The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is “Top Ten Books Every X Should Read.” Since this topic is pretty close to my own Recommended Reads series, I already had quite a few ideas in my blogging notebook. But I already had a few of those posts planned out in my head, so I decided to take this one in a bit of a different direction.
These are ten books I think everyone should read:
- 1984 by George Orwell. This dystopian classic is one of my all-time favorite books. I love it so much! It’s a great novel, with incredible writing. But more than that, it’s almost a warning. The events of this book could happen, today more than ever. Reading it made me think about a lot of things differently, especially technology. Don’t tell me Big Brother isn’t real (it’s called Facebook).
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie. I read this book very recently, and I immediately fell in love (both with the book and Achidie). It’s a well-written essay that really helped me identify the things (and people) in my own life that don’t support feminism. It doesn’t really contain new information, but it does explain feminism in a really wonderful way. If I had the money, I’d buy a ton of copies and hand them out to everyone I know. Especially the people who are definitely not feminists.
- The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Autistic Boy by Naoki Higashida. There are some things you’ll never fully understand unless you experience them. Autism is one of those things. But I think a lot of people (including me) tend to react to things they don’t understand with fear. I read this book recently, and it really changed how I see those who struggle with things most of us take for granted. Like being able to speak or even communicate what you want to say. If more people read books like this one, I think the world would be a better place.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I think one of the reasons I’m a more empathetic person is that I’ve studied history. Because I’ve studied the Holocaust, for example, I can attempt to imagine what that awful period was like for people. Reading books like The Book Thief make you more appreciative of the world we live in (with all its faults – and there are plenty). It’s also just a really wonderful story.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Another one of my forever favorites. This book is a classic for a reason, and that reason is that it’s a really wonderful story. It’s also the book that helped me understand that caving in to the expectations of others (even if you’re related to them) at the expense of yourself is not okay. Being yourself always works out in the end. It was a lesson I desperately needed to learn as a teenager, so I’m forever thankful to this book.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. What happens when people fear knowledge? They become stupid. I’m a big fan of educating myself about things outside of my personal experience and learning about both sides of an argument – whether it’s evolution or world religions – so that I can make an intelligent and informed decision about what I choose to believe. Sadly, that seems to be a rare quality. Bradbury’s masterpiece shows what happens when we try to make everyone happy and avoid all arguments. And it’s not a pretty picture.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did! It’s a wonderful story about the lives of women of color in rural Georgia in the 1930s. It portrays the struggle of both racial minorities and women in general during that time. But more than that, it’s a story about staying true to yourself and standing up for what you think is right. It truly is a fantastic book!
- The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Other than the fact that Rowling is a genius and these books are amazing, they have some great lessons in them. Like the importance of love, and that death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. In my opinion, Harry Potter should be required reading for children.
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Imagine a world in which all the old gods – Odin, Eostre, Anansi, and Anubus, among others – came to America along with all the immigrants who believed in them. After a few centuries, they find themselves pitted against the gods created by American society, like Media or The Technical Boy. This book is amazing, in part because it shines a light on the fact that Americans worship a very different set of gods (should we really be idolizing media as much as we do?) It’s also just a great book. Neil Gaiman is a must read!
- King Lear by William Shakespeare. Most people end up reading Romeo & Juliet or Hamlet or Othello in school. But King Lear is my favorite! (Richard III is a close second.) I think everyone should experiences Shakespeare at least once; if you don’t like him, that’s fine, but you should read at least one play before you decide that. And King Lear is a masterpiece.
It was actually really hard to come up with ten books for this list, but I’m happy with the ones I picked. I think there’s a good variety, and these are all definitely books that played a big part in my literary education.
I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books, or what book(s) you think should be added to the list! Thanks for reading!