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Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading

July 19, 2011

Y’all, I’m about to get all kinds of melodramatic and sentimental up in here. You ready? GOOD.

There are some books that just stick with you—the stories or characters or writing, or, really, all of that combined, just reach down into you and leave a mark that somehow changes you, be it your perception of the world or your understanding of language or the way you think about storytelling. This is because books are important and made of awesome.

So, here’s the list of the books that have left an indelible impression on me, good, bad, and ugly, in absolutely no particular order other than the order that I thought of them.

1. The Odyssey by Homer
Helllooooooo classic lit that has informed kind of everything that came after it. That in and of itself is why it should be required.

2. As much Shakespeare as possible
 I know it’s not for everyone, but this dude’s works are freaking important. Hell, most of the words we use today were CREATED by him. And modern story structure and tropes? Yeah, those came from him too. And he came up with some of the best zingers. And some of the most thought-inducing philosophical musings. And let’s not forget the sonnets and the romantic stuff. *swoons at the thought of it*

3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is maybe the best book about being a good human ever written. And, IMHO, everyone should read it.

4. The House on Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
It’s just sooooo sweet. And sad. And good. No one should ever be without the Hundred Acre Wood and Pooh Bear. [Note: The “cover” above is the audiobook version. Just the THOUGHT of listening to Jim Broadbent read this aloud is making me tear up.]

5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
If there’s ever a book to teach you about the importance of books, this is it. This isn’t necessarily one I enjoyed but it’s one that I am very, very glad I read. In fact, I read it because it was on the required reading list for my AP Literature class my junior year of high school. 🙂

6.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Yes, this is considered girly, but consider this folks: if every guy read Pride and Prejudice they’d probably better understand why we’re all so gaga over Darcy.

7. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
I just really freaking like this book. I read directly after reading Catcher in the Rye, and actually preferred A Separate Peace. Not that Catcher isn’t worthy of your time (IT IS, IT IS, IT IS!) but I just liked this one bester. (You see that? I made up my own word because Shakespeare taught me that that’s okay to do!)

8. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This one I recommend because a) I love road novels, b) I love Jack Kerouac and his refusal to write in a conventional way, and c) this is sort of an introduction to post-modern literature. More or less. Argue with me on that if you feel so inclined, in comments.

9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This is another one from my AP Literature required reading list. I was obsessed with it. It’s beautiful and tortured and just so damn arresting. It’s the first book that [SPOILER ALERT] didn’t have a happy ending I ever read and LIKED. So, it’s kind of a big deal for me.

10. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This series just has it all—action, adventure, love, hate, friendship, magic, and perhaps above all, the lesson that you are never alone and that help is always there when you ask for it.

Bonus books (because ten just isn’t enough!): Looking for Alaska by John Green, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigaro, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Howl by Allen Ginsberg, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Night by Elie Wiesel, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman, and, because I have to stop somewhere, Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Holy cow, I think I could have kept listing books all dang night! But I am stopping now, and advising you to read and find the books that imprint themselves on you and them pass them along to everyone you know. 🙂

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