As a child, I read a lot on my own – I was pretty regular at the local library as my mother, a preschool teacher, highly encouraged reading. As I got older, however, my time reading got less and less until high school when the only things I read were for school. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about terrible books they had to read, but for the most part, I didn’t have too many bad experiences. Perhaps it’s because I grew up a reader and reading long books wasn’t torture for me. I’m not sure. There were a few gems amidst the many books we were assigned to read, so here are my five favorite books I was forced to read by teachers (in no particular order).
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I absolutely love this book and I loved it the first time I read it. It’s a classic, yes, and it’s been turned into a movie/youtube series several times, and I love every adaptation as well. Elizabeth Bennet is my kind of heroine – strong-willed but loyal, loving but tough. She doesn’t want to settle, and she doesn’t have to in the end. Darcy is also my kind of antagonist-turned-protagonist.
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I’m not usually a fan of thriller books but Haunting is absolutely brilliant. I read it in the middle of the day on a sunny afternoon and I still looked up surreptitiously to check that I wasn’t being stalked in my own home. If you do read it (and you should), do NOT read it at night. Just a friendly warning. You probably won’t sleep. Also, the movie is terrible and should not be considered an adaptation.
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Another vaguely supernatural book (which I love), I really enjoyed reading this book, far more than the book we were assigned afterwards (Bless Me, Ultima). It was this book that I learned how calliope was spelled (and pronounced, thanks, Mom).
- Brave New World by Alduous Huxley
One of the first dystopian novels, Brave New World was one of the few I actually enjoyed reading in school. To be honest, the test-tube world doesn’t seem so far away these days, and I vividly remember the scene where Bernard goes on his spirit journey to meet his spirit animal. A pretty good book.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Another classic that is both disturbing and highly influential. I recently read The Maze Runner, and it goes in the exact opposite direction of Lord of the Flies. Perhaps that’s why I like both. They’re both great representations of different sects of society and what happens when it all falls apart.
Honorable mention: Le Petite Prince which I read in French, and then English, and then French again.
Not all teacher-assigned books are bad, though I read plenty of those as well. What were your favorite assigned readings? Let me know in the comments!