Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Best of School Reading

It’s always a pleasant surprise when the books I’m assigned to read in school don’t completely suck.

To be honest, it shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does. Teachers seem to dislike boredom as much as the rest of us, so it’s not like they’re out to created monotonous and outdated exercises in frustration—teachers have to read the books, too.

Though I’ve read many good school books, there are some that have completely blown me out of the water in ways I didn’t expect. This is to honor those books.

via Goodreads

The Odyssey by Homer

This book is so fun. We read this at the tail end of my Greek Mythology phase, but I hope to read it again soon because I didn’t believe in literary analysis in ninth grade. I’d love to get back into the details—if my copy weren’t in storage. Alas.

via Goodreads

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll repeat that I didn’t think I’d like this book. I’d never read a war story, but O’Brien’s combined storytelling and scars made it haunting and gorgeous and memorable.

via Goodreads

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

This is actually a non-fiction book from my AP Language class. Gilbert approaches happiness with humor and science, and I liked it. Other people didn’t because he denies our special snowflake-ness, which didn’t bother me because I already knew that.

via Goodreads

Auschwitz by Miklos Nyiszli 

I can’t say it’s a good book because it’s about people dying in real life and might not even be of literary merit, but it was probably one of the most important books I read in high school. It portrays some wretched truths and seriously made me think about my privileges. Which matters.

via Goodreads

Senderos Fronterizos by Francisco Jiménez

It’s a little, easy book, but I’d never read a personal account of an immigrant who had crossed the Mexican border, and again—I have so many privileges. It’s short, but it’s significant.

via Goodreads

Othello by William Shakespeare

Turns out that Shakespeare is the opposite of a boring, prudish, stuffy writer—thank goodness I understood that senior year. Othello is very good. The only reason I can think of is Iago but I know there’s more.

via Goodreads

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I don’t like the cover of this book but it’s good on the inside. It’s a sort of theocracy-dystopia story wherein society is reformed to create children in the midst of like, global destruction. Even though it’s futuristic it has a lot to say about now—it gives you lots of thoughts.

via Goodreads

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is humorous and satirical and was actually rather well-liked by my class. I look forward to reading it again for another one of my classes this year—it’s a good literary story, but I’m also interested in considering its historical war perspective as well! Also, there are feels.

via Goodreads

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

This is a really long book and sometimes Pirsig is wordy, but he’s a good and complex teacher. He clearly explains different philosophical elements without alienating the audience, and he just tells a story, which is beautiful.

via Goodreads

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf


I didn’t realize I’d love this book but I do because it’s about how women writers need their own rooms with a lock on the door. And you can guess this would speak to me because I AM SLEEPING IN MY LIVING ROOM AND IT IS HARD. Also women need money.

Ta-da! Look at that list. Clearly my years in school have been enlightening and at least partially well-spent.

What school books have you enjoyed? Did they surprise you?


(By the way—thanks for asking Elizabeth and me all your fabulous questions! If you haven’t asked anything but want to, this is your last chance to ask us anything!)

12 comments :

  1. I have suddenly realised one thing. I've never read a Woolf novel, only quotes and such. I am deeply ashamed.

    Anyhow! I totally back you on Catch-22 and Othello, and I fully intend to read Odyssey and A Handmaid's Tale as soon as possible. One school book I was surprised to enjoy was Chronicles of a Death Foretold. But then again it's a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, so really I'm not sure why I was surprised.

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    1. It's not like, strictly a novel, but it's like a cross between a novel and an essay and I highly recommend it to you and also you would like it.

      Yes! Those I have selected are good, and I have not even heard of that book, but I will write it down because I have to. *nods*

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  2. I read The Odyssey last year and ugh, it's so fun. Although I'm a blood and guts and honor and angst person and vastly prefer the Iliad. *cuddles the characters*

    I...usually end up liking books I have to read for school? Probably because I'm homeschooled, so I'm getting them from my mom and she's a book nerd too. Or I just enjoy classics. Whatever. Brave New World and The Odyssey and The Great Gatsby and Animal Farm and so on are all books I've been introduced to through reading for school, and they're some of my favorites.

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    1. Right? I haven't had an opportunity to read the Iliad yet, and I look forward to reading that, too. :D Who does not love the wars between gods and men?

      I guess it depends on what kind of homeschool you're up to. Because if your mom is coming up with your curriculum and she knows stuff about literature, then she'd probably be good at picking out stuff that's good for you. But if you're doing online school or whatever, that'd be a different ballpark. Anyway, Gatsby and Odyssey are loverly, and I WANNA READ BNW BUT I'M NOT THERE YET.

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  3. Usually I end up really enjoying the books that I have to read for school, even though I don't think we read quite enough books in one year in school. I seriously don't understand how we read only two ( or maybe even *GASP* THREE) books per school year in ENGLISH class. What is this nonsense? But anyways, I find that the books we read in school are often very thought provoking and dense, and I like those kinds of books. We read The Odyssey as well, and I enjoyed it, too! Except we didn't actually read the whole thing-just excerpts. Which is kind of wimpy, which is why I need to get to reading the whole thing. I also enjoyed reading Romeo and Juliet because it made me realize how truly clever and beautiful Shakespeare's prose is. Reading To Kill a Mockingbird was also enjoyable because I had already read it two times before and it is a fabulous book so I approve of reading it in English class.

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    1. Per school year?! Ana, you are STARVING for good literature in school! My English classes tend on the side of maybe 4-7 books a semester, and that's partly because they're also writing classes. You should definitely read The Odyssey, though, and also Romeo and Juliet, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Those just bring back fond memories of Freshman year. :)

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  4. Wow, these are great! I haven't read them all, but I have read The Odyssey, Othello (and I saw this live in Stratford-Upon-Avon at the Shakespeare Theatre!) and other works by Virginia Woolf...my favorite is Mrs. Dalloway. But as an English major, almost everything I read for school at this point is fantastic and something I'd like to read on my own, too!
    Ciera @ The Write Things

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    1. What?! That is SO COOL. I haven't read Mrs. Dalloway, but I have heard it's one of her most prominent works. Being an English major must seriously expose you to lots of awesomeness, though. :)

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  5. I normally like the books I end up reading for school as well :) All these books sound super interesting, and some of them are on my TBR :)

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    1. That's good to hear, and I hope you enjoy the ones you read when you get to them! :D

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  6. So many of these books are on my mental TBR, especially The Handmaid's Tale and Catch-22 (and, unlike you, I really like the cover for THT). And it's great to find someone else who loves The Odyssey and Shakespeare as well. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I feel like the cover is accurate but it does not inspire me or make me recall any particular scene. But, for the record, The Handmaid's Tale and Catch-22 are among my favorite books I had to read last year, so I highly recommend them!

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