High School American Lit Reading List

I really appreciate all of your ideas. I’m very familiar with the classics. Some of the newer material is especially interesting to me.

even sven, even though Hugo was not an American, I’m glad that you mentioned Les Miserables. It has remained in my top five for thirty-seven years now. If you haven’t read A Prayer for Owen Meaney, put it on your list. Also, have you ever read Green Mansions? I think both would somehow fit into your list. You’ve given me some reading ideas.

It is interesting to see that some of you were required to read Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. Most of the years that I taught, those books were not allowed on our reading lists as options!

Four books I had to read in Jr & Sr High I would never make anyone read-





oh, and for emphasis, again AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY

One thing I must add is that I went to a Jesuit prep school. Contrary to what many people expect, the Catholic school was far more liberal in what it had on its required reading list than many public high schools. With the possible exception of My Name is Asher Lev, the instructors seemed to choose their books from the list of the Top Ten Books Banned by Schools.

I read
Up the Down Staircase
on recommendation from my grandfather because I was bored with the stuff we were reading in school.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
All Quiet on the Western Front
Phantom of the Opera
Brave New World
These were all recommendations from my high school English teachers because the required reading was boring me.

I’m aware that these aren’t all American but, they helped me to appreciate books other than the usual crap fiction directed at high school students. They also helped me to better appreciate the required reading. After reading these books, I was actually able to enjoy Shakespere and Dickins.

What? No “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton?

I loved that book as a teenager and still read it every couple of years. It doesn’t really “date” either. Matter of fact, as an adult I remember being shocked at how old it actually was, although I first read it in about '72.

It’s oddly sexless too. By that I mean I identified with Ponyboy completely and at first read kind of wondered why. Hey, he’s a boy and I was a straight girl, right? Of course once I found out S.E. Hinton was actually female, it made more sense. It really does appeal to everyone.

I just remembered, every year, we had required reading over summer vacation. One year, I decided to forgo the style of reading I usually enjoyed. That summer I read
The Chosen by Chaim Potok which, along with The Hobbit and 1984 , is my favorite book. It is also listed on the High School list for broadening curriculum at The American Collection Educators’ Site.

Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey by Jamake Highwater