In middle school, I consumed books. I read like my brain would explode if I didn’t read five-ten books a week. It was wonderful. I love books, but now I have a life. (Ugh.) And I don’t get to read as much as I would like. But I remember those wonderful book-filled days, and how much they shaped me as a reader. I know the title says that they are books I read in middle school, but they are really timeless. And I’m not even going to count the Harry Potter series, (which I was banned from until the first movie came out). These books/series mean so much to me as they molded my mind and how I’ve read through out my life. I warn you all except one is sci-fi/fantasy. But that’s just the best genre. (My opinion, I know.) But here they are, in no particular order:
1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
One day, my mom came home with this book. She’d been talking to a employee at GameStop about what I liked to read, and if he had any recommendations for me. He told her that I had to read Ender’s Game. According to my mom, I didn’t want to read it at first. I enjoyed fantasy and this was science fiction. Why would I want to read about a ten-year-old boy in space? What did this book have to offer me? Now there’s a movie coming out, and I get chills just watching the trailer. This story opened me to the endless possibilities of science fiction, and to the future itself. Ender was an outsider as I always have felt to be. He was a complex, super smart kid. He had real stuff going on, and someone was finally addressing the intelligence I felt I had. He was so relatable, yet he matured me. I grew with him. I have to say this is a hard-core story, but it can change how you look at your relationships with your parents and with your teachers and possibly everyone else. Don’t let the science fiction scare you away. Plus, once the movie comes out, everyone will be reading it.
2. The Belgariad by David Eddings
This series has five books in it. Each one you grow with. It’s almost like a more epic fantasy version of Harry Potter in that way. You grow with the the characters. You will have favorites. You will want to face palm at some of their actions or just want to face palm them. My aunt introduced me to these books, because she is a fellow fantasy lover. And I, as a new generation of fantasy geeks, would like to share them with you. It’s a wonderful epic story that is so full of this interesting world that I see inspiring even children’s writers like Brandon Mull. His Beyonders series seems similar to me. I’m just going to say, if you love fantasy, you need to read this. It is a classic. If you don’t love fantasy, something is wrong with you in the first place, but try out a classic.
3. The Hero’s Crown/The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
These books most likely shaped some of my feminist tendencies. They need to be read by young girls every where. I really wanted to grow up and be the heroines in these books. Alas, my hair is crap. Never expect your hair to be like those in fantasy books. But, the main characters are females, and the stories aren’t all sappy or damsel-in-distress like. They are strong, stubborn, and heroes. They rock and they empower girls and women alike. They made me want to wield a sword, and taught me that women in fantasy can be bad asses. Strong female characters are thankfully becoming more common place today, but we also have characters like Bella Swan who jumped off a cliff when her man left instead of fighting for him. I can’t say I wouldn’t be torn to pieces if my fiance left, but we need to know sometimes we have to save the men. We shouldn’t expect or want to be saved. Anyways, there’s my feminist rant for the day. Just read the book, even if you are a guy, because they story is excellent.
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Yes, this actually a classic. And not a fantasy classic either. However, this book was one of my favorites in middle school. I’ve read it countless times. I was a chunky girl with glasses who loved to read. You can imagine what my self-esteem was like in middle school. But I read this and found a kindred, imperfect spirit. She was tough, but she was also real. And it wasn’t a rom-com, everything didn’t go perfectly with the guy she fell in love with. Mr. Rochester wasn’t perfect. He was hot in his own witty, middle-aged way, but definitely not perfect. I also suggest you take into account the post-colonial reading, but you can get into that in college so you aren’t too cynical a middle schooler. This book showed me how horrible, and how wonderful life can be, but it’s also mysterious.
5. The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
I got this book from a book fair. I loved book fairs. I spent a lot of my parents money there. I would get at least five books. Other people would get nifty erasers or posters, but that was a waste of money to me. Let me have books. Anyways, this book is so creative, because it’s about the actual characters of a book, and what they do when they aren’t being read. It’s a sweet story that has two other books, but really you can just read this one, and be okay. The multi-dimensional style of this book helped me as a young reader to see in between the lines, sometimes literally. Unlike the other books, this one is specifically written for young readers, but I think if you obsess over characters, you should read this. It adds a little something to every book you will read after it.
I hope you enjoyed my mini-reviews, and try out some of these books! Also, look for me on Twitter!