Monday, October 14, 2013

Top Ten Books I Was Forced To Read

You know, I've always been an avid reader.  There are very few books I've been forced to read (or even recommended to read - at least before my blogging days - that I hadn't already read).  So this list is going to be hard for me - especially as the few books I WAS forced to read I generally loathed.  I'm looking at YOU Mummy and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!  So this is going to be mostly books that people gave me over the years, or influenced in my reading one way or another.

1.  The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy

Easily at the top of this list would be Pat Conroy's Lords of Discipline.  In our AP Lit class, there was a week where we were allowed to choose a book of our choice (that would be suitable for the class of course).  My teacher pretty much told me I HAD to read Lords of Discipline because she thought I'd love it.  And she was so right!  It's one of my all time favourite books, and has made me a life long lover of Pat Conroy.  I'm a little bit behind, there's a couple of his books I haven't made it to yet, but I definitely have loved all the books I have read of his.  So thank you Ms. Surrett, you've made me a life long lover of Pat Conroy!

2.  Skip Beat by Nakamura Yoshiki

I had a friend who kept nagging at me to watch Skip Beat after he'd found out some of the other animes I'd watched and he just knew I'd love the series.  And he also knew I'd likely read the manga afterwards (I'd determined never to do such a thing because it was just  too geeky....says the girl who played D&D).  In any case he was right, and Skip Beat led me into the world of fanfiction (I'd halfheartedly followed some Harry Potter fanfic, but Skip Beat made me a regular member) and manga  (I now follow like 50 series haha).  Joon, I'm not sure if I should thank you or rage at you  for introducing me to Skip Beat and the world of manga, but it happened, so I should probably thank you haha.

3.  Abarat by Clive Barker

Now I'm not positive whether I was the one who discovered this book first, but for the sake of this post I'll say my friend found it first (and also I think she probably did).  Either way, I am thankful that I've had a friend who even after all these years I can say something about Abarat and someone understands!  This series is probably the single most creative, original, AMAZING series
I have ever read and it needs unabated adoration sometimes.  Rayshma, thank you for fangirling over this series with me! 

4.  The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

I'd heard of The Dresden Files here and there over the years and thought vaguely to day I'll pick this up.  Chris solved my unenthusiastic response by actually shoving the first book into my hands and telling me I needed to read the series now and to shut up and just do it.  (Or something along those lines)  Chris has also been very helpful by owning most of the series and letting me take a book across the country with me which is FANTASTIC and AMAZING and you are the best friend ever!  So much thanks is in order for that as I probably never would have made it to this series otherwise (and I promise I will finish the 5th book soon and send it back to you!)

5.  American Gods/Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Let me preface this with the disclaimer that Chris may have introduced me to this series, but Becca claimed it first and Chris gets Dresden Files, so there.  I honestly don't even remember which of these I read first (although it makes sense that it would be American Gods).  I devoured the first one so quickly that I read the next one instantly afterwards and so the two stories kind of blend together.  Becca is one of my very few friends  who reads (Chris being pretty much the only other) and our tastes are definitely very similar!  So honestly over the years I can't even tell you how many books I've probably read because of her.  She's also my only friend that reads fanfic (that I know of) so she's definitely sent me to some gems there as well.  She also lets me borrow all her books all the time (and sometimes for a rather...long...time...) which is amazing!

6.  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

My godmother gave me the entire set of this series, and they have made every move I have!  I have reread these series SO many times!  And I love the covers for this set the most (I am STILL mad at my brother, Thomas, for losing my copy of The Horse and His Boy!  I've replaced it, but it doesn't match the set and I WILL DO THAT ONE DAY.  Angry face).  My godmother has given me quite a few books over the years, but as this series is one of my all time favourites, it deserves some mention.

7.  Asterix and Obelix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Oh man this was basically my childhood right here!  Most of my American readers have probably never heard of this series, which is a shame because these comics are hilarious.  And I actually got a fair amount of geographical and historical knowledge picked up here and there from this series.   Luckily my father was not born American, so I have all his boyhood copies of these!  Although a couple of them are in German and possibly French?  Which to my knowledge he doesn't speak.  So that's odd.  I should ask him about that.  He also spawned my love of spyish stories as we made our way through The Bourne Trilogy together (in which I pointed out how he was such a slow reader practically every page.  I was a very annoying child) and much of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt series together.

 8.  The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques

Although the first book can technically be attributed to my mother (as can most books I've ever read), a big part of reading this series was squabbling with my brother over who would get to read the next installation first and whose job it was to buy the replacement book when he lost the book.  (I know I lose things all the time, but I don't lose books!  It was all Thomas!).  We bought a lot of the later copies ourselves or gave them to each other as presents (after reading the book first, of course).  I have to admit we may never have gone as far in the series if we hadn't so enthusiastically fought over the books, so this will be be the only time I ever say this:  Thomas, thanks for fighting with me over this series most of my childhood!

