Skip to main content
PBS logo

Discussion Forums - Hidden Gems Hidden Gems

Topic: High school summer reading list

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Generic Profile avatar
Subject: High school summer reading list
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/29/2007
Posts: 3
Back To Top

My teenage daughter has to read 3 books from the below list. I have not read any of these. Are there books that stand out that she would like better than the others?


The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Pere Goriot by Honore Balzac

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys


heavenams avatar
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 12:06 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2006
Posts: 846
Back To Top

i read east of eden when it was an oprah pick and really enjoyed it. i have not read any of the others yet, but plan on reading the wide sargasso sea soon. i did try to read mrs. dalloway, but have been unable to get into it yet.

Caryn9802 avatar
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 12:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 8,410
Back To Top

I read The Age of Innocence in college and really enjoyed it. 

Emerald avatar
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 272
Back To Top

I liked East of Eden

Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 2:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2007
Posts: 1
Back To Top

i do too one of the best books is the giver but thats not on the list

achadamaia avatar
Member of the Month medalPBS Blog Contributor medal
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 3:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,608
Back To Top

I have read a couple of these House of Mirth, East of Eden, Age of Innocence, the Awakening, and Grapes of Wrath.  It's a little difficultt not knowing what your daughter likes.  I would pick East of Eden, Age of Innocence, and the Awakening.

Last Edited on: 6/10/07 3:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
booktopia avatar
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2007
Posts: 150
Back To Top

Wide Sargasso Sea is an excellent story. Although the book can stand alone, she'd get more out of that one if she's read Jane Eyre. The Awakening is also very good and it is probably the shortest book on her list. Along with these two, I'd pick House of Mirth if it were my summer reading list. I teach 11th grade English and  they only have a list of 5 books to choose from for their summer reading so your daughter is pretty lucky!

Last Edited on: 6/12/07 4:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
vprosser avatar
Standard Member medalFriend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2005
Posts: 7,947
Back To Top

Wow, when I was in high school, we didn't even have a summer reading list.  I majored in English in college, and (sorry to say) I have not read a single one from your list!  <<hiding in shame>>

Transamgirl avatar
Standard Member medalBox-O-Books medal
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 7:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,494
Back To Top

East Of Eden is really good, I haven't read any of the other ones.

tchstroo avatar
Friend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 6/10/2007 9:36 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2005
Posts: 142
Back To Top

Grapes of Wrath & East of Eden are great.


Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 6/11/2007 3:08 AM ET
Member Since: 5/9/2006
Posts: 851
Back To Top

I have read Alias Grace, The Awakening, and Mrs. Dalloway and they were all excellent books that I'd reccomend to anyone. I especially loved Mrs. Dalloway. Your daughter is quite lucky to have such a list to choose from. I would suggest that she read synopses and possibly brief reviews of each book and choose the ones which interest her the most, especially if she's not a big reader. Even as a voracious reader I know reading for school can become tedious but is much less so when the books can at least hold my interest.

sassenach avatar
Friend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 6/11/2007 10:14 AM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2006
Posts: 2,940
Back To Top

I am a big Steinbeck fan, so I would vote for East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath.

iluvlibros avatar
Date Posted: 6/11/2007 10:35 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2007
Posts: 3,314
Back To Top

I would NOT pick Madame Bovary. That was the ONE book in high school English class that I never finished. I just hated it.

Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 6/11/2007 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
Back To Top

I've read several of those books, mostly for high school and/or college.  I can't say that any of them are what I'd call "fun" reading, but most are still quite good, though they are quite heavy reading.  The ones I remember liking the most are Grapes of Wrath and Age of Innocence.

bananapancakes avatar
Date Posted: 6/11/2007 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2007
Posts: 918
Back To Top

East of Eden is my all time favorite novel.  You could get it for her, and then read it yourself too! Anna Karenina is great too.. i read it in high school myself.

VeganFreak avatar
Date Posted: 6/12/2007 3:19 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2006
Posts: 3,392
Back To Top
The Awakening, The Grapes of Wrath, and Alias Grace are my votes.

Mainly because I think they will be easier for a teen to get into. Some of those books are great, but might bore her cross-eyed if she's not a big reader.

Last Edited on: 6/12/07 3:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
maggiethecat avatar
Date Posted: 6/12/2007 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 106
Back To Top
I read East of Eden for my AP English class 10 years ago and LOVED it! It still has a place of honour on my bookshelves. Also, Madame Bovary and Age of Innocence are excellent books.
Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 6/13/2007 1:42 AM ET
Member Since: 2/11/2007
Posts: 808
Back To Top

I'd say the three most "approachable" books would be: East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath and Mrs. Dalloway.

Unless your daughter is a very precocious literature fiend, I'd advise her staying away from Dostoevsky, Hardy and Balzac.

Last Edited on: 6/13/07 1:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2005
Posts: 5
Back To Top
I have read many of them. I am an English teacher. The Giver is a great book as you say, but it is usually assigned to younger readers ( grade 7 or 8). Summer reading lists here are given for Honors English candidates. Most of the books on her list are classics, and some are quite challenging. You did not say what grade your daughter is going to be in for the next school. I find the list rather extensive. We prefer quality reading to quantity and usually assign 5 books only.
Jenny avatar
Jenny (Jenny) - ,
Friend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/13/2005
Posts: 682
Back To Top

I loved loved loved Alias Grace. And I'll second the poster who detested Madame Bovary. Ugh, I couldn't stand Madame Bovary (which is the point, I suppose, but it doesn't make for great summer reading, IMHO). Jude the Obscure is fairly harsh, as I recall...

A bunch of others are on my long-term TBR list. I'll have to bump up East of Eden, based on the other posts here!

Last Edited on: 7/5/07 12:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
crawford avatar
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 2:20 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 527
Back To Top

Pere Goriot by Balzac is a favorite of mine, and you can't go wrong with The Grapes of Wrath.

Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 50
Back To Top

I liked East of Eden pretty well.

MediumDebbi avatar
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 167
Back To Top

I have read and would recommend : Alias Grace, East of Eden, Jude the Obscure.

Jude the Obscure is esp a good read if your kid thinks that life sucks, in fact thats a pretty strong theme in all of Hardy's novels but Jude is really the one who punctuates this theme. East of Eden is good for family relationships, so is Anna Karenina,

Alias Grace and the Awakening good for womens place in society and predicament themes.

Never got into Mrs. Dalloway,might try that again.


Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 3:17 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2005
Posts: 88
Back To Top

Wow, that is a great list.  I have read most of them and would suggest:

The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood

East of Eden - John Steinbeck (I like Grapes of Wrath better but it might be really hard going for a teenager unless she is a real reader)

Wide Sargasso Sea is good also but would be better if she has read Jane Eyre already

Last Edited on: 7/5/07 3:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 7/5/2007 3:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 1
Back To Top

I read The Awakening in high school and college and got something different from it each time. Fantastic book.