Re-Reading H.S. Required Reading

Valerie of Life is a Patchwork Quilt and Amanda at The Zen Leaf have inspired me to brainstorm all those books I read as a teenager that some high school teacher told me I had to read in order to pass the class…  Here goes, in no particular order:

1. A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens

2. Old Man and the Sea – Hemingway

3. The Pearl – Steinbeck

4.  Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck

5.  Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare

6.  The Sound and the Fury – Faulkner

Um…..     I know there are many more…   (googling ‘typical HS reading lists‘ gives me:)

7. Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

8. The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald

9.  Black Like Me – John Howard Griffin

10. The Scarlet Letter – Hawthorne

11. Death of a Salesman – Miller (and maybe The Crucible, too)

12.  1984 – Orwell

13.   ___?____by Edgar Allen Poe – short stories, maybe?

14. The Jungle – Sinclair

15. The Red Pony – Steinbeck

16.  Our Town – Wilder

There’s more, I’m sure of it. I remember as a sophomore, we had to read the equivalent of a book a week in Honors English* and it had to be from THE LIST (the list I wish I still had) or be able to justify its inclusion to the list.   I challenged it one week with a book by Danielle Steel;  my teacher finally accepted it but I really had to argue for it. I recall being so tired of having to read old and ‘important’ stuff. Funny thing is, I can’t recall which Steel book it was even if I glance through all her titles! One of my classmates successfully got Horton Hears a Who added to the list…

More plays here than I realized.   I think we also read Macbeth and/or Hamlet.

I must say that I am SHOCKED — repeat SHOCKED!!  — that my husband says he had to read Ulysses in high school.  WHO would do that to a kid?!  He had to read Beowulf, too.  I think maybe we had a bit of Canterbury Tales but I don’t think we read the whole thing.

IF I attempt to re-read any of these, it would be The Sound and the Fury. Anyone feel like joining me?

* I read a few Irving Stone’s and many Vonneguts and stuff like Hugo’s Les Miserables for my ‘electives’. Sadly, I don’t recall reading ANY women authors. There HAD to be some, but I know I didn’t read Austen or the Brontes because that’s what the cheerleaders liked and I was waaaaay smarter than that. *roll eyes* Let it be known, I like these authors now, I do. But I didn’t read  P&P until my twenties.


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30 thoughts on “Re-Reading H.S. Required Reading

  1. Actually I had to read both Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales in high school too. I just, um, didn’t include them on my HS reread list. 😀

    The Sound and the Fury was a tough book. I read it in 2001 in my book-a-week project that I’m copying this year with Classic Weekly. I’m glad we read As I Lay Dying in school instead!

  2. Care — love the tags you made up for this post! Seems like the staff at your HS liked Steinbeck a lot more than you did 😉 –that’s a lot of Steinbeck.

    I did the same as you did — googling “high school reading lists” in hopes of being reminded of more. But I think that would have worked for me better if I had graduated from high school more recently :-P.

    I realize now that my required HS reading was heavy on male authors.

    Glad you’re joining us on this project!

    1. Actually, I LOVED LOVED LOVED Tale of Two Cities! But only AFTER I read it and all the chatting about symbolism started. or during. Anyway, I aced the paper on that one so I have fond memories.

  3. I remember reading a little Shakespeare but since I took journalism in lieu of other English courses, I missed a lot. I spent many years trying to “catch up” on missed HS lit and I still haven’t succeeded, but I’m getting there.

    Whipple arrived safely, today!! Thank you!

  4. I had to read all the ones you mentioned, plus:

    Lord of the Flies
    Animal Farm
    The Sun Also Rises
    The Outsiders
    Catcher in the Rye

    ….and now I am forgetting some too 🙂

    I’ll keep my eye out for the post on The Sound and the Fury. Not sure if I can join since I have a lot going on but maybe I can! One never knows.

    1. Animal Farm! YES! I had to read that, too. I actually picked up Lord of the Flies about 10 years ago because so many others had to read it and I had no idea what it was about. I liked it as an adult but imagine I would have hated it as a teen.

  5. I am finding my lists are getting mixed up with university. I did read Old Man and the Sea. I hated that book! I also read Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. The Chrysalids I read twice. Once in junior high and then again in high school. I was thrilled. Oh, I read the play version of Flowers for Algernon in high school and liked it so much I bought the novel version and reread it every so often. That’s all that is coming to mind at the moment.

    1. Should have read the other comments. I also read Lord of the Flies (which I hated), The Outsiders (which I really liked), and Animal Farm (which was good).

  6. That’s interesting about the female authors. I, too, am drawing a blank on female authors I was assigned during high school. I remember reading some short stories – Margaret Atwood’s ‘Hairball’ and Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ – but I’m struggling to come up with any novels at the moment.

    1. Diane, exactly! I think I’ve done well, actually, in catching up on the books I thought I *should* read and never *had* to! Like Lord of the Flies and Catch-22 and A Separate Peace and Ethan Frome.

      I admit it makes me feel old when I read about required reading that was published after I graduated, but what can you do?

  7. MRS DALLOWAY!!! I had an enlightened senior english teacher who got us onto Virginia Woolf! and Saul BEllow’s CARPE DIEM. and yes, DH Lawrence’s SONS AND LOVERS.

    Otherwise, my list is much like yours, BUT I’m gonna think about this one for awhile, the stuff of literature and … nostalgia!
    (had more time to read back then!)

  8. I went to an American high school in London so we also had a lot of English lit mixed in (Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Hardy, etc.)

    I also took a Shakespeare class that covered about 60% of the plays.

  9. High school teachers assigning Death of a Salesman is one of my pet peeves. Even college students aren’t old enough to understand why it’s tragic and beautiful. You have to have had some disappointments in life to really get the “attention must be paid” speech.

    1. Jeanne, I was quite moved by Death of a Salesman and I think I can blame it on why I never thought I would/should be a Business major in college! Maybe because my father was in Sales all his life, it was meaningful to me. I cant’ recall which teacher I had for that but I respected my English teachers very much.

  10. ULYSSES in high school?! Ouch!

    I had brief (very brief) thoughts of creating a reading challenge based on my daughter’s Freshman reading list. But, that was back in September, and I still haven’t created it.

    So … thanks for the invitation, I’ll cheer you on, but won’t be joining your readalong of THE SOUND AND THE FURY.

  11. I’m trying to remember what women authors I read when I was in high school. I read Kaye Gibbons’ Ellen Foster (ugh), and I’m sure I read more because my American lit professor was awesome, but I can’t think of them.

    Our Town isn’t worth it, if you ask me. I didn’t read it in high school, but our drama department did it. They accidentally played the 2001: Space Odyssey theme instead of the wedding march during the wedding scene, and when the kids playing the bride and groom (the character names escape me) went running up the aisle after the wedding, they tripped over a sound wire and fell down. It was amazing. I remember virtually nothing else about Our Town.

  12. I would absolutely join you in rereading The Sound and The Fury! I recently brought it back up to my room with plans to read it some point this year. It would be so much more fun to read with some one else. I swear I cannot remember anything other than Faulkner that I had to read in high school. We had kind of a progressive thing going on then. There wasn’t any such thing as straight “Freshman English.” Instead you had quarter length classes that focused on one or two specific authors or one topic. Still the only one I can remember was the class I had on Faulkner. I absolutely loved it! The teacher was tough (almost no one liked him), Faulkner is tough (again, almost no one really liked him) but I just recall realizing that great books do not have to be written by Danielle Steele! Didn’t stop me from reading her or Stephen King but my horizons sure widened.

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