve seen addressed nowhere else – schizophrenia. Specifically, it’s a book written from the point of view of a schizophrenic, 17-year-old Alex, as she tries to stay sane long enough to get into college. Francesca Zappia does something quite brilliant with her protagonist – writes her as a sarcastic, relatable teen who just happens to have schizophrenia instead of a schizophrenic teen who also is sarcastic and relatable. Made You Up is important for everyone to read, especially us neurotypicals.

3. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock follows Leonard Peacock over the course of the day he plans to shoot his former best friend and then commit suicide. Besides tackling suicide and depression, this book also deals with rape and the impact it has on its victims. It’s a book that pulls no punches and makes most people highly uncomfortable, but that’s when you know it’s made an impact.

4. Milk and Honey

I can’t count the amount of times I wanted to shout “THIS” at the page when I read Milk and Honey. This is a book of poems about what it is to be a woman in today’s society, about abuse and taboos and how to conquer them. This is a book about the fact that people don’t listen to women’s cries anymore because they think that now that we have the vote, we must be perfectly fine. This is a book that is heartrending, striking, and impactful in its simplicity and beauty. It’s a book everyone, of every gender, should read.

5. Symptoms of Being Human

Like Made You Up, Symptoms of Being Human addresses an issue I’ve not seen tackled anywhere else – being gender fluid. There has been a lot of increased representation for transgender people (which is awesome) and other members of the LGBT+ community, but not a lot for gender fluid folks. Symptoms of Being Human follows Riley’s day-to-day struggle being of gender fluid and coming out to friends and family. A really interesting – and important – thing Jeff Garvin does in this book is never revealing Riley’s biological sex. After all, it’s not being a man or a woman, but being human, that counts most of all.
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