Ten Books Featuring Dysfunctional Families & Tuesday Intro

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday
 is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that asks bloggers to create Top Ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. This week’s topic is Ten Books To Read If You Are In The Mood For X

One of my favorite things to read about (in fiction and nonfiction) is good old family dysfunction. It provides the opportunity for biting social commentary, humor, love, and sadness…not to mention a little relief that your family is probably not nearly as messed up as the family you’re reading about!

Ten Books Featuring Dysfunctional Families

 by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (fiction)
Wealthy people behaving badly, secrets, betrayals, flowing booze

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (fiction)
Parents having no idea what their children are up to, conflicting parental life outlooks, parents trying to live vicariously through their children

Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst (memoir)
Alcoholic mother, father who is constantly writing (but never publishing) the “Great American Novel”

Reunion by Hannah Pittard (fiction)
Stepmothers (4!) and step siblings (7!), strained parental relationships, awkward family gatherings

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (fiction)
Shotgun wedding, misbehaving parents, over-the-top concern with being “appropriate”, awkward family gatherings

Still Points North by Leigh Newman (memoir)
Divorce, eccentric parents, commitment issues

The Dinner by Herman Koch (fiction)
Brothers that can’t get along, children that can’t avoid trouble, massive moral dilemmas

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (memoir)
Eccentric and irresponsible parents, alcoholism

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (fiction)
Domestic abuse, mental illness, psychological impact of trauma

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (fiction)
Divorce, infidelity, awkward family gatherings

Tuesday Intro

First Chapter First Paragraph

Every Tuesday, fellow blogger Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon.

Year of the Runaways, Sunjeev Sahota

This book was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and is being released in the U.S. on March 1st. I’m only 6% in so far, so don’t have any opinions yet.

Plot Summary from Amazon (adapted for length)

Three young men, and one unforgettable woman, come together in a journey from India to England, where they hope to begin something new—to support their families; to build their futures; to show their worth; to escape the past. They have almost no idea what awaits them.

Here’s the first paragraph (from an uncorrected proof):

Randeep Sanghera stood in front the green-and-blue map tacked to the wall. The map had come with the flat, and though it was big and wrinkled, and cigarette butts had once stubbed black islands into the mid-Atlantic, he’d kept at it, a reminder of the world outside. He was less sure about the flowers, guilty-looking things he’d spent too long choosing at the petrol station. Get rid of them, he decided, but then heard someone was parking up outside and the thought flew out of his head.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

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  1. Naomi wrote:

    I have just been thinking about this topic: dysfunctional families versus ‘ordinary’ ones. I love reading about dysfunctional families, but recently I read a book about a pretty ‘ordinary’ family that had me turning the pages, and it made me think about how it’s more unusual to read a page-turner about an ‘ordinary’ family. Then I thought that maybe no family is ordinary – maybe a story about any of our families could be turned into a page-turner for someone else. There’s always *something* to write about. (In case you were interested in my deep thoughts on the subject!)

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Oooh – I’d love to read a page turner about an ordinary family…I feel like those are rare and one done well could be fantastic! And – I definitely believe every family has something…even if that something is different among families!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
      • Naomi wrote:

        I read one this month and loved it. It’s called Ledger of an Open Hand by Leslie Vryenhoek. The family has its small issues, but every family does. The main source of conflict comes from outside the family, and even then it’s pretty subtle. But I didn’t want to put this book down. Hopefully I’ll be writing about it within a week or two.

        Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  2. Priscilla wrote:

    What an excellent pick for a topic! I was wracking my brain on this one and kind of gave up. I love so many of your choices (The Glass Castle, Seating Arrangements, Prince of Tides). I have The Dinner on my shelf, but I’ll also have to check out Reunion and Fiction Ruined My Family–how could anyone NOT want to read a book with that title?

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Oh my gosh – I loved The Dinner!! I really hope you get to it! And Reunion and Fiction too! Reunion is a bit similar to This Is Where I Leave You…lots of dark humor!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  3. Kay wrote:

    I’m so excited that I’ve actually read 2 of your 10 books. And why am I not surprised that a Conroy book made the cut? LOL

    As to the teaser – well, I’d have to see – right now, it doesn’t grab me.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Haha -I can’t seem to do one of these lists without a Conroy!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  4. I’m silently jotting down your list of books because I love dysfunction in families, except in my own. 😉 Definitely keep reading TYotR. I want to see if it meets the hype and glowing pre-reviews.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      So, Runaways…it’s been a really tough start. Made it to 12% while forcing myself to pick it up each time. So, put it aside for now. I’m going to see what I hear from others and possibly pick it up again.

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  5. I haven’t heard of your current read, but I think I’d give it a try.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  6. I have read several of your Top Ten books…and dysfunctional families are my cup of tea. You wouldn’t think so, since I spent 30 years working with those kinds of families…but it’s in my blood.

