To be completely honest, I never much liked being told what to read.  For someone who loves literature class, I was always very critical of any book assigned by my teachers or professors.  It's what made me such a natural book reviewer, I guess.  I always have a dialogue going on in my head while I'm reading.

Even though I can be harsh on the books I'm assigned, there have been a few that really got under my skin.  Books that I actually enjoyed reading that didn't feel like work.

Here are my top 5.

#7. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

I actually read this book as an adult for my Adolescent Lit class (I was a Middle School Ed major).  If this book isn't offered to middle schoolers, it should be.  It had me so hooked.  The story revolves around a young Mexican immigrant during the Great Depression.  The writing is phenomenal and the story was beautiful.  If you have a 12-15 year old daughter, put this book in her hand.

#6. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

This one was for my Post-Colonial Lit class, which is still one of my favorite Lit classes ever.  Who knew there was such mind-blowing lit on this topic?  And South African native, Coetzee, tops the list.  This book, while totally bizarre and unpredictable, haunted me.  I still think about it to this day.  I've been meaning to read more Coetzee, and I have a couple on my shelf waiting for my stubborn ass to pick them up.

#5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Ethics in Literature class here.  This was an easy book to love.  The topic revolves around colonialism, religion, motherhood, childhood, coming-of-age, death, and just so much more.  This book prompted me to write a very passionate, angry essay about assimilation and just, yeah.  I love seeing this book on the shelves at the book store.  This is one I'm glad the teachers made me read.

#4. Maus by Art Spiegelman

Wow.  I read Maus, a graphic novel about the holocaust where the Jews are portrayed as mice and the Nazis as cats, in one night and at about two o'clock in the morning, tears running down my face, I just sat and wondered what just happened to me.  If you haven't come across this graphic novel yet, it's written by the son of two Holocaust survivors.  It's raw, haunting and so, so, so powerful.  So, so so powerful.

#3. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

Here's a book I probably wouldn't have ever picked up without someone holding a grade over my head for it.  But I'm so glad I did.  What a great book for my young impressionable mind.  I remember being a little surprised by how easy this book was to read.  It's worth picking up if you see it.

#2. The Handmaid's Tale

Women's lit class for this surprise there, right?  I had people in my class who were straight up angry with this book.  A couple people protested reading it and one girl was brought to tears during our discussion.  I think if I had picked this book up for enjoyment, I would not have been happy with it, but because I read it for a greater purpose, I read it through a different lens.  It's supposed to make you sick with hatred, but you're also supposed to learn and grow from that, and I'm grateful for that opportunity.

#1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I had tried to read this book so many times before.  I always wanted to love it, but I struggled with it a lot.  Finally, in Women's Lit again, I broke the barrier and began to love this book.  I have a distinct memory of ditching another class and holing myself up in the library to read this book.  It finally gave me the confidence to read more classics.  Later that year, I finally read all of Pride and Prejudice from cover to cover just for fun.  

I still liked Jane Eyre more.

What about you?  What are some of your favorite books assigned in school?  Share anything on the topic and link up below!

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Next week's topic: Books that tackle tough topics & controversial issues