Read This Book – Or Else!

The topic of this post comes from a past Top Ten Tuesday prompt at The Broke And The Bookish. What are my favorite books that I was made to read?

Books For School

1. Animal Farm by George Orwell. At first I disliked this book because it featured talking animals as characters. Like, seriously? Eventually, I realized just how clever it is. A novel about a corrupt human revolution would be boring – it’s been done before – but a story with animals makes the message more unusual and subtle. I still stand by my opinion of the animated film adaption, though. It’s terrible!

2. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Again, I disliked this book at first. It tells how a group of boys stranded on an island begin to turn on one another. The story became much darker about two-thirds through and that’s when I became interested. The last scene is as far from a horror film as one can get, yet somehow it’s just as terrifying.

3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Now, this I liked right away. Anne tells us of the huge and the mundane, the hilarious and the somber. She was an amazing writer not only for her age, but in general. By the end of this book, I felt like I’d actually known her. 

4. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I hated this at first – is there a theme here? This is about the author’s experiences while serving in Vietnam and when I read it I was tired of stories about war (we’d spent an entire year covering World War II and several months on the Vietnam War). I guess the reason I changed my opinion on The Things They Carried is that it’s a collection of short stories. After I read something sad, I could skip around and find one that wasn’t that way.

Books For Book Club

5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Aaaah, this book. Forget Rowling or Pratchett; I want my fantasy stories to be like Levine’s. I adore retellings – this one’s about Cinderella – and Ella is the definition of “spunky heroine”.

6. The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett. I was ecstatic upon learning that this was the sequel to Chasing Vermeer, a lovely mystery set in Chicago. It’s about art and architecture and a little bit of math. It made me want to visit the Robie House and thanks to it, I now point out any and all designs reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s.

Books I Read Because My Friends Wouldn’t Shut Up About Them

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I actually read this soon after it was published, but wasn’t that impressed and soon forgot about it. A few years later, it was a Big Thing and there was even a movie – naturally, my friends pestered me to read it. It’s quite good for YA dystopian and now I’m the one pestering my friends about going to the midnight showing of Catching Fire.

8. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I prefer her The Thief Lord and didn’t pay too much attention to this book’s sequels, but I’m still glad I read it. The best way I can describe it is to say that it’s a love letter to books, where characters can be read out of stories.

9. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Actually, Maggie Stiefvater in general. Her books were recommended to me by Miriam Joy and various other Internet Beings, to whom I am eternally grateful. Read this, people. It deserves to be just as popular, if not more so, than Harry Potter.

10. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. If Inkheart was a love letter to books, then Artemis Fowl is a love letter to all things geeky. At only twelve years old, Artemis is the ultimate evil genius but as the story progresses he begins to change. Huge thank-you to Alex for introducing me to this series.

If there’s a theme here, it’s that books I absolutely had to read were often dull, at least at first. Interesting. I have a few ideas about why that might be so; the main one being that your choice is taken out of the equation. When a friend says, “Ooh, you have to read this!” I’ll likely consider the book, but am not obligated to read it or even try it. And sometimes that makes all the difference.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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6 Responses to Read This Book – Or Else!

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    Someone else who’s read Chasing Vermeer! I swear, I literally thought this book only existed in my mind or something because I’ve never heard it mentioned ever. I didn’t realise there was a sequel, though I hadn’t actively looked for one.
    I’ve read almost all of these books, though there are a couple I haven’t. I have an ideological objection to being made to read books (obviously I can’t avoid it with school) and have made a point of not joining any book clubs because of it. But I’ve enjoyed some books I’ve been obliged to read, like To Kill A Mockingbird, and of course I studied Hamlet (although I’d technically read it before so I don’t know if that counts – but I didn’t choose to do it for school, I was just glad we did).

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yep, I love Chasing Vermeer! 🙂 There’s a another one after The Wright 3 – The Calder Game.

      I don’t mind the books themselves, but I do agree that being made to read books takes all the fun out of it often. It’s silly, really. It shouldn’t make a difference but it does.
      My mom sometimes lets me pick what I read. When I did British Lit in 9th grade I got to choose things like The Hound of the Baskervilles (yay!), The Picture of Dorian Gray (AWESOME!), and Romeo and Juliet (ugh, this was a fail).

      I have now read Act I, Scene I of Hamlet. 🙂 *should not be this proud of reading a few pages but hey it’s Shakespeare and he’s hard to understand*

  2. elrock1 (from NaNo) says:

    I tried to read Artemis Fowl, but for some reason I couldn’t get past the fifth chapter. Probably because Eoin Colfer pretty much ripped off the personality of my friend who recommended this book to me, but just because the characters were completely flat. Sure, they may grow and change and I understand you need an arc, but Artemis is just completely unlikable. And even with the single chapter I read with the Holly character, she seemed pretty boring too. The premise is cool, but if your beginning and your characters don’t have anything I like or relate to, I’m not doing to read the book.
    End of Rant. XD

  3. Thomas says:

    I love how many of these books you disliked at first before you warmed toward them, especially the classics. I greatly enjoyed Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies too, but The Things They Carried blew me out of the water – the writing was so beautiful yet profoundly sad. Overall, a great list that features a variety of books within different genres.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      It seems to be that way with a lot of books – not all of them, mind, but there have been many books I disliked immediately after reading. And then the more I thought about them, the more I changed my mind.

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