Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Wish We'd Read in School

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is a freebie with a back-to-school theme. I spent a lot of time in high school lamenting the books we had to read, and even more time afterward thinking, "Why couldn't we have read this instead?" (The answer was probably, "Because it's too feminine." We girls had to suck it up and read books about guys having adventures, and about other guys getting their dicks blown off--ahem, Hemingway--but god forbid any of the boys had to read about a girl who didn't get raped, wasn't an adulteress, didn't get murdered... You get the idea.) So here are ten books that I wish we could've read... instead of what we actually did read:

Ten Books I Wish We'd Read in School:

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery - I went to school in Canada for all but two years of my education... and yet, we never read one of the most well-known Canadian titles of all time!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling - Now, I'll be the first person to say that these books are not exactly great literature. However, the stories in the first few were fun, and they would've gone a long way to encouraging reluctant readers to read. Unfortunately, I was out of school by the time the first one was even published. (I also would've loved to see the backlash our conservative area would've kicked up; I'm sure it would've been rather hilarious. Witchcraft! Oh noes!)

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - Actually, many of Nancy Farmer's books--especially those set in Africa--might be great in the classroom. But this one is so interesting as a sci-fi/dystopian story in a not-quite-familiar future with a main character who was born purely to be used by others. There are lots of interesting discussions that could be had about this book.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - One of my favourite novels of all time seems like it would be a good fit in a high school curriculum. The fact that it's a coming-of-age story about girls is probably the reason it's not used.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - I got a chance to read this in university. I don't know why it wasn't part of the high school curriculum. It's got mystery, secrets, and plenty of archaic social customs to discuss. Isn't that what English teachers love?

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler - This book could've been a great tie-in to learning about slavery in the United States. It reminded me a bit of The Time Traveler's Wife... but with much higher stakes.

Matilda by Roald Dahl - Actually, pretty much any of Dahl's books would've been fun to read, but Matilda is one of my favourites. It's about a bookworm. How can you not love that? (Plus, comparing your own principal to the Trunchbull would make any school despot look like a benevolent ruler.)

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare - I had to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet in school. Of course, after that, I thought I hated Shakespeare. I read Much Ado About Nothing on my own a year or so after high school, and I loved it. I found it way more accessible, and it has some great lines and insults.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Maybe some schools put this classic on their reading lists, but mine didn't. We really didn't read a lot of female authors at all. (Sense and Sensibility would've also been a nice one to read, but it probably reads too much like a straight romance for the classroom.)

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder - I found this book to be so interesting (but I'm a bit of a nerd). What might read like a dry textbook in the hands of another author was turned into an engaging story by Gaarder. I learned so much about philosophy and its history as I read this book... while also being entertained.

What are some books you wish you could've read in school?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Book Recommendations for Adults Who Read Young

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Ten Book Recommendations for _________. I'm going to go with books for younger readers that I think adults might also enjoy. I'm an adult myself, and I don't read a lot of books that are aimed at my age; I read mostly young adult books, with a few middle grade titles thrown into the mix. There are some real gems out there, if you don't mind the main character being a bit (or a lot) younger than you. Since many young adult books are already well known, I'm going to stick with middle grade titles here:

Ten Books for Adults Who Read Young:

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer - Don't let Goodreads's series numbering deter you. Despite being the third in a series, you don't need to have read the first two to enjoy this one. It's a fun time-travel story with great characters that takes place in England.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman - I read the book long before I saw the movie, and I still prefer the book. It's creepier than the movie, and a bit darker, which might make it even more appealing to older readers.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo - This is a great example of a book for young readers that doesn't talk down to them. The typing squirrel is delightful, and the whole thing has a sort of superhero/comic-book vibe to it, which may appeal to older readers as well.

Liesel & Po by Lauren Oliver - This one makes me think of Dickens... lite. The Victorian-esque setting is populated by some unforgettable characters... including two of the cutest ghosts you'll ever read about.

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai - The subject matter in this one may be creeping up there, age-wise, but the narrator is still only thirteen. Her summer in Vietnam is full of humour, heartache, and growing pains. I haven't been let down by this author yet!

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson - Admittedly, I haven't read a ton of Peter Pan retellings. This book is more of a prequel, anyway, but it's one of the best books I've read that incorporates these characters and the world of Neverland. Don't go in expecting to meet Wendy and her brothers, though; this book takes place long before any of that.

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff - I saw the TV movie adaptation of this story before I read the book. It presents a touching story of a foster kid who's just looking for her place in the world.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt - This is an oldie, but it's still good. The questions about immortality and friendship are timeless.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine - Most people have heard of Ella Enchanted by the same author, but not as many have heard of this story, which is actually my favourite of the author's books. The cast of characters is wonderful, and it's nice to see a fairytale story that focuses on sisters and doesn't rely on a prince to save the day.

The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker - Speaking of fairytales, this is one of my favourite retellings. While it's based around the "Sleeping Beauty" story, it incorporates plenty of other tales. It's funny and cute. I haven't gotten to around to reading the other books in the series yet, but if they're as good as this one, I probably won't be disappointed.

What are some books for younger readers that you think adults would also enjoy?