I love to read, and I have my whole life. But some of the complete drivel I was forced to read in high school made me never want to look at a book again. In an effort to save a few other students the pain, here’s my least favorites, in no particular order:
The Good Earth. The only enjoyment I got out of this book was the inner voice that silently repeated “Everybody Wang Lung tonight” every damn time I picked it up.
Silas Marner. Good story. Bad book.
Lord of the Flies. I don’t know why I hate it so much, but I do.
Oedipus at Colonnus. Usually, I like the middle of a trilogy best. Not so, here.
A Farewell to Arms. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Never, ever, ever again will I read Hemingway.
And a few more I loved:
Animal Farm. Some kids don’t get it, but if you make them think about it, it really does fire up the discussion engines.
The Scarlet Letter. I was the only person in my class that enjoyed it. I was also the only person that understood it.
The Great Gatsby. Funnily enough, I barely remember this book, but I remember loving it.
A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens is horrible to inflict on kids, but if you can get them to see past the words into the story, it’s worth it.
Huck Finn. Un-PC, but it’s history, and should be treated as such.
The Crucible. Probably just because I dig witches.
If you’re going with Shakespeare, my personal favorite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Best short story–Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” I don’t know a single person who didn’t read that in high school at some point, and there’s nothing more fascinating to teenagers than ritual murder.
Or maybe that’s just me.