Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was "Forced" to Read

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

Here's the thing about me:  you can recommend me books until you're blue in the face, but unless it's required reading or there will be an exam you can't force me to finish.  If you have a favorite book I "should" read, you'll have to tell me several times.
But most of the time I friggin' love books that other people consistently recommend.  You just have to out-stubborn me.

Ten Stellar Successes (and One Miserable DNF Failure)

The Great Gatsby - A required high school read.  I'm glad I read this with a youthful, exuberant teacher.  The style is not the easiest thing to read as a 16 year-old, but with the discussion I found myself loving it the more we read.  I appreciate it more now than I did then, but it's still a good book for anyone to read.

Montana 1948.  Thanks again, high school!  I would never in a million years have picked this up off the shelf had it not been part of a course.  Rural Montana 1948:  a young man learns what his father, the sheriff, must do when his charming and affable uncle is accused of some heinous crimes.  Some skeevy, sad moments, but all in all a very memorable book.  A nice companion to To Kill a Mockingbird.

Cold Sassy Tree - Another high school read.  The story of an older man finding new life and new love with a younger woman in a Southern town, over the disapproval of his family and the town.  The hero, a young man, finds new love and heartbreak and learns about growing up while staying young.  This book is oddly touching in a lot of ways. There is also a sequel that was left unfinished by the author's death.  I didn't have the heart to start it. 

The Inferno - For reasons defying understanding, I read this book three times in my first two years of college.  Once in the original Italian.  I think it was interesting (as opposed to "good") because it was taught to me.  If I were to have read it randomly, I don't think I would have appreciated it as much.

The Three-Inch Golden LotusThis is both and terrific and a terrible book.  It makes you think hard about a difficult (and gross) issue: foot binding.   It makes you care - horrendously - about the characters.  It doesn't leave you with any good fuzzy feelings at the end.  And as you turn the final page, you still care.  Deeply.  Some scenes are outright gross, and some characters are reprehensible, but the fact that I can describe scenes from a book I read once twelve years ago should tell you a lot.

Ender's Game - Sci-Fi is not really my bag.  I don't gravitate towards it, though I have nothing against it.  This book is mind-blowingly great and I did not see it coming.  If you haven't read it, you totally should.

Outlander - While studying abroad, we students had to pool our resources, so to speak.  This was recommended over and over by one person until I caved.  Word to the wise: Once she goes back in time, the book gets really good.  Feel free to skim away until you get to that part.  Oh, man.  Now I want to read it again. I've never finished the series, but I could read this first one over and over again (minus the first part before the time travel happens.  Like I said, just skip it.). 

Memoirs of a Geisha - Same deal as above.  Either read book in Italian, do actual homework or read this from another student's private library.  This was far better than the other two options.  I've read it a couple times since then.

Pillars of the Earth/World Without End - Are these the best books ever?  Of course not.  Starz adapted it for TV.  Starz, people, Starz.  Are the characters purely good or purely evil?  Yeah, pretty much.  Does that make it less engaging and fun?  No.  As a bonus, there are two mini-series you can watch (and mock or enjoy, your decision) after you've read them.

The Hunger Games- At the time this came out, my coblogger Panther told me about it.  It didn't really trip my trigger.  She told me it was good and lent me her copy.  I had to go out and buy my own almost the second I finished.  Well played, friend.  Well played, indeed.

Left Behind - Nope nope nope.  No.  Nuh-uh.  Never again.  "Oh, you'll love it.  It's about the Book of Revelation and the Rapture."  No only did I not like it, I couldn't even get past the first few chapters.  Even as a teenager the writing style chafed my brain.  Don't do.  It's really bad.

Anyone else?  Feel free to post links to your own list in the comments!


  1. Oh man Memoirs of a Geisha - that's another one of my favourites! And I love Arthur Golden's writing ALMOST as much as Pat Conroy's :)

    And I still haven't read the sequels to Pillars of the Earth but that book is AMAZING. Like seriously. If they books weren't so damn big I probably would have read World Without End by now, but it's quite difficult to read books that big on the train, let alone carry them around all day!

  2. I could create a whole list of books you have recommended to me and I liked!