Follow along with this meme over at The Broke and the Bookish
One of the mixed blessings that comes with studying Literature is that you are introduced to books you would have otherwise never have even picked up. While I don’t have a whole lot of time to read books that are on my own personal to read list, I do get to read books that most likely never would have made it to my list. Over the Spring semester I took Modern Fiction (because I haven’t said that enough times) and I loved just about every book that we read. My point is, nearly every book on this list was read for a class and not really because I was wandering through Half Price, picked up a book, and thought ‘hm this looks good’, but I am so glad I read each one. For once these are actually going to be in order, so I’m going to start with ten.
10. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
I’ve been assigned this story for six different courses, one even in high school, but I still really enjoy it. I may complain about having to read it one more time, but I still love it. It’s a great psychological (quasi) thriller with tons of feminist subtext to it that I never really saw until this past semester in American Lit.
9. “The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston
Another story that was assigned in my American Lit course. It’s actually a really sweet story at its core even though the middle is pretty sad, but the level of sadness is what makes it such a beautifully written story.
8. Dubliners by James Joyce
Dubliners is a collection of short stories written by James Joyce that are a bit strange because none of them really have much of an ending, but the crux of each is a character having some sort of epiphany. Joyce has a really interesting writing style which is a mix of stream of consciousness and character study. Each story is just as interesting as the last. Absolutely worth a read.
7. Passing by Nella Larsen
Passing is not only really well written but also about a really interesting subject that isn’t really talked about. During the late 20’s/early 30’s in the States, as long as you had a single ancestor who was of color you were considered “negro” and were therefore held at a lower status. Because of this some people of mixed race would “pass” as white so they could intermingle within white society without dealing with any racism. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with either side of society and caused a lot of problems. Now you know (and knowing is half the battle) and now that you have the back story you have no excuse not read this novella ;).
6. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates is one of my absolute favorites (even if she was frustratingly prolific). Her prose is absolutely poetic and her characters are so real in their pain and misplacement in the world. This particular story is actually based loosely on Bob Dylan and the sixties, as well as the more universal ideas of young girls trying to grow up before they’re actually ready to.
5. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe
This was my first time reading Virginia Woolfe and I loved it! Her writing is wonderful. Mrs. Dalloway is a stream of consciousness story which takes place over the span of a single day, and was actually written in response to James Joyce’s Ulysses which is written in the same style.
4. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
“The Metamorphosis” is one of those classics that you can’t really get away with not reading if you decide to study Literature. The story is quite surrealistic and more questions are raised than they are answered, but it really is a good story. And even if it goes right over your head, at least you will be able to say that you’ve read it.
3. Sula by Toni Morrison
I have included Sula so many times on these lists already I am surprised you haven’t picked up a copy yet =P
2. The Sound & The Fury by William Faulkner
The Sound & the Fury is not a book for the faint of heart, the casual reader, or anyone without some kind of passion for Faulkner. Faulkner utilizes stream of consciousness to write this novel and it is told from four separate points of view, which doesn’t help the confusion. BUT if you do happen to get through it and understand what you just read, it is completely worth it. I cried. Multiple times.
1. The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger is such an amazing book, I think I can honestly say it changed some part of my life. When I finished reading it I was so absolutely frustrated because the meaning was right there on the brink of my brain. I was so close to that “ah!” moment of understanding but I couldn’t get it pinned down just right for the moment to happen. Finally, after working on it for a final paper I figured it all out! But if I told you then that would be spoilers 😉