Allison: Top Ten Books I Was Forced To Read

Top Ten Books I Was Forced to Read

The Good:

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
I had to read this book during my American Literature class my second semester in college because my teacher had helped Jennifer Donnelly with her research of the Grace Brown murder case. They actually had an event on campus with Jennifer the year before I took the class but I didn’t attend because I didn’t know anything about her or the book. Now I really wish I had because this is one of my favorite books, and she is one of my favorite authors. Luckily, I was able to meet her in Fall 2010 at Oblong Books.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I can’t remember exactly when I had to read To Kill A Mockingbird for school but I remember falling in love with it from the beginning. I also know that it is one of April’s favorite books too.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
I remember being one of the few people in my advanced English class in high school that actually liked reading this book. I don’t know what it is about it necessarily that drew me in but, I also remember being disappointed that we were doing a study guide with it instead of our usual picking quotes and writing about them exercise. Why? Because there are so many different quotes to pick from in this book!

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
I think this book is what propelled some of my interest in the Salem Witch Trials. Also, there was never a dull moment reading this book in advanced English class especially when we would have one of the only two males in the class take up one of my female roles. Classic!

America is the Heart: A Personal History by Carlos Bulosan
I had to read this for one of my first graduate classes, and I remember really enjoying it. It’s the autobiography of a well known Filipino poet who describes his childhood in the Philippines to his journey to America and his struggle of living here as a hard working immigrant. It’s not an easy book to stomach at times but it’s filled with very interesting notions of what it really is be an immigrant amongst all the racism, oppression, and violence.

Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders by Alicia Gaspar
This is another book that I had to read during my graduate career, and it took my breath away. Based on the true story of the Juarez Murders in Mexico, where young working girls are randomly killed and their bodies dumped in the desert, this book opened my eyes in ways that I can’t even explain. Again, this isn’t necessarily an easy book to stomach but, it’s filled with lessons on gender identity, the border culture, and globalization.

The Bad:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Out of all the books I had to read for my honors or advance English classes this was probably my second least favorite. I just could not handle this book. I really struggled getting through it which was awful because I had to read it during the summer time for class in September – not the way I wanted to spend my summer at all!

Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
This is the book that I would declare as my least favorite book I had to read during high school. I can’t even remember what it was about but I know I disliked it, and I really disliked the way it was being taught to me. It was basically forced down my throat which may be one of my main reasons why I dislike it so much.

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
I wanted to like this one but again with a teacher who would read full page excerpts at a time and then expect us to analyze it to death I just couldn’t get behind it. Maybe it was the fact that I was young and didn’t have any real interest in the material. Or that I found the writing style to be tough and overbearing at that point in my life. I’m not sure but regardless it just didn’t work for me.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
I remember not being able to relate to the main character and finding him very depressing. I understood his struggles and the criticism of the American dream but, it was just hard to swallow. Again, I may have to blame my young age as it was required reading when I was in high school. Maybe if I were to pick it up again, I would have a different point of view.

Girls by Frederick Busch
I didn’t hate this book but at the same time I didn’t fall head over heels with it either. I think it was the combination of having to read it as part of my final project for advance English my senior year and just not being able to full engage myself in the story. Also, we had a debate in class that got ridiculously out of control if I remember correctly.

So, what are some of your favorite or least favorite books you were forced to read?

As always Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke And The Bookish.

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Allison is 27 years old. She is always looking for new books, good music, quality/epic adventures, and a normal sleep schedule. She currently works with the elderly.


  1. I read A Northern Light for book club and I’m so happy I did. I really enjoyed it.

    I on the other hand loved Wuthering Heights, but I can understand how it is not a book for everyone.

  2. I also really enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird. I read it after school, but I have re-read it several times and aim to re-read it again before the year is out. Great list!

  3. Oh my gosh…Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time favorite books! I’m so sorry you didn’t like it 🙁 I guess it just isn’t for everybody.

  4. The Crucible is one of my favorite reads of all time, and I am so, so happy I was forced to read it for school because I’m pretty sure I never would have otherwise. This was also my first real introduction to the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials – I mean, I knew what happened, but The Crucible made it real for me. Instead of these being distant, historical happenings, it put into perspective that this happened to real people. And of course, I love the fictionalized version Miller put together and all the tension that came with it.

  5. I think you chose good books to dislike (if that makes any sense – lol). I don’t remember the annoying books I was forced to read in HS and college, but those along with many of the famous classics are in my “worst” list. I’m just pleased I don’t have to deal with any more of those “have-to” rules now. 🙂

  6. Interesting picks!
    I remember reading Heart of Darkness and I kind of understand why it isn’t for everyone, but I do like it – it’s all int he style that just draws me in.

    Totally get you on Wuthering Heights, I have read it but I don’t particularly like it, it was more of a rite of passage thing with me.

  7. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of Death of a Salesman. It was alright, but I don’t think my highschool mind grasped the concept well, either. But I also loved A Northern Light. Such a good book! My friend’s been begging me to read Donnelly’s other book Revolution for years now — have you read it?

  8. I think Wuthering Heights is a LOT easier to read in a classroom setting where it can be discussed, or on your own time when you actually WANT TO! 🙂 So sorry you didn’t like it. A Northern Light, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Crucible are all awesome though. Haven’t read Far From the Madding Crowd, but I love Hardy’s ‘Return of the Native.’ You should check it out!

    My TTT:

  9. It really surprises AND pleases me that you have a title on here that’s written by a Filipino! I’m Filipino, and it’s always interesting for me to find out about books that I’ve never heard of before. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed that particular title!