High School Reading
Books I was required to read in High School:
Lord of the Flies by: William Golding
The Catcher in the Rye by: J.D. Salinger
Animal Farm by: George Orwell
The Crucible by: Arthur Miller
The Grapes of Wrath by: John Steinbeck
Spoon River Anthology by: Edgar Lee Masters
Great Expectations by: Charles Dickens
The Old Man and the Sea by: Ernest Hemingway
Slaughterhouse-Five by: Kurt Vonnegut
The Chosen by: Chaim Potok
Our Town by: Thornton Wilder
My Antonia by: Willa Cather
It has been a slow week on the reading front. The local library is trying to get some books in for me. I’m going to take a break from the usual reading this week and spend some time taking about children and reading.
One of the best things that happened to me as a young reader was a fourth grade teacher who handed us a reading list, pointed us at the library, and told us to get to reading. The rules were simple. Ten (I think) oral reports to him by the end of the year. If there was something we wanted to read that wasn’t on the list, all we had to do was get his approval. That was the year I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and My Friend Flicka and A Wrinkle in Time and Anne of Green Gables and Island of the Blue Dolphins. That was the year I found C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander, and Robin Mckinley. It was a wonderful year. It was a year that taught me how to use a library, and how to find other things I liked, back before Goodreads, or the internet even.
Then there were the High School years. The list above is not comprehensive. They are the ones I remember having to read. There were probably others. Of the High School list I enjoyed exactly three books. These were the years that would have put me off reading all together had I not already been a well established reader. Four years is a long time to go and find you only enjoy The Chosen, Slaughterhouse-Five, and My Antonia.
It is true that some of it could have been the teachers. I probably wouldn’t have hated Catcher in the Rye so much if Holden hadn’t been sold to me up front as someone I would understand and connect deeply with. But I still would have hated Catcher in the Rye.
Then there was the whole Dickens thing. Of all the Dickens books I’ve read since, I’ve never hated anything as much as Great Expectations. David Copperfield is a good read. So are Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Pickwick Papers. Plus, I only leave A Tale of Two Cities out because my teacher at the time assured me it was “to complex” for our class.
I once asked the same teacher who told me I would connect deeply with Holden Caulfield why we were reading so many books I hated in her class. She told me that it was important for us to have a shared knowledge base so we wouldn’t look like idiots to our employers and social groups. More than 20 years since that time, never once has any of these books come up in conversation at work, or at a social event.
So here today, the list of books I read on my own in High School, that I think should be a shared experience.
Things I read in High School because I wanted to:
1984 by: George Orwell
Jane Eyre by: Charlotte Bronte
Fahrenheit 451 by: Ray Bradbury
Flowers for Algernon by: Daniel Keys
The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by: Victor Hugo
Howards End by: E.M. Forster
The Caves of Steel by: Isaac Asimov
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
One the Beach by: Nevil Shute
Not included here are The Scarlet Letter by: Nathaniel Hawthorn and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I think we did do both of those in class, but I had already read them. So I don’t count them either way.
Have a great week everybody. I’ll see you at the library.
Posted on August 28, 2013, in books, Fiction, fun, list, Reading and tagged Catcher in the Rye, Charles Dickens, Edgar Lee Masters, High School, Holden, Holden Caulfield, Pickwick Papers, Rye. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.