Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Should Be Required Reading

This is a weekly meme hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week we got two choices: Books that you'd pair with a classic or books that should be required reading (or you could do a mixture of both). I chose required reading because I have lot of feelings about required reading in schools. I won't get into those feelings because this post would get way too long. Just know I have a bunch of issues about the required reading list, the way teachers treat it, the way students treat it, and the nonsense that comes up about them (like parents whining about how a certain book is too much for their precious spawn to handle even though precious spawn has probably seen a lot worse on tv).

So here I my picks for books that should be required reading:

1) The Diary of Anne Frank-This one does pop up on a lot of lists for some schools but it is not like say Great Gatsby or Romeo and Juliet which are pretty much reads you can bet everyone will read in English. I actually read this one on my own because I went to Auschwitz one summer on a Europe trip. Otherwise, I likely never would have given the book a look because none of my teachers had the book on their list. I had one teacher in HISTORY class suggest it because we were talking about World War II at the time. But never in English class.

2) A Handmaiden's Tale by Margeret Atwood-Considering how popular dystopians are in YA nowadays I think teens would benefit from reading some of the early dystopians (I also would rec 1984 or Clockwork Orange). Plus, it's a good book to open up discussion for many topics from oppression (because sometimes I don't think people actually get what oppression is nowadays) to sexism (ditto ;looks at Mens Right Activists and sighs;)

3) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson-Really, everyone should read this. Not just teens. But considering how much date rape happens in high school...yeah, it's a thing that should be read and that people need to discuss.

4) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher-This is one of those books that is just good for opening up discussion about bullying/teen suicide (both things that actually effect a lot of teens)

5) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak-Honestly, it's just plain good. And again: good for opening up lots of discussion.

6) The Brothers Grimm FairyTales-I think everyone should read the original fairy tales. If only so people understand that they actually weren't childish at all. Seriously, have you guys read the original Snow White? Disney left out some gruesome stuff. Would also do Hans Christian Anderson.

7) If I Stay by Gayle Foreman-Good book for discussion about life and death. Again, something that effects teens whether we like it or not.

8) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams-Why is humor fiction NEVER taught in English? It should be. Parody/humor meta books are big part of our pop culture. Just because it's humorous doesn't make it any less important then the tragedies. Also you can do Much Ado About Nothing if you want classic humor. Personally I was always more of a fan of Shakespeare's comedies then his tragedies but hardly anyone teaches the comedies. Have you read Two Men From Verona? That's some funny stuff.

9) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings/or others by Maya Angelou-Would do this mostly for seniors/juniors because of maturity level needed to read her stuff (it can get heavy). But people should read it.

10) The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne-Like Anne Frank, you can probably find this on a random list or two but it's not a automatically going to be read in high school book. I actually read it for a school project that had nothing to do with English class. Good book for opening discussion up about stuff like slut shaming. Don't even try to tell me teens don't know anything about slut shaming.

Some other classics that aren't required reading in every school but totally should be: Fahrenheit 451 (actually BANNED in some schools)
Jane Austen-Can you believe none of my teachers ever did Jane Austen? Or Jane Eyre? Or Wuthering Heights? Or Frankenstein (which freaking started Science Fiction)? Female classic authors are almost always ignored in high school English class. This annoys me. A lot.
Peter Pan/Alice in Wonderland-Why do fantasy classics never get taught in schools? This is SO ANNOYING as someone who loves fantasy. People will teach Harry Potter before they teach these. What the frak?
To Kill a Mockingbird-Again, read on my own. Was never on any school list.


  1. Oh my god I literally could not agree with your list more. Seriously, as I was reading this I was like...yes...yes...OH MY GOD YES (that would be when I hit Hitchhiker's).

    Sorry this is going to be a long comment as I totally fangirled over everything, so I'm apologizing in advance.

    I LOVED The Handmaiden's Tale. I am with you about female authors - and this book is easily on par with 1984, so why don't you ever find Margaret Atwood on required reading for school? And books like 13 Reasons Why and Speak absolutely should be in our curriculum. Classics are getting outdated. Yes, there is still plenty to learn from them, but we're not getting books that deal with important issues teens deal with today, like suicide, bullying, and rape. Rape in classic novels is not dealt with in a way that I would want to use as a model in class (I'm looking at YOU Tess of the D'Urbevilles!)

    And then there's Hitchhiker's. I agree with you so much! Why isn't humor a thing in our reading? Books don't have to be HEAVY to be relevant or have literary importance. Why can't we have FUN and learn at the same time? And I was lucky enough to read Midsummers in one of my lit classes - I totally agree with you! I'm definitely more of a Shakespeare comedy sort of girl.

    In any case I've written so much haha - but your list is seriously like the list of my soul.

  2. I'm so happy that Speak is on so many lists. It mine this week too! :-)

  3. Yes! Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!