Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!
This week’s TTT topic is actually supposed to be Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean, but I honestly couldn’t think of ten books that aroused that kind of negative reaction in me. Required readings for school came to mind since, by nature, I hate to be told what to read and remember going into every required reading assignment fully expecting to hate the book. (Yeah, I was super mature, haha!) Instead of sharing the books I hated though, I’d rather share the ones that surprised me because I not only didn’t hate them, but I actually kind of loved them.
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Books I Was Required to Read for School But Didn’t Hate
1. MACBETH by William Shakespeare – I was one of the few in my English classes who actually got excited when it was time to read a play from Shakespeare. Macbeth was probably my favorite of the ones we had to read and I chalk it up as an early sign that I would grow up to love witchy reads so much, lol.
2. BELOVED by Toni Morrison – This book was actually one of my first required readings in college and to this day, it’s one of the most haunting I’ve ever read. I don’t know if enjoy is the right word to use here since the subject matter deals with the horror and brutality of slavery, but it’s a read that has stayed with me for years now.
3. I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS by Maya Angelou – I’ve never been one to read much in the way of nonfiction so I probably groaned out loud when this book was assigned, especially since at the time, I actually had no idea who Maya Angelou was. Her story blew me away though and led me to read as many of her poems as I could get my hands on. As one who also never read much poetry, this is a testament to just how incredible writer she is.
4. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen – This book was my first experience with an enemies to lovers romance and, to this day, it’s still a favorite of mine.
5. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte – I fell in love with this book as soon as I realized the protagonist was an underdog. Anyone who follows my blog knows I’m a sucker for a good story that features an underdog. Add in a mad woman in the attic and this was a riveting read for me.
6. THE TELL-TALE HEART AND OTHER WRITINGS by Edgar Allan Poe – I fully expected to hate everything Poe had written since I’ve never been much of a horror fan, but my goodness, his short stories were absolutely mesmerizing to me as a teen. The creepy atmospheric quality, the psychological horror, etc. It’s one of the few units in school where I was truly bummed once it was over.
7. THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin – I had to read this book my senior year in high school and don’t know if this was actually a great read or not, but I remember being fascinated by it, I think in part because, with very rare exception, pretty much all we had been assigned as required reading up to this point were dead white male authors. The Awakening was probably the first real “feminist” book I had read and it was very eye opening.
8. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee – I always refer to this as the first “grown up” book I ever read. It was assigned to me as required reading in the 8th grade and as someone who had spent her childhood reading Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, E. B. White, etc., this book was just such a stark contrast with its focus on Scout’s loss of innocence as she witnesses racism at work in her sleepy Southern town. It was another of those reads that just blew me away and that has stuck with me all these years later.
9. THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton – I had to read this one in middle school too and I was just struck by how gritty and moving the story is while at the same time being a story about family, friendship, and brotherhood.
10. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding – This was my first experience with a dystopian novel and I remember being completely glued to the book wondering what was going to happen to these boys if they didn’t make it back to civilization soon. It was fascinating and terrifying.
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