Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Was Required to Read for School But Didn’t Hate


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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Question:  What were some of your favorite required reads from your school days?

32 replies
  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, and Lord of the Flies in school and not hating them, either!

  2. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    I remember reading and loving The Outsiders as a kid. I think I ended up rereading it multiple times. The fact that the characters were young, and the setting didn’t feel like ancient history, probably helped a lot. 🙂

  3. RO
    RO says:

    I’m a lot older than you (lol), but a few of these were required reading when I was in school too, and like you, I enjoyed them.

  4. ShootingStarsMag
    ShootingStarsMag says:

    I enjoyed most of my required reading. I LOVED The Outsiders. I also loved all things Poe. I took an entire class on just his works in college. I love Shakespeare too – though I got more into his work in college! Other books I had to read and loved: Of Mice and Men, The Importance of Being Earnest, Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare for the win!!!), and anything Agatha Christie.


  5. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy
    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy says:

    I love your twist on the topic. I remember when I read Lord of the Flies and it was a turning point for me. It was the first time I remember reading a book that wasn’t horror really but had horrific elements. I loved it too!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I think I would have better appreciated some classics if I had read them first as an adult rather than being forced to read them as a child.

  6. Lark
    Lark says:

    I like what you decided to do with this week’s TTT. 🙂 The only book on your list that I had to read for school was To Kill a Mockingbird, but I ended up loving that book, too. The Scarlet Letter is another book I had to read for English and didn’t expect to like at all, but then did.

  7. Jo
    Jo says:

    To Kill A Mockingbird was one of few books I read for school that I didn’t hate. I’m glad you enjoyed Lord of The Flies, I unfortunately did not. And I didn’t finish Jane Eyre either, I think I got about halfway through and gave up because I was bored. I didn’t mind doing Macbeth but I’ve never liked studying Shakespeare, I much prefer actually seeing the plays to studying them in class.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Oh yeah, totally agree on Shakespeare’s plays. I liked studying them but loved actually going to the theater and seeing them performed.

  8. Sam@wlabb
    Sam@wlabb says:

    To Kill a Mocking Bird and Lord of the Flies were two I liked as well. I feel like it’s because there were actual kids in the books.

  9. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Anne - Books of My Heart says:

    We had to read To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies and I think maybe Jane Eyre. I also like The Scarlet Letter, Ethan Frome, everything Dickens, Wuthering Heights, Catcher in the Rye.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I didn’t read Wuthering Heights until I was in college but fell in love with it then. One of these days I really need to re-read it and see if I still love it.

  10. Greg
    Greg says:

    I wish I’d have read Pride and Prejudice- I’ve enjoyed the movie adaptations I’ve seen but never read the book. The Outsiders is anothr one- I LOVE the 80’s movie but again have never read the book.

  11. Literary Feline
    Literary Feline says:

    I was one of the weird kids who liked nearly all of the required reading assignments I was given. Shakespeare never grew on me though. LOL I like his sonnets, but not his plays–at least not when it came to reading them. The movies weren’t so bad. I love the modern re-tellings. Jane Eyre and The Outsiders are two of my all time favorites. Surprisingly Pride and Prejudice was one I didn’t like when I first read it, but I tried again a few years later and it and Austen’s other work are among my favorites. Boy, this brings back memories!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I think I would probably get a lot more out of some of my required readings from school if I were to go back and read them now.

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