Re-Education Challenge

Come join in the fun of re-training a willing mind!  (Click on titles to see reviews.)


1.      The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky--5 stars
2.      Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson--4 stars
3.      Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz--2.5 stars
(suggested by Amanda from Letters Inside Out)
4.      To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5.      Our Town by Thornton Wilder
6.      Roots by Alex Haley
7.      A Separate Peace by John Knowles
8.      Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
(suggested by Mother Jane, my delightful priest, and her equally charming husband, Bruce)
9.      John Cheever: Collected Stories and Other Writings
10.    Cathedral by Raymond Carver
11.    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
(suggested by Vasilly)
12.    The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
13.    Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
14.    Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater
15.    I Am David by Anne Holm (originally titled, North to Freedom)
16.    The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon
(suggested by Jean from Howling Frog Books)
17.    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
18.    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
19.    A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
20.    Dracula by Bram Stoker
(suggested by the eponymous reviewer of In Which Ems Reviews Books)
21.    The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
(by popular demand!)
22.    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
23.    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
(suggested by bibliosue)
24.    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
25.    Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
26.    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
(suggested by Maria from Hope for Today)
27.    This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
28.    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
29.    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
30.    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
31.    Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge
(suggested by Sarah, who really is a blogging guru of mine, even if she is on sabbatical)
32.    A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins
(suggested by another Sarah, a dear friend of mine from long before I was a blogger!)
33.    The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
34.    The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
35.    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
(suggested by Allison from The Allure of Books)
36.    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
37.    The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
38.    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
39.    Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Suzann
(dear Paul of Eurovision fame, stretching the rules to the breaking point, but what can I do?  He's my best friend!)
40.    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
41.    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
42.    Beloved by Toni Morrison
43.    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44.    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
(suggested by Amanda from Dead White Guys, who is cooler than any one person should be allowed to be)
45.    The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
46.    The Deerslayer by James Fennimore Cooper
47.    The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
48.    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
(suggested by my lovely friend Bev from My Reader's Block)
49.    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
50.    The Odyssey by Homer
51.    The BFG by Roald Dahl
52.    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
(suggested by the delightful gang at I Eat Words)
53.    Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
54.    The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
55.    The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
56.    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
57.    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
(suggested by Alyce from At Home With Books)
58.    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
59.    The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
60.    A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
61.    The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
62.    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
(suggested by Melissa from The Book Nut)
63.  The Stinky Cheese Man: and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by
64.    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
(suggested by Aimee, a dear friend of mine from college days)
65.    Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam
66.    The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
67.    Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
68.    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
69.    The Crucible by Arthur Miller
(suggested by Kathy, aka Bermuda Onion)
70.    Beowulf
71.    Villette by Charlotte Bronte
(suggested by Brianna from Pages Unbound)
72.    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
73.    The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
74.    A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
75.    An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
76.    The Art of War by Sun Tzu
(suggested by my good man, Michael)
77.    Moby Dick by Herman Melville
(suggested by John, a mutual friend of Michael's & mine that we met at seminary)
78.    The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris
79.    Sabriel by Garth Nix
80.    The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
81.    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
82.    Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce
(recommended by Jen Yates of Cakewrecks and Epbot fame, who very kindly agreed when I asked her to participate and is therefore the coolest person ever!)
83.    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
84.    The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
85.    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
86.    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
(suggested by Whitney from She Is Too Fond Of Books)
87.    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
88.    Matilda by Roald Dahl
89.    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
(suggested by Rachel from Books in the Sun)
90.    Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye
91.    The Paradise War by Stephen R. Lawhead
92.    The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
93.    The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
94.    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
(suggested by Risa from Breadcrumb Reads)
95.    Sophie's Choice by William Styron
96.    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
97.    Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
98.    Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
(suggested by Gilion from Rose City Reader)
99.    A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
100.  Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
(suggested by my dear friend from college, Shawna from The Spire)

(from my original post)
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was raised as the daughter of a fundamentalist Southern Indiana Pentecostal preacher, who spent at least as much time in scary little fundamentalist schools as she did in public school--actually, a fair bit more, come to add it up. She was assigned lots of readings describing an Earth that is only 6,000 years old, "proving" that dinosaurs and human beings once co-existed, and discussing how Noah's Ark is still stranded on a mountain in Turkey, but the mean Turkish government won't let a bunch of Americans climb around all over their mountain and prove it. Curiously absent from the girl's reading were books written for children throughout the history of the English-speaking world, as well as classics not written for children that are usually assigned in school to teach students to stretch their minds and their critical thinking skills. Not a single Shakespearean play, narry a mention of modern authors like Kafka or Virginia Woolf, none of the childhood favorites by Frances Hodgson Burnett managed to slip through the net of censorship cast around the girl's plastic young mind.

Some of these gaps were filled in when the young woman finally decided to attend a state-sponsored, liberal arts university. By the time she finished her BA and three MAs, she'd read more Poe, more "Norton Anthologies," more about Yellow Wallpaper than she ever wanted to, really. Nevertheless, the now 35-year-old book blogger is still finding books all the time about which her peers say, "Oh, yeah, I read that in high school!" And in this season when a book blogger's fancy turns to thoughts of next year's reading challenges, this particular blogger is hoping to form a cooperative challenge with the help of her loyal readers. Are you willing to help me in a "Re-Education Challenge"?
You guys are basically the bosses on this challenge, but I think we should set out a few basic ground rules, just to keep things running well and make sure I live up to the spirit of the thing. So, here we go:

1. You don't have to have a blog to challenge me; you just need to visit this blog and leave comments relating to my "Re-Education."

