Top Ten Books I Was “Forced” to Read
Here is a quick list of the books I was assigned to read (from 6th grade through college) that have stuck with me ever since. A lot of these I still consider some of my favorite reads. These are listed in chronological order (not as in date published but as in the date I first read them).
- The Giver by Lois Lowry – This is the novel that first got me into dystopic young adult reading. It is a page turner for all ages, and I even heard that they are planning to make a movie soon.
- Our Town by Thornton Wilder – This may have been the first play I ever read. My 7th grade Language Arts class read it together and although I have not reread it since, the themes and motifs surrounding life and death still hang on to me.
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Ahh, my first ever Shakespeare read. This is still by far my favorite Shakespearean play, and it too is responsible for my deep love of all things Shakespeare. I have reread this play plenty of times (although I don’t think I’ve ever seen it performed!!). Once during a 4 hour drive from Tallahassee, FL to Walt Disney World, Matt (who was not yet my husband) and I read Hamlet aloud to pass the time. He fell in love with it too ;)
- The Lord of the Flies by William Golding – My 9th grade English teacher assigned us so many good reads (including this book and the following one). I wish I appreciated having that class then as much as I do now. Lord of the Flies is a classic. I haven’t met many people who have not read it, and I recommend it to anyone and everyone.
- Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand – Whether you like French literature or not (I guess it isn’t for everyone), you will enjoy this comedic play. I loved it when I read it in 9th grade, and I still loved it when I watched the Gérard Depardieu film version a few years back.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Another novel I believe pretty much everyone has read. In one of my American Lit classes in college, we were asked to give the name of one novel that best describes America. Most of the class picked The Great Gatsby. Any one disagree?
- 1984 by George Orwell – Another dystopian classic I still love to this day. In my mind I paired it with this following novel…
- Anthem by Ayn Rand – To me, this novel is very similar to 1984. Although I read it after reading 1984, it is actually roughly a decade older. If you are into dystopian novels, I recommend both this one and 1984 (as well as The Giver, which I listed earlier).
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville – Never in my life would I have read this novel if it was not assigned to me in an American Lit course I took in college. For starters, it’s massively long. And I feel that nearly half of the chapters are solely about the whaling industry. But nevertheless, this is a masterpiece that I feel absolutely deserves its title as an American Canon. I believe many of us can identify with Captain Ahab…
- Passing by Nella Larsen – For anyone interested in African-American Lit, this was a beautiful novel. I don’t think I was able to put it down. Heartbreaking and eye-opening, to say the least. (If you are unaware of what the term “passing” means, it was used to describe mixed-raced people whose skin was light enough for them to pass as white.)