Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite School Reads


Welcome back for another round of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Learn more about Top Ten Tuesday and its previous topics here.

Up this week: FREEBIE! (Favorite School Reads)

This week is a freebie. I was originally going to write about books that inspire travel since I will be heading to Europe on June 1st, but I couldn’t think of nearly enough books. My friend Alyssa mentioned her freebie is books read in school, so I’ve decided to copy that.

High School Reads

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1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I read many books in high school. I liked some, dislikes some, and a few I’ve completely forgotten about because so much time has passed. One of the books I remember most is The Great Gatsby. I grew to appreciate and love it better when I read it years later, but Fitzgerald’s writing (along with JK Rowling) was what encouraged me to be a writer. It’s a tragic yet beautiful story, and I always appreciate a little madness and chaos.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I don’t recall thinking about prejudice and racism much until after reading To Kill A Mockingbird. This book opened my eyes to how much there was (and still is) a devastating amount of inequality in the world. Perhaps this is because I grew up in a very white city within a very white state (Fargo, North Dakota) at a time when the internet wasn’t this massive news and media outlet. There was also the issue of history classes making racism seem like much less of an issue than it really was. It was fluffy. I needed this book. It doesn’t even come close to some of the other atrocities throughout history, and I can think of other books that cover racism better, but it was a start when I needed it.

3. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I first read this book in French class, but also again in college for a Children’s Literature course. It’s one of those books that stays with you no matter what age you are. There are so many lessons about trust, loss, love, and determination that both inspire and caution readers. I can see a book like this being essential reading far into the future. You can bet it will be required reading for my children in the future… you know, when I actually have children.

College Reads

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4. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
I read Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar back in high school. R&J was okay, and I’ve grown to dislike it more as time goes on. Caesar was a couple steps in a better direction. It wasn’t until I read Titus Andronicus in my Shakespeare class that I really came to appreciate the Bard. Perhaps it just takes the most violent work to get me to truly appreciate him. I do enjoy some of Shakespeare’s histories and comedies, but Titus will always have a special place in my heart as the best tragedy and best play overall.

5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I first met Dickens in my British Literature II course when reading Hard Times. It encouraged me to take a full capstone course on Dickens, which led to me not only falling in love with the Victorian writer, but also falling in love with Bleak House. Dickens uncovers some of the biggest atrocities during the Victorian era, and the massive and complex cast of characters provide a well-rounded presentation of England. I also love when Dickens pokes fun at horrible people by giving them awful names.

6. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
My British Literature II course also introduced me to Austen. I think that professor deserves a medal for leading me to my current obsessions. Anyway, Sense and Sensibility was my first Austen. It isn’t my favorite of her work, but it was brilliant enough to encourage me to read everything. This book is also responsible for my participation in Austen in August, and for that I am thankful.

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7. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
I love Jane Eyre. It’s one of my favorite classics, and it’s not easy for me to pick favorites. That being said, I didn’t like how Rochester’s wife was treated as some insane woman in the attic. Her story is far too short. I understand why, of course, but I needed more. I was happy to be assigned Wide Sargasso Sea in an Irish-Carribean connection literature class. (Yes, that’s a real class, and it was amazing.) It’s a brilliant companion novel that brings Antoinette to life. The book doesn’t take anything away from Eyre, but it helps you look at the woman in the attic in a different light.

8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
I thoroughly enjoy a good cynic! Or do I adore realists? Either way, Graham Greene knows how to write a damn fine novel. Many consider the book to be a slander against Americans or an anti-war novel, but I think the book did just what it was meant to do by giving a different perspective on war. And being American, I know that it’s good for us to be put in our place from time to time. I can’t help but enjoy this novel for the contrast between the two main characters alone, but so much more adds to its genius. It remains my favorite Greene novel.

9. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Oh, Joyce. What am I going to do with a man like Joyce? If, like me, you need to start somewhere with Joyce, this is the book to pick. You could also read his short stories (‘The Dead’ is perfection), but this book is where it’s at for a shorter introduction to the world of Joyce. There’s Greek mythology and struggle with religion and family, and that’s merely scratching the surface. If his larger work appears daunting, give this one a try. One of my favorite professors introduced me to Joyce as well as Greene and Rhys. She must have done something right.

10. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Surprise! Another Shakespeare. I just couldn’t leave this one out. If you haven’t read this genius play yet, get on it. It’s my favorite comedy from Shakespeare and well worth the praise. It’s hilarious with a solid take on female agency. (My professor would cry tears of joy seeing the word ‘agency’ in this post. He said it at least ten time per class session. We counted.) If you haven’t read this one yet but have seen and loved 10 Things I Hate About You, know that the film is an adaptation of this play which means you must read it.


14 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite School Reads

  1. I was assigned To Kill a Mockingbird in high school too and I am so glad I was! I’m probably the trillioneth person to say this, but that book seriously, profoundly changed my life. Just like you said that The Great Gatsby inspired you to become a writer, TKM inspired me to do the same.

    I was also assigned Hamlet in high school, and though this play began my love affair with William Shakespeare, I sort of wish it hadn’t been the first Shakespeare play I ever read. I’m afraid everything from here on out is going to pale in comparison.

    School is also where I discovered poetry. “The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Auden and John Milton’s 23rd sonnet were some of my favorites. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear TKM inspired you that much! I think everyone has that go-to book that really gave them the push to write. Glad ours started back in high school.

      I did finally read Hamlet last year, and I can understand why you love it. I suppose I was lucky to start with R&J since it could only go up from there, haha.

      And yay poetry! I wasn’t even thinking about including poetry in this list. Perhaps I can do favorite poems next time there is a freebie. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked everything I read in high school except Great Expectations by Dickens. My Brit Lit teach dragged the book on forever. I think reading Chuacer’s The Canterbury Tales was one of my favorites.


    • Do you think you would enjoy Great Expectations if you read it on your own time today? And I love Chaucer! We only read a tiny selection of him in school so I didn’t think it right to include a partial read in this list. But yes, definitely Chaucer.


      • I will definitely have to give Great Expectations a second chance. It seems only fair. Glad I’m not the only one who enjoys Chaucer 🙂


  3. Titus Andronicus! I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it for the first time. “No, wait, he can’t be falling for that! What, PIE?!? Ewwwwww. Oh, revenge is sweet.” It’s sort of everything I look for in an action movie nowadays, but with beautiful speeches throughout. Glad someone else was as happy to discover it as I was in University. This might be one of those plays that has to be assigned in class just so readers don’t overlook it.


  4. TKM seems to be on every American highschool reading list! I’m not sure if Canadians ever plug it into the curriculum, but I had never read it. 😦


  5. Meant to come back and reply to your post sooner but I finally got around to reading Titus Andronicus earlier this year and omg, I could not put it down. Wasn’t sure whether to be crying or screaming (or both) while reading it, that was some intense stuff…

    Great list! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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