Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Was “Forced” to Read

Note: I’m going to run this post by Grammarly for proofreading, just to make sure those pesky apostrophe fairies didn’t sneak in behind my back and rearrange my punctuation marks. There Their They’re so annoying when they do that — its it’s almost impossible to cope!fireworks2

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. According to the description at The Broke and the Bookish, this week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books I Was “Forced” to Read (either by teachers, friends, other bloggers, book club) — doesn’t necessarily have to be a BAD thing. Could be required reading, yes, but also book club, or just super enthusiastic friends “making” you read something!

Based on that, my list mostly consists of books I’m glad to have read, even though I might not have read them on my own without a few nudges and pushes.

1) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare: This was the first book on the syllabus for my Shakespearean tragedy class in college, and to tell the truth, it kind of cracked me up! If this were a modern-day thriller, probably everyone would think it was completely over the top, what with hands being cut off, tongues cut out, people baked into pies and served to their parents… I probably never would have read this on my own, but for the sake of rounding out my knowledge of Shakespeare, I guess I’m glad it was required reading!

2) Letters from Thailand by Botan: I wasn’t “forced” into this one so much as emotionally compelled. It’s a wonderful book, and kind of a romantic story (which I wrote about here) as to why I had to read it.

3) The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: My good friend insisted to me that I *had* to read this book. I finally did, and thought it was awful. (Sorry, all you Sparks fans!) When I saw my friend again, I said to her, “I hate to tell you, but I really thought The Notebook was terrible”. Her response? “I know! I couldn’t believe it — that’s why I wanted you to check it out!” I think that’s the book equivalent of someone giving you a bite of their food and saying, “Here, taste this! It’s so gross!”

4) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole: An old boyfriend insisted this was the best book ever. So I had to read it. And disagreed. I think it’s a guy thing, actually. Of the people I know who’ve read it, the males seem to think it’s brilliant and the females seem to think it’s dumb. So there, old boyfriend!

5) The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce: My daughter is an avid bookworm (like mother, like daugher!), and when she was a pre-teen, this book series was her absolute favorite… and I just had to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out, I ended up really liking the Alanna books too — perhaps a bit more bed-hopping than I would have wanted her to read at that age, but on the other hand, this series about a girl growing up to be a knight had all sorts of great grrl-power messaging in it as well.

6) Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James: Mock these books all you want to (hey, I’ve done my share!), but admit it — they’re addictive. I thought the writing and plot of the first book were laughable… but I still had to keep reading to see how it would all turn out.

7) Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow: This is yet another book that my husband used to rave about, so finally I had to read it just to prove that I listen to him sometimes! And I liked it quite a bit.

8) Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth: My 11th grade high school teacher recommended this book to me for an assignment… and it was so inappropriate! I think he recommended it solely based on the fact that I’m Jewish — so, hey! Try some Philip Roth! My guess it that he hadn’t actually read it himself, although if he had, then wow, what a creepy recommendation to make to a 15-year-old girl. I was so excruciatingly embarrassed to read this book at that age. Perhaps as an adult reader, I’d be able to see literary value in it, but at that age? Just awful.

And wrapping it all up with a couple of childhood favorites

9 & 10) Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: These were both required reading at some point while I was in school… and boy, did I love them. In fact, I think I’m overdue for a re-read of both!

What books were you forced to read? And are you glad or mad about it?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!


27 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Was “Forced” to Read

  1. I also had to complete the Fifty Shades trilogy even though I thought the writing was awful. It got me interested enough though…

  2. Titus Andronicus is one of the few Shakespearean tragedies I haven’t read, though I really want to! And I SO remember Island of the Blue Dolphins! Well, sort of. I’ve forgotten a lot of the plot (guess I’m overdue for a re-read as well) but that was a staple of my grade school years. 😀 Great list!

    My TTT

    • I’ve been told I should see the Titus Andronicus movie (Jessica Lange! Anthony Hopkins!), but haven’t come across it yet. Sounds amazing, though. 🙂

    • Ha! The Notebook was my first and last Sparks too, definitely! Honestly, you’re really not missing out if you don’t read 50 Shades. Yes, there’s a lot of hype, but they’re pretty bad.

    • I’ve read nearly all of the tragedies through high school or college classes, and I’ve always meant to read some of the comedies too. Tamora Pierce is great! For people who like YA, I would say check out her Alanna books!

  3. That’s awful what your friend did about The Notebook! Personally, I’m a huge Sparks fan, but I also know they aren’t for everyone. I probably wouldn’t be happy if someone had me read a book they hated just so I could hate it too! lol

  4. i refused to finish the 50 shades trilogy. Lol I didn’t even make it past the first 100 pages. And I HATED a Confederacy of Dunces….that book still sends me shivers.

  5. Number 3! Ha! My boyfriend’s mum does that to us but with movies! It’s okay when she does it for films we watch on t.v. but I am wary of her cinema recs!

  6. Oh, some of these bring back memories. I have no idea how I came to read the Lioness quartet, but they sparked a love affair with fantasy that’s still going strong. Titus Andronicus doesn’t get enough love, so it makes me very happy to see someone else who was glad to read it. And oh, Island of the Blue Dolphins, I had completely forgotten about that series, but I adored it when I was a kid! Thank you for the memory. 🙂

    • Ha, thank you for commenting! The nostalgia element was definitely a fun part of writing this week’s list. I really haven’t thought about some of these books in years!

  7. Island of the Blue Dolphins is one of my all-time favorites! I’ve been contemplating a re-read of that recently. 🙂 Never read The Witch of Blackbird Pond but I love the sound of it… on the list it goes! My library has it on audio, I’m going to try it.
    Oh my gosh, I read The Notebook when I was a teen. I do not like Sparks’ novels but Message in a Bottle admittedly made me sob buckets. lol
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

  8. I haven’t heard of most of these, though I have read The Notebook and thought it really fell flat considering what I remembered of the movie. I don’t think anyone will ever have enough power over me to read the Fifty Shades books… I read about a third of the first one and thought it was so awful it was almost funny… but not quite.
    I really want to read something by Tamora Pierce though! So many authors I adore were inspired by her work, but it kind of went past me as a teen because I read more fantasy novels by German authors (I’m Swiss).
    I think I read something by Philip Roth in class once, but I don’t remember the title, only that I didn’t like it much. It was somehow both too dramatic and too dull at the same time.
    Great list! I loved reading the explanations you gave for every book 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

Comments... We love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s