Remember when your English teacher was describing all those books with such an ardor in order to convince you to read them? She or he might have almost succeeded. But you didn’t want to hear a word about it. Actually, let me tell you, reading is way cooler than you might have imagined. Here are some books you should have read in high school which are totally worth reading at any age.
To Kill a Mockingbird
This 1960 classic by Harper Lee, deals with racism and it revolves around a family with two children who have to learn that life is not always pink. Their father, Atticus Finch, a small-town attorney, attempts to defend a black man unjustly accused of rape. The lives of Scout and Jem Finch radically change with the whole trial going around, but Atticus always finds the means to teach them the right lessons.
The publisher’s note goes: “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”.
Pride and Prejudice
Everybody has heard of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as it is one of her masterpieces. This is a romantic novel that focuses on the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth Bennet, the daughter of a country gentleman, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, a rich aristocratic landowner. This book is guaranteed to be making you fall in love either with the characters and their love story or with Austen’s writing. So you might as well give it a try now, if you haven’t yet.
Publisher’s description: “ The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and Darcy is a splendid rendition of civilized sparring. As the characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, Jane Austen’s radiantly caustic wit and keen observation sparkle”.
Actually, any book by the Bronte sisters is worth reading, but Charlotte Bronte outdid herself in this one. Jane Eyre is special because it captures the essence of the inner life of a woman in the Victorian era. It is fascinating to read about a young woman struggling to eradicate her social condition and try to escape from the norms imposed by society and follow her dreams. Spoiler alert: there is some spicy romantic drama going on.
About the book: “A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman’s quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?”.
The Great Gatsby
Scott. Fitzgerald’s third novel is set in Jazz Age New York. The novel tells the tragic story of Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire, and his pursuit of Daisy Buchanan, a wealthy young woman whom he loved in his youth. Unsuccessful upon publication, the book is now considered a classic of American fiction and has often been called the Great American Novel.
Publisher’s description: “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel of the Roaring Twenties is beloved by generations of readers and stands as his crowning work. Nick Carraway, the Midwesterner turned New York bond salesman, rents a small house next door to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. There, he has a firsthand view of Gatsby’s lavish West Egg parties – and of his undying love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan”.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
This is more like a moral fantasy novel by Irish writer Oscar Wilde, published in 1890. The novel deals with the tale of a young man who purchases eternal youth at the expense of his soul. But what happens with the soul of a being who doesn’t get physically old? A novel full of plot twists that will keep you awake at night wanting to finish it.
About the book: “ Wilde’s only novel, first published in 1890, is a brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. From its provocative Preface, challenging the reader to believe in «art for art’s sake», to its sensational conclusion, the story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design”.
Hear me out, I know that Herman Melville’s Moby Dick may not be for everyone, but is actually worth perusing through. It deals with a lot of details about whales and their construction and body parts, about boats and sea and seafaring songs. There is a lot, I know! But it is actually fascinating and you’ll get so much information you never thought you would need about sailing.
About the book: “ Moby Dick is the story of Captain Ahab’s quest to avenge the whale that «reaped» his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn of democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab’s appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security of each”.
What was your favorite book in high school? Or what is the book that always sparked your interest, but you never got a chance to read it?