Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
The Giver by Lois Lowry: Jonas is a twelve-year-old boy who lives in what he thought was a perfect world. But when he’s assigned his job as the Receiver, he learns that things aren’t quite what they seem.
Why: I read this in my 6th grade English class, and I fell in love. The concept fascinated me. Honestly, it still does.
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: Anne Frank’s diary was written while she and her family hid in an attic while Nazi-Germany occupied the Netherlands.
Why: I’m pretty sure everyone’s required to read this at some point in school. It helps for kids to understand how horrific the Holocaust was if they’re reading about a real girl who experienced it. It’s horrible, but it’s important.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: In Ponyboy’s world, there are two kinds of people: greasers and socs. A soc has money; a greaser doesn’t. But Ponyboy isn’t afraid to get into a fight with them until his friend, Johnny, kills one.
Why: This book broke my heart but I loved it, and I always thought it was so cool that Hinton was so young when she wrote it.
1984 by George Orwell: Winston Smith is a citizen of Oceania, a country ruled by The Party and led by Big Brother. Even though Smith does his job by rewriting history to fit the Party’s agenda, he secretly hates it and longs for rebellion.
Why: In high school, we read 1984 and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley simultaneously (I was in the IB program, so we read A LOT). While both are great, 1984 stuck with me because I saw more similarities between that world and ours.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: Okonkwo is a famous wrestler in his Nigerian clan. He is strong and hardworking, and will do anything to preserve his image. Things Fall Apart tells about his downfall and the impact British colonialism has on his tribe.
Why: I just remember the conversations surrounding this book and how eye-opening they were. Seriously, if you haven’t read this book, you need to.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: One day, Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes up to find that he’s been transformed into a giant insect.
Why: Okay, this one is odd. I mean, it’s about a guy who turns into a bug. But I liked how bizarre it was, and I enjoyed analyzing it as a teen.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Jane has always been dealt a bad hand. Orphaned at a young age, she was forced to live with relatives who didn’t hide their disdain for her. They send her to a school for the poor and orphaned where her mistreatment is continued. Then she is offered a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall where she meets her mysterious employer, Mr. Rochester.
Why: How could I not include the book that introduced me to Mr. Rochester? Plus, I love a good gothic novel.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison: Ralph Ellison’s narrator tells his story of growing up as a black man in the south, the false promises of a “good” education, and his attempt to find a new life in Harlem.
Why: I’ve read this book four times now, and I always find something new. Ellison is such an amazing writer, and his writing is so rich. His way with language is just enchanting. Aside from that, this is another book that everyone should read.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Pip is a young boy who lives with his sister and her husband where he’s destined to work as a blacksmith. But Pip’s chance encounters with a frightening convict and wealthy old spinster change his life forever.
Why: I love how Dickens writes. I also loved all the descriptions surrounding Miss Havisham.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, has recently died and his mother has remarried, choosing his uncle as her husband. But when Hamlet encounters his father’s ghost, he finds himself set on revenge.
Why: Hamlet is my favorite Shakespearean play, so I had to include it on this list. I mean I know Hamlet frustrates some people because he’s pretty much all talk, but can you imagine dealing with the crap he dealt with?!