Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and Bookish, is back after its hiatus. I mean, technically it was back last week, but since my brain apparently associates opening my laptop to blog with school, it has been an epic struggle to type anything for 6 weeks. Today’s topic is a back to school freebie, and I’m going to take this opportunity to look back on some of the books I was forced to read during my time at school and university.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
I bloody hated this book, which I was forced to read as part of my degree. One of my colleagues is obsessed with it and reads it every year, which makes me like him less.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
I despised this book when I read it as part of my Victorians module at university and even fell asleep in my seminar on it. I reread it two years ago, however, and loved it, so maybe it’s an age thing.
Quicksand and Passing by Nella Larsen
These books (I had to read an edition that included both of them) really opened my eyes to a whole world of ideas I’d never been exposed to before. It’s another thing I feel like I need to reread.
The Norton Anthology of Poetry
When I received my first reading list before going to university, I was outraged at the cost of this book, but it’s become one of the best purchases of my life; I still keep it on my desk at school and refer to it at least once a week. My original post-its and notes still adorn it and, when I am very famous and someone builds a museum to celebrate me, it will be a crucial artefact.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Preparing me for a lifetime of reading and being traumatised by Toni Morrison’s books, I read this during my degree (and, I think, Paradise during my MA). It is brilliant, if really disturbing. Like all Morrison’s novels then.
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
During my MA, I got really into Westerns while taking some pretentious course called ‘Cinematic Landscapes’ or something. I think I read this book around that time and I have good memories of it.
Libra by Don Delillo
I adored this book about the assassination of JFK and it’s a book I’ve managed to bully several other people into reading. One of the best things I was ever forced to read.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
I don’t remember much about this one but I do recall really enjoying it, so it’s another that probably needs a reread.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
I wrote my best ever undergraduate essay on this book and have plans to reread it soon. It’s a really powerful representation of race and even more relevant now than it was when I first read it.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
I was forced to read this when I was about 13 at school and I remember it was being on e of the silliest and most boring books I’ve ever read. Also why is the dude’s first name the same as his surname? I do wonder whether I missed something with this book, however, as I know it is a favourite of someone whose opinion I really respect.
These days, I delight in my role of forcing my students to read what I want (within reason. The GCSE syllabus, weirdly, does not include that book I just read about the Strokes or my beloved Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). What have you been forced to read by cruel educators? Did you love or loathe it?