top ten tuesday: school book pairings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

September 3: Top ten contemporary books that would be great
paired with a required-reading book

This is a great topic but as I’m thinking about it, I’m finding it a little tough! My most memorable reads as a kid weren’t the ones I was assigned for class; So the books I was required to read, I’m having trouble remembering exactly the plots and everything. A few of the assignment books I listed here too I elected to read for class. In no particular order, with when I read them:

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (read in 2009)
with The Giver by Lois Lowry (read in elementary school). Idealistic yet ultimately flawed dystopian futures, full of lessons and great discussion points.

2. Under the Dome by Stephen King (read summer 2013)
with Lord of the Flies by William Golding (read in grade 10). Societal breakdowns, people. What happens when the “rules” and structure fly [haha] out the window?

3. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (summer 2013)
with A Separate Peace by John Knowles (grade 10). Teenage angst! “Proper” boys behaving in an ethically questionable manner!

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (summer 2013)
with Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther (grade 10). I wasn’t a superfan of Green’s book, but its premise made me remember Gunther’s Death Be Not Proud, which captivated me in high school. Heartbreaking true story of a teenager with a terminal illness.

5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (December 2012)
with A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo (grade 11). Non-fiction paired with fiction—books that discuss the emotional and mental consequences on young people before and after going to war.

6. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (summer 2013)
with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (grade 10). Similar to my #1 up there. These reminded me of each other because of the themes of technological manipulation of nature through genetic engineering and ultimately uncontrollable attempts to create a utopian society. (Honorable mention: 1984 by George Orwell, but I was never assigned that to read in school.)

7. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (summer 2013)
with The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (grade 12). Rags-to-riches stories, one set in an unnamed South Asian country (probably Pakistan) in present-day for Hamid’s book and Buck’s classic set in rural China sometime in the mid-twentieth century.

8. Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss (spring 2012)
with The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (freshman year of college). Eye-opening fictional and non-fiction looks at the food industry in the United States, first at the turn of the twentieth century (Sinclair’s book) and today (Moss).

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (fall 2012)
with Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (grade 9). Wildly different outcomes for star-crossed lovers? Haha maybe I’m stretching for this pairing a bit. 🙂

10. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne (summer 2013)
with The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (grade 10). These two remind me of each other for the young, messed up protagonists searching for themselves and for meaning in life, figuring out adults and who to trust, why society is how it is, etc. and how they just want to be accepted and understood.

What contemporary books do you think would work well paired with a school-assigned book?

13 thoughts on “top ten tuesday: school book pairings

  1. I don’t remember hardly anything from my assigned school reading either. I’ve made it a point to re-read some of them, and for most of them it really is like reading for the first time. I’m a prime example that pushing books on kids doesn’t work (considering I went from being an avid reader in my childhood to not picking up a book outside of school for about eight years).

    • There are a few from high school that I’d like to give another chance, but they are so low on my priority list right now. Assigned reading didn’t generally put me off though—I still almost always had one book I was reading for fun outside class. That got harder to do in college, though. I might have read just one or two books for fun per semester.

      • You’d think that having to try so hard to get through the classics would have made me more likely to read what I wanted when I had the opportunity, but I just turned to TV instead, and that became my new escape. Toward the end of college I finally started reading on my own again, so I’m glad for that at least. I think it would be awful if I’d never come back to it.

      • Ugh, I know. I slog through classics (even now). And TV is sooo easy! I started getting into a really regular, daily reading habit when I had my first job out of college. I didn’t like it, couldn’t get away from the building much for lunch so I read books during my breaks to escape. Don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have a book with me at all times now! 🙂

    • Thanks! I stayed away from the second part of the topic because I have no idea what books schools are teaching right now. I’m having a lot of fun checking out what everyone else has picked, though! Have a great day 🙂

  2. Very interesting list. I’m pretty sure if most of my teens were handed Under the Dome to read for school though they would cry. That is a massive book 😉 I’ve only read The Fault in Our Stars for the contemporary picks, so I’ll have to check some of these other ones out!

    • Under the Dome absolutely was a brick… maybe it could go on a summer reading list for students :p

      I hope you do add a few to your TBR! I actually liked all the other ones on my list better than Fault, but I know everyone loves that book. That one could have worked with Romeo and Juliet too, while I’m thinking of it!

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