Recommended: Required Readings

I think I just heard a collective groan at the words “required readings.”

Does anyone actually ~enjoy~ being assigned to read something? I would wager that most don’t.

But some of these books that were required for class, I actually rather enjoyed. Here are a few of those gems Emoji Pngs (1)

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Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. ‘We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,’ says Antonio’s mother. ‘It is not the way of our people,’ agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio’s family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul.

I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK. I had to read this in high school and at the time I was a very devout Catholic so this book was difficult for me to read in the sense that it opened my mind to things I had never considered before, which made me uncomfortable. But what more can we ask of a book than to open our minds and question our own realities? It was also a fantastic introduction to the Chicano culture.

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The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever.

1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” – a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

This is one of my all time FAVORITES. It is a very disturbing read. Ever heard of “Big Brother?” This is where that comes from. This story is all about propaganda, constant surveillance and just all around manipulation and control and just UGH. So. Good. Not like “this is such a happy thing,” but in the sense of HOLY CRAP THIS STORY IS SO GRIPPING.

Children literally turn in their parents in this book. The totalitarian regime goes THAT FAR. Also, not gonna lie but ever since I read about “newspeak” and then Twitter happened, I’ve just been like nuuuuuu!!!!! This is probably why I still feel weird about using Twitter to this day. NO ONE SHALL LIMIT MY THOUGHTS! D:<

At the time we also read Anthem by Ayn Rand, which was, in my opinion, equally as amazing as it discusses similar themes. Both of these I had to read over the summer and I loved them so much I still have my copies!

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In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club.

With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters.  As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined…

At the time I had to read this, I was deeply interested in Chinese culture so I was already interested in reading it from the start so I really sunk my teeth into this.

It’s told from multiple perspectives, which kept the pacing of this book very quick. Each chapter I found myself so invested in my connection to that character that I was almost disappointed I had to start reading from someone else’s POV, but then the cycle would just repeat itself once that chapter came to a close!

It focused on the relationship between mother and daughter as they came to terms with the fact that they were both raised in different countries so the experiences they had have shaped them into completely different people, but watching them all come together was lovely.

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In Ponyboy’s world there are two types of people.

There are the Socs, the rich society kids who get away with anything.

Then there are the greasers, like Ponyboy, who aren’t so lucky.

Ponyboy has a few things he can count on: his older brothers, his friends, and trouble with the Socs, whose idea of a good time is beating up greasers. At least he knows what to expect-until the night things go too far.

Oh my GOSH. I read this in junior high and my friends and I straight up BONDED over our mutual love for this book.

It was really difficult for me to get into it at first because the dude’s name was “Ponyboy.” Like… how much dumber of a nickname could you possibly have? I was like 13 at the time so this was obviously very important to me lmao

It talks about some important themes that us middle graders needed to hear (people of every age need to hear it too though), which is that rich or poor, “maybe the two worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.” #classic Emoji Pngs (8)

As a class, we then got to watch the movie and I developed the most intense crush EVER on Ralph Macchio (still do, let’s be real). Like, I printed out a bunch of pictures of him and taped them on to my binder. It was REAL. LOVE.

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In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy.

With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

I apparently have a keen interest in books that discuss extreme political regimes???

But in all seriousness, this book was incredible. I had to read this, I believe, around the same age as I read The Outsiders and the first thing I liked about this was that they GAVE you your career. Like… without any hard work or effort, you were just handed the career of being a doctor and they would teach you??? And, truthfully, I… kind of wanted that because if I could then I would always pick the easy path over the right one. But obviously that wasn’t a ~good~ thing in this book because there was no choice. You could have been handed a role as garbage-man and you could do nothing about it and that’s what you would be for the rest of your life. Passion was something you could not have. You could not question anything. You couldn’t even see the beauty of COLORS.

So reading along with Jonas and discovering all the hidden memories of his world at the same time he found out everything was simply fascinating. It’s like you are Jonas because you’re learning everything with him. Connections with the characters built fast for me so I really enjoyed this one.

What are some required readings that you recommend?

Did any of these make your list?

Also, I’m probably going to turn this into a short little series… thoughts?

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‘Til next time, friend!

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19 thoughts on “Recommended: Required Readings

  1. Oh this was an interesting post, Bridget! 1984 and The Giver weren’t required readings for me but I read and loved them anyway. I’m quite fascinated by these political regimes as well ahah 🙂 I think one required reading that I enjoyed was Lord of The Flies – kind of a crazy book, but I don’t know, I liked it ahahah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read The Giver in 8th grade and it absolutely blew my mind. There’s something to be said for a book that’s written for middle school kids but encourages them to think seriously about important issues. I read 1984 on my own in high school, and it’s definitely another good one (totally scary though!). I haven’t read the other two you listed, but I’ve heard of them at least.

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  3. Great recommendations! When I was in high school I hated reading assignments, but as a go back and read those required book again, I’m like “wow these are great why was I so bitter???” love 1984

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  4. I never had to read 1984 but I really really want to! And I always tend to hate the books I HAVE to read because people are MAKING me read a book like NO NO THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS 😂

    I recently had to read Picture of Dorian Gray for uni and I really enjoyed it! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yea I generally have that attitude towards books I’m required to read too! You should definitely check out 1984 when you have time. It’s a favorite of mine! And I’ll have to read Dorian gray!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had never seen your blog before, but I’m super behind on what’s on the up-n-up.
    Interesting that some of these titles were required reads for you. I remember when I was school librarian, titles like ‘The Giver’ and ‘The Outsiders’ were part of grade 7-9 reading curriculum. I’m assuming you were meant to go into greater detail than my kiddos did. ‘1984’ was a recommendation by one of the vice-principals in the school I worked in, he managed to lure several students into reading it.
    I like the lists, nonetheless, my most recent required read was ‘World War Z’, needless to say I did not finish it. I read as far as I needed to and then stopped. Which is kind of disappointing since I thought I would really enjoy it, and it had been on my TBR list since it was first released. Oh well. Glad the movie was a little more interesting—?
    I will be back to read more of your posts 🙂
    – Krys

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