Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books you were "forced" to read

Time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

Today we're talking about books that we were "forced" to read, whether they were for class, for book club, or because friends were all "You haaaaaaaaaaaaaave to read this!!!". I've gone with a selection of books I loved and books that I really wasn't a fan of, because obviously you're not always going to like something someone else is making you read.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I had to read this for Year 10 English AND Year 12 Literature. I can remember - ridiculously vividly, I should add - getting my school books in January, and looking at the cover of the Penguin Classics edition and groaning because it just looked SO. FREAKING. BORING. I started reading it in the back of the car one day when my parents decided that we should go out for a drive (because OBVIOUSLY I had all my books for the year read before school started), and not wanting to put it down because I was so engrossed in the story. I've loved it every since.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I read this out of sheer desperation because I'd run out of books and it was the only book available in English at the "book store" at the airport in Guatemala City. It kept me distracted, but mostly I spent the time it took me to read it thinking about how much the addition of Buffy Summers would improve the storyline. 

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
There was a time at the start of the year when literally half my Goodreads timeline was "OMG, I CAN'T WRITE A PROPER REVIEW OF THIS BOOK BECAUSE SPOILERS. JUST READ IT." I inevitably bowed to peer pressure and wrote my own review very much along the same lines. Seriously. If you haven't read it, you should go and do so immediately. 

4. Trainspotting by Irvine Walsh
In my first year of undergrad, I took English on the basis that I didn't know what my fourth set of subjects should be (the other three were Archaeology, History and Ancient Greek), and English had been my best subject at school. So I ended up doing a subject called Text, Criticism and the Visual, in which we read books, then watched the movie adaptations, and compared the two. It was pretty awesome, but this book? Took me FOREVER to get through, because the only way to understand about 60% of it was to read it out loud in a bad Scottish accent.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
As I've mentioned approximately a dozen times in the course of this blog, my first exposure to Harry Potter was in 1998 on a flight from London to Melbourne. The ten year old son of a family friend had fangirl flailed about them to us repeatedly in the previous week. My mum - who was on a different flight to me because mine had been booked as part of a school trip - handed me the first two books at the airport, and was like "Read them on the plane and tell me what you think". The rest is history.

6. Fly Away Peter by David Malouf
This book is only 135 pages, but it took me about a week to read it. This was one of our exam texts for Year 12 English (the other was Cabaret), so we had to read it and analyse it approximately a hundred times and then write a never-ending string of essays about it in the lead up to exams. Ornithology plus World War One? SNORE. There's a reason it's on a Goodreads list titled "Read these in school - would rather have a root canal".

7. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Another first year uni English subject book, this time for a class called The Classic Victorian Novel. I'd seen the BBC mini-series when it aired in 1999, so I knew the storyline already. But I wasn't quite prepared for just how much I would adore this book. And having seen the mini-series, I was completely unprepared for the book to just END, practically in mid-sentence. Damn you, Elizabeth Gaskell, for dying before you finished the story!! 

8. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville 
I had to read this last year as part of a book group assignment for a class on YA recreational reading. It was interesting in that when I read it, I mostly enjoyed it but was puzzled by certain elements. But in the course of the discussion, the things we disliked seemed to bounce off each other and snowball into a giant blob of "I DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK". At the end of the day, I think its biggest problem was that it would have worked better as a series of short stories - it was trying to do too much at once, and wasn't 100% sure of its target audience.

9. Van Diemen's Land by James Boyce
I had to read this for work a couple of years ago, and it's one of the most engaging history books I've ever had the pleasure to read. Boyce is a fabulous writer and if you're interested in Australian colonial history, it's definitely worth checking out. I loved pretty much every second of it.

10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This was another one that I had to read for first year English, and I hated it more or less from the get go. I despise all the characters, and the story just dragged on FOREVER. I don't think I've ever been so glad to finish a book in my life. 

So. There are my ten. What are yours?

K xx


  1. Trainspotting? I have EXACTLY THE SAME RELATIONSHIP WITH IT. Took film/novel subject, had to read it aloud to myself. Got yelled at by my neighbour in college one night for reading too loud.

    1. So glad I'm not the only one who had to use that mechanism to get through it!

  2. I read my first Gaskell this year, North and South, and loved it too. I felt similar about Wuthering Heights, but I grew to love it after re-reading as an adult. Have a great week!

    1. I LOVE North and South. I need to reread it soon - it's been a couple of years.

  3. It took me a second attempt to get over the 50 page mark with Wuthering Heights but I remember I did enjoy it.

    I still haven't come around to Codename Verity (I'm not that much of a fast reader) but everyone raved about it so IT BETTER BE AWESOME!

  4. One of my teaching friends' daughter is currently being forced to read Jane Eyre and she is hating it. Failing her class. Crying about it every day. Wish I knew what I could do to help. Awful to have such a bad experience with a book.

    Here's my Top Ten Most Memorable Books I Was Forced to Read.

    1. Oh, definitely. My younger brother had a similar experience with Picture of Dorian Grey.

  5. I'm reading Code Name Verity soon and I'm SO excited to read it. I hope it lives up to all of the hype!

  6. I'm totally stealing this idea and putting it on my blog cause I'm out of ideas of what to write about this week. So you'll get my answers there - and i'll link back to you too. :)

    1. The link up should still be open on the Broke and the Bookish so you should link up there too!

  7. Jane Eyre is such a great book! I was the same way. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down! You have a great list. :)

  8. I still haven't read Jane Eyre. They tried to make me in school but that didn't happen.

    I read Code Name Verity for the same reason and I have no regrets. So freaking flawless.

  9. Like most people Harry Potter is one of my all time favourite series! I seem to be the only person who did not like Code Name Verity, not sure why! My TTT


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