Book Round Up: High School English Edition

You don't like to admit it, but we all know how much everyone loved SparkNotes. 
Whether you just didn't want to, you couldn't find the time, or the subject matter was so over your head you couldn't cope, there were books in high school English class that you pretended to read, but actually didn't. 

For me, as a bookworm now, I can't believe there were books I left unturned. Especially if people were telling me to read. Nowadays, I have to beg for time to read. I can't believe I ever passed up the chance to read when people were requiring it of me. 

The books that I did read and will NEVER forget: 
To Kill A Mockingbird
Romeo & Juliet
The Scarlett Letter 
The Great Gatsby 
The Lord of the Flies
The Odyssey 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
The Giver 
My Antonia 

Books that I Didn't Actually Read:
Great Expectations 
A Tale of Two Cities 
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm 
Uncle Tom's Cabin

And then I had the bright idea to add "A book I pretended to read in high school" to my Book Challenge list. And I had to look online to find required reading for high schoolers. I thought surely, I read most of them. Clearly, either my high school English teachers were clueless, or I was. Because I haven't read ALOT of those books. Probably because I was hanging out way too much by the water fountain, showing off my new Sketchers. 

But now I want to. 

The ones I remember skimming SparkNotes for instead of reading I listed above. I'm finding as I get older, I crave these types of books even more. I've now reread The Great Gatsby and The Giver and I want to keep going.

I remember sitting in many English classes, sometimes feeling bored out of my mind. This feeling also coincides with memories of flirting with a boy named John, but I digress. However, there are also times I remember being completely overcome with emotion while reading about Hester's anguish, Huck's tenacity and Jonas' curiosity. These books are required for a reason. And there are so many more that will surely be added as the generations go by. As a self proclaimed bookworm, I feel like it's my duty to actually read these other masterpieces. 

I'm going to start with The Catcher in the Rye. I've always wanted to read Atonement and Wuthering Heights as well. After that, Great Expectations, 1984 and Tale of Two Cities.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye as an adult? 

What was your favorite book you read in high school English class? 

What are your recommendations?


  1. I absolutely LOVED Great Expectations when I read it Freshman year. Something about the old recluse, Miss Havisham, had an impact on me. I loved imagining the story in my mind, getting lost in that peculiar world. I read Catcher in the Rye on my own prior to it being required and I remember enjoying it much more on my own than when we had to dissect every little bit of it. I love that you're doing this, I may have to read those two books again!

  2. 1984 was definitely one of my favorites! Something about thinking of the future (especially with the major themes of post-apocalyptic and alternate universe stories in young adult fiction recently!) Angela's Ashes was also up there, powerful story of an Irish family in financial struggles. Great idea with this challenge, so many classics we should have read in high school but didn't!

  3. I need to go back and read some books, for sure! I don't know why I never read them, I should have.

  4. I think Catcher in the Rye is something you can only enjoy in high school. I didn't like it (read as an adult) and it seems the people I know who read it younger loved it and older hated it.

  5. I didn't read Great Expectations in high school, but did later in life and liked it a lot! I read Catcher, but can't remember anything about it! I guessed if it bowled me over, I would remember more...

  6. After reading through this I'm not sure I actually finished any of those books. Yikes.

  7. We read Great Expectations in 9th and I LOVED it. I cried in class when I read the end.

    I loved Catcher in the Rye. As an adult, I didn't like it as much but I still saw value in it.

    I've read A Separate Piece and Ordinary People in school and as an adult and loved them both both times. I also loved My Antonia.

  8. The older I get and the more I read, the more I realize my high school English classes were a joke. The only books I remember reading are Romeo and Juliet, Mythology, and Ethan Frome. Ethan Frome was read in my senior English class, out loud, so we didn't actually have to read it at home, and the paper we wrote on it was only the introduction and first paragraph, handwritten in class with suggested references given to us by the teacher. It's amazing I got out of high school with any English skills at all!! I'm trying to add some of the typical high school books to my reading list.

  9. Everybody was so obsessed with The Great Gatsby & I just could not get into it.

    1. The Great Gatsby was definitely one of my stand out favorites in HS! Along with The Catcher in the Rye.

  10. I read Catcher in the Rye as a teenager and really enjoyed it. Wuthering Heights is really good.

  11. Oh I was huge into SparkNotes but more in college I think which is even more shameful. This is such a great idea! Can you believe I never had to read Gatsby for a class? Horrific.

  12. I read the Catcher in the Rye in high school but I dont remember it very much except that I liked it a lot. I think I had kind of pretentious taste in books in high school and now I read mostly YA haha so Im not sure what Id think now. Maybe Ill reread it . I read most of the same books as you in high school but Ive never heard of My Antonia. Great post! <3 Bee @ Bee Reads Books

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I absolutely loved The Catcher in the Rye as a teenager. I've never reread it as an adult though. I struggled with Great Expectations. The Scarlet Letter was one of the ones that I really liked but my Mom read it to me in order for me to actually get through it. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it or even finished it otherwise. I'm currently rereading To Kill a Mockingbird. It's one of the ones that I read but skimmed instead of really comprehending. I'm loving it now though. I loved The Great Gatsby in high school and still love it to this day.

  15. Only a few of those were on my required high school reading list. Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter (which I read and loathed), The Catcher in the Rye (it's weird but I have NO memories of reading this book even though I know I did), and I think maybe To Kill a Mockingbird. Books we had to read that I hated were Things Fall Apart and The Once and Future King. I opted to read A Separate Peace and LOVED it. I also fell in love with Our Town which I know is a play but I still read it every year.

    I read The Giver as an adult, Huck Finn in college, and I have My Antonia on my Kindle app.

  16. I'm glad I'm not the only one who never read The Catcher in the Rye! It's now definitely on my list.
    Atonement is brilliant, I remember it taking me quite a while to read but worth it :)

    Holly /

  17. Aha, I love this post! It's nice to see book lovers admitting they weren't always interested in reading every single book ever written!
    I studied literature at University and still left pages unturned for all the books I had to read 😄. Thanks for a great read.

  18. I've actually read a fair few on the list (although I did start reading a couple and left them alone for ages because I couldn't get into them) and To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite! However I've had to read The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye and haven't particularly enjoyed either. Though it is nice to know that I'm not the only one known to rely on google and has put off reading "important" novels!

  19. I'm actually kind of glad I was never required to read Catcher in the Rye when I was in hs (not that I would have anyway though). The first time I read it was after I graduated and I didn't like it very much. Okay, at all. But then I took an American Lit course and read it again - an enthusiastic professor made all the difference.

  20. I still haven't read The Catcher in the Rye .... :/ It's been on my to read list for a while now... haha.

  21. Great Expectations, Animal Farm and 1984 are a must! I read them as an adult and loved them. Maybe it's even better to read them a bit older than high school years, as you get to appreciate and understand things you didn't care for before. :)


Post a Comment

Popular Posts