Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ten books I wish I read when I was in high school

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a back to school freebie. They listed several ideas for topics, but I was thinking about how there are so many books I wish I had read when I was younger - for so many different reasons - so that will be my list.

Many of these weren't even published back then, which is kind of the point. We didn't really have much for teen books back in the 80s when I was in high school, and it's a shame because I really would have benefited from them. Pretty much all I read in high school was Stephen King and Danielle Steel. I still love Stephen King, but I really could have stood a bit more reading diversity. A couple of prevalent themes on this list are feminism and self-confidence, two things that I didn't realize I needed at the time.

1. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
One of my all-time favorite teen books. Frankie is the sort of girl I wish I was in high school. She had so much self-confidence and was so clever and used her smarts to infiltrate an all-boys secret society. She had a boyfriend, but didn't let him define her. I admire her so much!

2. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Another one of my favorites, I think I would have appreciated this story about a potentially-violent teenage boy and his unlikely friends. As a teenager, I could have stood to be a bit less judgmental, and this may have helped a bit.

3. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Another one about trouble kids, plus it has a Sylvia Plath theme and I was kind of obsessed with her in high school.

4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
I wish I had read some books about gay characters back then and maybe I would have been more sympathetic. (I grew up in a very isolated rural town.) The main character is also dealing with unexpected feelings after her parents' death, and since my father died while I was in high school, I think I would have appreciated this on a few different levels.

5. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
If there's one thing I could have used in high school, it was a healthy model for romantic relationships. This one even took place in the 80s.

6. How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
This kind of goes along with the healthy relationship model, but I could have used a big dose of down-to-earth feminism when I was growing up. Or any kind of feminism, but I think the kind with this much swearing would have really spoken to me. She talked a lot about growing up and her perspective would have been helpful.

7. Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
Because one book about feminism isn't actually enough.

8. Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
This is on my extremely short list of books that I think everyone should read and the world would be a better place. I actually think I would have been interested in this when I was growing up because I did like to read "issue" books, and this is about a lot of different issues in people's lives.

9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I think I would have loved it even in high school. I loved dark books, and I think it would have given me more of an appreciation of the classics.

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I wish I had read more classics. Obviously I read classics because I had to, and I liked some of them, but there are so many that I probably would have liked had I read them. Jane Austen is so different from what I read at the time, but I think maybe I would have liked her. It's hard to say really.

It was hard to narrow this down to 10, and I keep thinking of more. Basically I wish all the teen books, and the Harry Potter series, existed when I was a kid/teenager. And I wish I had just read more widely than I did, though I read pretty much everything I had access to at the time. We had a very small library in my town, but I was very grateful for it.

Who knows if I actually would have liked all of these as a teenager, much less if they would have affected my life in a positive way. Even without reading them in high school I think I've turned out ok, and I'm very happy I've read them at all!


Unknown said...

Pride and Prejudice made my week as well! That's the first classic I really enjoyed reading. Jane Austen is wonderful!


Lauren Stoolfire said...

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock would have been excellent to read in school.

Check out my TTT.

Anonymous said...

I love Austen now, but I wonder if I would have liked it as much in high school. I feel like I would have found it tedious and missed all the great subtleties.

Lindsay said...

What a great list! When I was in high school, YA wasn't really a thing yet, and I actually think I got some unrealistic ideas about high school, college and boyfriends from reading adult books and silly teen books. I watched "Gilmore Girls" a few years ago for the first time, and I think I would have definitely benefited from having Rory as a role model when I was a teenager!