Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Reread for the First Time by Amanda Ferrari
Tears. Gasps. Giggles out loud into the darkest of night. Tiny utterances of disbelief and heartbreak. These are all the natural response that a reader lives for because they’re indicators that you’re truly enveloped in a story. No longer are you in your living room or waiting for the nurse to call you back to your appointment, but war, famine, lovers’ first glances, and haphazard timing surround you. These are the reactions of a reader who is enraptured by a novel, experiencing the journeys for the first time. There are many reasons as to why a novel can affect someone so profoundly: you’re able to connect to a character, the subject of the novel opens your eyes to a whole new perspective, it unlocked a love of literature inside of you from an early age, or the author is able to string the perfect string of words together that leave you thinking, “that’s who I want to be someday.” If only we could recreate that first encounter with characters, plot twists, and revelations over and over again. Oh if only.
Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Reread for the First Time
10. Matilda by Roald Dahl
As a child of only eight years old, I was handed my first novel. Not one that had been assigned to us by our teacher that would support age and level-appropriate reading development, but a real life, 200+ page novel. As I began to read about a little girl who loved to read as much as I did, who did not feel as though she fit in, I was in love. The idea that someone smaller, younger, and as it turned out, more clever than I was able to stand up to her bullies, was completely foreign but encouraging to me. Through the description by author Roald Dahl, I could imagine the scenery, the newt floating in the Trunchbull’s water glass and wiggling wildly. This was the novel that cut the ribbon on my life as a reader.
9. The Diary of Anne Frank
Historical novels, fiction and nonfiction, are the gateway from reading about the events of the past and realizing that there were people, with families, hobbies, imaginations, and dreams, no different from ourselves, who actually lived and experienced life in these conditions. Reading factual accounts of World War II, Adolf Hitler, Jews in hiding for their lives, and concentration camps sounded dreadful, but never having experienced anything remotely close, it’s easy to compartmentalize and forget. First-hand accounts of survival and struggle, especially through the narration of a young girl give history a pulse.
8. “Othello” by William Shakespeare
“O beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”
From the first moments of this classic Shakespearean tragedy, I’m hooked. This play had all of the elements of a blockbuster hit. Under-handed dealings, secret marriages, 400 year old racism, a war, and fatal jealousy that grips the reader. While a play is technically not a novel, I still was assigned to read Othello in the 10th grade, and have been obsessed with the brutality of it all. The building anticipation is outstanding; will Iago’s plan come to fruition? Will Othello be able to withstand the mind games at play, or will jealousy take down the great leader of the Venetian army?
7. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
What a beautiful gift the Harry Potter series has been to children and adults alike! What started out as a fantastical child’s novel about wizardry and friendship developed into a dark, harrowing tale that absolutely has found its way into the “Classics” section of any library.
6. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The story of a young girl and her experience of growing up in Nazi Germany during World War II is narrated by a seemingly unreliable source, Death. However, giving the setting, whom else would have such an omniscient insight into the way lives were lived and taken away, and the impact of that loss, than the taker himself.
5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Sometimes the more simplistic a story, the heavier the message. This book was intended for children, yet there are many adult lessons that can be learned. A boy who loves his tree for what it provides to him, yet he continues to take and take and take until there is nothing left. Through the years, the tree sacrifices for the boy he loves, and even at the end of his life, the boy who is now a grown man still has an appreciation for the beloved tree.
4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
I grew up sheltered from many of life’s devastations. I read books that told a story, but rarely taught a lesson. I knew what rape was, but until I read Speak, and developed a concern for the main character, Melinda Sordino, I never realized the depth of the immense effect that a woman went through. Up until then, I didn’t even realize that rape could happen to teenagers, or that there were monsters cloaked in a disguise of popularity and power. Author, Laurie Halse Anderson, does an epic service to all young people to view their peers with a wider scope and less restrictive lenses. The untold story often says more than a thousand words.
3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
As an adult reading the story of a young man who begins his life, seeking “the Great Perhaps” was a literary journey that I am completely grateful for. John Green develops characters and friendships so deep and complete that I felt as though I could be living down the street from Pudge, the Colonel, or Alaska Young. The chronological flow of discovering curves and blonde hair, the trials of a hopeful, broken heart, and the camaraderie of duty to friendship is immaculate, genuine, and crushing.
2. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
There is no “unknowing” something you have already discovered. Some books are like that. Once you have read the ending, discovered which lover is chosen, who dies, who lives, who framed the innocent man, the novel is forever altered. The first time that you unwrap a genuine plot twist like that of Fight Club, the fallout is total. The unreliable narrator weaves a literary web for the reader, and then whisks it away at the end; everything that we once believed to be true now is questioned. If only you could capture and revisit that shock over and over again, but it is never the same.
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Sometimes an author appears on a list, a certain color of a book jacket catches your eye on the bookstore shelf, or a title intrigues a reader enough to open the front cover of a book and the foundation for a love affair begins. This is how I felt as I read The Fault in Our Stars for the first time. Cheesy as it may be, the way I viewed young adult literature after was like seeing in color for the first time when all else had been black and white. I still feel myself smile and cheer for Hazel Grace, Augustus, and their humble journeys, and tears still fall, yes after all the attempts to connect in the same way as I did the first time.
Amanda Ferrari teaches high school English in Alaska. You can find her online blogging at Forever Within the Written Pages and on Twitter as @Fancy Oatmeal.