I don’t know about you, but the moment reading is no longer a thing for pleasure and something that I have to do, I lose all interest in it. Well, most of the time. This week on Top Five Wednesday, Chelsey and I talk about the few exceptions, the novels that surprised us. These are our favourite required reading novels.
Most of these books are from university courses that we took. Some of them are expected, one of them is completely random. You can tell Chelsey and I took a variety of weird courses during our time at school. But really, did you expect anything less from us?
Top Five Wednesday is a book tag started by GingerReadsLainey. Join the goodreads group to get each week’s topic and participate yourselves!
Top Five Wednesday: Required Reading
1. A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM – WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Chelsey had to read A Midsummer Nights Dream for her comedic drama course, she loved it. The play is just so complicated. While reading this play you have to pay attention to who loves who, who wants revenge on who and what is going on in the plot where. The play is both wicked funny and smart, bouncing easily between butt jokes to the meaning and nature of love. If you haven’t read this play, you should check it out. If you’re not one to enjoy reading but prefer watching Shakespeare there are some pretty amazing screen productions out there. Wikipedia has a list of them here.
2. MONKEY BEACH – EDEN ROBINSON
Yay for Canadian Fiction! I read Monkey Beach in my first year of university in my reading fiction class. I have since read it three or four times. This novel is a cross between regular fantasy and urban fantasy because it takes place on the fringes of society. The main character Lisa Marie has a form of sight, giving her the ability to see the the magical and mythical world. When her brother gets lost at sea, Lisa Marie’s family goes out to join the search party. While she’s waiting at home holding down the fort she gets this idea that her brother has gone to Monkey Beach, a place they used to go to as kids. She decides to leave home and head there hoping she will find him. While she’s doing this she narrates her life from childhood, leading up until this point. Monkey Beach deals with a lot of things including and not limited to love and loss and grief, but most importantly the struggle of the First Nations in Canada.
Monkey Beach is by far one of my favourite books ever and I recommend it to everyone. Seriously. Go read it.
3. THE LIFE OF SAINT GUTHLAC – FELIX VITA SANCTI GUTHLACI, EARLY 18TH CENTURY
The Life of Saint Guthlac is a hagiography, basically the life story of a Saint. I had to read this for my Middle English Seminar and it was by far the text I was dreading the most. Surprisingly I ended up really enjoying it. Before he became a Saint, Guthlac was a barbarian warlord. One night he finds God and decides that he is going to give up his war mongering ways. He decides to leave society far behind and goes to live in a swamp. Guthlac makes his house on a barrow, and he has the fight the demons that live there. They drag him down to hell. It goes as well as you can expect. Yet the thing that I loved the most about this text was just the monotony of some of the things he does. Guthlac performs miracles, but there is also the focus on his boring day to day life. It’s absolutely brilliant. This focus on the normal both grounds Guthlac’s miracles into reality and shows just how miraculous they are. It blew me mind.
4. THE LAST REPORT ON THE MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE – LOUISE ERDRICH
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse is another book concerning First Nations. The novel follows a woman who is running away from her home and ends up getting swept away in a flood. She ends up on a reservation, but she’s dressed as a man. She gets accepted as their new Priest. The novel follows the conventions of magical realism. Weird things happen and people don’t question them and just move on. It’s a weird, well paced little novel that everyone should read.
5. A DOLL’S HOUSE – HENRIK IBSEN
Henrik Ibsen is my most favourite playwright ever. A Doll’s House follows Nora, a woman who is feeling trapped in her life. Nora has borrowed money without knowledge or permission from her husband and has been quietly trying to pay it back. Through the play Nora is trying to find a way to be the woman society wants her to be. She questions whether she actually wants to be a good mother and a good wife. The issues that this play deals with were all big issues at the time it was written and Ibsen handles them well. Some of the themes are blaringly obvious, while others can be read in the subtext.
There have been a lot of amazing stagings of this play, but Chelsey and I both recommend this one.
Sometimes books surprise you. Not everything on your syllabus or book list is going to be dry and unreadable. What are the books that you had to read for school that surprised you? Tell us about them in the comments below! Do you agree with this list? We would love to hear from you.
Till next Wednesday and our next list… Happy Reading!