Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, which allows bloggers to share lists of some of our favorite (and not-so favorite) things. This week we’ll be highlighting the top ten books that we'd pair with required reading/should be required reading! This is definitely something to think about and it's not really a question I've ever considered in major detail. Well, let's see if we can make a top ten list for it!
Top Five Books I'd Pair With A 'Required Reading'
The original play is required reading for a reason and it is totally a totally wrenching tragedy. But the modern retelling by Michelle Ray tells us the story in a modernized setting, from poor Ophelia's point of view. The format she decides to structure it in is completely brilliant and I highly recommend it. It would make for interesting comparisons.
I will totally admit that I saw this on some PHD's idea list for YA and Classic Lit pairings. Although Hester isn't talking to protect her lover and Melinda isn't talking for completely different reasons, they're both about women/girls who remove themselves from society and the world around them due to circumstances. It's a surprisingly thought-provoking pairing. Plus, both of them deal with being ostracized by almost everyone they know. Deal with THAT for a moment!
This one is so glaringly obvious I'm surprised I can even list it without jumping up and down. Epic quests, long-suffering heroes and Rick Riordan's humorous take on the original Greek Mythology infused into The Odyssey - what else would really make half as much sense as this?
Not necessarily the first connection someone might make, but both books are satires of bureaucratic government systems and the rules/reasoning behind them. To me it makes sense, plus Terry Pratchett is freaking hilarious! "Going Postal" is one of my favorite comedic books ever.
5. Selected Works of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, & George Gordon Byron with So Shelly:
This book is definitely an interesting concept. The three romantic era writers are modern teens and the book is narrated by Keats as he and Byron steal Shelly's ashes to carry out her last wishes (she's a combination of both Percy and Mary Shelley). Roth got the idea for the book from one of my favorite songs, Better than Ezra's "Lifetime." Normally I am not a fan of reimagining of real people's lives, but this one is so well done and makes you really feel in regards to authors whose works sometimes don't resonate all that well with teens anymore.
Top 5 Books That Should Be 'Required' Reading
1. Cherry Money Baby by John M. Cusick:
This is one of the most honest books I've read in an extremely long time about learning to question the validity of your life choices and the core of who you are, without making changes because of the way others see you. Plus it made me laugh out loud a lot and I feel like Cherry is my Holden Caulfield (with a wicked funnybone & aversion to bullshit, in place of a pretentious attitude). I think this book is a modern classic in the making!
2. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann:
I remember us reading a few creepy short stories, and some excerpts from full books that were in our lit text in 9th grade. This book is one of the most screwed up things I have read, dealing with a haunted desk that's abducting local teenagers. WTF, right? I think this could be to teens nowadays what Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury was to me at that age.
3. The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner:
There is a really great tie between this book and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and I probably could have put in in the first half of the list because of that. But I feel like this book stands so far above it all, without needing Steinbeck's book as a tie-in. It deals with loss, love, family and friendship with a sense of humor and true longing infused into it. I was super impressed when I read this a couple years ago. Also, it's on the shorter side which might make it less intimidating for reluctant readers.
4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins:
As a novel written in verse, a lot of academics would probably look down their noses at this book (and with it, all of Hopkins' work, which is told in verse). Even the kids I knew in high school who didn't like reading had at least heard of, if not read this book ON THEIR OWN TIME. It's this generation's Go Ask Alice, a tale of drugs, sex and destruction from a seemingly normal girl who is the quintessential 'good' girl. It's scary and is basically a D.A.R.E. ad written for teens and based on the life of the author's daughter. This could definitely make some waves in high school Lit classes and spark some great discussions.
5. Origin by Jessica Khoury:
Is it morally right for human beings to have immortal life? And is creating a new strain of humanity with scientific means, in a laboratory, against the natural order of things completely? Without being a dystopian, this book still manages to raise some of the same situations: brainwashing, animal experiments, cruel mental tests, scientists controlling the main character's every decision/feeling/action to suit their own machinations. This is the kind of book that has everything needed for passionate classroom discussions and is also written very well, with lush descriptions and respectably classic sci-fi structural elements. It could become a modern classic without a doubt.
This was REALLY tough to only list ten books/comparisons for this week's challenge! Once I got going I just kept thinking of more and more possibilities, especially comparisons. Can't wait to see what you guys have on your own top ten lists (maybe I'll get some ideas for improvement with my own way of doing things). Thanks for joining me and happy Tuesday y'all! :) And for the Hell of it, here are a couple honorable mentions:
2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell