Required reading. The bane of every student’s existence. Chances are that if you attended any type of school you had to have required reading once or twice. I personally was never the biggest fan of required reading. The books were either super long, super boring, or super complex. And at the time my tiny brain didn’t see the point in reading books that I just couldn’t get into.
However, there were the exceptions. The books below are some of my favorite books that I read in middle school, high school, and college all because they were assigned to me to read. Some books I loved as soon as I picked them up. Others I read, hated, and then thought about years later and realized that I liked them as I had grown up and started to relate to them more. Here is that list.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ah, Gatsby. I love Gatsby. I love Nick Carraway. Not the biggest fan of Daisy, but hey, what can you do? This book was first published in 1925 and takes place during one of my favorite moments in history, The Roaring Twenties. This book is about love, and self-discovery, and partying. But also about gluttony, sadness, and heartbreak. There are so many themes in this novel that balance out so perfectly with each other and which makes this most definitely a 5-star read in my opinion. Leonardo DiCaprio starred as Gatsby in a remake of this novel a few years back but I would highly suggest reading the novel before watching the movie if you can help it.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 was probably the first book that I was required to read that I ever truly loved. I loved this novel as soon as I picked it up in middle school. Ray Bradbury writes about a future where the main characters job is to burn all books because they are forbidden. I always saw this novel as a prophecy of sorts about what will happen if we censor ideas and put less of an emphasis on free thought and learning. It’s a short book, only 227 pages depending on your edition, but it is wonderful.
Othello by William Shakespeare
By far, hands down, 100% my favorite Shakespearean play to date. I’ve read my fair share of dramas and even performed some myself, but Othello will always hold a special place in my heart. If I had to describe this play in three words I would say jealousy, rage, and power sums up Othello pretty well. If you have a hard time reading Shakespeare or don’t find it enjoyable I would suggest checking out the No Fear Shakespeare versions of his works. You can read the play in its entirety as a simplified version here .
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J.K. Rowling
This might be cheating a bit as I was never actually assigned to read this book, but I did have a teacher read Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone to me in elementary school and it was then that I fell in love with the series. If you don’t know about the Harry Potter series well then I hope the rock in which you were living under was quite lovely, but if you would like a more in-depth summary of the novel and its series click the title about to head over to Goodreads!
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
This novella by Steinbeck is so heartbreakingly wonderful that I could kick myself for not liking it at first. This story focuses on two men, George and Lennie, and their quest for their dream to have a home and land of their own. I don’t want to say much else in fear of spoiling it, but Of Mice and Men is a very quick read that will be sure to tug at your heart strings.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Oh, look, another play. Fun fact, I really enjoy dramas. They’re lovely and don’t take that long to read. The Crucible is no different. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of this play by Arthur Miller but it focuses on the hysteria and rumors in Salem during the famous Witch Trials. This is also no doubt, one of my favorite periods of American history. But while I love the Salem Witch Trails this drama is so much more than that as it is basically a very in depth metaphor to call out the mass hysteria in the 50’s with McCarthyism and is the sole reason why I love this play.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I’m not going to sugar coat it, I hated this novel when I was first made to read it. And to be completely honest I still hated this novel many, many years after I first read it. I wasn’t a fan of the style of writing, the ending pissed me off, and just, in general, I was very against this work by Chopin. Now? I’m okay with it. I don’t know if this is because I’m older and I can relate to it more, or if my anger has just calmed down since I read it 6 years ago. Depending on your views The Awakening could be considered a feminist novel or it could just be considered a romantic fiction, either way, it makes you think and is why I am making it an addition to this list.
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
I read this book my senior year of high school and I didn’t really like it when I first picked it up, but by the end of the book, I was 100% on board. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest takes place in a mental hospital in the 60’s and focuses on the patients and staff within its walls. The main reasons for my distaste of this book, in the beginning, were the themes of racism and misogyny, they irked and angered me. I wasn’t a fan. When finishing this book though I saw the bigger picture. Yes, those themes still bothered me, but as a whole this book makes you think about your place in society and what can happen if you break a spirit. I personally loved this book, it’s profane but its powerful
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I don’t think I’ve ever had such a ‘roller coaster’ relationship with a book before. I loved it, then I didn’t like it, then I loved it again and couldn’t put it down, to finding it boring and leaving it to sit for months before finishing it. The Picture of Dorian Gray is about sins that we commit and then the face that we put out to the rest of the world to see. Basically, everything that Dorian Gray does never affects him, but instead a painting of himself that is locked away from the world. In the end, this book was powerful and wonderful and I only wished I could have seen that when I was trying to read it. Definitely a classic that’s a must read.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
This book should have a giant sticker on the front that reads “WARNING: TISSUES NEEDED AHEAD”. Tuesdays with Morrie is a nonfiction book about how the author spent every Tuesday with an old professor of his as his professor was dying. I can’t really delve into what makes this book wonderful without getting emotional, to be honest. Tuesdays with Morrie forces you to widen your perspective and reading this as a teenager it makes you get out of your head and realize that other people around you have lives that matter. This should most definitely be a required reading for all schools. Without a doubt.
And that’s it! Thank you so much for joining me on my very first Top Ten Tuesday. What were some of your favorite required readings from school? Or have you read any of the classics that I have mentioned above and felt the same or different than I did? Let me know in the comments below. (:
*If you would like to participate in the Top Ten Tuesday weekly feature check out the meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish here!