Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday -Required Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. I'm sure they'd love to share your lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten list.

To be honest there wasn't much "required" reading in my high school. I'm still not sure if this was a bad thing. I mean they tried to make me read Huck Finn (sorry Twain fans, not my cup of tea) and Fahrenheit 451 but there were only a couple more books and a handfull of plays that ever showed up on any class agenda. I don't feel worse off because of it and find that being able to discover different authors at my own pace and discretion was a blessing. However there are some books that wouldn't be bad on a required reading list.

The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling - These books were my childhood. Mind you I grew up with Harry in a way that any other generation could never really experience, but still, there is a lot to learn in these seven books. It's a little ambitious to include all of them for "required" reading but with so much material there is a lot to discuss and even more room to form free opinions. Plus some of my best friends stem from the fact that both of us are Potterphiles.

The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - I wasn't actually required to read this. I really wish I had been. At the ripe old age of 19 I met Holden for the first time and had the strange experience of still being able to relate to his silly teenage problems while detesting him for his shortsightedness. I still loved Catcher by the time I finished it, but can't help but think it would hold up better in my memory if I'd tackled it three years sooner. It's good to have a protagonist kids can relate too. Holden can be that protagonist, or not. It's up to the reader. I'd actually prefer that everyone read Franny & Zooey but don't think it should be "required" in the same school sense.

Shakespeare - Shakespeare or some group of guys calling themselves Shakespeare - What movies are you watching when you're in high school? Would those be teen comedies? Would a good portion of these comedies contain certain aspects of plays by a certain Bard? Yes. Go read some Shakespeare. See if your teacher can get you the individual copies with the translated pages if you have a hard time with the language. He's funny, he's prolific, and once you've read Hamlet & Macbeth you'll start to understand all those weird references your parents were making and also why I named my last goldfish Ophelia.

Brave New World - Huxley - I picked Brave New World over 1984 and Fahrenheit 451because the parallels to today's society are unmistakable, It's a pretty easy read and has some of the same issues as 1984 & 451 present.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Lee - Meet the first book that I was required to read and actually liked! I don't remember much about To Kill a Mockingbird. It was 9th grade, there were all those teenager feelings going on, but regardless I loved this book in a way I didn't think was possible with something my teacher deemed a "Classic". It was great exposure to a different time and setting, and dealt with some incredibly important themes.

Animal Farm - Orwell - Satire, Fable, Fairy Tale, Animal Farm is one of those books that kid's should read to A. Understand the Soviet Union (and probably in a History class instead of whatever English) and B. as a cautionary tale. It's a good book. It's short. It's all the things required reading should be. Okay, maybe not, but teens should read i.

Pride & Prejudice - Austen - There are certain classics that will always have their audience, and love struck teens will always find a place within the pages of Pride & Prejudice. It's one of those "classics" that makes reading classics fun. Plus everyone should read a little Austen and it's doesn't have the same heavy themes as many of the other books I am insisting your future children read.

My name is Oskar and I approve this message.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Foer - Not many books can deal with 9/11 and World War II without becoming to heavy to process, but Foer manages it masterfully. It would be good for teens to read about these two major events in a contemporary way and there is just so much love between these pages. Sheesh. Oskar's namesake even agrees with me!


LBC said...

Good list. I picked 1984 over Brave New World, but I really loved dystopias in general when I was a teenager.

Come visit me at The Scarlet Letter.

Enbrethiliel said...


Most Salinger fans I know will agree with you that Franny and Zooey is better, and yet they'd proabably still put The Catcher in the Rye on their own "required reading" lists. Just because it's the more famous one that most people have read? That actually makes sense to me, because I think we should be able to talk about what we've read with others, and there's a better chance of that with Catcher. (The irony, of course, is that if we keep sticking to Catcher for that reason, we'll never be able to discuss Franny and Zooey! =P)

And seeing Harry Potter on so many lists in this meme is making me wonder . . . They're very popular and well-known books now, so requiring them shouldn't be a problem, but isn't that just going to make them uncool in the long run? I know I put off reading the last two books in the series for five years because I wanted to buck the idea that they were "must-reads." What more a naturally rebellious teenager?

Kate said...

Ah, I've never read the Foer but would really like to. I know it's not the same, but the film of Everything is Illuminated was simply magnificent.