fiction · Personal

5 Favorite Books I was Forced to Read by Teachers

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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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!


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