Hello and happy Top Ten Tuesday, guys! This week’s theme is a back-to-school freebie — anything to do with books you read in school or college, required readings, classics… basically anything to do with books and school.
Now, I don’t read a lot of classics for various reasons (one of which is basically just a lack of interest), but I think it’s due time for me to tell you about all the big titles I’ve read when I was younger! Here they are. 🙂
1) Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
LESSON LEARNED: Books are important, you guys. I read this book for IB and I remember spending, like, six months just reading and discussing this book with the class. It kind of changed the way I read and now I can read into metaphors like whoa.
2) And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found.
All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate, for each has been marked for murder.
One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.
LESSON LEARNED: Never, ever be unlucky enough to be shipped off to a private island for a weekend. You will get murdered. Bonus fact: I read this on a train, I think, sometime when I was studying abroad in the UK. It was great because it made the whole book so atmospheric.
3) Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare
Power, corruption and betrayal are at the heart of Shakespeare’s most well-known historical and political drama.
As Julius Caesar moves closer to securing power for himself and is perceived by some as a threat to Roman citizens, his senators plot to bring about his downfall. Caesar’s assassination leads to civil war rather than peace and the play explores the subsequent deaths of the conspirators Brutus and Cassius.
LESSON LEARNED: Who can forget the classic “your friends can betray you and leave you to bleed to death”? That certainly left an impression on my teenage mind. Et tu, Brute?
4) Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein.
Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
LESSON LEARNED: Even monsters need love. Also, careful what you wish for. 😛
5) Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
One of Shakespeare’s most popular and accessible plays, Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two star-crossed lovers and the unhappy fate that befell them as a result of a long and bitter feud between their families.
The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful and lyrical love poetry and is perhaps the finest celebration of the joys of young love ever written.
LESSON LEARNED: Communication is sometimes the difference between a happy life together and needless death. Oh, and if you immediately profess your love to someone you’ve just met, YOU WILL DIE.
6) Women at Point Zero – Nawal El Saadawi
Nawal El Saadawi’s highly acclaimed feminist novel, Woman at Point Zero, follows the life of Firdaus, an Egyptian peasant girl, from her childhood of incomprehensible cruelty and neglect to her end in a grimy Cairo prison cell.
From her earliest memories, Firdaus suffered at the hands of men—first her abusive father, then her violent, much older husband, to finally her deceitful boyfriend-turned-pimp. After a lifetime of abuse, she at last takes drastic action against the males ruling her life.
LESSON LEARNED: This was the first I’ve ever learned about female genital mutilation and it absolutely shocked me, mostly because before that, I had no idea such a thing happened at all. It wasn’t a pleasant book to read at all, but I think it’s important.
7) A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen
A Doll’s House is Henrik Ibsen’s best-known play.
This masterpiece created quite a stir when it was first released because of its feminist stance. It is considered by many to be the first truly feminist play ever written.
The play comes to a climax as Nora, the play’s protagonist, rejects her marriage and her smothering life in a man’s “dollhouse.”
LESSON LEARNED: You gotta love yourself and be yourself before anything else. Also, grand exits are preeeetty damn satisfying, it looks like. 😛
8) The Princess Bride – William Goldman
As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.
Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.
What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
LESSON LEARNED: I’m not sure if this taught me anything other than how the format, unique as it is, actually works. I didn’t love this book as much as other people seem to, but it’s still pretty lovely and reads like a MG fairytale. ❤
9) The Giver – Lois Lowry
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories.
Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy.
Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.
LESSON LEARNED: This was my first foray into dystopian fiction and I absolutely loved it. I don’t think I really got it ‘got it’ until I was a bit older, but I really loved how much focus there was on the absence of pain and what it made us, as a society, do.
10) Perfume – Patrick Süskind
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift — an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs.
But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood.
Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume” — the scent of a beautiful young virgin.
LESSON LEARNED: Reading this was like looking at the world from the eyes of a complete psychopath. Unpleasant, but intriguing. I also loved how very reprehensible and yet not it was.
What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments!