Re-Reading List

The other day I was chatting with my friend Jon about The Great Gatsby. We agreed it was totally wasted on us in high school and decided to reread it. And of course, the book is way better than you’d remember if you only ever read it out of obligation in homeroom.

Then I read Lord of the Flies for the first time, and it was one of the most intense books I’ve ever read. Seriously. It was startling, horrifying, and absolutely unfit for children. (Most of my friends read this in Junior high.) I have no idea why anyone would think this was a book for kids, except there are kids in it. Which feels a little like those commercials where some exec thought an acceptable mascot for a food product was a slightly bigger, talking version of the same food.  ¹ ²

That got me thinking about all the other Great Books I’ve wasted (or SparkNotes’d, or never read at all). So I started compiling a list of high-school essentials.

I hardly remember any of these books. At sixteen I was more interested in texting girls than impressing teachers.

My current plan is to read and re-read a bunch of standard syllabus stuff. After, I’ll give a brief review and hopefully have some solid recommendations by the end.

Is it still good? Was it ever good? Is it worth reading again as an adult? These are the kinds of questions that are literally impossible to answer without reading my blog.

Here’s what I’ve got so far.*

  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Dune
  • Siddhartha
  • Gone with the Wind
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Brave New World
  • Of Mice and Men
  • 1984
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Death of a Salesman
  • The Metamorphosis
  • The Giver
  • The Outsiders
  • Hatchet
  • The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Heart of Darkness
  • Huck Finn
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Odyssey 
  • Old Man and the Sea
  • The Power of One
  • The Things We Carried
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God

I italicized the ones I’ve already read—but I barely remember most of them. I’m pretty sure The Outsiders was the one where Pony Boy beat up other kids. But why would they make us read that in high school? Was it good? I don’t remember.

I could still use some help though.

If you have time, let me know which books you were assigned in high school. Do any stand out as worth your time again? Let me know in the comments or on twitter or just yell really, really loud.

UPDATE — READER SUGGESTIONS:

  • My name is Asher Lev
  • Watership Down
  • Cat’s Cradle
* I’ve intentionally left The Scarlet Letter off the list. I was forced to read it in middle school, high school, and college and I hated it every single time. It’s dense and tedious, while still managing to be totally unrewarding. I give it a Very Boring out of Five stars.
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