As I type this, I sit at the beginning of my senior year of college. Actually, I sit here in disbelief because it in no way feels like I should be entering my senior year of college. I still have very vivid memories of freshman year of college, senior year of high school, freshman year of high school... even fifth grade!! It just feels like time went by so quickly and I wasn't paying attention and suddenly I'm at the brink of entering the "real world."
But before that, I thought I'd go on a little back to school related trip down memory lane and recommend some of the best books, in no particular order, I read during my school career. All of the books listed are books which were mandatory reading assignments, most of them from high school, and while I may not have wanted to read all of them in the beginning, I was glad I did (or at least Sparknoted them) by the end.
1. The Odyssey - Now admittedly, this epic poem is hefty and I may have consulted Sparknotes once or twice to get it done, but it was so good. As a lover of Greek and Roman mythology, the story intrigued me with its inclusions of gods, monsters, and heroes. When I got into it, I really got into it. This poem may not be for everyone, but if you're a certain brand of history buff, you'll probably enjoy it.
2. The Catcher in the Rye - I want to say that I had to read this junior year of high school because when I think back to it, I picture the basement classroom my APLAC class was held in. This is one of those books that I recognized as a classic and had been waiting forever to read just so I could say that I had read it. I think I was slightly underwhelmed in the end, but this novel remains a classic.
3. The Great Gatsby - Another junior year read, this recommendation comes because of a really fun assignment that still sticks out in my mind where we had to make a CD to go along with the novel. The book is glitzy and fancy and sad and reality and actually well worth the read.
4. Beloved - I am on a roll with the junior year mentions. I guess my AP teacher just wanted to pack all the classics into the year because we went though a lot of them. This one in particular is like cilantro - some people despise it and others love it. Personally, I loved it so much that I have the cover of the novel hung on my wall. Think slavery and blackness with some supernatural magical realism elements and you're along the lines of understanding all that this novel is.
5. Othello - My memory isn't supplying when exactly I read this book (I believe 10th grade), but I do remember how interesting it was. Shakespearean language, interracial relationships, cuckholds, betrayal, murder... a lot was going on and it was so fascinating.
6. 1984 - This was the novel assigned over the summer before senior year and I had the bright idea to read it the night before the first day of school. While I would not recommend that method, I would recommend this novel. References to this work are made everyday, but to read the story in full is both enlightening and frightening - especially when you realize how relevant it remains (despite having been written over 5 decades ago). But definitely don't wait until the night before classes start to read it.
7. Kite Runner - I believe this was another 10th grade read and it was not an easy one. If this novel came out today, it would probably have a large TRIGGER WARNING plastered right across the front. But it is still a worthy read.
8. A Separate Peace - I had to rack my mind to pull a ninth grade pick, but then I suddenly remembered this one. Personally, this novel did not really resonate with me until somewhere around junior year of college, but when it did I found a new appreciation for the work. Also the subtle, but arguably there, homoeroticism made for interesting class discussions.
9. The Sound and the Fury - This may be my favorite Southern gothic meets stream of consciousness novel ever. Is this an easy read? No. Not at all. But is it interesting and twisty and dramatic and an adventure worth being read? Most definitely.
10. Macbeth - I couldn't make this list and only mention one Shakespeare work. Personally, Lady Macbeth deserved better. But mostly I remember junior year of high school when we had to reenact scenes from the play and it was really fun directing a snippet featuring the three witches. When books become interactive in the class, there's more of an incentive to read them and have fun.
Exit West - junior year of college
Island of the Dolphins - 5th grade
Secret Life of Bees - 8th grade
They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky - 7th grade
And as I prepare to have a wonderful senior year of college, I wish everyone else a wonderful school year as well!