9.  Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (and pretty much all her other novels)

While my grandmother may not have given me my very first Jane Austen novel, Pride & Prejudice, (yet another novel that could probably be attributed to my mother, but it is equally as likely that it was Bubbie) she's definitely the reason I've read all the rest of them.  At some point in the past few years she gave me these tiny, beautifully bound leather copies of all of Jane Austen's novels!  Those have also made every move with me.  I also own all her old and beautifully illustrated anthologies of Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm fairy tales, which make up a BIG part of my reading style and planted the seed for my fairy tale obsession.  Probably every novel that is set somewhere outside of the Americas has been in some way influenced by her (whether she gave it to me or I thought she would like it and maybe...sampled it before I gave it to her haha!). Basically, Bubbie is another person who has influenced my reading in so many ways and with so many books that I honestly can't even remember which ones she's led me to!

10.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Ok here's the thing.  Of the 1200 books I've marked as read on goodreads, I would say easily 1000 of them were because of my mom.  She is easily the entire reason that I read the way I do.  She supplied 99% of my books up until...well she still pretty much still does when you exclude library visits (and those probably only make up 2% of my entire reading list anyway).  All of my favourite books read probably up until the past couple years that I haven't mentioned on this list are because of her.  She got me to love classics like The Tempest and Count of Montecristo, she got me into sci-fi and fantasy with Madeleine L'Engle and Ursula K. Leguin, shes the reason I read His Dark Materials and the Abhorsen trilogy...I mean seriously, the list is infinite.  

I picked The Poisonwood Bible simply because it's one of my favourite memories (and I like making her look terrible haha!), and because I've read every Barbara Kingsolver novel I could get my hands on afterwards.  When I was 10 I was on a camping trip through Alaska with my family and at some point during the trip I'd read all the books we had with us (and since we are a reading family, it was a rather sizeable amount).  So she handed me The Poisonwood Bible...and I don't know how many of you have read this, but it is definitely not suitable for a 10 year old!  It's not smutty, but there are definitely some mature and rather disturbing themes in this novel.  In any case, I may never have discovered Barbara Kingsolver if not for that, and my 10 year old self LOVED that book, so no harm done!

So basically to sum up the TTT - I have an amazing family (family friends included) who pretty much shaped my reading style.  I know I missed some people, but my entire family has been so integral to what books I've come across it's entirely impossible to sort who's who bookwise!  Do the rest of you have reading families the way I do?  Or do you have more friends who read?  Leave me a link below!  (And remember, I really do need that link to find you!)


  1. Great list! I absolutely loved The Chronicles of Narnia. Such a good series.

  2. I think I was forced to read The Chronicles of Narnia by the movie itself as it's still one of my favourites. *Covers in a corner* I also really enjoyed all the books by Jules Verne that I've read.

  3. I love it when a teacher just knows a book with be right for you. And it is. Wish that happened more often.

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

  4. I've never even heard of "Lords of Discipline" but it's been a couple people's TTT today. I'll have to check it out.

  5. I really love the Chronicles of Narnia too. And The Horse and His Boy was my favorite one. I wish they'd make it into a film. There's been a lot of talk about how hard it would be, but I can't understand why. With all the film tech they have these days, and it's really a very simple story. Sigh. Anyway, great list! :D

    My TTT

  6. You know, I actually liked the movies! The Lion, etc. did a great job covering the story, and if I hadn't read the books I would have loved Prince Caspian. I think the same goes for Voyage of the Dawn Treader, actually but I recall very little from that movie for some reason.

    Haha! I probably wouldn't have hated Jules Verne so much if I hadn't been forced to read it. My mom literally wouldn't let me out of the room until I read it (it was for school I think) and I desperately wanted to ride the elevator to the top floor (who knows how the mind of a 10 year old works? I'm really not sure why that was so important to me haha)

  7. Yeah it's always nice to have a good memory of a school book forced on you, since I think the majority feel otherwise about teacher readings. Sometimes I think we decided to hate a book just to be ornery (Animal Farm for my class, which we actually boycotted. It was our 3rd long term sub, poor woman!)

  8. Oh you definitely should! Pat Conroy has this distinctive beautiful prose. He's from South Carolina (which is where I'm from) so his books are always partially set in the South...and really his writing is probably my all time favourite writing. He could write a book with no plot or characters and I wouldn't care because his writing is so beautiful! That being said...his characters and plots are FREAKING INSANE! Lords of Discipline is definitely a good place to start to decide if you like Pat Conroy or not as it's a bit tamer than some of his other books.

  9. ...yeah why exactly would it be hard? I mean it's not like there aren't talking animals in the other ones. What else would be hard? It's definitely one of the simpler storylines...I literally can't think of a single reason!

  10. I love Jane Austen! I hav eonly read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, but P&P is my favorite book ever. I didn't have to read it, though, for school or anything. I definitely plan on reading Austen's other books at some point.

