Books I Had To Read For High School!

I was listening to a book podcast recently and they were talking about books they had to read for high school, or in the case of one of the hosts, didn’t read. I was absolutely terrible at actually reading assigned books in high school and Sparknotes was my best friend! It’s just a little ironic to me that someone who read so few of assigned books in school is such an avid reader now!

I blame this mostly on the fact that I can’t read things with confusing language, and as most of the things that we were assigned were classics, I did not understand what was going on in them. Also, I love fantasy and romance, two things that are barely represented in assigned reading.

For a lot of these, I did a mix of actually reading them and also reading the Sparknotes. For others, I can’t recall if I actually read it or I just remember talking about it and seeing the movie. I started 9th grade in 2009, so it’s been awhile. (brb, having a small existential crisis because I didn’t realize it’s been that long)

9th Grade

ReadDidn’t Read
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Odyssey by Homer

Animal Farm definitely made the biggest impression on me because the ending messed me up! I also can’t stand The Odyssey to this day because I was just so confused the whole time.

10th Grade

ReadDidn’t Read
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Did I only read one book this year to spite my teacher? Possibly, but she could have picked better books, so that’s on her. These are all “great American novels”, so let’s just say that’s not my genre. I remember I tried listening to the audiobook for Red Badge of Courage, but I kept falling asleep!

11th Grade

ReadDidn’t Read
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
The Metamorphosis by Fraz Kaufka
Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I’m actually surprised that I read so many of these because when I think of this year, I can only dwell on the ones that I didn’t read because I hated them. My teacher was also awful so that didn’t help with my memory of that class.

12th Grade

ReadDidn’t Read
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Grendel by John Gardner
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
King Leer by Shakespeare
Beowulf
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe

At this point, I’d had the teacher for this class two other times, so he probably knew that I wasn’t reading any of these. Jane Eyre ended up being my favorite from high school overall, possibly because the teacher taught it in a way that was interesting.

What books did you have to read in high school? I feel like my school didn’t teach some of the quintessential high school required reading, or I just didn’t take the classes that they were taught in.

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