Top 5 Books From School


Reading for school can be a pain. I hate the hierarchy of literature that schools follow. I don't think Jane Eyre is any better than Twilight just because it's older and read by 'more intelligent' people. I don't think a book should be judged by who read it, but rather how effective it was at moving someone and making them think. 

I like some classics, if they move me, but sometimes they don't because they're styles are so outdated that I can't connect to them. I mean, Shakespeare's good, I'm not going to deny that. But did I really have to study a Shakespeare play every single year of my secondary school education? I'm sure I missed out on a load of amazing playwrights because of that. 

With that said, reading for school wasn't always bad and now I'm in university some of it is, dare I say it, exciting. I get to choose modules that I am interested and read around my subject. 

So anyway, here are my five favourite books that I've had to read for school/university...

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini 




I know what you're thinking: how they hell did I get to study that? Well, it wasn't compulsory unfortunately. During my English A Level I was told to write my coursework on Ian McEwan's Enduring Love which I really disliked. So, I convinced my teacher to let me write about A Thousand Splendid Suns - a story centred on women in Afghanistan during horrendous turmoil. It was by far the most enjoyable piece of coursework I have ever written and I got an A* so the decision paid off!

2. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier



I studied Rebecca for a module called Adaptations, in which we compared novels to their film translation. I'd already read Rebecca and am a huge Du Maurier fan so when my university showed us their collection of her belongings and works, including original notes towards the novel and earlier drafts I completely fan-girled! Rebecca is about an un-named woman who marries the wealthy Maxim de Winter and replaces his first wife Rebecca. It might sound trivial but it gets so dark. 

I also studied Du Maurier's short story The Birds when I was 14 and then again at university.

3. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks



This one was for my English AS which focused on war literature. Eddie Redmayne stars in the film adaptation and I even went to see Birdsong in the theatre because I loved it so much. The story is heartbreaking, of love and war and grief.

4. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee



It seems like everyone loves this book and not just because it's a classic, because it's incredible. It's about racism and innocence and class and so much more. I read this for my GCSE in English Literature and adored it (even though we got second-hand copies that were so old they smelt of feet!) There's a sequel titled Go Set A Watchman which I am yet to read.

5. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams



Finally, I studied A Streetcar Named Desire for my A Level English and I know it's not a novel, but plays are books too! I loved this play even when I had never seen it performed, I could visualise it all right from the start because the story is told so well. My lovely boyfriend took me to see the play at Leicester's Curve Theatre for our anniversary last year and it's just as good on the stage, I can assure you!

There were other books that I enjoyed, including Wuthering Heights, but most of the time I just sat there wondering why we were still studying Shakespeare. I've only just finished doing that! What have you read for school that you really loved?

Love, Jess

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