Books That I Read in High School (Required Reading)

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I thought that it might be interesting to talk about some of the book that I was required to read when I was in high school. I graduated high school over ten years ago now so my memories of these books have definitely faded over time, but I still remember how I felt about them! I hated some, and loved others! I would love to reread these to see what I think about them now.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

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Romeo and Juliet was the first book by William Shakespeare that I have ever read, and I remember absolutely loving it at the time! I was fourteen and I thought the story was so romantic! We then watched the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and that really sold it for me. I now know that the story is ridiculous (talk about instalove!!!) but I still have a soft spot for it.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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The next Shakespeare play that I read was Macbeth and I also remember really loving it! I think it was the first book that I have read that was so dark and it gripped me. It is still a book that my friends from high school quote from time to time! I just loved those witches!

Othello by William Shakespeare

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Othello was the last Shakespeare play that I read in high school and it was probably my least favourite of his books that I have read. I remember very little about it except for the ending! I was reading Goodreads reviews and they have really inspired me to give this play another chance! I think there is a lot that I might have missed (or let’s be honest skipped over) when I read it for the first time. My English teacher that year also wasn’t my favourite so that might have affected my reading experience!

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Even as a teenager I thought that Holden Caulfield was annoying! All he did was complain and complain! I did not find myself relating to him in any way. That said, The Catcher in the Rye is both my mom’s and my brother’s favourite book so I would like to reread it and see what I think now that I am almost thirty as opposed to fifteen. Seeing this cover brings me so much nostalgia!

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

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Angela’s Ashes is probably the book that I think about the most of all the books that I was required to read in high school. It is very heavy and heartbreaking, and it really opened my eyes to the world. I think I was a pretty naive teenager and this book hit me like a ton of bricks. I will forever be grateful for this book and the impact that it had on me. I continue to read memoirs like this one and they continue to teach me empathy.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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I HATED Frankenstein when I read it in high school! Absolutely hated it! I can not even tell you why I despised it so much, so I really should reread it to see if my opinion has changed or not! I think that when I read it it was not at all what I was expecting, but looking at it now I can appreciate the message and themes more than I did then.

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Tuesdays With Morrie is one of my favourite books of all time! When it was assigned to us in high school, I had already read it twice, so I was thrilled! I remember being really proud of the paper that I wrote. It is a book that I continue to reread and continue to love! Everyone should read this one!

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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Ugh this play was such a struggle to get through! It took me ages to read only 114 pages! I can remember thinking that not a lot was happening and that I was obviously missing the point. I think it felt too pretentious for me at the time, and if I am being honest, it is the only book on this list that I have no interest in rereading!

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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A Modest Proposal is only 48 pages but it really packed a punch! It was probably one of my first ventures in to satire and I absolutely loved it! I do not think I have read anything quite like it since. I think it is a great essay for a classroom to read together. I distinctly remember the class coming together to dissect and discuss it because we all enjoy it so much.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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The Color Purple is a book that I truly think everyone should read in their lifetime. It is one of the books that made me fall in love with historical fiction, and it was also my introduction in to feminist literature. I recall being shocked by how graphic the story is but also being inspired by the resilience of the characters!

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I am always curious to know what books other people read in high school. Did you enjoy reading in high school? Have you reread any of the book since then and did your opinion change? Let me know!

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56 thoughts on “Books That I Read in High School (Required Reading)

  1. I have Frankenstein on my shelf but haven’t read it! When I first read The Catcher in the Rye a few years ago, (I was almost pushing 40 back then hahahaha) I was super annoyed by Holden. I re-read it last year and perhaps I had already know what was coming, so I got to better appreciate the book the second time. Curious to know what you think !

