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 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 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Holly 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 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.
The 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.
My 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 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.
An 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?
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!