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Top Ten Tuesday: Books We Were Forced to Read

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Whether it was in high school or in book club, we have all had those books that we have reluctantly had to read for some reason. We may have resisted, we may have dug in our heels … and we most likely have ended up really enjoying it in spite of ourselves.

Here, then, is my list of my top ten books that I was forced to read for some reason, and my thoughts on them after I had finished:

daughter smoke boneDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Michele from Just a Lil’ Lost and I decided to choose this book for one of our first Brunch Book Clubs and I knew little to nothing about it, except that it had angels —- and I am not much for angels in my books. Surprise! I ended up really loving the world-building, and I couldn’t wait to read the next one in the series.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockinbird by Harper Lee

I grew up in the bastion of CanLit, so we never actually read TKaM in high school. I avoided it in university as well, preferring to take courses about dead English and living Easter European writers instead. Things came to a head when my niece – eighteen years my junior – told me she was studying it in high school. Time to aunt-up, and read the book. Did I love it? Yep. Do I regret that I didn’t read it earlier? Yep.

songThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This won the Orange Prize for fiction a couple of years ago, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was up for reading a book set at the time of Achilles and Patroclus and the Greek wars, but then it was decided that we would read it for our store book club. I ended up really enjoying this book, and found some wonderful moments in the romance between the two men, and that it gave a wonderfully different perspective of Achilles’ mythical story.

swerveThe Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Another book club pick – this one a non-fiction pick that I was reluctant to pick up, but fell into and didn’t surface until it was done. A micro-history of the world we live in, starting with a Roman named Lucretius who wrote a poem that described a universe guided by physical laws rather than the whims of mystical deities. He also wrote about how people should pursue happiness rather than spend their lives trying to appease gods who don’t exist. Revolutionary stuff, and completely absorbing.

curse workersHolly Black’s Curse Workers Trilogy (White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart)

There really isn’t any reason for me not to have read Holly’s trilogy. I think she’s a magical writers, and I really enjoyed what she did as part of the Spiderwick series and her work with the Tithe series. It wasn’t until a friend gave me all three as audio books – read by Jesse Eisenberg – that I finally bit the bullet and “read”/listened to them. I was astounded. Not only was the narrator amazing, but the story was funny, compelling and completely wonderful.

A-Tale-of-Two-Cities-689x1024A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Remember above when I said that I read a lot of dead English writers in university? Yep, there was a lot of Dickens in there. We read a number of them before wrapping up the course with a Tale of Two Cities. I didn’t want to read it because I was burned out on Dickens, but I knew I had to power through it, if only for the final exam. Warned in advance about the overly-long prologue, I dreaded beginning it. Then I read it.

It has become one of my top five favourite books of all time, and I still think that it is a complex novel that showcases the horrors that man commit against each other, as well as being wildly romantic and highlighting the blurred lines between light and dark. Stunning, and while I mourn the time I missed, I know that I wasn’t ready for it until university.

lovely bonesThe Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My friends basically bullied me into reading this. It was the hot book of the year, they had all read it, and they all wanted me in on the discussion. I borrowed a copy, and curled up on the couch one afternoon, prepared to be drawn into the story and to like the characters. Sorry, guys, this was the book equivalent of “Ghost” for me – I could not see what all the fuss was about, and I even laughed out loud at times. I didn’t find it creepy, or sad, or compelling. I just found it boring.

sisterskeeperMy Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult

Another book that everyone had read before me, and everyone told me that I had to read. I finally caved and picked up a copy. I liked a lot of her other work, and I thought I would really like it. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I found the characters weak and annoying, and no, I did not cry at the end. >ducks to avoid flying objects from online commenters<

succubus bluesSuccubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Originally a gift from a colleague who was convinced that I would love this book and couldn’t wait to discuss it with me, it languished on my TBR shelf for a while. Finally, guilt kicked in and I couldn’t take avoiding her questions of “what did you think” any longer, so I put it on my to-be-read list for a readathon. End result? An early morning trip to my local bookstore to pick up the other four books in the series so I could glom the entire set all at once. It was fantastic, fun, sexy and well worth my time. I liken it to popcorn, but tasty, tasty popcorn that you can’t put down.

abundanceAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I really enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars, so when Michele and I picked this book for our Brunch Book Club, I will admit that I had my reservations. Fear not – once again, I found a book that I liked even better than the one that everyone has been raving about. I love how Green writes relationships between young men, and how his ear for teen dialogue is authentic and fun. I had a tonne of fun exploring the math explanations (because, let’s face it, I needed them) and this was an awesome read.

What were YOUR top ten books that you were forced to read – or what books do you wish someone had forced you to read?

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list  that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All that is asked is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

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13 Responses »

  1. Ha ha ha ha — I, too, had very similar thoughts about The Lovely Bones!

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  2. I’ve read a lot of good books from my book club choices. It’s brilliant to find books you wouldn’t have read otherwise 🙂

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    • I agree totally! I have some friends who become quite angry when the book club doesn’t agree on a selection. My thought is, isn’t that the point? You are in a bookclub to be exposed to things you would not otherwise pick!

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  3. Only read Mockingbird and Lovely Bones.
    Here’s my Top Ten.

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  4. There are some really good books on your list, ones that I read just because they are good not because I had too like My Sisters Keeper and An Abundance of Katherines. I really hated The Lovely Bones though, I had to do a personal study on it at school and I’ve never hated a book so much before or since.

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  5. Been meaning to read The Song of Achilles but I need to read The Iliad first.

    I never read A Tale of Two Cities in school but I read it on my own a couple years ago and loved it. I can’t believe no one’s considering a new adaptation for it, I think it’s high time to give Great Expectations a break and try this one for a change, lol.

    My TTT

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  6. To Kill a Mockingbird made my list too. 🙂 And Daughter of Smoke and Bone – I love that book too! I had it on my TBR for about a year, and kicked myself after reading it for waiting so long.

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  7. Great list, it sounds like you have a fantastic book club. An Abundance of Katherines is probably my favorite by John Green due to the characters. I agree about The Lovely Bones (;

    My TTT

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  8. Ugh, I think An Abundance of Katherines is the only JG book that I have not read. His books are hit and miss with. I am eager to read this one and see how I like it.

    Great list!

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  9. I am going to go old school here, but Macbeth ( yep Shakespeare ). I was in an hospital therapy program when i was about 10 years old and as part of my program they wanted me to memorise the first scene in Macbeth. Well I just had to read the rest! Well it was great. The result? When I went to high school and they said we had to learn Shakespeare I think I was the only person in my class who said “fantastic!!!!”

    As part of the therapy program I also had to read “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” which quickly became a favorite of mine

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