Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.
Today we’re reinventing required reading! Here are
ten seven modern(ish) books that I’d like to see taught in schools:
1. “Literature from the ‘Axis of Evil,'” edited by Alane Mason. Poems and stories from North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and more. The title dates it slightly, but the USA’s relationship with all of the included countries remains unsteady, and this collection is a helpful reminder that we’re all just human.
2. “Watchmen” by Alan Moore. Want your high schoolers to read? Give them “Watchmen.” It’s the only graphic novel to make Time 100’s list and for teenagers obsessed with superheroes, it’s a thought-provoking punch to the kidney. Why do we want heroes? Who would we trust with superpowers? How far will you go to stop the world from ending?
3. “Eye in the Sky” by Philip K Dick. I found this book extremely (and at times unpleasantly) weird, but, like all good science fiction, it challenges our conceptions of the world. The story tackles topics like racism, stereotyping, religious fanaticism, and political infighting. Even though it was published at the height of the Red Scare, its themes are still alarmingly relevant.
4. “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. Another example of science fiction using an unfamiliar setting to explore the most familiar of themes. You can discuss everything in this book: the ethics of genetic engineering; the rules of war; the trustworthiness of our news sources; the benefits, drawbacks, and flaws of surveillance technology; and just how messed-up it is to psychologically warp a child into saving the world. The scenes where Ender plays the desk-game could take up a whole class by themselves. Match it with other books from different cultures and time periods for a “war in literature” class.
5. “Little Century” by Anna Keesey. Pair it with a Willa Cather book for a course about feminist frontier literature.
6. “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri. I actually did read this one for a class, and I loved it. The professor taught several varieties of post-colonial-literature classes and always included something by Lahiri. “Funny Boy” by Shyam Selvadurai was another memorable pick, this one focusing on a boy growing up gay during Sri Lanka’s civil war.
7. “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” by Tom Stoppard. Yes, it’s a play, but teaching this with “Hamlet” was the most brilliant thing my high-school English teach ever did. Bonus points for screening the movie version with Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, and Richard Dreyfuss.
What contemporary books do you want to see in schools?