    I’m not sure about your current read, although the excerpt is intriguing. Here’s mine: “NO ONE KNOWS”

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  7. The first paragraph doesn’t grab me but the blurb for the book does. I like stories where people immigrate with big dreams.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  8. Judy wrote:

    I have read four on your list. I think Bittersweet was my favorite, though Glass Castle was also very good. I hated The Dinner but I was rather alone in that opinion.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Bittersweet was so good! And – you’re not alone – my mother-in-law also didn’t like The Dinner.

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  9. Catherine wrote:

    I LOVE me some dysfunctional family- they’re the best kind! You’ve nailed it with these choices and, of course, added on to my TBR list. Grrrrrrrrr. 😉

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      ME too – so what does that say about us?! Haha! Always love busting up your TBR!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  10. Amanda wrote:

    excellent topic! I love a few books on your list – This is Where I Leave You is a great one! I would add the Shore to your list too!

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Ah – The Shore! How did I miss that one?!!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  11. I enjoy reading fiction involving family dysfunction as well. Not so much nonfiction though–maybe because all I deal with at work day in and day out is just that. I love your choices. Several are ones I want to read, but haven’t had a chance to yet. I have read The Glass Castle and was underwhelmed by it. I still recommend it though to others.

    The Year of the Runaways sounds interesting. I would keep reading. I like the writing style. I hope you enjoy it!

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I can see how that would burn you out of family dysfunction a bit!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  12. Whitney wrote:

    I love reading about family dysfunction. Really, I think those types of books are much more authentic than those without heavy dysfunction. but maybe that just says a lot about my family, haha.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Agreed! I’m always skeptical of anyone that thinks they or their family are perfect 🙂

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  13. carrie wrote:

    I was thinking of doing a book list of dysfunctional families sometime in the future. Reunion and This is Where I Leave you will definitely be on that list! I haven’t read any of the others you’ve mentioned, but I do enjoy that kind of plot in a book so I’ll add some of them to my to-read list!

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Oh good! Can’t wait to read your list and hopefully add some more to my TBR!

      Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  14. Thanks for the list of books about dysfunctional families. I’ve read several of the ones on your list, and the others sound like ones I’d enjoy.
    Your Book Beginnings choice sounds like a winner too.
    My Tuesday post features THE ALL-GIRL FILLING STATION’S LAST REUNION by Fannie Flagg.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  15. Donna wrote:

    I love books about dysfunctional families. Girl Who Reads

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  16. Diane wrote:

    I LOVE stories about dysfunctional families and have read and enjoyed 5 of the ones on your list. I need to try a few more from here.

    The Year of the Runaways sounds promising. The intro made me want to try more.

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  17. Nise' wrote:

    I see some great family dysfunction novels!

    Posted 3.1.16 Reply
  18. Laurie C wrote:

    Great list! I’ve read 6 of 10, because dysfunctional families are one of my favorite things to read about, too. Your list makes me think of others, so maybe I’ll do a list, too!

    Posted 3.2.16 Reply
  19. I totally forgot about Bittersweet; MAN! I really wanted to read that one! Thanks for the reminder, Sarah!!

    Posted 3.2.16 Reply
  20. Athira wrote:

    I’ve only read Dinner from this list and boy, yep, what a messed up family. I love reading about dysfunctional families too, so I will check out the other books in your list.

    Also, curious to know what you think of Year of the Runaways. I have that one on my list too.

    Posted 3.2.16 Reply
  21. I too love a dysfunctional family saga. Makes me feel right at home, if ya know what I mean 😉 I absolutely loved The Glass Castle when I read it two years ago, and for some reason haven’t picked up anything else by her… must remedy that!

    Posted 3.2.16 Reply
  22. Oh my…several books I’d like to read here, but I certainly couldn’t read them one after another!

    Posted 3.2.16 Reply
  23. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again but I really, truly love when #30Authors books make the list. I’ve read a few of these books and you definitely hit the mark with dysfunctional families (hello The Dinner!). I love these stories so I’ll have to pick up some more!

    Posted 3.4.16 Reply
  24. Andi wrote:

    I loooooved The Glass Castle (even though I wanted to shake those parents). I’m also dying to read This Is Where I Leave You (no pun intended) ever since I saw the film. Seating Arrangements, too.

    Posted 3.5.16 Reply
  25. Roy Wells wrote:

    Growing up in a dysfunctional can be tough. It is even tougher when you have two dysfunctional families with stepparents. I had an evil stepmom and a parade of clowns for stepdads. I always tried to think of ways to get rid of my stepmom but I never acted on any of my plans. I found that it was therapeutic to write stories that would lampoon them. I have a new story called My Psycho Family! It is free if you have a Kindle and Amazon Prime. I hope you enjoy it.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I bet you have some good stories to tell! I had the whole step-parents thing too.

      Posted 12.1.16 Reply

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