Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading

The Broke and The Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday every week and it is my favorite meme.  This week's topic is: Top Ten Books that should be required reading for teens.

I don't know about you all, but I was kind of a pain when I was a teenager, and I didn't like people telling me what to read.  However, there are some books that stand out as being "important books" during that turbulent period in my life.  So, I took an autobiographical approach to this week's topic.  There are plenty of great books out there, and teens should read as many as they can.  This was just my way in to loving reading.

This list is chronological, beginning with the pre-teenish years.

10.  Judy Blume, Are You There God It's Me, Margaret: I wanted to keep this book a secret, because I felt like it was letting me in on all sorts of secrets. Read it to know that we all share secrets.

9. Francesca Lia Block, Girl Goddess #9: Now girls have Laurie Halse Anderson; I had Francesca Lia Block.

8. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451: My first lesson that writers and readers are rebels.

7. George Orwell, 1984: My first feelings about politics came from this novel. It may not have shaped an ideology, but it provided a spark.

6. Richard Bach, Illusions: Adolescence is the perfect time for obvious philosophical novels.  This one taught be about being in control of my own emotions.

5. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: For some perspective:  Some things are the same everywhere and others are really different.

4. J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey: Because it is better than Catcher in the Rye

3. Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man: Because race is still an issue.

2.  Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried: Because we still go to war.

1. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby: Because nobody does it like Fitz.  This is the perfect ode to disenchantment and the end of adolescence.

What books inspired you to be a reader?  Which ones taught you lessons you haven't forgotten?


  1. Judy Blume! What a fantastic pick! There was a time when I was a teenager that I just read and reread Blume's books. I think a lot of us grew up on her writing.

  2. Great picks!
    I completely forgot about some of these, like 1984 and 451. I really need to read those over again, too.

    Erin @ Let's Evaluate

  3. Wow: You read The Things They Carried in high school? I could barely take it in as an adult, although it was and is one of my most revered novels ever.
    And not every teen appreciates The Fitz as you and I do, but I'm glad we share that preference.
    I applaud your approach here: it's irreproachable because it's personal. And each of your picks seems worthy to me indeed.

  4. Oh I just reminded me that I need to re-read Fahrenheit 451. I loved that book.

    I love Judy Blume too. I can feel my TBR pile growing as we speak.

    Shanan (new follower)

  5. Chronological is a great idea. Yes!

    Love your choices, too. Things They Carried took my breath away.

  6. 1984 scared the crap out of me, and I've never really recovered enough to get "into" the dystopian genre. Great themes of course, but...*shudder*.

    I've seen the film adaption of Persepolis, and it was really good. It paints a very different picture of childhood than many on this side of the world experience.

    The Things They Carried is on my TBR list, but it's going to take me awhile to get it, since apparently everyone at my local library wants to read it (which is a good sign, I think). Thanks for stopping by my blog, and happy reading!

  7. @Laurie- Actually I read both Gatsby and O'Brien later, but wish I had read them earlier. However, I definitely agree that they are "late teen" books. I think that both the narrators are on the cusp of adulthood, and in O'Brien's case he is thrust into it. I teach O'Brien to college freshman and they respond really well to it.Some of them have read it in high school.

  8. I can't believe I've never read that Judy Blume book! It's such a rite of passage! lol..

  9. Well, I didn't like Catcher in the Rye - but this means I can give Franny and Zooey a try, I have heard too much about it, but I wasn't sure if I would like it! And I have read Jonathan Livingston Seagull but not Illusions! Added to my TBR list!
    Thanks :)

  10. I've read only two books off your list. And with the exception of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, I haven't heard of the remaining six.

    I recently re-read the Great Gatsby. I didn't like it as a teenager, but I was able to appreciate it now...

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    I thought that Illusions would be a little too esoteric for high school, but perfect for college age (thus the JLS choice).
    I LOVED 'Are you there God, it's me, Margaret'! I think ALL teen girls should read it! Thanks for adding a few more on my TBR pile!

  12. I like the fact that a number of people have picked books that they themselves read as a teen. Makes it more personal I think.

    Great list. I loved Judy Blume. I think I read all of those. Some other favourites on your list too.

  13. Wonderful choices. I agree with them all.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  14. I thought about Are You There God but decided I would need a male coming of age story equivalent so I ended up designing my list as a wish list of what I'd like my students to know when they come to me.

    These are all great choices but Great Gatsby is definitely a win. I wish I'd had more room to add it.

  15. I like your #5 and I wish I had included it on my list for the very same reasons that you list.

  16. Great list! Fahrenheit 451 is an awesome choice and I can't believe I forgot to include a graphic novel!

  17. Terrific list. I like your comments on each book too. I see we both have THE GREAT GATSBY at the top (though my list is less chronologically strict than yours). I read this in high school and have been re-reading it ever since.

  18. Great Gatsby, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 were required reads at my school. I haven't heard of a few of your picks, but it's interesting that you chose Judy Blume. I wish I had been given her books in school.

  19. I remember reading Girl Goddess #9 over...and over...and over.

    I just tried Franny and Zooey this year, but I couldn't really get into it. I loved Zooey, but Franny aggravated me a bit.

  20. +JMJ+

    I like your autobiographical approach! =) I think that most people who make reading lists do the same thing, looking at what was important to them and being optimistic that it will prove significant to others, too. (How else to explain how many times Harry Potter has made these lists???) What I tried to do in my list was be autobiographical for as much of the human race as possible, which is why the majority of my picks are hundreds (or even thousands) of years old.

    But from my own individual perspective . . . The books that changed my life in high school included Disturbing the Universe by Freeman Dyson (a scientist who had many colleagues who had worked on the A-bombs and H-bombs), The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, an astrophysics book called The Silent Melody, and Arthur Schlesinger's biography of Robert F. Kennedy. These are hardly books I'd require others to read, although I'm so glad I read them! =P

    Well, perhaps Disturbing the Universe would be a good universal read. Dyson's reflections on science, technology, politics and peace can still speak to us today. I will never forget what he said about the problem with technology: after you invent something, you're stuck with it forever. Look at all the things we're stuck with today that we probably would have been happier not discovering . . .

    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog! =)

  21. "The Things they Carried" is a great choice!

  22. Impressive reading list as a teen! Wish I had experienced some of those books in my younger years...

    Better than Catcher inth Rye??? I'm intregued!

  23. I was so ready to debate your comment about Franny and Zooey being better than Catcher, except that I realized I hadn't read it. Oops! Must go do that!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

  24. @Two Bibliomaniacs: There are a couple on there that I didn't read until my twenties, but I still felt like a teen:) I didn't read Gatsby until later, in college, but I always wished I had read it earlier.

    NatalieSap: It's just my personal opinion and I like Catcher. I just thought I would state it as a fact to be a little contentious:)

  25. I *love* seeing Persepolis on this list! I just read it a few years ago and wish I'd encountered it as a teenager. It makes a great non-white/non-Western/non-male counterpoint to so much that we have teenagers read.

  26. I'm excited to see so many classics on here! But I'm ashamed of how many are still sitting on my TBR, waiting to be read. Maybe this will be the kick start I need to finally read them!


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