Books I’m Thankful that School Had Me Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme run by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a “thankful freebie”, which I presume is because American Thanksgiving is this week. I’m Canadian, so Thanksgiving was back in October for me, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to put together a list of books I’m thankful for. To make the list a little more considered, I decided to provide a list of ten books I’m grateful for having to read in school. Ever since high school and university, I’ve only ever really chosen books out of personal interest; I don’t really follow any book clubs or things like them. So, that was the last real time in my life that it wasn’t up to me what I needed to read. I’m not sure I’ve properly plumbed the depths of every syllabus I’ve ever been given, but I’m happy with this all the same.

Adam Bede by George Eliot

Adam Bede

I wound up reading a lot of Victorian literature in university, but among my favourites was easily this novel. I’m not sure why, the general idea of this story is not all that better than any other, I don’t think, but I do recall Eliot’s writing style being a lot more enjoyable to read than others. Plus, I recall salvaging a very old hardcover copy of this book from my grandparents’ collection of books after their passing, which is the copy I used to read for class. This has helped me continue to feel a little closer to them too. I wonder which of them read it and what they thought.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness

This is a book I had to read three separate times between Grade 12 in high school and the end of university. It stood out to me the first time because of how much my English teacher communicated that it was a difficult story to understand structurally, which proved quite true. By the third time I read it, however, I had no trouble at all, which I have some pride about. It was also a great introduction to colonial literature and understanding the impact of colonialism more broadly. (I owned a copy of the pictured book, but I never actually had to read The Secret Sharer.)

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics

I had to read this in a course on graphic novels I once took, and while I had some disappointments with how the syllabus did not have as diverse a selection of the medium as it could have, I did really appreciate reading this comic. The main reason is, I was a growing comic book fan when I entered into this course, so had I been left to my own devices I very likely would not have opted to read something like this. I wouldn’t have thought I needed to. Doing so gave me much better insight into the history and workings of the medium than I ever had before.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms

I will always love and appreciate a university class for introducing me to Pratchett and his Discworld series. At the time, he was not on my radar at all; I probably would’ve eventually gotten to him through Neil Gaiman and Good Omens, but who knows how long that would’ve taken for me. There are so many loved and celebrated authors and series as well, who knows if I would have actually taken the initiative to check them out on my own. Having to read this book for a course, however, cemented it in my mind, and now I’m over 20 books deep into the series. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Monkey Beach

One of my favourite courses from university was Native North American Literature; it cast a rather wide net over the continent, but as a result I read many great Indigenous authors. One that has always stood out to me is this novel, which was a great blend of real human drama with some of the traumas native peoples still have to deal with and the otherworldly forces inhabiting native belief systems. I recall it being a great read, and I’m happy I’ve begun to revisit this author with newer works like Son of a Trickster.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt


This book is weird, because I was introduced to it through a course, but I think I actually elected to skip over it. The general idea of the story from lectures captivated me, however, so I bought a copy anyway and let it languish on my shelf for a while. I became interested in the author in general thanks to this, and I actually ended up reading a couple other of DeWitt’s books before I finally read this one. Now, a new DeWitt novel is sure to capture my eye.

The Truth About Stories by Thomas King

The Truth About Stories

Yet another book from the Native North American Literature course, this is a collection of transcribed lectures that had a great influence on me for how it spoke about the power of stories through the lens of Indigenous beliefs and experience. This one is deserving of a re-read, I think, as I’m a little too fuzzy on the content for my liking. Still, the sentiments have stuck with me.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

This book stands out to me because I’m really not all that fond of The Wizard of Oz film, so I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have bothered reading this if a syllabus hadn’t told me to. I understand why the film is a classic, it just doesn’t appeal to my tastes that much. This novel, however, actually does, as it tells a story that is appropriate for children but has surprisingly dark or complex undertones and situations. I will never forget the Scarecrow saving Dorothy and friends from a murder of crows by standing among the birds and breaking their necks one by one.

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Three Day Road

Yet one more book from the Native North American Literature course, this is a fantastic novel about The Great War, incorporating elements of wendigo beliefs, about an Oji-Cree solider returning home from the war to his aunt, recounting his experiences as a sniper in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme. The impression this novel left on me eventually led me to read Boyden’s Wenjack as well, helping to further teach me the history of the Canadian government’s mistreatment of the First Nations of this country. Now that reflect on it, I think this course made First Nations literature my go-to source for Canadian literature to read, though I don’t read it as often as I think I probably should.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein (Broadview)

This book gets shared on these lists of mine a lot, but I sincerely love it so much. I think there’s a good chance I’d have checked this book out on my own, but to be honest, it can be hard to make oneself read classics sometimes. When a book feel so ubiquitous that you feel like you already know what it’s all about, it can be hard to make yourself read it. So, I’m grateful to my education for ensuring that this classic became one of my personal favourites.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own list down below.


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