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17 Required High School Books We Ended Up Loving

Alright listen up Book Nerds. If you’ve ever had trouble getting through those High School reading assignments, we feel you. No matter how book nerdy you are sometimes it’s just HARD when S.J.Maas. is coming out with like a million new books! Not to mention it’s hard to enjoy reading, no matter how good the book, when you’re already drowning in other homework assignments. Whether it’s a dreaded summer reading assignment that’s taking away from your cute beach reads or a particularly dense book that’s going over your head, it’s not always easy to love a book the first time you read it.

Here are 17 books you probably hated in high school but ended up loving when you finally gave them a second chance:

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

 

Animal Farm by George Orwell

“Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”

As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.

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The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery.”

The Divine Comedy, translated by Allen Mandelbaum, begins in a shadowed forest on Good Friday in the year 1300. It proceeds on a journey that, in its intense recreation of the depths and the heights of human experience, has become the key with which Western civilization has sought to unlock the mystery of its own identity.

Mandelbaum’s astonishingly Dantean translation, which captures so much of the life of the original, renders whole for us the masterpiece of that genius whom our greatest poets have recognized as a central model for all poets.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

Mid-week detoxing for body and mind! #greentea #thegreatgatsby #bookstagram #currentlyreading

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THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf!

 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“I am always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”

After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

“It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…

Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

 

1984 by George Orwell

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf!

 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”

A perfectly menacing cover AND an afterward by Lois Lowry? SOLD.

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When a plane crashes on a remote island, a small group of schoolboys are the sole survivors. From the prophetic Simon and virtuous Ralph to the lovable Piggy and brutish Jack, each of the boys attempts to establish control as the reality – and brutal savagery – of their situation sets in.

The boys’ struggle to find a way of existing in a community with no fixed boundaries invites readers to evaluate the concepts involved in social and political constructs and moral frameworks. Ideas of community, leadership, and the rule of law are called into question as the reader has to consider who has a right to power, why, and what the consequences of the acquisition of power may be. Often compared to Catcher in the RyeLord of the Flies also represents a coming-of-age story of innocence lost.

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Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

“Power doesn’t have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.”

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

 

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini; 03/07/2017 #thekiterunner #khaledhosseini #books #reading #lectura @zoeshiva

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Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

 

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!”

Woah woah woaaah! So it's been about 6 months since I last posted and I guess I just got too busy and ended up forgetting about this account😭 That was until yesterday when I stumbled back upon it and realised how much I had been missing it and decided to start back up again! I won't be posting a lot, just every now and then but I am so extremely excited to be back and to re-fall in love with the bookish community 💙. ∞ I have just begun reading this book and woah, it's a task and a half. I am still on the introduction and it's hurting my brain. Does anyone have any tips for making it through tricky books? x ∞ #book #bookish #bookworm #bookaholic #bookstagram #read #reading #bookphotography #booktography #bibliophile #reads #books #booklover #youngadult #goodreads #wordcloudclassics #classics #thescarletletter #nathanielhawthorne

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Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne’s concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale, trapped by the rules of society, stands as a classic study of a self divided.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 

 

The Odyssey by Homer

“Ah how shameless — the way these mortals blame the gods.
From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes,
but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,
compound their pains beyond their proper share.”

When Robert Fagles’ translation of The Iliad was published in 1990, critics and scholars alike hailed it as a masterpiece. Here, one of the great modern translators presents us with The Odyssey, Homer’s best-loved poem, recounting Odysseus’ wanderings after the Trojan War. With wit and wile, the ‘man of twists and turns’ meets the challenges of the sea-god Poseidon, and monsters ranging from the many-headed Scylla to the cannibalistic Cyclops Polyphemus – only to return after twenty years to a home besieged by his wife Penelope’s suitors. In the myths and legends retold in this immortal poem, Fagles has captured the energy of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom.

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Hamlet by William Shakespeare

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”       

One of the greatest plays of all time, the compelling tragedy of the tormented young prince of Denmark continues to capture the imaginations of modern audiences worldwide. Confronted with evidence that his uncle murdered his father, and with his mother’s infidelity, Hamlet must find a means of reconciling his longing for oblivion with his duty as avenger. The ghost, Hamlet’s feigned madness, Ophelia’s death and burial, the play within a play, the “closet scene” in which Hamlet accuses his mother of complicity in murder, and breathtaking swordplay are just some of the elements that make Hamlet an enduring masterpiece of the theater.

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf! 


What other books would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below!

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