Top (Seven) Books I Need to Reread That I First Read in High School

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, is a Back to School-related freebie, so we had a lot of leeway in the direction our lists could go this week.  I feel like there are some books that I read in high school (which, ahem, was 20+ years ago for me!) that I would really like to reread as an adult.  I know that as I change and grow as a person, so do my reading tastes change and grow.  I feel like these books deserve an adult eye.

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison.  I was a sophomore in high school when I was assigned this, and I feel like I was waaaaay too young to appreciate it.  Since I’ve been reading Morrison in the past year, I know that I MUST reread this from an adult perspective.51srBOCdgBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  My mom was a big fan of the movie and the book, and I saw the movie at a fairly young age and fell in love with it.  I read the book probably somewhere around 9th grade.  Since then, I’ve become more aware of its problematic content.  So I definitely need to reread this through the prism of a more adult understanding of race in American history.
  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.  She’s one of my favorite authors.  I read this as assigned reading in high school and I’m grateful that I got that opportunity.  I want to reread all of her earlier novels and her books of essays.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I have NO excuse for not having read this since the 9th grade.  None.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.  This was assigned at some point, possibly as a summer reading choice, I can’t remember.  I remember really enjoying it, but I don’t remember much else about it.  Worth a reread for sure!51KEr5saI2L
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I didn’t read this in school, but read it as a child, and was drawn to it again after the Winona Ryder/Christian Bale/Claire Danes version came out in 1994.  But it’s been a very long time since then, so it made my list.
  • The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy.  This was an assigned book, perhaps for summer reading.  It’s a memoir about Conroy’s experience teaching on Daufuskie Island, SC (which he calls Yamacraw Island in the book.)  His one year teaching children of Gullah heritage in the late 1960’s was really interesting.

Here are three works I wish I’d been assigned in high school or college but never was:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

I swear I’m going to read these – sometime!

Have you read any of these?  Has it been a while since you read them?  What are some titles that you think deserve a reread since your own school days?


Thoughts on Middlemarch, Book Four: Three Love Problems

(The #Marchalong continues!  Many thanks to Juhi from Nooks and Crannies for hosting the Middlemarch readalong and giving me an excuse to reread this marvelous book!)

I love Middlemarch.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  It’s not a perfect book, though.  There are parts where my eyes glaze over a bit, and I kind of skim over the page, especially when Eliot writes about local politics. Book Four contained quite a few of these passages.  I admit that they don’t hold much interest for me, although I can see why Eliot would want to write about them.  Middlemarch is set in the early 1830s, which is around the time of the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, which expanded voting privileges and more fairly represented bigger industrial cities.  (Yeah, I looked this up!  You can read about it here if you like.)

Even so, Book Four is titled “Three Love Problems,” and our main focus in on relationships, which is what keeps me turning those pages.  So what are the problems exactly?  My thoughts are thus:

  1. Rosamund and Lydgate’s engagement and impending marriage – who does/does not support it, how are they going to afford to live the lavish lifestyle to which Rosamund is accustomed, how quickly can they get hitched.
  2. Will Ladislaw’s growing (and so far, unrequited) love for Dorothea – how to contain his feelings while also making sure that he watches over Dorothea.
  3. Causabon’s and Dorothea’s crumbling marriage.  Both are frustrated, neither can seem to communicate effectively with the other, and one is in very ill health.

(I might be wrong.  I could have included Fred Vincy and Mary Garth, but I felt that their potential love story was relegated a bit to the back burner in this section.)

Passage that made me laugh out loud:  In Chapter 36, socially conscious Rosamund wants Lydgate to write to his baronet uncle Godwin about their engagement.  Lydgate says, “I will write to him then.  But my cousins are bores.”

It seemed magnificent to Rosamund to be able to speak so slightingly of a baronet’s family, and she felt much contentment in the prospect of being able to estimate them contemptuously on her own account.

Passage that made me want to gag:  (Coincidentally, this came right after the previous passage.)

Lydgate, you perceive, had talked fervidly to Rosamund of his hopes as to the highest uses of his life, and had found it delightful to be listened to by a creature who would bring him the sweet furtherance of satisfying affection – beauty – repose – such help as our thoughts get from the summer sky and the flower-fringed meadows.

Lydgate relied much on the psychological difference between what for the sake of variety I will call goose and gander: especially on the innate submissiveness of the goose and beautifully corresponding to the strength of the gander.

Passage that made me utterly swoon:  (Will Ladislaw, thinking of Dorothea)

But he would never lose sight of her: he would watch over her – if he gave up everything else in life he would watch over her, and she would know that she had one slave in the world.

It doesn’t get any more romantic than that, folks.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m all in for Will Ladislaw.

Having said that, Eliot does something remarkable with the last chapter of Book Four.  She makes the reader feel genuine sympathy for Causabon.  Lydgate tells him that he is most likely dying, and as he reckons with this knowledge, Causabon shrugs off Dorothea’s heartfelt offering of love and affection.  He wants no part of her pity, and he wants to brood alone in his room.  Dorothea is surprised, hurt, and angry.  But she holds off on quarreling with him, and instead waits for him to come up to bed.  The last scene of Book Four almost had me in tears, as Causabon, touched by Dorothea’s devotion, softens towards her, and they walk arm in arm down the corridor.

I can’t wait to see what happens in Book Five, ominously titled “The Dead Hand.”  How will Lydgate and Rosamund settle into domestic life together?  Will Fred Vincy accept a job doing honest work for Caleb Garth?  Will Mr. Causabon die, and will Ladislaw and Dorothea become closer?  We’re half-way through Middlemarch, guys!


Do You Reread Regularly?

I listened to an episode of Books on the Nightstand the other day from back in September (episode 349, to be exact,) and hosts Ann and Michael were talking about rereading books.   They had both reread one of their favorite books for a then upcoming book talk at Booktopia ( the bookish weekend events they used to host.)  Ann had reread Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Michael had reread Any Human Heart by William Boyd.

It was a very interesting discussion.  Neither of them had been dedicated rereaders at all, mostly because they both work in publishing and have so much reading to do for work, and keep up with new things that their publishing company (Penguin Random House) doesn’t publish as well.  But Ann shared that the experience of rereading one of her all time favorite novels may have pushed her into being someone who makes time to reread.  She said that this time she was not so consumed by the plot, obviously because she knew the story line already.  This allowed her to pick up on things she thinks she missed the first time around, when she was frantically turning pages.  She mentioned that a couple of characters stood out to her more this time around, and she realized how central to the novel they really were.  She didn’t know how realistic is was of her to expect very much rereading in the future, given her line of work, but she said that now she has a new understanding of the benefits and pleasure of rereading books.

Michael enjoyed his reread, but did not come away from the experience with a new vision of himself as a reader.  He said that there were simply too many books coming out all the time that he wanted and needed to get to, and rereading just wasn’t something he saw himself doing.

Last week I posted about rereading Middlemarch, and how much I am enjoying the experience.  In reality I might reread one book a year, but I always want to reread things more than I actually do.  One blogging friend mentioned that she’d never reread a book before, but that it sounded like fun.  I suggested maybe trying a childhood favorite first, and see how that goes.

Need to reread some Kingsolver.

So all of this got me wondering, how many of you guys make time to reread?  Is it one book a year?  Two?  Do you read a particular book in a particular season every year?  Or are you more like Michael, and simply have too many new books that you’d rather make time for?  I’d love to hear what you think.