Required Reading I Actually Enjoyed

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is hands down one of my favorites on this list. I read Fahreinheit 451 as a senior in high school and loved pretty much everything about it. It’s been four years since then, and this is a book that I will definitely be revisiting sooner rather than later. I’m excited to see how my perspective on it has changed years later. I was a huge fan of the writing style and the action/plot of the story, as well as character motives and actions in the context of the dystopian society they live in. The only thing I recall not loving and being a little underwhelmed by was the concluding page or two of the book. But overall I can totally see how this novel continuously earns a spot on the list of books everyone should read in a lifetime.

 

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Before reading this piece for a Medieval Lit. class, I never would have thought I would have liked it as much as I did. I remember really loving the fact that Chaucer is actually quite funny and he writes some pretty goofy, crazy stuff. The tales in this book were mostly entertaining as heck, although there were a few that weren’t that great and could probably be skipped. It’s a good piece to read if you’re looking to learn about Medieval culture and class systems. I attribute the main reason as to why I enjoyed The Canterbury Tales so much to the fact that I’m a huge fan of satire. This work is extremely satirical in its commentary on Medieval life and the class system. Each tale is told by a member of society (Nun, Cook, Knight, etc.) and pokes fun at other members of a different class to get even with one another. The language is surprising accessable too, so don't let the age of this book scare you away from reading it!

 

Native Son & Uncle Tom’s Children by Richard Wright

I knew nothing of Richard Wright two years ago, but after reading him for an African American Lit. class I certainly became a fan. He writes incredibly powerful works and I can’t wait to read more of him in the future. If I were to describe these two books, I would use the words emotional, shocking, depressing, demanding and righteous. If there is ever going to be a good time to read Richard Wright, I truly believe that time is now. His works are politically motivating in a really good way. They moved me to want more action in respect to issues of racism and systemic oppression. But even if you’re not in it for the social commentary, his stories have good entertainment value and are well-written. Just be prepared to be put in a downer mood when you pick them up.

 

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

I realize this may be very English Major of me, and many of you probably don’t care, but I love Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I have such an appreciation for the hero’s journey aspect of the play. I don’t know what it is—there’s just something about a young man’s quest to avenge his father that is so timeless, and it’s undeniable that Shakespeare’s tale is one of the most revered of this kind. Although I can never escape the sadness the tragic ending brings me when I read Hamlet, this work includes very entertaining scenes, as well as great themes and characters.