  11. In my defense...we were in China and you had to read AR books because we had pulled you out of school for two weeks. Exactly how many books do you think were left on the AR list that you A hadn't already read and B were long enough to last more than a day? There were luggage limits you know :)

    I forgot to tell you that I just picked up the new Kingsolver :) And yes, between the two campers we carried something like 50 books and picked up new ones where ever we could. I was DESPERATE!!! Do you have any idea how horrible you would be on a road trip and no reading material???

  12. gah! Just wrote a whole comment which disappeared when I signed in.

    I bought the first Dresden File book for the boyfriend for Christmas (he asked for books so I just picked ones which I thought he might like) having heard lots of good things, and having had it on my wishlist for years (I have this tendency not to buy from my wishlist). He's read them all now, so obviously a hit.

    I also bought him Good Omens (the joint book between Gaiman and Pratchett) to introduce him to Gaiman. He liked it but found the switches in style difficult, so maybe I should have gone for American Gods instead- it was my other possible Gaiman choice, but because he had read Pratchett before I thought the familiarity would be good.

  13. You should definitely read her other books! Emma is pretty tough to get to and P&P is definitely my favourite of the lot. I probably like Persuasion the most after that, but a lot of people are partial to Sense & Sensibility.

    I was pretty disappointed it wasn't assigned for me either, I would have loved to read Austen for school!

  14. Mehhhhh excuses, excuses. You are a mom you have to do EVERYTHING like it's magic, obviously! And I do remember quite well how terrible Thomas and I were when bored...I remember that wooden spoon incident quite clearly. Or the 4 hours when he wouldn't stop singing. Or the various hours of bickering that ensued. But I was an innocent angel in all of this of course.

    Are you talking about Flight Plan? If you just picked up a copy we might have two now because I'd picked up a copy from the thrift store and left it there if I recall. I think?

  15. That's the worst! That's like me and my cursed command-z button in my blog posts. I'm terrible about buying from my wishlist too! I impulse buy to easily and get too overwhelmed when I look at all the options on my wishlist hahha.

    I've not read Good Omens yet - in fact I'd forgotten it was a joint book for that matter. I've not read a lot of Terry Pratchett I have to say, despite the fact that I own a few of his books, but from what I have read he seems like he would match with Gaiman's writing pretty well. So now I want to go read that book NOW and see what I think!

  16. What a fantastic list! I have a lot of love 4,5,6, 9 and 10. And it's so awesome how much you've valued books given to you. I've given a copy of the Narnia series to both my sets of nephews with no one really embracing them. They still have a fond place in my heart though.

    I've read one Clive Barker book many eons ago and I remember really liking it so I'm excited to add Abarat to my TBR.

  17. OH MY GOD YES!!!! - is my response to adding Abarat to your TBR. I have been a bit heavy handed mentioning (on the blog anyway) how much I wish more people read this series because it is...honestly it's indescribably just how creative and just amazing it is. Seriously if there was one book in the entire world I want people to read, it's this one.

    This week's list was so fun for me because besides making me nostalgic for the actual book, so many of them have a lot of good memories behind them. I can't believe your nephews haven't loved Chronicles of Narnia! But then I have friends who thought Harry Potter was boring, so I suppose anything's possible.

  18. maggiejustacouplemorepagesOctober 15, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    I love your Poisonwood Bible story! It's definitely mature for a 10 year old, but I feel like you must have gotten some really good lessons out of it. Great list!

  19. Luckily I'd read my way through most books I had my hands on which probably included a lot of things most people wouldn't recommend for 10 year olds so Poisonwood Bible wasn't that much of a shock haha

  20. I was fairly 'meh' over Storm Front but I love Jane Austen, Skip Beat and Asterix & Obelix. Here's my TTT

  21. AH! I've literally only met one person whose heard of Asterix and Obelix and he was from Bulgaria (and it might have been only because of the movies, which I'd had no idea existed)

  22. ...oh dear hahahaha. I hope it was at least entertaining even without knowing what they were saying!

  23. I haven't read any classics. Unless you could some American Classics. But no Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters. I am seriously missing out. My grandmother was a huge influence on my reading habits as well. I used to love talking to her about the books I read and what I thought.

    Great list!

  24. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Chronicles of Narnia! Mansfield Park is on my TBR list.

  25. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan! I'm slowly making my way through Emma and can't wait to finally read Northanger Abbey.

  26. Yeah it definitely was a big part of my childhood!

  27. I had a history teacher at school that was also the German immersion teacher and he let us watch the movies in German as a reward. Unfortunately there were no English subtitles.

  28. Oh man! The British Classics are definitely my favourites of the lot. But that's probably partially because I don't think we had an American Classics unit and the only one I can think of off the top of my head is The Scarlet Letter...which I HATED.


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