Top Ten Books I was “Forced” to Read

I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday today to talk about the books I was forced to read (and loved). I always loved reading, but reading other people’s suggestions has been instrumental in broadening my horizons. It’s hard to identify which books I was “forced” into reading, because generally if someone suggests a book I happily devour it.

1. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden – this was probably the most difficult required reading I ever had to do, and I would not have loved it had we not had an excellent teacher guiding us through. The story begins incredibly slowly but with the right kind of attention it blossoms beautifully.

2. Othello by William Shakespeare – we had such good class discussions about this play; about race and relevance and abuse, that this is easily one of my favourite Shakespearean tragedies.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper – of course. Easily one of the most amazing required readings.

4. The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard – this play had me falling in love with a dusty little Karoo town in the middle of nowhere. Easily the book that changed my life the most.

New Bethesda Owl House

5. Shades by Marguerite Poland – South African students either love it or hate it. I love it. There is no other book like this one out there. That is all.

6. Good Night, Mr Tom – I think this was my first high school setwork book. It was the first time I read a book about World War II that was not about Anne Frank, so it was as if a whole new world opened up.

7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – this book taught me the concept of a microcosm, and I had never had as much fun writing essays as with this one.

8. Dracula by Bram Stoker – required reading for a Coursera course. I never would have read it otherwise, but I loved it!

9.The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman – set book for Illness Narratives on Semester at Sea. An incredible account.

10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – such a variety of book bloggers strongly suggested this book that I had to read it. I was so happy that I acquiesced.

19 thoughts on “Top Ten Books I was “Forced” to Read

  1. I completely agree about Road to Mecca. I remember insisting my parents make a detour when driving from Jo’burg to Cape Town so that we could stop in Neiu Bethesda. I still love stopping there. I hate the new headlights on cars because you could never make decent owls with them anymore.

    I really struggled with To Kill a Mockingbird (I still don’t think I’ve read the whole thing!)

    My life changing set work was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Something about that book made me really connect with the rest of Africa.

    I enjoyed Othello, but found much more delight in other Shakespeare. I attended the National School of the Arts and studied Drama, so we did one or two Shakespeare plays a year. I loved Titus Andronicus, which is a really obscure one, but so interesting and very creepy!

    What a really fun post! I’d hardly thought about these books in a long time. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Wow, I haven’t even HEARD of Titus Andronicus… I’ll have to give it a try, although I do poorly with Shakespeare without help!
      I haven’t actually read any Achebe, but I did recently purchase one of his books, so I’m almost there…
      Yay for Road to Mecca. I hadn’t actually given the new headlights any thought, but you’re so right!
      Thanks for the visit 🙂

  2. Goodnight Mister Tom made my list too, I read it when I was 11 and it is the first book I can remember having to read that I adored. It started my obsession with WW2 reading

  3. I’ve heard of a few of these books, but shockingly I’ve never read any of them. I haven’t even read To Kill a Mocking Bird. I think my family owns it too because my brother was forced to read it in high school. How funny.

  4. My brother was forced to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and he complained about it so much on our family holiday that I took it off him and read it myself. Loved it. I think he had a bad teacher though.

    Mine would have to be “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro. I found the main character so frustrating that I wouldn’t have finished the book if I hadn’t been taking an exam on it. But then he redeemed himself about ten pages from the end with one heartbreaking line which made me see him completely differently.

    1. I have never heard of that book… But I just checked it on Goodreads and it sounds a lot like An Episode of Sparrows in terms of being frustrating and then suddenly redeemed. I might try it at some point, although I admit my patience with difficult books is thin now that I don’t have English classes anymore.

  5. I’m glad to see Othello made your list, which speaks directly to our parlous world of the 21st century. If you someday get the chance to see Verdi’s opera version, consider giving it a chance. There is terrific music and there is nothing like opera to heighten the tragic element and drive home the pathos.

  6. Hi Mariechen, I first must admit I have been reading and enjoying your posts without commenting for a while now. Thank you so much for writing in the first place, and secondly for this list of favorites. I love to read, too. And I have found some great new ideas here to add to my never-ending list! Thank you and thank you again, Nancy

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 my favourite part about the internet, I think, is keeping in touch (of course) and sharing book recommendations. Hope you enjoy the books if you read them!

  7. I absolutely loved Lord of the Flies when I read it for English, I also thought it was one of the most enjoyable one to write essays on – plus I got As which also helped!
    I feel like I am the only person, ever, who didn’t enjoy Code Name Verity!

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