High School Classics I Never Had To Read

So this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic was about popular authors whom I've never read, and I automatically knew I would have no trouble completing that list. It started to get me thinking, though, on how many classic books I've also never read. When I think about my high school/college curriculum, I realized I managed to get away without reading a lot of the more popular classics. I don't mean those classics that were assigned to me and I skimmed through with the help of Sparknotes - that would be an entire list altogether. I mean the list of classics that none of my teachers ever required me to read.

    1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
    4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    5. 1984 by George Orwell
    6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    10. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
    11. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Every high school - hell, every teacher - is different, but it still surprises me that I was never required to read Lord of the Flies or Animal Farm. Of course, just because I'm not in high school anymore doesn't mean I can't ever read them. I'd like to read them one day. In fact, I'd probably enjoy reading them more now that I'm not forced to write essays on them. I like to read at my own leisurely pace without the need to remember and analyze every page. My reread of The Great Gatsby just before the release of the movie versionfor example, was much more enjoyable than when I read it during my senior year. Perhaps I'll understand them more now that I'm older. Then again, there are some books that I'll never like no matter how many times I pick it up (see: Heart of Darkness. I actually had to read it once for high school and again in college).

On the other hand, I actually enjoyed the in-depth analysis we did in classes, because I know I'm not the type of person to really look at the themes of a book unless I was asked to. Reading Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet was a lot more fun when my teacher was there to explain most of the Shakespearean innuendos and insults that I would have missed if I read it myself.

It's also interesting to note which classics are more "popular" required readings than other. I have two younger siblings, and it's always amusing when they have to borrow my old copy of The Scarlet Letter or The Great Gatsby. But then my sister read East of Eden and Moby Dick when most of my friends in my year and I managed to avoid them. My brother who is now a high school senior is currently reading 1984, another book I didn't read.

So readers, what high school classics have you never read? If you were in high school again (egads), which ones do you wish you could read and which ones would you want to avoid? 


  1. Leigh (Little Book Star)March 8, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    OMG YOU HAVE TO READ LORD OF THE FLIES AND ANIMAL FARM! I was required to read Lord of the Flies during my Sophomore year and it was such a fantastic read! I wasn't required to read Animal Farm (although some of my friends were but it's because we had different English teachers), but I read it on my own during my summer vacation going into junior year and it was a really amazing and sad read. 1984 was a very weird book and I ended up DNF-ing it after reading the first half. I ended up going on Sparknotes.com and just read the chapter summaries there (because we had an in class essay on it). I also just went on Sparknotes to read the chapter summaries for Huckleberry Finn. The Joy Luck Club was a very unique and easy read. I remember I had so much fun discussing it with my classmates and teacher because there were lots of symbolism in the book. I hope you get to read those classics someday! It's worth it. :D

  2. My teachers haven't had us read interesting books AT ALL. This year we read In Cold Blood (which was not interesting after the first 15% or so and was in fact incredibly boring and drawn out), Angela's Ashes (which might have been interesting outside of school, but failed to grab my attention), Things Fall Apart (which didn't grab my attention; the subject matter wasn't interesting to me), and A Day In the Life of Ivan Donisovich (hacked up that spelling, I'm sure). Anyway, none of the books we have read this year have interested me in the slightest.

    I did just finish Pride and Prejudice of my own accord and LOVED it. I would read it time and time again. Next year we have more interesting books to read than this year (I believe the list includes Frankenstein and A Picture of Dorian Grey). I'm going to get a head start on a lot of them so I don't feel obligated to read them come school.

    Also, I haven't read any of the books on this list except for Of Mice and Men, which was only okay. I did try to read The Great Gatsby but grew pretty bored. I may read it again someday. I used to own a copy of Lord of the Flies but never read it, so ended up giving it away. I read Romeo and Juliet in 9th grade and I actually enjoy it, but I probably wouldn't read it now. That instalove...