Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is anything back-to-school related. Basically, my entire life has been school. I’ve already written a lot about my college and grad school reading lists, so I’m going to focus on some books that I read as a younger person. Here are a few books I was forced to read in middle school and high school that I actually enjoyed.
Forced School Reads That Weren’t (Too) Painful
Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt (sixth grade language arts)
Doomed to—or blessed with—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee (seventh grade language arts)
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls (middle school book club)
A tree full of monkeys is the last thing fourteen-year-old Jay Berry Lee thought he'd find on one of his treks through Oklahoma's Cherokee Ozarks. Jay learns from his grandfather that the monkeys have escaped from a circus and there is a big reward for anyone who finds them. He knows how much his family needs the money. Jay is determined to catch the monkeys. It's a summer of thrills and dangers no one will ever forget.
Animal Farm – George Orwell (seventh grade language arts)
Revolution is in the air at Manor Farm after old Major, a prize boar, tells the other animals about his dream of freedom and teaches them to sing "Beasts of England." Mr Jones, the drunken farmer, is deposed of, and a committee of pigs takes over the running of the farm. The animals are taught to read and write, but the dream turns sour, the purges begin and those in charge come more and more to resemble their oppressors.
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton (seventh (or eighth?) grade language arts)
According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers—until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.
The Giver – Lois Lowry (eighth grade language arts)
This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he's given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli (eighth grade language arts)
From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, hallways hum “Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Until they are not. Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her—normal.
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (ninth grade English)
Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream—a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.
Night Shift – Stephen King (tenth (or eleventh?) grade English)
From the depths of darkness, where hideous rats defend their empire, to dizzying heights where a beautiful girl hangs by a hair above a hellish fate, this chilling collection of twenty short stories will plunge readers into the subterranean labyrinth of the most spine-tingling, eerie imagination of our time.
The Stand – Stephen King (twelfth grade modern lit class)
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides—or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail—and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
What was the best book you were forced to read in school?