In February this year, Lisa Bu gave one of the best TedTalks I’ve ever seen. (Spoiler: It’s bookish – watch it!) She talks about comparative reading, in other words reading two books together for better insight. Here is my list of contemporary books that I think should be read with required school reading. But first, check out Lisa’s talk.
1. The Dairy of a Young Girl by Anne Frank + The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee + A Dry White Season by Andre P. Brink
I was going to say The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I think is an excellent recommendation, but the reason I would rather use the above-mentioned suggestion is because it relates racial persecution in two completely different countries.
3. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare + Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park is not a retelling of R&J – which is good, because why would one want someone to read two different books that are quintessentially the same?
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding + The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Not the same situation at all, but both illustrate the regression of man into savagery in times of trouble.
5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger + Looking for Alaska by John Green
Delinquents, delinquents the lot of ’em! Kidding. Teenage angst FTW. Personally I prefer Green above Salinger.
6. Macbeth by William Shakespeare + Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I don’t know why I think these go well together, but they do. I feel like there is a good comparative essay waiting to be written about these characters. Dysfunctionality for everyone!
7. Moby Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville + Railsea by China Mieville
This may be a blatant cheat because the latter is supposed to be a re-imagined take on the former. But I think it is EXCELLENT. Also, not as long and difficult.
8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood + The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirezzvani
One dystopian and one not, one historical and one not really; both excellent feminist literature with a focus on sexuality and reproduction.
9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley + Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
Some things should not be done, even if magic or science decree that they are possible.
10. I am David by Anne Holm + Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
As a matter of interest, I loved required reading at school, but I understand that it is required reading that so often ruins reading for children. I think that well-considered old/contemporary pairings can really do more than simply provide insight: it can change the way a child perceives books. I look forward to reading your suggestions!