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Think of all the books you were required to read in high school, and the books that you have read since then for your own enjoyment. If you had to choose, which 5 books would be on your absolute must-read requirement list for high school? Why?
On the other hand, which 3-5 books (those typically used for required reading) would you take off the list?
Oh! DH and I were just talking about this!
To be read:
Fahrenheit 451 controversial, yes, but has a very good message.
To Kill a Mockingbird this is a literature classic, and my favorite book, ever. I can't imagine going through school and NOT reading it.
The Crucible another classic, I've heard that some teachers band together and teach about the Salem witch trials in History class, while the English class is reading this....which has the best effect, I think.
I can't think of any others right now. I'm sure that someone else will be along to point out the ones I've forgotten.
To not read:
Johnny Tremain I honestly don't remember what the point of this book was about, other than to bore us stiff.
The Red Badge of Courage likewise...
edited to add:
Shirley Jackson has some good works that are frequently overlooked by schools and I think should be taught. "We have always lived in the Castle" comes to mind, as does "The Haunting of Hill House".
Another (short) story is "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is about a woman coping with mental illness after childbirth, during the turn of the last century. Just maybe if we started teaching people about postpartum depression, like we teach them about the other facts of life, there might be less tragedies on the 5:00 news. Just a thought! :)
Last Edited on: 2/24/08 2:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
I enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird the most. I didn't like Animal Farm.
I would rec:
Andromeda Strain or Jurassic Park by Michael Chricton
Coma by Robin Cook
Crime and Punishment (in six parts) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Just to name a few...
Books I would recommend (a little smattering of several different eras and genres)...
Honorable mentions (since I did say only to name 5)...
Books I would toss...
Catcher in the Rye - Salinger (needs to be read as a teenager to fully appreciate)
An Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Pride and Prejudice - Eyre
The Cherry Orchard (play) - Checkov
The Lottery (short story) - Shirley Jackson
I don't have time to think up five right now (HS was a LONG time ago for me), but one of my absolute favorites, read in U.S. Government class, was Allen Drury's "Advise and Consent." I think I may reread that one!
And two that definitely would be on my "never again" list: "The Scarlet Letter" (I found it boring) and "Native Son" (a particular scene was too disturbing & graphic for my taste).
Sense and Sensibility OR some other Jane Austen novel
Lord of the Flies
The Crucible/ Macbeth
A Patch of Blue
the few I read that I would toss
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (an australian book)
Romeo and Juilet
The Chocolate Wars
From my own high school experience, I would keep:
1984 - George Orwell
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (I think this may have moved to Junior High/Middle School level)
Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Death of a Salesman- Arthur Miller
I would add:
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
I would dump:
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (agony)
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (double agony)
A Separate Peace - John Knowles (just too dated now)
1984 by George Orwell
Macbeth by Shakespeare
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
the only thing that comes immediately to mind as dumpworthy is The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Ugh.
What a long time ago that was (1978-1982) LOL I can't remember alot of what we read. I don't think we read anything published after 1970. These are the ones that that impressed me the most were:
The Merchant of Venice
Tale of Two Cities
Death of a Salesman
A Separate Peace
Lord of the Flies
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Separate Piece
The Great Gatspy
The Scarlet Letter
Get rid of:
and memorizing entire passages of Hamlet (never have I needed to quote Shakespeare in real life).
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Gives you a true understanding of the impact of slavery in America
Lord of the Flies. Man's inhumanity to man.
The Crucible. What a powerful story!
Fahrenheit 451. The message is so important.
There are more...will have to think on it.
The Hobbit (in Jr. High, actually)
Animal Farm-I think I liked it because we had a very engaging teacher who really brought it to life for us.
Shakespeare-I found my Shakespeare class very challenging and felt a sense of accomplishment after the class read and discussed a play and could actually understand what it was about. Again, a good teacher.
Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice-We didn't read these, but again, kids need to be challenged to read more difficult material that they really need to think about and have an adult to discuss it with.
Lord of the Flies-I remember reading this book, so it must have had an impact on me! (That was back in the early 70's!)
I remember NOT liking a book about/by Sylvia Plath. I thought it was just depressing! After reading it, I wrote a very depressing little poem about death. (Required.)
I personally think Catcher in the Rye is too depressing for a teenager. A friend of mine who was suffering from depression in high school was pushed over the edge by reading this book and tried to kill herself. Fortunately she failed but it made me REALLY hate that book.
I would love to see high schools have the students read a few less classics and a few more books about issues that are contemporary today. Kids need to be more in touch with what is going on in their own world. Let's let books by Kipling and Conrad wait for college and let the kids read books about modern day life in places like India and the Middle East. Maybe our kids would have more tolerance of those cultures if they read about what life is like for people there today, rather than just reading heavily-skewed 19th century works written by imperialists who had an agenda that no longer exists (or shouldn't).
I could definitely see The Kite Runner being a modern-day classic that could be added to a high school reading list.
I like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, Romeo and Juliet, and The Handmaid's Tale. I would dump pretty much everything I read during high school. I think that students should be put into groups and asked do a group project on each book and then compare notes. That's how the real college and work worlds work.
I was an avid reader in high school, and when Crime and Punishment was assigned, I really struggled. To this day, I shudder to think of it.
My top picks:
Last Edited on: 2/27/08 5:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
These are the books I remember from high school way back in the 70's. Each one of them speaks to issues faced by teens every day in some way:
Catcher in the Rye -- J.D. Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird --Harper Lee
The Crucible -- Arthur Miller
The Lottery -- Shirley Jackson
Romeo & Juliet -- W. Shakespeare
Lord of the Flies -- william Golding
This is our AP required reading list for our high school. I have highlighted the ones I have read and liked:
i think that the Dark Elf Trilogy by R A Salvador should be required reading for all students & the reason is simple: it talks of a person who is born different from the society in which he is born; & makes the extremely difficult decision to leave encountering many problems along the way including the prejudice against him because he is a dark elf; Drizzt of course, has to be one of the best loved characters of all time, & at the point when you are trying to figure out who you are & what to do this is a perfect example of someone NOT following the crowd but instead raising above it & gives accurate descriptions of lonliness etc that has to be dealt with as it will come if you do not follow the crowd or cave into peer pressure but it also highlights taking the higher path dispite the difficulties. Awesome book & deals with prejudism in a way that s awesome. Really makes you stop & think & take the time to know the person & not what he/she is.
"The Chocolate Wars" -I loved the Chocolate Wars, but I have come across more people who hated it than liked it.
You guys touched on a lot of my favorites: To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, 1984. I also loved Ayn Rand's Anthem, Animal Farm by Orwell, and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I loathed Grapes of Wrath and As I Lay Dying. I know they are both classics, but I truly will never, in my life, need to read an entire chapter about a turtle in the dust. It's just who I am. ;)
Oh, and I must add that Moby Dick could be my least favorite book ever. There is a high probability that this is a result not only of it being breathtakingly boring (to me), but because my 11th grade English teacher insisted that all of the novels I loved at the time (I was very much into the anti-utopic novel in 1986) sucked and I should only be reading things like Moby Dick. Suffice it to say, I spent a year in hell. LOL