Some Respites From My School Days

Some Respites From My School Days

A list by Dirceus, Customer Service Specialist

Here's a fun grab bag-style collection of books I read throughout elementary, middle, and high school that got me through the simply awful drag of assigned reading. Dear reader, I deeply dislike being told what to read, and as such will avoid telling you that you have to read these. I will, however, wholeheartedly support any that pique your interest. Many of these now sit on my shelf at home and still bring a smile to my face when I decide it's been long enough and pick them back up for a return to the adventure.


It took me years of consistently rereading this, loving it, immediately forgetting the title/author, and having to hunt it down again before I finally bought myself a copy. This story has a fun cast, excellent character growth, and is a fantastic read for late elementary-middle schoolers with an appreciation for fantasy and folklore.

What could be better than vampires, paranormal romance, and bakery life? Despite the description, I promise that last part is relevant. I first read this book in middle school and it's stuck with me since—McKinley has an immensely enjoyable writing style. I won't lie, I've always wanted to work in a bakery, and I love living vicariously through this novel.

Based on the title alone, I never would've read this book when I was younger, but it turned out to be an excellent read. The main character's drive to succeed at all odds was deeply inspiring to me as I dealt with late elementary school as best as my tiny self could. I also just found out recently that there's a sequel! (I'm unsure how I never heard of "The Forgotten Sisters" before now...).

I've always loved science fiction, and this particular novel deeply affected my outlook growing up. Ender's story is one that never really leaves you.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book when younger and stumbled across the title again a few years ago; the concepts in this book have lingered with me since that first read.

Watts writes some of my favorite hard science fiction, and this is one of his top two novels in my opinion. This book took me places no other has gone, and I promise you it is a wild ride. Be warned, the themes/concepts in this book are more advanced than previous books on this list, so I'd suggest high school age and beyond if you want to take a crack at this imaginative tale.

Creepy science fiction, deep sea body augmentation, and many, many bioluminescent fish? Sign me up. The other of my two favorite Peter Watts novels, this one is a ride from start to finish. I do love some deep sea exploration, and once again Watts does things different from anyone else I've seen. Just like with my other suggestion of his, I do recommend high school age before attempting this book, due to more mature themes and concepts.

If you're a fan of animal narrators like I am, you'll love this one. I've come back to this series time and time again.

"Darkwing" is a standalone predecessor to the "Silverwing" series, and for some reason this one stood out to me above the others. The fascinating characters and story directly addressing the evolution of different species, and the struggles on an individual level due to this change, had me incapable of putting it down for any length of time.

This one may be cheating a little, as I didn't read this until 2021, but if I'd stumbled across this book in high school I would've adored it. McKinley's style is both romantically poetic and easy to follow, and this book is a surprisingly quick read. "Rose Daughter" is the retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" I've always wanted. If you're like me and are always disappointed when the inhuman love interest just isn't spooky enough, you'll appreciate this one.