September means back to school month! I was one of those strange children who actually got excited about going back to school because I would get to see all of my friends and most importantly, I could show off and use all of my new stationary! I still miss shopping for school stationary.
I studied a lot of books in my time in school, so I thought I would make a list about what they mean to me and how memorable they were (some were definitely a lot more memorable than others)
1. Kensuke’s Kingdom – Michael Morpurgo
I don’t know how it works now, but when I was transitioning between primary and secondary school, this is one of the books everyone studied. We read it in Year 6, then in Year 7 we all studied it. I can barely remember much about the book other than getting deadly bored when we were reading it in Year 6. Well, that and I think the dog was called Stella Artois? I love that that is one of the few things I remember! I wasn’t a normal child because I never actually enjoyed reading any of Michael Morpurgo’s books except from Cool which I only loved because you don’t find comas mentioned in many children’s books!
2. Skellig – David Almond
Skellig was so cool! Every single person in Year 7 English hated it, but I loved it from the start. I had already seen the film when we were reading it so I knew what would happen, but that just made it even easier for me to get into reading it. This was the first book I ever read that I had to write essays on, and I think that put me off a bit. But it’s still something I would happily pick up now and give it a quick re-read. Fair enough, Skellig himself is absolutely terrifying and it still makes me uncomfortable with the thoughts of him. But seven years on and I still remember his order of a 27 and 53 from the Chinese takeaway!
3. Holes – Louis Sachar
The first book I loved studying! My Year 8 English teacher was lovely and I was completely gutted when she left the school. She was the best (and only decent) English teacher I had in secondary school, which I think helped with my love for this book. Holes is just one of those books that talks to everyone and I think everyone loves. I don’t know one person who would turn down a quick taste of sploosh, or even just the chance to meet Stanley Yelnats. I ended up getting my parents to buy me this book after we read a few chapters at school just because I was desperate to read ahead and see what happened but my English teacher wouldn’t let me!
4. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Trying not to cry when I was reading this book (and later, watching the film) in a class full of 13/14 year olds was hard. But I couldn’t let my emotions show in front of those savage beasts. George and Lennie were brilliant characters and it was so easy to get swallowed into their story even though the topic about working on a ranch wasn’t even slightly relatable. This is one of my favourite modern classics and even though it’s a complete cry-a-thon.
5. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
After a year and 26 different English teachers (apparently we scared each substitute off with our behaviour), we found out that we had an English Literature exam two months before the actual exam dates, and in those two months we had to study the whole of Romeo and Juliet as well as a poetry anthology. So I think that the situation we were in made me dislike the book more than I actually should… but I still don’t like it. I’ve never really enjoyed any Shakespeare just because I was forced to read it in school and constantly told that I should enjoy it and appreciate it. I just found Romeo and Juliet quite boring and just never found it easy or fun to read. I don’t even like the Leonardo DiCaprio film which is definitely unusual for me!
6. The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald
Hello Gatsby, my old friend. I’ve not always felt this loving towards The Great Gatsby, but after studying it for two years at A Level, I slowly began to see the meaning and enjoyment in it. My first year of A Levels, whenever we were told to read a chapter as homework, I read a quick summary online because it just made me that bored. I couldn’t stand it. But then in my second year I got closer to all of the characters and began to love them. Daisy is brilliant as a character with the amount of layers to her when from the surface, she seems like a very simple character. I’m not sure that this is one I could re-read many more times, but I really did enjoy it in my final year.
7. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Yes! YES! I love this! This is one of my favourite books ever, and I really regret skimming the first half of the book when we were studying it at A Level because I never gave myself the chance to love it straight away. I’ve read this numerous times after discovering it three years ago, and I still love it as much every single time. The narrator is like a close friend, and I still have a bit of a thing for Maxim in the same way I do for Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre.
8. The Yellow Wallpaper (and other stories) – Charlotte Perkins
A Level Literature coursework was horrible. We had to compare this and a collection of Philip Larkin’s poetry. I felt that The Yellow Wallpaper was completely freaky, and the only reason I wouldn’t re-read it is that it just terrified me! The story is about the decline of the female narrator’s mental health but it is like the freakiest horror story I have ever read where the wallpaper comes to life and the pattern in it starts dancing and taunting the narrator. It absolutely terrified me and I don’t think I could go through reading it again.
9. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Name a more iconic story… I’ll wait. The Help is amazing. I never expected to be studying a novel that was written recently, and I think that is what made me want to try to enjoy it in the first place. It’s a historical novel set in the sixties, documenting the lives of two black housemaids and a white writer. It’s so meaningful and full of messages and it is one of the books that I feel everyone should read at least once in their lives. It truthfully portrays what maids had to go through, whilst also showing the fight for equal rights.
10. Othello – William Shakespeare
Yeah… with my thoughts on Shakespeare pointed out for Romeo and Juliet, you know how well this is going to go. I won’t say I hated this – I’ll actually say that I quite enjoyed it for Shakespeare. The topic is much more relatable as it brings racism and jealousy into the plot which made it a much easier read.