For this week’s TTT, The Broke and the Bookish asks for the Top Ten “Older” Books You Don’t Want People To Forget About (you can define older however you wish. The point is to share books that could be forgotten about in the midst of all the new releases). This one makes me happy, because I am not great at reading new releases. My budget is low, and books tend to reach South Africa loooong after they’re released elsewhere.
I chose books that are relatively old and that were at some point quite highly regarded. I suspect I’ll have a lot of overlap with other bloggers, and that’s okay. These aren’t in any particular order, by the way.
1. The Dairy of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)
We read the screenplay as setwork in Grade 8, but I read the diary when I was much younger. I was a little traumatised by it, but it was my first introduction to WWII and something that would shape my interest in history, and especially the many innocent lives lost in wars.
2. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (1923)
This went over my head the first time I attempted it, but I could tell it was something special. Subsequently I have read and re-read it, and understood a little bit better every time. I have also quoted it in numerous essays and speeches. It’s a treasure.
3. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977)
I think I’ve mentioned before that this was the first book to make me cry (the first movie was Beethoven – the dog one). I learned recently that this book has previously been banned or challenged. I was surprised, and stupefied. It’s a wonderfully imaginative book, with a good amount of makes-you-think.
4. Willard Price Adventure Series (1949 onward)
I learned early on that this was a series I could recommend to my friends who disliked reading in general. It was lovely seeing the prep school’s rugby-jock with his nose buried in a book! There is something about these books – pure adventure.
5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
A set book for Grade 9, one I probably would never have read myself. It was wonderful – another goldmine for debating, and introduced me to the concept of a microcosm. It also introduced me to savage deterioration, which was quite a mental growth-spurt for me. My friend called it “Lord of the Fleezies”, which made us laugh and I have used it since to numb the terror of the final moments.
6. Othello by William Shakespeare (1604)
Shakespeare has never been a strength for me; fortunately I have had excellent English teachers to make it worth my while. It was quite an experience for me and my (multiracial) class to read this work in our post-Apartheid South African context. It opened the floor for many discussions, and as much as we dreaded the setwork exams, we loved the debating. I know there is a movement out there to scrap Shakespeare from school syllabi, but I could never support that.
7. Good Night, Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian (1981)
Does it suffice to say I loved this book? It taught me a lot about humanity and personalities, and it helps that this, too, was taught by a wonderful English teacher. It also took place at the peak of my WWII interest, which made it that much more awesome.
8. Blubber by Judy Blume (1974)
Guys! I read this book a year before I would get some horrible nicknames (one: Pimpel-face), and I like to think that memories of this book somehow carried me through a terrible two years. Kids can be so cruel – I want this book to be prescribed reading for eleven/twelve-year-olds.
9. Esio Trot by Roald Dahl (1989)
This is Dahl’s book I hear mentioned the least. In fact, I resisted reading it for a long time, because I couldn’t understand head or tail of the title. And then it hit me, and it was like a whole new linguistic foray opened up for me. I spent a few days scouring my mind for anagrams and palindromes and reverse-palindromes. Oh, and it was quite possibly the first book with a bit of romance I ever read.
10. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
This was perhaps not one of the books I enjoyed most, although I do have a sentimental attachment to it as it is the first book I read to The Boy recently (he refuses to read, so I have taken to reading to him). I don’t quite think that it is accurate to call it a children’s book – it’s rather violent! But there is something about it that makes me want to protect it from fading away.