Skip to comments.23 Books You Didn't Read In High School But Actually Should
Posted on 05/30/2014 12:34:14 PM PDT by EveningStar
You probably SparkNoted these books before, but now's your chance to read them.
(Excerpt) Read more at buzzfeed.com ...
Could you post the list for those of us “Beyond the Firewall(s)”?
Not so sure. I’ve read most to them, but I’m not sure I would have missed much if I didn’t.
Public domain + e-reader = free.
Aside from 2-3 books, I can’t imagine another list being that bad.
I’ve read most of those.
Two books I would add.... Anna Kerrenina by Tolstoy and Lolita by Nobokov. Both are page turners for sure.
I’ve actually read a surprising number of these. More than half.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A love story within a love story. It takes the American dream, amplifies it, and then tears it apart in every way possible.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Washington Post / Getty Images
It blends innocence and triumph in a way that makes you learn something without actually feeling like youre learning. Also, you will fall in love with Atticus Finch.
3. Night by Elie Wiesel
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Jewish author was sent to Auschwitz at 15-years-old. This is his story of personal struggle, heartbreak, and passion. At barely 100 pages, you cant afford to not read this book.
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies reveals the true nature of humans and will even make you question your own morality.
5. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
This novel is the inspiration for Apocalypse Now. Need I say more? (The answer to that question is no.)
6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
MANDEL NGAN / Getty Images
The protagonists fear for adulthood will make this one of the most relatable books you will ever read.
7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
It gives new meaning to the American dream, focusing on power and a friendship that will enrage you with jealousy (but in a good way).
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
This novel will scare the crap out of you, and you will love it. Besides, Big Brother is watching, so its not like you even have a choice now
9. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
It incorporates time travel and porn stars. Enough said.
10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley bet her husband that she could write a better horror story than him. She did.
11. Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Because everyones in need of a good cry.
12. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
This book is basically a satirical puppet show about a revolution. If anything, you should read it for this quote: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
13. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Its a play about two characters who wait for something that never comes, but its never dull, just thought-provoking.
14. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf will show you how disconnected you are from society, and you will thank her for doing so.
15. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Because youve always wondered what the world would be like without religion.
16. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Everyone in this novel is pretty messed up, and thats refreshing. Also, James Franco is releasing a film adaption of the book, so you have to read it before that comes out, too.
17. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This is the only book that will make you feel OK about American politics. Its basically a novel version of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
18. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
It uses literatures greatest heroes and villains to make you question authority, freedom, and reality. And Ken Kesey is an LSD-tripping, counter-cultural genius.
19. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Its bleak honesty and dark humor will teach you to not sweat the small stuff.
20. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Miller uncovers the reality of the American dream in a way that will make you question your own desire for success.
21. Beowulf by Anonymous
Beowulf by Anonymous
Action, adventure, monsters, dragons, heroism, fame.
22. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
It will single-handedly change the way you treat people.
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
It will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about love.
I love to read and read a lot of history as well as classics....
I’ve read most of these and hardly consider them essential...my opinion.
Most written in the twentieth century? Hmmm....
Crap like this is the basis of our declining education IMO. Orwell and most of the books are appropriate, but it’s amazing how much time is wasted on crap like Catcher in the Rye, Death of a Salesman, and Catch 22. Kids don’t need to learn liberal-psychotic crap, which is exactly what it is. I had to suffer through all of that, when if properly motivated I could have easily had a bachelor’s degree in a useful science by the time I was 18. I wasn’t old enough to know that was when I was forced to waste my precious life reading it and answering stupid questions, etc. Notice Victor Hugo or Winston Churchill isn’t on the list? Same old recycled crap!
Read eight of those in high school (as part of the curriculum) and one in college. Read about three of those independently.
While some I question, most I have read and agree with the premise. Though I believe the list should have contained a few others, like "Farenheit 451" and "The Illustrated Man" and "Something Wicked, This Way comes".
I did have to read Beowulf in high school and I don’t remember it now at all. I do remember disliking it at the time, but then, I didn’t like yogurt then, either.
Bad list. Animal Farm and 1984 are must reads. We are living Atlas Shrugged, not on the list
I’ve read more than half of these. Didn’t enjoy most of them, but I’ve read them.
The three tomes you noted as liberal-psychotic were part of high school English curriculum in the 80s. Says a lot, doesn’t it?
To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984 were good. The rest...bleah!
Gatsby was a stupid book, as was of Mice and Men.
Catch 22 is an operating manual for today’s government.
What about Orwell’s ‘1984’?
Oh wait. Forgot. We’re living that one.
I was assigned most of those in high school, and some of them are good reading. The list is biased towards the new stuff. Shakespeare and Dickens don’t make the list?
They included two from Orwell and “Brave New World” (Huxley’s only decent book), so that helps.
However, two I did read, “The Bell Jar” and “Waiting for Godot” promote despair and nihilism, respectively.
