Six For Sunday is a weekly blog series created by Steph @ ALittleButALot. As part of September’s Back to School Realness theme, this week’s prompt asks for six books I read during my school years. I tried to recall books from my younger school years as well as from university, to get a broader sense of my academic reading.
I graduated ‘high school’ in 2004 (oh boy, a lifetime ago!) and studied English Literature at university from 2014 to 2018. Apart from a year in Sweden, I’ve always studied in the UK. It’ll be interesting to see how people’s favourite required reads differ between years and countries!
Here are some of my favourite required reads!
An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley
This book was the main focus of my English classes when I was probably 13 or 14. It was pretty dark for an early teen read if you ask me – an inspector interrogates an upper-class family about their possible involvement with the death of a pregnant working class woman who drank bleach to end her pregnancy and her life. I mean… pretty dark for a class of 13-year-olds which is probably why it’s been so memorable for me.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
A classroom classic, Of Mice and Men was a major read at some point during my GCSEs, so I would have been somewhere between the ages of 14-16. No book has ever united a class of mine like Of Mice and Men – we were obsessed! The ending reduced us all to hollow shells. During my early 20s, I was lucky enough to see the play on Broadway during a trip to New York, and it still after all those years had the same effect on me (read: a blubbering mess sat alone in the seventh row).
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Fast forward a couple of years, to when I was studying for my English A-Level at a night class at a local college. For part of the course, we looked at the Theatre of the Absurd, including Pinter and Beckett. This was my favourite of the plays we looked it, and an absolute classic. For a play in which so little happens, there’s so much to talk about with it, and so much under the surface. I’d love to see it live.
‘Illegal’ Traveller by Shahram Khosravi
Skipping ahead a little, past my first two years of university and straight into my study abroad year in Sweden. I took a sociology class about global migration, and Shahram Khosravi’s book was part of the required reading. I really didn’t expect much but Khosravi’s story has stayed with me for a long, long time. It’s an incredible raw look at the perils that migrants face, both during migration and after migration. Honestly, in this political climate, this should be required reading for everyone. A shocking story that’s incredibly well-written.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones was part of my American literature class during my final year of university. I’m forever grateful that it was, because this has become possibly my favourite book, ever, period. Ward’s writing is incredible, whatever story she turns her hand to, but this story really punched me in the gut. I absolutely fell in love with the characters; when Esch and Skeeter make a brief appearance in Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, my heart swelled.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Another pick from my final year of university – it was a great year for required reading – this one from my Postmodern Genders class. When I saw this book on the list of reading, my heart sank. I couldn’t tell you why, I knew very little about it, but I knew it was long and it was going to be a struggle to fit in to my bulging reading schedule of final year. I’m so glad I took the time to read it though, because it’s another required read that’s become a long-time favourite. I’m eager to read more of Eugenides’ work but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Did you read any of these books whilst at school?
What was your favourite ‘required read’?