Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday | Back to School

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is a freebie! I wasn't sure what I was going to talk about at first, and then I thought I'd talk about some of the books I really enjoyed that I had to read for school and university.

Books I Read for School

Skellig by David Almond: I don't know how well Skellig is known overseas, but it's become a bit of a children's classic here in Britain. Skellig was the very first book I had to read when I started secondary school and I loved it so much. It's enchanting and spooky and hopeful, and one that I recommend you read however old you are.

Holes by Louis Sachar: Pretty much everyone knows this book, right? It's another modern children's classic in my book, and another one I was given to read during my early years of secondary school. I don't actually own copies of Holes or Skellig, so I think I may have to treat myself soon...

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: I was introduced to Jane Eyre when I was 14, and I've loved it ever since; in fact it's probably Jane Eyre I have to thank for my love of Victorian Literature today. It's a brilliant story, and personally I think Jane is one of the most fantastic heroines ever.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Sadly British schools now only look at British Literature when it comes to the GCSEs, which is a real shame and just plain wrong. There's a lot of fantastic British Literature out there, but there's also a great wealth of international work that I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't encountered them during my GCSEs. Anyway. Rant over. When I was in school we were always given a piece of American Lit to read, and we ended up with Of Mice and Men. I didn't have very high hopes for this when I was first given it, but despite its short length it's probably one of the few classics I find myself thinking about quite a lot, even now. It's not a particularly happy story, but it's a great place to start if you're a bit wary of classics!

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare: Okay, okay, so I know Shakespeare's plays are really meant to be seen and heard rather than read, but I had so much fun reading this one during my A Levels. It certainly helped that I had an amazing English teacher.

Books I Read for University

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie: And now we move onto the university books. I read this in my first year of university when we were studying postmodernism, and any fans of retellings really need to pick it up. It's such a fun story and there are so many references to old stories from 1001 Nights to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: I did a course on Romanticism during my second year of university where I ended up studying Frankenstein. I now consider it one of my favourite classics, and I think Mary Shelley was a genius.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu: Carmilla is a pre-Dracula vampiric Victorian novella. Try saying that five times fast. I had to read it for my Victorian Gothic module and it's probably my favourite book from that module, and is now another of my favourite classics. It's so good, and great for anyone who's intimidated by classics!

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: I had to read The Moonstone for my Victorian Popular Fiction module and I fell in love with it. I'm fascinated by imperialism in Victorian Literature, the representation of India and its people, and I ended up writing an essay about imperialism for this module which I got a first for! This is thought to be the very first detective novel, and it's brilliant.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This is the other classic I talked about in that essay. I loved the 1993 adaptation of this book growing up, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't actually read it until I studied it at university. I loved the book; it's become another favourite, and it's another book that's a great starting point for anyone intimidated by classics.

What did you talk about this week?


  1. Great choice for a topic - has made me think about the books that I loved at school (I think Playing Beatie Bow and Across the Barricades probably win).

    Here's my TTT - https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/sweet-dreams-are-made-of-very-crappy-really-wonderful-teen-romances/

  2. It's so stupid that they can only study English books at GCSE now - no 'Mice and 'Men' or 'To Kill a Mockingbird'! Although, at least the teachers'll get to teach something else for a change. I think I was a bit young for Skellig when I read it (still in primary school anyway) and I remember not really 'getting' it. Will have to give it another go sometime. :)

  3. Great list! I keep thinking I should go back to some of the "required" reading from my school days and see how well I like them as pleasure reading. I'd definitely like to revisit some childhood favorites too, like A Secret Garden. Anthony and Cleopatra is actually a favorite of mine, although I've never seen a production of it. (I did a paper in high school, and it's stuck with me ever since!)

    Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies

  4. YAY! Great choice of topic this week. I always love freebie week as people always do such amazing topics! I had to read a lot of these for school myself. I actually loved Holes, but then so did the whole class. We even started a petition to get a school visit to the cinema to see the film, as we read it just as the movie was releasing.

    Here's my TTT post if you want to check it out. I picked non-book romances I would love to see get book adaptations.

  5. I like this topic a lot!! I think, sometimes, all i can remember are the books I read for school that I hated, so its nice to think of the ones that I actually liked as well! The Secret Garden is one on this list that definitely stands out... now i want to reread it. Thank you for sharing :)
    here's my TTT!

  6. Great choice of topic this week Jess. It's a good one to do! I wish I had read more at school, but I'm making up for it now!

  7. I love Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and Carmilla! Fantastic list. I love when you get to read a good read at school. I remember in high school finding so many good ones. Love your topic! Here's my TTT http://angelerin.blogspot.com/2016/01/top-ten-tuesday-freebie-top-ten-gothic.html?m=0

  8. I also really enjoyed Frankenstein. I talked about ten UKTA books this week. If you are interested my TTT is here: http://powisamy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/top-ten-tuesday-ten-ukya-books.html

  9. Interesting list, I read a few of these back in my school days as well :)

  10. Wow Jane Eyre, I wish I read these book for school as well. We read Shakespeare growing up.. Great list!!
    Here's My TTT if you'd like to check it out :)
    Jumana @ Books by Jay

  11. I wish I'd read classics like Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men at school but going to French schools means a whole other set of 'classics' LOL! I DID read The Secret Garden in High School and Frankenstein in Uni though! To this day Secret Garden is a favorite of mine, I actually reread it a few years back ♥ And I remember not loving Frankenstein back when I read it but the story has always stayed with me. I should try reading it again some time :)

  12. I read Of Mice and Men my first year of high school, and it was the first time I ever really analyzed and critically interacted with a novel. I remember when I had a mini revelation about something in the novel, and from that moment on, I knew I was hooked on literature. I would love to study Jane Eyre in a lit. class! Great topic!

  13. Oooh very nice choice! I read Of Mice and Men and Jane Eyre in high school too. And by read, I mean, skimmed/bought Cliffs Notes (yes, I am that old that I couldn't google them). I actually DID read a decent portion of Of Mice and Men, because it wasn't the worst. But I hated being forced to read something in general, soooo. Yeah hahha.