Favorite novel read in high school

I went to high school when most of these books were considered too shockingly modern to be taught. But we did do The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twice, in fact. Hemingway famously said “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” It’s true, too. So that’s where everybody needs to start.

Of course, after Huck Finn everything else is a disappointment, but high school is not too early for people to learn that about life. :smiley:

In High School, the ones I really liked were Catcher in the Rye, Harold & Maude, Lord of the Flies, and The Grapes of Wrath.

Didn’t like AT ALL, the “classics”. . .The Scarlet Letter or Moby Dick and Shakespeare didn’t really move me.

Huck Finn – yeah, I wish we’d read that in high school. I haven’t read it in a long time. Maybe I’ll pick it up this weekend.

In high school, my favorite book was Sophie’s Choice. I loved it because it is funny and sexy while at the same time, ultimately depressing – I think it was the first time I really confronted with the inevitability of suffering and destruction of the soul as part and parcel of the human condition. Very sympatico to my own views, but it crystalized them in a way nothing had before. Maybe someone with a less pessimistic view of the world (some of us might call it pie-eyed ;)) wouldn’t enjoy it as much.


The Odyssey, Robert Fitzgerald translation. we read the whole thing.

A Tale of Two Cities – Loved Dickens, until later that year when they forced us through the horro that was Hard Times.

Lord of the Flies by Golding. Read it in one sitting

The Land Of Foam by Ivan Yefremov.

Great Expectations by Dickens. Loved the way that the plot seemed to slowly come together over the course of the novel.

Billy Budd by Melville. Hard to get into this one but worth the effort.

I agree with the statement that Watership Down is one fine book. I didn’t include it since I didn’t read it in high school, but just a wonderful story.

I really liked Hemingway in high school, particularly The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. It may be more of a boy thing, though.

I didn’t read The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham in high school, but I really wish I had discovered it then, I think it would have spoke to me.

And my experience of The Awakening was very much the same as Wolfian’s. What a tedious pile o’ crap. I think it’s taught because they can pawn it off as “feminist” without the faintest tinge of sex or radicalism.

I loved Fitzgerald when I was in high school – Gatsby and all the others as well, up to and including The Last Tycoon.

If you’re going to do Hesse, maybe Steppenwolf would be a better choice: I made myself a sign for my bedroom, “Magic Theater, Madmen Only.” :rolleyes:

Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN and Stoker’s DRACULA, which at least shouldn’t be as suprising to High Schoolers these days as they were when I read them as a kid having only a Karloff-Lugosi-Cushing-Lee background.

Ayn Rand’s ANTHEM or better yet WE THE LIVING (the latter I am going to tackle this week).

C.S. Lewis’s TILL WE HAVE FACES- it’s all the advantages of Lewis w/o obvious religiosity (I like his religiosity, but it’s a turnoff to some & also could complicate assigning it in public school)

I recommend SOMETHING by Shakespeare, but remember that it’s written to be performed & watched, not read- so get them acting it out & also have a decent production handy on video/DVD (all the main works are available I’m sure- also maybe for a treat, see if you can toss in Vincent Price’s THEATER OF BLOOD G)

Oh, yeah – forgot Shakespeare. I read and loved **Macbeth, The Tempest, ** and A Comedy of Errors. We read other Shakespeare plays, but those were my favorites. Read ACOE for Latin class, because I was trranslating The Menaechmi of Plautus. Menaechmi is great, too.

I had one of the coolest 10th grade English teachers, and some of the books we read:

Of Mice and Med - OK book.
The Hobbit - GREAT book.
Animal Farm - Probably resposible for the best class discussions. Helps if kids know some history of Marxism, the labor movement, communism, etc…We had great fun when we could finally conect all the characters in the book to either actual people or jsut a group of people.
Watership Down - For some reason, a lot of other kids hated it, but I enjoyed it.

I can’t remember what else we read. I had him for one semester, then had a different teach fro the other semester, who was great, but less reading and more performing ofscnes from palys and writing. We read onwe non-play second semester, and 3/4 of the plays were Shakespeare (the guy liked ther Bard.)

Unlike yours, eh? :smiley: I think you mean her ability or prowess or mastery. No?

I hear ya on Holden–I liked this book as a teen, but recently reread it as an adult. Spoiled baby brat was my chief thought.
But Phoebe is still wonderful.
Books in HS:
Jane Eyre --hands down, but also, Pride and Prejudice --read the rest of Austen in college for fun, and I liked Dickens’Tale of Two Cities (only Dickens I do like). Also read The Chosen by Chaim Potok–very good.

Authors I didn’t care for is a longer list.
Lawrence, Faulkner, Joyce (did like Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, most Hemingway–liked Old Man and the Sea , though.

I took a class in Existential Lit in HS–didn’t care much for any of it, but am glad I learned about it.

Read Hardy as an adult–he’s ok.

Probably Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. I don’t recall much of what we read in HS (other than “Nectar in a Sieve”), and I read that on my own.

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. :slight_smile:

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. :slight_smile:

What about Beloved, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t open the class up for some great discussion.

I’m another fan of Catcher in the Rye. I was given three weeks to read it, so of course I put it off until the day before it was due. I sat down to read it and didn’t get up until I was done. Great book.

I forgot about The Lottery , I loved that story!

Out of all the books I read during high school, both on “the teachers’ lists” and on my own (and there were at least hundreds), the one that stays with me the most and that I still reread every few years is Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline.

After that, I would have to say:
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward
The Silmarillion by Tolkein (IMHO, though, it’s not that good unless you’ve already read LotR)
M.A.S.H. by Richard Hooker (the book the movie was based on. However, I’m not QUITE sure it would be appropriate for a Junior High or High School class - I do recall that I made sure no one knew I was reading it just so the issue of appropriateness would never come up :slight_smile: )
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (try to get them to read this before they see the movie, if possible)

Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll - Even though I didn’t read it in high school (it came out well after I graduated), I think it would be great for a high school class, especially given the role of computers in their lives today. It’s a fascinating tale of how an astronomer-wanna-be goes from finding a small (75-cent IIRC) accounting error on the lab’s computer timeshare to helping various alphabet-soup government agencies (after first getting someone to realize there was even an issue) break a German computer spy ring.

Two I liked:
The Scarlet Letter
A Tale of Two Cities**

Two I loathed:
The Grapes of Wrath
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

And **Lord of the Flies ** was very disturbing, but I thought it was a good book. I still get creepy images of them slaughtering the pig and poor Piggy when I see the title.

Some great ones
War of the Worlds
Cider with Rosie
The Third Man
Day of the Triffids