I was never the type of person who complained when books were assigned reading in middle school or high school. I kind of loved the idea of poring over books and hearing different perspectives of the same story as well as learning about the backstory of the authors or events that inspired the books.
Later in life, of course, the idea of studying a piece of literature became less appealing to me but I thought today I'd share with you some of the books that I was forced to read and loved anyway.
Night by Elie Wiesel - This one really had a huge emotional impact on me. I remember sitting down to read it after dinner one night and not sleeping until I'd finished. And I sobbed through quite a lot of it. I've always been fascinated with reading accounts of survivors of WWII, I feel like I'm drawn to it in a way, and reading Night just confirmed my ongoing interest in the subject. A really beautifully written book.
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder - I don't admit to understanding every section of Sophie's World, but I love the ease in which Jostein Gaarder presents different philosophers and philosophies. After reading and being mesmerised by Sophie's World, I've gone on to read many different books by Jostein Gaarder, all of which baffled and entertained me to no end.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare - OK. I was sort of obsessed with Romeo and Juliet in my teen years. The angst of it really spoke to me at the time. Even though there was one traumatic experience where I was forced into reading a specific scene out loud amongst my class (luckily the Nurse only had one line in that scene!), it didn't quite stop me from loving the language of Shakespeare and the story that's told. I think perhaps we also studied The Tempest during high school and I did make a fairly half-hearted attempt at reading all of Shakespeare's plays. I did read his sonnets and fell in love all over again however.
The Outsiders by SE Hinton - I absolutely adored The Outsiders. Everything about it, the message, the writing style, the very believeable voice of the Ponyboy, the characters, the character's names, the inclusion of a Robert Frost poem, the film adaptation, and oh, especially the emotion that I felt reading this book for the first time. Every time I re-read this book, and it has been a book I've read more than a dozen times since I was in 8th grade, it hits me all over again how much this book shreds my heart into teeny tiny little pieces. I've cried every single time I've read it. Fabulous book.
The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green - This book I mostly loved because of the romance. I don't really recall much about it, now that I think about it. I remember Patty is being a young girl who doesn't get on very well with her mother and that was something that really struck a chord with me. And then she's taking care of this soldier and falls in love and there's some heartbreak at the end? I'm not sure actually. I'd love to re-read this book and see if all those strong emotions I felt when reading it in 8th grade would still feel as important and life-changing as it felt as a 13 year old.
And that's it, really. I'm sure there were loads of other books that were required reading. To Kill a Mockingbird I'm sure. But a lot of the books that we studied at school were books that I'd already read and loved beforehand, so I find it difficult to distinguish which came first. All of the above books were books I read for the first time because my grade was dependent on how well they were analysed and so on.
Which books were required reading for you growing up? Did you love the books? Or hate them?