Top Ten Contemporary Books Paired With Required Reading Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.


So, I’m not really in love with this topic.  I’m generally not a fan of any lists that talk about required reading.  I understand that schools need to require students to read certain books, but I think it takes away so much from the joy of reading.  But I’m going to do my best here.

In no particular order . . .

1.  Mythology by Edith Hamilton & The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan.
Don’t you think these two would be awesome paired with each other?

2.  Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift & Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
They’re both satires, so they would mesh well together.  Also, I think it’s really important to offer more books about women.

3.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte & Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
Okay, so technically Rebecca isn’t really a contemporary novel, but I think these two go so well together.  They’re both about women learning to be confident in themselves.  And they both have that suspenseful, haunting feeling.

4.  Night by Elie Weisel, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank & Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Perfect got a WWII unit.  I think reading these for a history class would be great because it lets students understand how people felt during this time period.  It’s more than just facts and dates.

5.  The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein & The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
This would showcase two different types of fantasy.

6.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen & The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Okay, so this is kind of a stretch, but I think both of these books deal somewhat on societal expectations.  Obviously, they’re very different.  P&P is a lot about life for women in the U.K. in the early 19th century, and Part-Time Indian is a modern day book about life for Native Americans living on reservations.  But I think that reading they together would bring up a lot of different topics.

Yeah, so that’s all I’ve got.  This was really difficult.  I could barely remember the books I had to read for school, let alone what those books were really about.  And then to think of books that would work with the classic.  So difficult!

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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27 Responses to Top Ten Contemporary Books Paired With Required Reading Books

  1. lol I definitely paired Jane Eyre and Rebecca as well. I can definitely see an entire course in uni dedicated to reading and contrasting LOTR and HP–I’d be sure to sign up for that! 🙂

    Great list! My TTT

  2. Anne says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your pairing of Pride and Prejudice and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. One is about love and snagging the right boy, the other about real prejudice and issues that Native Americans have to face.

    • Quinn says:

      As I said above, it is kind of a stretch. You do not need to tell me what they are about; I have read both of them. I know the basic stories are very different, as I mentioned above. However, I think reading these books together would spark great conversations about societal expectations. In P&P – about what women were expected to do. How Mrs. Bennet wants to marry all her daughters off, why their house won’t be left to them. Why Charlotte marries Mr. Collins, even though he is kind of a buffoon.

      For Part-Time Indian, about what Native American’s are expected to do. And, of course, the prejudice they face. And then, I think you could use those topics to discuss societal expectations today.

      It was just a thought I had. Totally fine with me if you don’t agree with me. It was just a thought. But you really don’t need to tell me what the different books are about.

      • I actually thought this pairing was brilliant! Even though in P&P, the prejudice against women isn’t exactly brought to the forefront as a main issue in the book, that’s just the way it was. But in our current world, if women were treated as they were in Austen’s time is would be seen as oppressive and sexist. The same goes for the prejudice against Native Americans. At one time, it was a widely spread belief that they were seen as no equal to white society. Just because it is a more recent issue and is more at the forefront of the novel doesn’t make its prejudice any more or less important to the issues that can be brought up in class about P&P. I think it is a great conversation starter in a classroom! Great job Quinn!

  3. ChrissiReads says:

    I found this topic particularly hard as well, so I decided to pick some books that I would’ve like to have read at school. I do think that required reading does take away some of the love of reading. Great list though 🙂

    • Quinn says:

      Yes, required reading totally kills the “I love reading” feeling. I wish there was a way teachers could at least give students a choice of what they’re going to read.

  4. I like your pairing of Tolkien and Rowling. I think that would be a fun reading program. And I love Night/Anne Frank paired together. Great list. I hated required reading too—I was the nerd who had already read most of the books on the lists.

    My TTT

  5. I’m teaching Mythology in my World Literature class right now, and on the first day I told the students that they should read the Percy Jackson books to go with it! They all looked at me like I was crazy, but now I can tell them that other bloggers agree with me 🙂

    • Quinn says:

      Yes, they should read Percy Jackson. I really enjoyed reading Mythology while in high school, and I think pairing PJ with it would be so much fun! Your students should take advantage of your awesome suggestions. 🙂

  6. Lori says:

    This was a really hard topic. I went with the other option of just listing required reading instead. There’s no way I’d be able to remember what books we were suppose to read in high school! Mostly because I didn’t read them!

  7. I’m not such a fan of required reading, because most books are million years old and boring. I don’t think many people would object if they are ‘forced’ to read HP during class 😀

    • Quinn says:

      Required reading totally sucks. I don’t mind that the books are old, or even boring some times. But I wish teachers would give a choice somehow. Maybe for an English Lit class, give the students a handout of a whole bunch of options, and tell them they need to pick five or whatever. I think that would at least let the students feel like they have some control.

  8. Liesel Hill says:

    LOTR and HP also made my list. I didn’t even think of Jane Eyre, though. Good call! 😀

    My TTT

  9. bftreviews says:

    I wanted to put Harry Potter but I feel like I’d hate to dissect it in school.

    • Quinn says:

      I would worry about dissecting HP too. It can take away the awesomeness that is HP – or any book for that matter. There needs to be a great teacher who doesn’t take all the fantastic out of HP.

  10. Heather says:

    I really love your lists… I have actually seen the Diary of a Part Time Indian around and was wondering if it would be the equivalent of any classics, so I was happy to see it on your list, and am thinking I should pick it up to read.

  11. Great list- yes to pairing LOTR and HP- I actually read LOTR first and a few years later read HP- I think I appreciated Rowling much more after reading Tolkien

    • Quinn says:

      I actually liked the idea of pairing them, because although they are both fantasy, they have such a different vibe. I prefer HP (I’m not really a huge LOTR fan), but I think it would be interesting to compare them. Not in a I like this one better way, but in terms of setting, character development, plot, etc.

  12. Woohoo Jane eyre and pride &prejudice! Totally agree!

  13. Katie says:

    Awesome pairings! I think comparing and contrasting the books you picked would inspire a lot of great classroom discussion.

  14. I had a hard time with this topic as well, but think you did a great job! Love your WWII unit books! I also really like the unexpected pairing of P&P and Absolutely True Diary…I never would have thought of that, but it works so well! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Fantastic list! I think you did a good job with the pairings for this one.

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