What was the most interesting book you were ever forced to read for a class?

As a companion to this thread:

What was the most interesting book you were ever forced to read for a class?

I’m voting for “Mutiny on the Bounty.” I loved that book.

To Kill a Mockingbird became my all-time favorite book after I read it for sophomore English. I’ve reread it at least a doze times.

I also really loved Les Miserables, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Monk, and Earth Abides.

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Bear in mind that I grew up in a small midwestern city with NO black people. I’d only ever seen any black people on TV. My Dad, to his credit, kept me from sharing the blatant racism of my classmates, and reading this book made it very clear to me I had to leave this town as soon as I could.

Hard to choose. Read a bunch of Twain throughout the years. Catcher in the Rye spoke to a 16 year old me. Catch 22 was one of the optional choices on a summer reading list. The futuristic books like Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 were interesting reads. I was fascinated by “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” as a 6th grader (in retrospect, probably too much for an 11 year old).

I’ll have to say Count of Monte Cristo for now.

Things Fall Apart - great story, told from a unique perspective. A real downer, though.

*Great Expectations *exceeded my expectations.

Cervantes’ Novelas Ejemplares (The Exemplary Novels). They’re so short that nowadays they’d be called “tales” rather than “short novels”. We were supposed to read two for class, but a surprising amount of people ended up reading several more or even going through the whole book. I say “a surprising amount” because the group I was in that year included over 20 students who were just waiting to turn 16 so they could drop out and get jobs - the other 14 of us were readers (eventually 10 of us became engineers, another a veterinarian, two doctors, and the last one dropped out for family reasons but later got a business degree).

Moby Dick

In nonfiction, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne. Probably the best account of a battle ever written (though Horne’s book on How Far from Austerlitz? is close).

I actually ended up liking Tale of Two Cities quite a bit. The “far far better thing that I do” speech towards the end really affected me.

I also remember being quite taken with Camus’ The Stranger, though I don’t now remember anything about it.

I’m a big reader, but like others upthread, my first thought was To Kill a Mockingbird. I always jumped into whatever was assigned, but on that one, I thought “Why is there a book about killing birds? And why do we have to read it?” Of course, it’s now one of my faves, as it is to anyone that has a heart.

The other is 1984. Again, a book I would probably never have picked up, except we had to read it. I honestly read the world differently b/c of that book and the things Orwell said.

I’m old now, but the things I learned from both are true.

Cannery Row, by Steinbeck. My favorite novel to this day.

Probably Catch-22.

Though if we broaden the OP’s criteria to include movies, then Rashomon affected me far more than any book I remember being required to read in school.

Animal Farm. Although I wasn’t exactly forced to read it. But it was on the AP exam book list, so I did.

In elementary school, Gone-Away Lake. Yeah, it’s a kid’s book, but it remains one of my favorites, and I still reread it every so often. Ditto Tuck Everlasting.

In high school, Fahrenheit 451.

I think 1984 and Animal Farm are two of the few school-assigned books I’ve bothered re-reading since then.

A special note goes to the book Marathon Man. I have no idea what made our English teacher (who was usually a band teacher) assign us that book, and I don’t even remember discussing it, but it was pretty good. I think the same teacher assigned us The Kon-Tiki Expedition (which was another pretty decent book) way out of left field.

I have a feeling most people are assuming high school or before, but I got nothing there. In college I was assigned the book They Thought They Were Free, which was basically first-person accounts of “little people” in Nazi Germany. I found it fascinating.

Assuming we are ruling out college, when you are sometimes picking courses with stuff you know you’ll enjoy, I’m another To Kill a Mockingbird vote. Was assigned it as a HS freshman and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I liked a number of other assigned reading choices as well, but that one had probably the most enjoyable impact.

Ditto very much for me. HS sophomore year. This is one Dickens novel that doesn’t depend on the weirdness of supporting characters to make its points. It took some doing for me to fathom the motivations of Miss Havisham. I also liked that the main character had some spunk and flavor of his own, and wasn’t all bland and boring like David Copperfield.

I also liked Pride and Prejudice, HS senior year.


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

With particular emphasis on the word ‘forced’ in the OP. I read quite a few books in school that I looked forward to; this was not one of them. A 500 page book about how the US repeatedly screwed over the Indians…yay.

It was indeed a 500 page book about how the US repeatedly screwed over the Indians…but it was fascinating.