2. Since this is supposed to be about exposing me to ideas that I should have encountered a long time ago, let's please restrict this to books that any well-educated American should have read before graduating high school. In other words, if you cannot imagine HOW I've survived this long without reading 50 Shades of Grey, I'm sorry, but you still can't recommend it. Any teacher who required his or her students to read a book about S&M would get quickly fired, and we all know it. Still, I think this leaves you with a lot of leeway, anything from standard YA to Dickensian favorites.

3. If by some miracle I already managed to read the book you suggest somewhere along the way, I won't be adding it to the challenge, because that would basically be me cheating, now wouldn't it?

4. Limit 5 suggestions per contributor, please. I'm setting the cut-off at 100 books, as I know I could never get through more than that in 2013.

5. I reserve the right to reject anything that would simply give me too many nightmares, like Stephen King's It, which I have always known myself too well to ever try to read. (Surely that wouldn't really fit the qualifications, anyway.)

So, come help out a poor, deprived, recovering fundamentalist and add your suggestions. The suggestion box is open through December 31, 2012, after which I will gather the titles, weed through duplicates and ones I've already read, and announce the master list in a post. You're welcome to read along, if you like, and leave us links to your own posts! Meanwhile, I will update the list periodically, with reviews, as I plow my way through.


  1. OK, if I can post 'books every kid should get to read' instead of 'books I actually read in school, not at home':

    'The Little White Horse' by Elizabeth Goudge, plus 'Linnets and Valerians' for extra credit, and 'I Saw Three Ships' to read aloud to your little girl for Christmas 2013. JKR cites Little White Horse as a favorite and an inspiration, so I know you'll want to read it.

    If you've never read E. Nesbit, then you must. She *invented* fantasy novels starring ordinary children. Start with 'Five Children and It.'

    'The Westing Game' by Ellen Raskin.

    'Alan Mendelsohn, Boy From Mars' and anything else by Daniel Pinkwater.

    'North to Freedom,' by Anne Holm.

    Sneaking one in: 'The Little Bookroom,' by Eleanor Farjeon.

    And of course you know my favorite is Diana Wynne Jones.

    1. Ah, The Westing Game! That one snuck in under the wire, with some help from my older brother, during a brief stint in public school in the 4th grade. I adore it to this day!

    2. Well that's a relief, anyway. :) And now you can legally add the Farjeon! You can read some of those to your little girl too. Also I forgot to say that North to Freedom was re-published as I Am David (a dopey title IMO) when they made a movie of it, so you might find it under that title. I haven't seen the movie but it can't possibly measure up.

    3. Oh, and if you want good, real fairy tales to read aloud to your girl that are suitable for her age, look for the classic 'Tales from Grimm' as told by Wanda Gag, author of Millions of Cats. It's the best I've ever found for ages 3-4.

    4. I keep thinking of things to read to your kid. The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater! (Plus I also like Tooth Gnasher Superflash and Picklecreature, but those are hard to get now.) AND the Little Tim books by Edward Ardizzone. I love them, and Ardizzone is one of my favorite illustrators ever. Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain is the first. Sorry, but I can't not tell you!!

  2. Oh my word too difficult to pin it down. There's Dickens and the Brontes and Gaskell and Shakespeare, and oh so many classics. But I'm going to stick to five books that I had not read until adulthood that are considered "modern classics" -- I didn't necessarily love all of them, but I am glad I read them.

    This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge

    1. Gone. With. The. Wind. *facepalm* Wasn't watching the whole movie punishment enough? *sucking it up and getting on with it* I brought this on myself, and I'll do it, not least because I'm so thrilled with you for putting some F. Scott Fitzgerald on here! You're the first one to do so, and I've been meaning to get around to him for years, but haven't had a good impetus to do so. Therefore, thank you very much, and CONGRATULATIONS! You are the first person to have all five of your suggestions fit straight into the list!

  3. A few of my favorites I read in high school: Hamlet, Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), Sense and Sensibility (Austen, though Persuasion is my favorite), The Bell Jar (Plath), 1984 (Orwell), Beloved (Toni Morrison). I'll also add a few personal favorites that I read before graduating high school that I picked myself: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Garcia Marquez), Mrs. Dalloway (Woolf) and Les Miserables (Hug).

    1. An excellent list! Thanks--I knew you'd come through for me. I did Hamlet to death in college, and Jane Austen is a life-long friend of mine, but the others still give me plenty to work with.

  4. Sorry I'm late to the party--there are a number of books already on your list (Rebecca, Fahrenheit, Outsider, for example) that I would have mentioned.

    I would add:

    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C Clarke
    The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper (which I like way better than Last of the Mohicans)
    The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

    1. Sorry, it took me longer to let you know about it because I started out asking people on Twitter, and as far as I can ascertain, you're not on there, are you? Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by with your suggestions, which I have added to the Master List and am greatly looking forward to reading!

    2. No, I don't Tweet, I'm afraid. I have enough to do keeping up with the Blog, Goodreads, and Facebook (and having time to read!). I'd have to stop working if I take up anything else, Lol.

  5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    The Hobbit
    Anna Karenina

    Those three popped right into my mind when I read your post :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...