I hope Plath’s poetry is better than her awful book. In “The Bell Jar”, Plath stated that during her depression she liked to pick up those little saddle-stitched (stapled) pocket books at the grocery store check-out (often of the self-help variety). If you followed her advice, you’d likely have a better read than “The Bell Jar”.
“Waiting for Godot” is a great high school book because you can figure out the whole thing if you haven’t read it yet in about 30 seconds of class discussion. Absurdism is best written by someone who isn’t so self-indulgent as a writer.
Recommended only for those who want to pick up a 60s vibe. It is already quite dated even as Dickens enjoys a renaissance.
Really? I’d say 1984 is the new standard.
1984 is # 8 on the list.
Read all by age 22 except for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Mrs Dalloway, As I lay Dying (teacher slapped a Faulkner paperback out of my hand and said Don’t ever bring that trash near me!), and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Don’t I get a prize for participating?
Not Catcher in the Rye again!
I had to suffer through it, and with hindsight I realize the teachers thought it was great, for whatever reason! Those books have no business in a school, IMO! We also did read Orwell, Huxley, etc...great stuff...but I am convinced that those crap books were just a money making scheme between the publishers and the school unions. Seriously...The Good Earth? I had to endure that crap for a whole semester. This dumb teacher woman I had actually thought that has some redeeming value.
I’ve read 13 from that list.
It certainly would have helped for me to understand what the hell Sting was singing about in "Don't Stand So Close to Me."
I read 14 of those in high school.
Unfathomable how much precious life is wasted on that stupid book! there should be a law!
I read all but two of these in high school or college. I don’t think this list is trying to be the only books to read; I certainly read a number of Shakespearean plays/poetry, and my high school aged son is reading them, now. Some of these books were enjoyable, but many were not.
Part of my HS curriculum and I graduated in 78 -- from Catholic school.
Vonnegut was/is a Marxist. Nothing more.
Arthur Miller clearly hated capitalism and resented the blacklist(s) so he thought he’d have an elitist pop at the working class.
Catcher is an entertaining tale as far as it goes and somewhat unique in the age/perspective of the narrator but it’s also very much of its age and badly dated.
Beowulf is in an archaic form of our language. Whoopee. A 1927 Ford is archaic but I don’t want to drive one every day. Set archetype for heroic saga etc. etc. It’s still tedious.
Night - one of those testimonies that deserves to be heard but Wiesel was highly annoying in subsequent interviews and appearances.
Gatsby - overhyped. Another not-so-veiled attack on capitalism with self-aggrandizement of academics thrown in. Can we assume Fitzgerald thought the Depression was an improvement over the Roaring 20s?
Mockingbird - finally, a solid story and characters. However, most kids never have a chance to read it and instead are beat over the head with the book in order to fully grasp its ‘message.’ Lefties can’t resist the dignified black/white trash cliches.
How things have changed. We read 4, 8, 12, & 15 in high school. Advanced Placement (what they call it now. It was “Enriched” when I was in school) read 1 & 18. at least IIRC & probably 2, 17, & 20 also.
I read Slaughterhouse Five (& other Vonnegut novels) in high school & saw the movie several times to glean as much as I could from it, & Frankenstein because my senior term paper in english was on Percy Bysshe Shelley. We read Godot (which I detested) & Beowulf in college.
One book that (imho) didn’t make the list (that we read in high school) was Cry,
The Beloved Country. I had used Cliff’s Notes in school, but my co-worker, a couple of years later, was reading it & liked it, so I finally read it. It was really, really good. Probably my first “marathon” read.
It’s in the list.
Well, I’ve read every one of them, except “My Eyes were Watching God.” They were all certainly significant books, and worth reading.
But if I had to recommend a list of books that probably aren’t read in school any longer, I’d start first with Homer, Virgil, Sophocles, Dante, Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Racine, Goethe, and that sort of thing.
And Jane Austen.
Had to read in the late 60’s too
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand ought to be required reading for every high school student.
Teachers have a hard time getting many students to read one book, much less 23.
On second thought, perhaps I should be the one to read those again. My politics were in line with Steinbeck’s back then. Things have changed.
I don't get the title - it's basically a standard high school reading list. I read the majority of them.
I’ve read most of them, some were impossible for me to relate to in any way, others I liked and read twice and more-like “1984”, “Lord of the Flies”, “Slaughterhouse Five”.
I have to say that “Atlas Shrugged”, “The Illustrated Man” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, “Farenheit 451” need to be on the list-maybe also “The Fountainhead”.
I’ll also nominate Ira Levin’s “This Perfect Day”-a 1984-like novel, only more relevant to these times and-to me at least-more hair-raising. I’m reading it again right now, and have turned all my friends on to it...
I read most of those in high school. I wonder what students today are reading instead if not those classics?
self correction: salesman predated the blacklists but Miller was a leftie through and through.
"... and *another* thing, Vonnegut! I'm gonna stop payment on the check!"
Sister Mary Katherine is most displeased. You will read them all again. ;p