Discussion Forums - Hidden Gems Hidden Gems

Topic: Your Top 5 Picks: High School Required Reading

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Your Top 5 Picks: High School Required Reading
Date Posted: 2/24/2008 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2007
Posts: 326
Back To Top

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?

Date Posted: 2/24/2008 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2007
Posts: 5,272
Back To Top

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
Date Posted: 2/24/2008 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2008
Posts: 1,728
Back To Top

i liked reading to kill a mockingbird and great expectations

Date Posted: 2/24/2008 5:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2006
Posts: 4,325
Back To Top

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...


Date Posted: 2/24/2008 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2007
Posts: 326
Back To Top

Books I would recommend (a little smattering of several different eras and genres)...

  • Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury,   1984- George Orwell, or  Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  • Lord of the Flies- William Golding
  • Pride and Prejudice-  Jane Austen, or  Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte (sorry...I liked it), or Rebecca- Daphne DuMaruier
  • Homeland- R A Salvatore (I consider the Drizzt series LOTR on steroids. Homeland might interest a larger student base than the more slowly paced LOTR and might be a good intro book for those not familiar with fantasy. In addition, it has a lot of cultural and racial elements that would be great fodder for essays and class discussions).


Honorable mentions (since I did say only to name 5)...

  • Player Piano,  The Sirens of Titan,  Cat's Cradle, or  Slaughterhouse-Five (or most anything by Kurt Vonnegut)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas, or Les Miserables- Victor Hugo (abridged if you must...)
  • Dracula- Bram Stoker
  • The Catcher in the Rye- J D Salinger, or A Separate Peace- John Knowles


Books I would toss...

  • Madame Bovary- Gustave Flaubert. Hated it.
  • Silas Marner- George Eliot.  Learned nothing and was bored to tears at the same time.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court- Mark Twain. Very nearly ruined everything Arthur for me.
Date Posted: 2/25/2008 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/12/2007
Posts: 140
Back To Top

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

- Tracy

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

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).

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

The Hobbit

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

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2008
Posts: 67
Back To Top

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)

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 150
Back To Top

the bell jar

catcher in the rye

alas, babylon

the quartzsite trip

the great gatsby

the sun also rises

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 9:30 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2005
Posts: 571
Back To Top


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.

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
Back To Top

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:

Julius Caesar

The Merchant of Venice

Tale of Two Cities

Death of a Salesman

A Separate Peace

Date Posted: 2/25/2008 11:59 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Posts: 4,490
Back To Top


Lord of the Flies

To Kill a Mockingbird

A Separate Piece

The Great Gatspy

The Scarlet Letter


Get rid of:

Dante's Inferno

and memorizing entire passages of Hamlet (never have I needed to quote Shakespeare in real life).



L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 2/26/2008 2:05 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
Back To Top

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.

Date Posted: 2/26/2008 10:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
Back To Top

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.)


Date Posted: 2/26/2008 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,773
Back To Top

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.

Date Posted: 2/26/2008 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
Back To Top

It's interesting to see the choice of books.  Our curriculum must not have been all that complete.  Most of these titles I read as an adult, not in high school.

Date Posted: 2/27/2008 5:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 2,027
Back To Top

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.

Date Posted: 2/27/2008 5:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2007
Posts: 812
Back To Top

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:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Lord of the Flies
  • Diary of Anne Frank


Last Edited on: 2/27/08 5:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/27/2008 6:15 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2008
Posts: 2
Back To Top

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


Subject: books to read
Date Posted: 2/28/2008 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 373
Back To Top

This is our AP required reading list for our high school.  I have highlighted the ones I have read and liked:

Ninth Grade : 

Recommended Fiction:   Contemporary: Monster-Walter Dean Myers

  Classic:  Flowers of Algernon- Daniel Keyes


Tenth Grade : 

Recommended Fiction: Contemporary:   The Book Thief- Markus Zusak

    Classic:  Alas Babylon- Pat Frank

Eleventh Grade : 

Recommended Fiction:   Contemporary:  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime- Mark Haddon

    Classic: East of Eden-John Steinbeck

Twelfth Grade : 

Recommended Fiction:  Contemporary:  The Memory Keeper's Daughter-Kim Edwards

    Classic:  1984-George Orwell

Non-Fiction Choices

Come Back to Afghanistan:  A California's Teenager's  Story- Said Hyder Akbar; Susan Burton

Having Our Say:  The Delaney Sisters First 100 Years -Sara and A. Elizabeth Delaney with Amy Hill Hearth;

From Bagdad with Love, A Marine, the War, and Dog named Lava -Jay Kopelman

Nine Parts of Desire -Geraldine Brooks

One L -Scott Terow

Salvation on Sand Mountain -Dennis Covington

Freakanomics -Steven Levitt

A Short History of Myth -Karen Armstrong

Spook -Mary Roach

The Hiding Place -Corie Ten Boom

The Carolina Way -Dean Smith

The Innocent Many -John Grishman

1776 -David McCullough

Black Boy -Richard Wright

Dawn -E. Wiesel

Paradox of Plenty:  A Social History of Eating in Modern America- Henry Levenstein

Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers- Alissa Quart

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over, The Stories Behind the Most Magnificent, Heart-Stopping Sports Miracles of Our Time - Al Silverman

Three Nights in August; Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manage- Buzz Bissinger


Ender's Game

Kite Runner


Date Posted: 3/4/2008 2:48 AM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
Posts: 215
Back To Top

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.

Date Posted: 3/4/2008 8:52 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2005
Posts: 14,915
Back To Top

I can honestly say I did not enjoy any of the books I was forced to read in HS.  I just don't enjoy classics.

Date Posted: 3/4/2008 9:13 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2006
Posts: 4,972
Back To Top

I think every teenager should read

Lord of the Flies

Flowers for Algernon

Alas Babylon

The Catcher in  the Rye

Animal Farm

Date Posted: 3/4/2008 10:22 AM ET
Member Since: 2/7/2008
Posts: 6
Back To Top
"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

Last Edited on: 3/4/08 10:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 1