What I Read (And What I Should’ve Been Reading)

On top of things I am not.

That being said, I know a brilliant twist on a topic when I see one. Kate’s take on back to school books made me smile and think, which is a reaction not to be taken lightly when reading on the interwebs. What was I assigned to read in school? And what did I read instead? Though, in my case, I did – happily, generally speaking! – do the required reading.


1996: I should’ve been reading Brave New World, and I’m almost certain I did. I have vague recollections of Soma and John the Savage, so I must’ve. Clearly dystopian wasn’t my genre even then… What did I read and love (and remember quite well)? IT by Stephen King. I eventually watched the terrifying movie as well, and now they are coming out with another.

1997: I did read and absolutely HATED Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. My severe opinion has slightly lessened over time, but I’m still definitely not a fan. This was also the year I discovered one of my grandmother’s romances and I still remember it vividly – Sweet Liar by Jude Devereaux (naive Sam, identical twin millionaires, art theft, oh my!).

1998: I remember slogging through One Hundred Years of Solitude and offsetting it with what I considered fluff at the time – Forever by Judy Blume.

2000: For what it’s worth, these years are all estimates. I believe 2000 was the year I discovered that I did, in fact, love Thomas Hardy with Return of the Native. But I didn’t find it shocking or particularly enthralling, so I picked up Go Ask AliceThis didn’t work either, as I didn’t find it shocking and the hype was kind of lost on me. Clearly my cynical nature is long running.

So, long time bookworms, did you offset school reading with leisure reading?

18 thoughts on “What I Read (And What I Should’ve Been Reading)

  1. I was that dork who really loved the required reading, especially Beloved and 1984. I read both multiple times and hope to revisit them in the future.

    I definitely got up to my share of forbidden reading, though! (“Forbidden” is strong, but no one pushed Wifey or any of my grandma’s Nora Roberts into my hands. Steamy stuff.)


    1. Some required reading I absolutely loved (Jane Eyre), some I absolutely wanted to claw my eyes out (Wuthering Heights). I sometimes wonder if I had read them at a different time, if my opinions would be different (like with I ever give WH another chance?!).


      1. Such a good point! I wonder that about certain books, too. For instance, I loathed The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and though I’m not inclined to give it another shot, I do wonder if my life at the time and the people I knew colored my impression of it. Then again, I can remember certain passages nearly verbatim and don’t think my opinion would change much. 😛


  2. I think I read Brave New World by choice – not my usual thing but I recall thinking it was interesting. Hanmaid’s Tale would have been read around the same time and that was probably enough dystopia to last me for a decade.

    1998 – yeah, Forever was a better choice.

    My feelings about Alice were similar – didn’t really get what all the fuss was about.


    1. I sometimes wonder if I’d read Brave New World by choice, if I would’ve looked on it more favorably. Being “told” I have to do something has never gone well for me (despite the fact that I nearly always do it, because rule follower).


      1. Same – of course when you ‘have to read’ a book, you look for certain things (like the correct passages for answering essay questions).


  3. I was always happy just to be reading even if I ended up hating the book. lol So, while I am sure I read other stuff at the same time, I don’t have strong memories like you do!


  4. This IS a fun take on the list! I did all my required reading in high school (though Spark Notes was my BFF in college). I read “Go Ask Alice” a couple years ago and was not a fan… though who knows how I would’ve felt if I’d actually read it as a teenager.


    1. SparkNotes! I’d like to say I’m above that.

      I’m totally not. Sometimes I truly do wonder if we look too hard into books. Did writers REALLY intend to instill that my symbolism and metaphor, or were they sometimes just writing a story?


  5. haha I loved this post!
    One hundred years of solitude is just awful and I didn’t understand anything!
    When I read Wuthering Heights I thought it wasn’t a “love story”, it was a “hate story” :((
    And Brave new world… my opinion of the book is that the author was smoking something while writing it… I read the three of them as an adult, I have to say lol.
    Mandatory books are awful!!


  6. I always supplemented school reading with fun reading — but it was still great when I graduated college and reached the end of the years when I had to do school reading. You just have so much more time that way!!

    I think it’s funny to hear about reading Go Ask Alice as a counterpoint to Thomas Hardy. To this day I’ve still never read either of those two books, and eh, I’m just as glad to keep it that way.


    1. I do really enjoy Thomas Hardy, but Go Ask Alice was underwhelming to me.

      There’s something that irritates me about being forced to do anything. Even now, when my book club reads a book I don’t want, I always put it off (but still do it). I blame years of school.


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