Top Ten Tuesday: Books I was forced to read and actually enjoyed

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  For all of the books that I willingly read (good and bad), I have to say that I hate being forced to read something.  Generally, being required to pick up a book, analyze it, and formulate academic opinions with sourced cited is enough to make me despise a book, no matter how good it may be.  Today, I’m going back in time to a previous topic and discussing

// I had to read the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association in my sophomore year of college when I took an introductory phonetics course.  This is one of the first classes that you take as a linguistics major, and it sets you up for understanding the rest of the major. It’s also really useful for when you don’t know how to pronounce a word because now you know what all of those symbols in the dictionary or on the Wikipedia page mean!  This book also helped me get a relatively well-paying job correcting text-to-speech errors during my senior year of college.

// Invitation to a Beheading was required reading in a Russian lit course I took during my last year of college.  I actually hated this course because it was so boring.  There were no tests, no quizzes, no papers, and no required discussion.  I honestly do not even remember how we were graded.  We just sat in a lecture hall as the professor droned on and on and on about these dusty old Russian novels.  He didn’t even try to make it interesting.  The one bright spot was this book, which is also the only book by Nabokov that I’ve ever enjoyed.

// Can I talk for a second about my love of morphology?  It’s the area of linguistics that studies how we put pieces together to make words, and it absolutely fascinates me.  I took a grad-level seminar on morphology during my last semester of college and wrote my thesis on English word formation.  This book was the foundation of that paper and it explains why we make words like “hocus pocus” instead of “pocus hocus” or “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” instead of “wobbly wibbly wimey timey.”

// I’ve talked about Kallocain before, and it’s the first of four books on this list that came from a Scandinavian lit class during my junior year of college. In Kallocain, Leo Kall creates a truth serum with the potential to alleviate some of the strain on the legal system.  Accused criminals can just be injected with the serum, and if they’re guilty, they’ll just confess. As in any good dystopian novel, it’s not long before things get out of hand and the serum is abused by the government.

// If I’m honest, I don’t really remember a lot of what happens in A Tale of Two Cities.  If I remember correctly, it’s been about eleven years since I read it, and I’ve probably read a good five or six hundred books in that time.  What I do remember, though, is discussing it at lunch with my friends.  Talking about the shocking revelations.  I remember how it made me feel, and I remember liking it.

// As I recall, Great Expectations was required reading during freshman English in high school.  It was my first experience with probably the best English teacher I ever had – a woman who made required reading fun.  Much like with A Tale of Two Cities (coincidentally assigned by the same teacher), I don’t remember much of what happens in Great Expectations. I do remember Pip, though, and discussing him and Miss Havisham in depth over many school lunches.

// The second of four books assigned in that delightful Scandinavian lit class, We rocked my world.  It’s so interesting to go back to the beginning of dystopian novels to see where it all began.  We is written in a very detached, almost clinical manner. Our narrator doesn’t even have a name – he’s just D-503.  He doesn’t have words for what he’s experiencing, and it’s just. so. good. 1984 didn’t do it for me, but I thought We was great.

// Had it not been assigned in that Scandinavian lit class, I doubt that I would have ever gotten around to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve talked before about how I slacked off in that class, but I had to give a ninety-minute presentation on this book so you can bet that I read it more carefully than I’ve ever read anything in my life.  I went on to really enjoy The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  Somewhere in my garage is The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which I will someday get around to.

// I often forget about Of Mice and Men.  Not necessarily the book, but the title escapes me.  Just the other day, I found myself Googling “that book about Lennie and George and the bunnies.” This is another book I read during high school, and aside from Lennie, George, and the bunnies, I don’t remember much.  I do remember liking it, though.

// Finally, we have Sidetracked. This is the fourth and final book from this list that was assigned in my Scandinavian lit class, and I loved it.  I recently found out that there’s a BBC miniseries about Det. Wallander that I might have to watch. The mystery in this one is just so good – I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book.

Have you really loved any books that you were forced to read?

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