I was never all that crazy about English class.

Which is a weird thing to say, because:

  1. I love reading.
  2. I love writing.
  3. I have a favorite literary device (Chekhov’s gun) AND a favorite grammatical device (zeguma).
  4. When I realized that Beth and Winnie were foils I actually screamed with excitement.

But English class was something of a chore for me—not because it was difficult, but because I usually didn’t like the books we had to read. They were usually grim, serious masterworks. I believe it’s important to read the classics, but like…in the same way that it’s important to eat your vegetables. Important, but not necessarily fun. Or even pleasant.

Sometimes, though, the vegetables on your plate are grilled artichoke hearts and the books on your reading list are actually fun to read.

10 books that I had to read for English class but actually liked are:

  1. Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare). Oh, Rom and Jules. Your story is strange, impetuous, violent, silly, and tragic. And fourteen-year-old me loved every crazy minute of it.
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain). This book is honestly hilarious. It’s also cutting, incisive, and downright painful. But man could Mark Twain crack a joke.
  3. Everything is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer). I felt so clever when I realized that the two main storylines were working in opposite directions and would collide at the climax. Also, I learned some new swear words.
  4. Hamlet (William Shakespeare). Me reading Hamlet in seventh grade: “Oh my god, why is there so much talking? Even the dad rambles on and he’s dead!” Me reading Hamlet in twelfth grade: “OH MY GOD THIS IS A MASTERWORK THIS IS MY EVERYTHING”
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee). *sobs forever*
  6. The Odyssey (Homer). Hit it, Muse. Tell us the random adventures of some dude whom I don’t really care about and then cut to Penelope being a BOSS in the face of 10,000 unwanted suitors.
  7. The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne). It was melodramatic, way too wordy, and rife with old-timey misogyny, hypocrisy, and sanctimoniousness. But god help me, I loved its Gothic-Romantic melodrama.
  8. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky). Oh, it was long. Oh, it was a chore. But, like running a marathon, finishing this book felt like a h*ckin’ big acheivment.
  10. MacBeth (William Shakespeare). Yes, it’s another Shakespeare play—this time with 200% more Scottish accents and brutal murders!

Those are all my thoughts—now I want to hear yours!

What books did you like in English class? Which ones were pleasant surprises and which ones just weren’t horrible? What books would you assign if you were an English teacher? Would you include modern classics like Harry Potter or stick with the old stuff? Also, don’t forget to include a link to your Top Ten Tuesdays so I can check them out!