(I know this was technically last week’s TTT topic, but I decided to post it this week because this week’s topic didn’t really work for me.)
It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in school. A very, very long time. And honestly, a lot of it I put behind me. But the one thing I didn’t put behind me were the books I read. Some I hated, some I absolutely loved, and some stood out cause they provided me with a good memory.
Today, I am going to share with you my top ten fave books I read in school. We will start in Grammar school and work our way up to Grad School.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka: This book was first published in 1992. I was 9 years old, and I remember every single kid in my class couldn’t wait to get their grubby little hands on this book. I was one of those kids. Each week one of us had the chance to check out the book for a week. When our week was up, we had to begrudgingly give up the book to the next classmate. I remember when it was my turn, I read the book straight through in one sitting. I just loved it. And now as a librarian I love recommending it to kids.
One Evil Summer by R. L. Stine: I was a horror fan from a very early age. I remember reading my older cousin’s cast-offs, even though honestly I didn’t really get them. She read Christopher Pike, so obviously I read Christopher Pike. She read R.L. Stine so obviously I did too. And it seemed like I wasn’t alone. My fellow classmates read them … or at least wanted to. Every year, in “library class” as I called it way back when, we would choose a book and read it together as a class. Each and every year we begged our librarian to let us pick a fear street book. And finally when we were in seventh or eighth grade (I can’t remember which) she finally agreed, and we chose One Evil Summer. If I wasn’t a horror fan than, I certainly would have been after. I read many Fear Street books, many of which I only vaguely remember, but this one is still as vivid as the day I read it. And true story, I actually have a copy signed by R.L. himself.
The Grass Rope by William Mayne: To tell you the truth, I don’t remember what this book was about. But I do remember checking it out from the school library many, many times. I know I read it, and I know in my heart of hearts that I loved it. I just can’t remember exactly why. Thinking back, maybe it was the cover. After all, there is a unicorn on it. I remember loving it so much that a few years ago I went and found a very old, and very used copy on Amazon. I haven’t read it (yet), but just knowing I have it warms my heart.
Animal Farm by George Orwell: Admittedly I did NOT love this book. But the reason why it is on this list is because it provided me with a fond memory. Freshman year, my lit teacher (who was an awesome teacher) made us all read Animal Farm. I read the book and wrote my report. And in my head I totally know that I aced this report. After the report was handed in, and during our discussion, I realized that I didn’t really understand this book. I had absolutely NO clue that this book was about communism. I thought it was just a book about a bunch of animals who could talk. I thought it was just a silly book that meant nothing really. Boy was I wrong. For the entire class period, I sat and worried that I had failed my first high school report. Looking back now, I can laugh at this. And no, I didn’t fail either.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Later on freshman year, my teacher told us we had to choose a book and report on it. He said we could choose any book we want so long as it wasn’t “trash”. He said if we couldn’t choose a book, he’d choose one for us. Being the person I am, after class I approached him and asked what constitutes “trash”? Let’s be honest, what he would consider trash may not be what I would consider trash, and I wanted to be clear. He told me to follow him. And I did to the book closet in the hall across from our classroom. He handed me a book and basically told me which book isn’t trash. That book was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I took it home and read it. The next day, he asked if I started it. And I told him I had … and that I also finished it. He knew I would love it. He knew I would be fascinated by Boo and find a lot of myself in Scout. From that day forward, not only had I found my favorite book, but I found a teacher who left a lasting impression. And I am so thankful to him. I always will be.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Picture it: freshman English class. My favorite class in my whole high school career truthfully. My teacher had us read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby together as a class. We read, we discussed, and ultimately were tested on it. I remember I loved this book. I was swept up in the lavishness of it. And I loved the writing style. It soon became a fast favorite.
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Suzanne: I borrowed this from my best friend after it had taken her several months to read it. I figured, since we are so close, and we read very similarly, that I wouldn’t like it. That is, judging from how long it took her to read it. Well I was wrong. I read the book in about two weeks (which is a short time in between classes and reading for said college classes). I really loved this so-called “trash novel”. I thought the characters were great – they were flawed, honest, and simply enchanting. I loved the plot, and how I felt I was a part of it. I loved how it felt so realistic, yet so other worldly. After reading this, I went one to read and love Suzanne’s other works.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli: A friend had given this book to me. Before that I hadn’t heard of it. I didn’t even think I would read it because I knew nothing about it. But the cover got me. It was so simple it spoke volumes. I needed to find out what it was about. I cracked open the spine and gobbled the book up in a day or two. After I had searched it on the interwebs (after reading of course) I got what all the hype was about. to this day it sits proudly on my shelf, and I recommend it to everyone and anyone who asks for a recommendation.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn: My bestie lent me her copy of this book. She simply said: read it. And I did. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. It was beautiful and disturbing, it was hauntingly engaging. It was about a family of circus sideshow performers. And if you didn’t know the circus and the sideshow fascinates me.
Tithe by Holly Black: When I first started grad school and had decided that I wanted to focus my attention, and my academic career on Young Adult Literature, I marched myself over to the YA section of my (not so) local library and randomly pulled several books off of the shelves. I pulled what looked interesting to me, I pulled books I had never even heard of, I pulled books that left a lasting impression. On that faithful trip I pulled five books. They were: The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen, Alive and Well in Prague, NY by Daphne Benedis-Grab, Ruby by Francesca Lia Block, Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell, and Tithe by Holly Black. While I don’t remember the details of most of them, I remember Tithe as if I read it yesterday. I remember being entranced. I remember realizing that Holly Black would soon be one of my favorite authors. And I would (much later) realize that she is the person I want to be when I grow up!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I had chosen to read this book in my genre class. At this point there was already a lot of buzz that I wasn’t subscribing to. I convinced myself that this wasn’t my kind of book. But I read it anyway, and I found out I was blindingly wrong. I found The Hunger Games to be exciting and scary. I remember running out to buy my own copy of the first and second book. And I remember going to one of my first book events with bff Emma (Miss Print). Since reading this first book, I’ve been almost obsessed with the trilogy as a whole. And I have gone one to collect several different editions.
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson: This book really made me appreciate young adult literature. And it made me appreciate Tupac even more than I already did. It was a beautifully written book that moved me unlike any other book has. Thinking about it now, makes me was to re-read it (something I never really do). I loved how it was about friendship – and how they start and fall apart. I liked how it was about life, and how life is often messy. Above all I liked how it showed the power of music.
I know that is more than 10 books, and I know this post was longer than I had expected. But it was fun going down memory lane, and revisiting all the books I have come to love. I hope you didn’t mind taking that stroll with me either.
What are some of the books you read and loved while you were in school? Please share!