Top 10 Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born

Welcome to Top 10 Tuesday! This is a weekly challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and this week’s challenge is about books written before I was born.

I had so much fun with this one! Many of my favorite books were written long before I was born. I also frequently read books that aren’t recent releases because I tend to feel like I’ve missed out on books published either when I was too young to enjoy them or before I existed at all. Therefore, I had a lot of options to choose from! Here is my top ten (in no particular order)!

1. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

The Librarian is in: “Their Eyes Were Watching God” – The Middlebury Campus

Published: 1937

This is probably my all-time favorite book. I read this for my IB English class during my senior year of high school, and I HATED it at first. However, by the end I absolutely loved it, and it’s a story that has stuck with me ever since I read it. It’s so powerful, empowering, and moving. And, once you get used to the writing style (this is what I struggled with at first), it’s beautifully written as well. I recently downloaded the audiobook version of her autiobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road (narrated by Bahni Turpin, one of my favorite narrators!), and I can’t wait to read it and learn even more about Zora Neale Hurston.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is the book I always think of when I’m struggling to get into a new book and think about quitting. I always think of how I wanted to give up on this book, and what I would have missed out on if I had. That’s why, to this day, I almost never quit a book part-way through.

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of Their Eyes Were Watching God HERE.

2. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

BOOK VERSUS FILM: Little Women | Lucy V Hay

Published: 1868

My top audiobook of 2020! And one of my favorite books in general. I loved this book so much. It was endearing and heartwarming; it made me laugh and it made me cry. I can’t remember any other books I’ve read recently that have made me as happy as I felt while reading this one.

You can find the Goodreads synopsis for Little Women HERE.

3. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Published: 1937

I read Of Mice and Men for my English class during my sophomore year of high school. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! It’s one I actually still remember pretty clearly, even though I only read it once about 10 years ago. While I don’t have quite as much love for this one as I do for the first two books on this list, it’s definitely a great read and one of my favorites!

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of Of Mice and Men HERE.

4. “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell - Paperback Book - The Parent  Store

Published: 1960

I actually read this one for the first time in 2018, and I’m so glad I finally got to read it! It’s a great story, and one I recommend all the time to my students now. This is a revered work of historical fiction for a reason, and one that I will remember and continue recommending for a long time.

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of Island of the Blue Dolphins HERE.

5. “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon - Kindle edition by Keyes, Daniel. Literature &  Fiction Kindle eBooks @

Published: 1959

This was one of my top audiobooks of 2020! I was nervous before reading this one, because some of the other science fiction books I had read from this time period were AWFUL, and I was worried I wouldn’t like this one either. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s such a unique and powerful story; it moved me to tears by the end. This is another one that is often required reading for many high school students, and for good reason!

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of Flowers for Algernon HERE.

6. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster The Phantom Tollbooth (9780394820378): Norton Juster, Jules  Feiffer: Books

Published: 1961

I read The Phantom Tollbooth for the first time in early 2019, and it’s another one I can’t believe I didn’t read until adulthood! I think I may have spent too much time reading (and re-reading) the Junie B. Jones books when I was a kid, and maybe missed out on some other great children’s books at the time (but I regret nothing). The Phantom Tollbooth was so whimsical and creative, it’s another one that I continue to think about even a couple years later!

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of The Phantom Tollbooth HERE.

7. “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Published: 1967

I actually read this one in seventh grade, which I think makes it the oldest one on this list on a personal level for me (in terms of how long ago I read it, rather than how long ago it was published). I remember immediately after finishing this book, I really wanted to watch the movie adaptation because I just loved it so much. I even remember walking up to Blockbuster to rent the movie (that’s how long ago this was)! This is such a great book, and I’d love to re-read it someday.

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of The Outsiders HERE.

8. “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with  Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies (9780385420174): Esquivel, Laura: Books

Published: 1989

I read Like Water for Chocolate during my junior year of high school for my IB English class. This was my first time being exposed to magical realism, and I remember it being so bizarre and amazing to experience for the first time. I had never read anything like it! This is another one I’d like to re-read someday. I also own it Spanish, so I’d like to read it in this language as well!

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of Like Water for Chocolate HERE.

9. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: 9780307455192 | Books

Published: 1847

I read this book in 2019, and was amazed at how empowering it was considering when it was written. I listened to this book as an audiobook narrated by the phenomenal Thandie Newton. It’s definitely one of my favorite classic novels; and one I’ll inevitably read again someday.

You can find the Goodreads synopsis of Jane Eyre HERE.

10. “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews

Flowers in the Attic: 40th Anniversary Edition (1) (Dollanganger): Andrews,  V.C.: 9781982108106: Books

Published: 1979

I believe I was about 15 or 16 when I read this, and it was so strange and dark and different from anything I had ever read before. I have such a clear memory of this being the book I brought along as my “beach read” during a trip to Hawaii. Now whenever I think of this book, I also think of Hawaii (which is a very strange pairing). I’ve also read the second book in the series as well as part of the third, but they weren’t nearly as good as the first one. While Flowers in the Attic is certainly a disturbing story, it’s nothing if not memorable and compelling.

You can find the Goodreads synopsis for Flowers in the Attic HERE.

Have you read any of these books? What would your top ten be?

Let me know in the comments!

16 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born

    1. Thank you!! I wish I could read it again for the first time too. And I read The Phantom Tollbooth for the first time as an adult as well! I think I was able to appreciate more of the subtle humor and word play for that reason, it’s so clever!


  1. Love “Flowers for Algernon” and “Phantom Tollbooth”! Also really enjoyed “Flowers in the Attic” and “Outsiders.” I look forward to reading many of these which are on my TBR 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scott O’Dell’s books are almost uniformly excellent, but that one is an enduring classic often taught in schools for a reason, and definitely my favorite. Have you read A Girl Named Disaster? I think that, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Julie of the Wolves make a solid triad of self-sufficient-girls-on-their-own stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Julie of the Wolves is on my list, but I haven’t read it yet. I haven’t heard of A Girl Named Disaster, but I’m definitely adding that to my list as well! That sounds like an excellent trio of books. Thanks!!


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