(Disclaimer: sorry this is so late! Work got in the way over the last few days.)
I’ve been wanting to join in with Top Ten Tuesdays for a while because, honestly, they look like so much fun. Who doesn’t love creating a list of books based on a certain theme?
This week’s theme is a Back to School, which can involve anything from ‘top ten books I read at school’ to ‘ten books you should read to prepare for university’. You can find the original post over at Broke and Bookish.
For my first Top Ten, I decided to go for Top Ten Books that should be on the school curriculum. These are just some of the books I think teenagers and young people could really benefit from reading and having the chance to study in high school/college/sixth form. Quite a few are books that I wish I’d read and experienced earlier, but still benefited from reading a few years after high school.
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This transformative piece of fiction follows an Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago, who travels from his homeland to Egypt in search of mystical treasure. The story is beautifully written and it’s a great novel for inspiring people to think differently about the world. Reading it in schools would be a great way to open young people’s minds about poverty, aspirations and understanding others.
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This book is about a circus that moves from country to country, inspiring and igniting the imaginations of its visitors. It’s so full of magic and wonder that teenagers could benefit from a bit more wonder when they’re swamped under homework. Morgenstern crafts such a rich world that you can help but be transported away into the world of the circus.
3. Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
LGBT+ books need more presence in school curriculums and this is a brilliant starting book for young people who haven’t read any LGBT+ fiction yet. The story revolves around a young lesbian girl growing up in a Pentecostal community and was one of the first LBGT+ novels I ever read. It’s thought-provoking and engaging, and I read it in a day because I was so drawn in. Definitely a great read about self-discovery for teens and young people.
4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This novel is set in a dystopian world were books are illegal, and it’s Guy Montag’s job, as a ‘fireman’, to burn them to ashes. It’s gritty, mind-bending and a brilliant look at the value of literature in our lives.
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This novel’s representation of black women in 1930s America is so important in terms of historical treatment of one of the most persecuted minority groups. I read this in 6th form and it’s had a pivotal effect on my desire to promote intersectional feminism. This book should be a must-read for all high school students.
6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Although very much character-driven, rather than plot-driven, this novel gives a richly descriptive view the Jazz Age of America. Exploring themes of indulgence, idealism and social change, Gatsby illustrates Fitzgerald’s feelings that money doesn’t always equal happiness.
7. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
This is perhaps a more light-hearted LGBT+ novel than Oranges are not the Only Fruit, centering on two boys who are trying to break the world record for the longest kiss. It’s funny, heart-felt and shows that no two relationships are the same.
8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
You all know my feelings about this book. This book is a gorgeous adventure into a world that has four different Londons. It follows Kell, an Antari, who can travel between the different worlds using magic and Lila, a pirate/pick pocket looking to make a name for herself. The characters, world-building and narrative are all stunning, and if I had my way, this would be read by every single year in high school.
9. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Honestly this is just fantasy at its finest. We learn about Kvothe, the protagonist and a magician/musician/king killer, from two different timelines and the story is brilliantly crafted. Rothfuss is a masterful world-creater and his characters are complex and dynamic. He teaches us the power of words and naming – an important lesson for those still discovering much about themselves.
10. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
As a coming-of-age story, this would be ideal for the school curriculum. The story delves into the sexual awakenings of school girls Julia and Isolde, and explores at LGBT+ romances in a unique and perceptive manner. The novel also deals with issues of failed love and underage affairs, making it gritty in places, but a smart and insightful read.
What would some of your Top Ten books be for this topic? Do you agree with any of my choices, or have you read any of them? Let me know in the comments!