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  2. Awesome post! I loved Holden Caulfield, in spite of all his whininess… I don’t think I read it in school though. My mind’s a blank when it comes to required reading of the past. All I recall is reading Hamlet forever to infinity:))

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  3. Fun fact: My English teacher thought that he would try to amp up reading Romeo and Juliet so he ordered a class set of graphic novels of the play that came with the original text. So basically on top of having to decipher what the heck the characters were saying and catch themes and all that, we had to focus on colour, mood and expression that the art was trying to deliver. It was quite trying, but also fun!

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  4. Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet were also required reading for me in high school :”) Most English teachers looove their Shakespeare. I also read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison but I’m definitely considering picking up The Color Purple soon (I’ve heard such amazing things about it!)

    Lovely post ❤

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  5. I cannot recommend re-reading Othello enough – it’s one of my absolute favourite works, ever! I also found Frankenstein to not be what I was expecting either, and I didn’t mind it, but I definitely didn’t love it!

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  6. oooh i love this post! i actually did really enjoy some of my high school required reading, so i’m glad to hear i’m not the only one. Othello is one exception, though – i read it last year for a course and i didn’t like it at all!!

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      1. Yea, my teacher decided on all the boring ones as far as i remember. She even made the Odyssey sound terrible and awful. A few years later one of my friends became a highschool teacher and she read harry potter with her students ❤

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  7. I was a very cynic 9th grader and I hated the way people thought that Romeo and Juliet was a romance. They were kids who knew each other for like a day. I did still really enjoy it though! Otherwise it looks like your high school had a pretty different reading list from mine…

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  8. I also read Romeo and Juliet in high school. I read Frankenstein in 8th grade, and I actually didn’t read Catcher in the Rye until college. I absolutely hated Catcher, and wasn’t a huge fan of Frankenstein either. I haven’t read any of the others you read! My favorite book from high school is definitely Pride and Prejudice

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  9. We did not have to read the same books in school! You only had to read 3 Shakespeare plays? I had to read one all four years + I took a Studies in Literature course where we read a Shakespeare play “for fun” we didn’t have any tests or anything on it. I had to read Othello too, that is my favourite Shakespeare play! I had to read Romeo & Juliet (obviously), Merchant of Venice, Othello, King Lear & Richard the Third.

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      1. That is interesting. Different school systems call for different books I guess. I went to Catholic school so the reading material would differ from a public school no doubt. That’s not to say I read “holy” books or anything, but I feel like they sanitized a lot of required readings… if that makes sense.

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  10. I definitely had to read Macbeth but my class was never assigned another Shakespeare novel. For some reason, it seems like there was always a time crunch? We don’t have time to read certain books so we read one book from one author. I was also assigned to read The Crucible by Arthur Miller and watched the play in class. Tuesdays with Morrie would’ve been a great book to read for class but I read it on my free time. It was fine though because that book made me tear up. 😂

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      1. My first book from Mitch Albom was actually THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. I remembered how I almost cried in my high school library reading that book. Then I moved on to his other books. I was reading it during break. I had acquaintances who didn’t understand why I’m reading outside of class. 😂

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  11. I read Macbeth in high school too, and the other Shakespeare I did was Much Ado About Nothing which I absolutely loved! We also did Wuthering Heights which I wasn’t crazy about at the time (I preferred Jane Eyre) but having read it a few years later (and older!) I adore it now!

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  12. I’ve only read Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth off this list. I didn’t exactly not like them but I didn’t love them either. I’ve read part of Frankenstein but I never finished it. I had to read stuff like Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales. Like multiple times. Oh and Animal Farm was the worst. This was a great post idea.

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      1. The Canterbury Tales was okay. But I had to read Beowulf multiple times. I read it in middle and high school and again in college. It just got old. It was an easy read though.

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  13. I also hated The Catcher in the Rye in high school. But I re-read it this summer, and gosh, it’s amazing. Yeah, Holden is annoying, but that’s kind of the point a little. Holden is so REAL, and that’s how teenage boys are, especially when they’re struggling with depression and things. I would like to re-read it again with a class so I could appreciate all the stuff that I’m sure I missed.

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