Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You Wish Were Taught in Schools

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

There are some books that stick with you for the adventure they take you.  There are books whose main characters become you imaginary best friend or book crush.  There are books that make you cry or make you angry.  However they get to you, if they make you read, I'm all for it.

I would rather someone read awful crap than not read anything at all.  Of course, in a perfect world, students would read amazing books instead, and get a terrific book addiction and then the world would be populated with more readers no child anywhere would ever have to hear, as I did: "Why don't you get a life instead of reading all the time?"

Books that Make Reading Fun
1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle.
 "The unicorn lived in a lilac wood and she lived all alone."  This is the most perfect opening sentence to one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Boys - have no fear!  She might be a unicorn but her adventures are filled with anything but rainbows.  There are harpies and witches and demon bulls and talking skeletons and a cursed castle.  As a bonus, it's a deeper book than it seems on the surface, including lovely passages about responsibility, fate, and immortality. 

2. Lamb by Christopher Moore
By all rights, the religious right could have taken arms up against this book, but it seems the reading public took it for the lighthearted joke it was intended to be and have been keeping it in print for years.  There's even a special edition that looks like a Bible.  There are so many jokes and puns it's hard to keep track of them all.  Basically, it's Life of Brian except it is really about Jesus.  There just isn't enough satire in school curricula.

3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I'm sure there are kids who would read this for fun anyway - or who already have.  Why not discuss some of the other things in it, like the morality of what the adults are doing, the dubious benefits of waging war, the global population issues, guilt vs innocence.  Yes, it's a story about games, aliens, and spaceships, but it's also about a lot more. 

Books with Female Protagonists that Boys Will Root For, Too
5. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
You knew this was going on the list, right?  I think this is an important evolution in YA literature simply because of the way the female protagonist interacts with other women and because of the way that the male lead responds to her (superior) prowess - with respect instead of intimidation.  There is a rather pervasive yet not ham-handed feminism throughout the story, and no one should object to the ideas Cashore presents.

6. Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer
Sometimes you want to smack Jack (aka Mary Faber) around for making ridiculous decisions and then having to face the consequences, but in this first book, it's all about the Age of Sail and the domination of the British Empire.  There's a healthy dose of history here served up alongside all the hijinks.  The series goes on for (at this time) eleven books, giving readers more and more stories to devour.

7. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Along with the protagonist who needs to get out of her backwater home, there is a murder mystery going on based on An American Tragedy by Dreiser.  A books about a book about a real murder.  Excellent.

And finally, the "Precautionary Tale"Book
8. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
Love it or hate it, I feel like young women (and probably the young men, too) should be forced to read this series with a counselor who can explain why this is not romantic, and if your S.O. ever does anything like this in real life, you are probably in an abusive relationship. 

Confession:  Labor Day has thrown me for a loop and I almost forgot to post something today.  Whoops!  

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