Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Readings

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week she posts an idea for relating to books, and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own “top ten” list.

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This week, we had a choice between “top ten books that you’d pair with a required reading” or “top ten books that should be required readings.” I decided to do the latter, so here are the books that you’d have to read if you were in my high school English class:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak / Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
These books are thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and honest accounts of World War II. They may be works of fiction, but they’re just as impactful as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Paper Towns by John Green / Every Day by David Levithan
Paper Towns reminds us that loving the idea of a person can be dangerous; we should love people for who they truly are, not for who we envision them to be, which is a lesson that everyone could benefit from learning.

Every Day teaches a very similar lesson: we shouldn’t judge people based on their appearance; instead, it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts. I’m not sure if it would appeal to the guys very much… so if not, they can always just read Paper Towns.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins / Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
These books are more accessible to students than Brave New World or 1984, but they still contain many of the same important ideas as the dystopian classics.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Many high school students face the same problems as Charlie and his friends, making it a book that’s easy to relate to and easy to learn from.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson / A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
These books hold so many important lessons about life and loss. They’re both so different from one another, which is good; after all, the grieving process is different for everyone and there’s no “right” way to do it.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall shows the power that our actions and our words truly hold. It caused me to reevaluate some of my life choices, so hopefully it would remind students that they should think before they act – after all, we aren’t all lucky enough to get a second chance.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick / The Bully Book by Erik Kahn Gale
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking and deals with heavy subjects, but is a story that everyone needs to hear. Bullying is a problem that a lot of people ignore until it’s too late — until someone is pushed over the edge like Leonard is. I’d also hand out copies in the staff room, since the well-meaning Herr Silverman, who actively takes an interest in his students’ lives, is the kind of teacher that every teacher should have as a role model.

I know that it’s a middle grade read, but The Bully Book is incredibly important. It examines why the “grunts” are chosen to be bullied, the effect of bullying on the victims, the bystander effect, and peer pressure. Since bullying is (unfortunately) a reality in many schools, the powerful and thought-provoking message that The Bully Book holds would hopefully make a difference in at least one student’s life.

Extra Credit: read more books! I’d be happy to provide a list of my favourites in hopes that it would inspire more students to read for pleasure. Of course, this list would include the Harry Potter series, Shadow and Bone, and Throne of Glass, so there’s really no excuse for them not to become voracious readers.

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Which books would be on your required reading lists?3

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

ImageWhat if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

My Rating: 4 cupcakes

The best description I can think to give of Before I Fall is Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls. The main character, Samantha, and her friends are the high school girls that you love to hate: they’re popular, mean, pretty, shallow, and have a strong sense of self-entitlement. From the outside, they’re living the perfect life – until one day changes everything.

Lauren Oliver’s writing is beautiful. Everything is described so well that you won’t just visualize it; you’ll experience it. All of the characters are so real – multifaceted and flawed with authentic teenage voices. Kent in particular was such a wonderfully crafted, unconditionally loving character that he has been added to my ever-growing list of book boyfriends. While I honestly didn’t like Sam and her friends at the beginning of the book, I found myself quickly sympathizing with them as they became more self-aware and adjusted their personalities accordingly.

Before I Fall touches on many important themes: grief, loss, change, forgiveness. It teaches us that even the smallest actions can have drastic effects – both on our lives and the lives of others – and that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. By the end of the book, you’ll find yourself wondering what changes you would make if you were given a second chance.