Top ten books I’d want my student to read

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A meme by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s top ten deals with school reading. I guess I should change it a bit and call top …er, ten ish books I wish I’d read in school (pre-college). I have to be honest, when I was of the age to worry about back to school, I wasn’t a huge reader. Shocking for a writer to admit, I know, but books didn’t become a thing for me until much later. I read what I had to read because I had to read it, and admired storytelling, but …it wasn’t until high school when a friend introduced me to (yes, again) Michael Moorcock’s Elric that I was truly a fan of stories that, well…weren’t in poetic or musical form. To that point I was a huge music fan and got my poetic fix that way. And movies (Sword in the Stone and the Abbott and Costello comedies my dad enjoyed and Creature Feature on Saturdays) were my biggest exposure to stories. I was going to say my reading list pretty much mimics this one, but you know what? Beyond Of Mice and Men, Hamlet, Tom Sawyer and a shit-ton of poetry, I really don’t recall what I was required to read before college. (I’m not even truly certain of when or where or how I read Tom Sawyer, to be honest).

What would I have a child read these days? This is my all-time Dream education list, so feel free to think this is a sarcastic list (it is and it’s not).

Homer The Odyssey (yes, Homer) , and Ovid, and Plato, first and foremost. Quit feeding children this “your brain is so small you can only handle See Dick Run” baby stories crap and give our society a true classical education. Homer, Ovid, Plato, Seneca the Younger, (No, not Socrates. Socrates should just die…oh, wait.) I wonder what would happen if we did. 
To get to more popular titles:
How commendable that some list puts Gulliver’s Travels by Swift, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and Tarzan, on the sixth grade reading list (and I, Robot by Asimov for others). Woohoo!As I say, I don’t recall what we read in 6th grade, but I know it wasn’t Asimov, because that might of got me off to the sf/fantasy writing world earlier than I got there. I didn’t read Asimov’s Robots of Dawn until 12th grade, only because a teacher’s assistant recommended it to me, personally, outside of a classroom lesson. And To the Lighthouse that they mention? one of my favorite books of all time? 2nd year of college. Although, why the same list would put Le Morte d’Arthur by Malory  off until 11th grade but gives Count of Monte Cristo to 6th graders, I can’t figure out. (I’d swap them around,myself). So yeah, those seven. And how nice to see Color of Magic by Terry Prachett and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Dune by Frank Herbert on these Summer Reading Lists.
 Because yeah, those too.

the cover for the Once and Future King by T.H. White

I’d also add The Once and Future King. Because it’s the classic King Arthur tale.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (or A Wizard of Earthsea, both are good!)
 Room with a View by EM Forrester. Because I love this book and wish I’d read it before I graduated….college. Yes, this was a “discovered it later” book. *sigh*
Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene  (Yeah, I’m bowing to popularity, but my mom is a huge fan and I read a couple of the books because of it.)

Frankenstien by Mary Shelley (Because dude, every writer at least, should read this book. This is the story of a creative genius who lets his drive get the best of him. Not a crazy man whose monster IS OUT TO KILL EVERYONE OHMYGODWE”REGOINGTODIEBECAUSEOFSCIENCEWHATHAVEWEDONE?!? story. I mean, really. Most of the movies lean more toward that interpretation. Or at least, that’s how I see it. If you’ve only seen the movies, there aren’t many that do the book real justice. So this would be on my-every-student-must-read list.

 “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” from Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven because what a great movie/story. 🙂

Ahem, 1984 by George Orwell. Because let’s face it…. society pretty much comes and goes with mimicking the world in 1984. (And in case you’re wondering, I’m not being sarcastic there. I wish I could say I was!)

Also, Maus by Art Spiegelman. Because…well. .Maus.

Or Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Because, well….Handmaid’s Tale. 🙂

And yes, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, because it’s still the best warning against censorship story out there. And while we’re being dystopic, I would definitely make everyone watch Brazil, and (especially for the robotics students) I’d make them eat er, watch, Terminator and Terminator 2. Until the folly of it is seared into their brains. Make ’em think before they flick the switch on those too-smart robots they want to build. 😉

Also The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (because ghost stories! :)) and why not Sherlock Holmes? Or The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, instead of Poe’s Murder in the Rue Morgue? (Though I do love that story, and which I don’t see any of those on the reading lists I consulted for this article. why not?). I’d also add The Many-colored Land by Julian May which takes an alternative look at the Pliocene era (History and Anthropology and science fiction all in one!). Why is it not on recommended reading high school (at least?) lists? That stumps me. I’d also add Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke or Contact by Carl Sagan. (you never know when first contact might happen! :))

Obviously I could add a ton of fantasy novels to this list: Magic Kingdom of Landover series by Terry Brooks is one I loved-that whole series is fun. Obviously, the Elric Series by Michael Moorcock, Gloriana by Michael Moorcock is a thinly-veiled Elizabethan era. But I’m not sure many parents would be happy to find them on their kids’ reading list. *g*. Romance? Maybe Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, or Jane Austen, even Jane Eyre or Poe’s Annabell Lee, or even (yes) Stoker’s Dracula. Besides, the mothers reading this would just shoot me if I said D.H. Lawrence instead of Jane Austen, now wouldn’t they? 😉

Oops! That’s way more than 10, isn’t it? I’d better stop. What would be your dream list?

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Juli D. Revezzo is the author of the Antique Magic paranormal series and the Celtic Stewards Chronicles fantasy romance series, as well as the Steampunk romance Watchmaker’s Heart. Her books are available at Amazon and elsewhere