Required Reading

classic books in book shelf

The other day, my younger son, who’s in high school, informed me that he’d be reading the Hunger Games for his English class. Last semester he read In Cold Blood by Capote.

Times have changed, or it may have, depending on the school.

I’ll tell you the books I had to read (I hated reading when I was in school at any time from 1st-12th grade), but was pleasantly surprised, when I actually did read some of them. I actually liked them very much. Here are some that I had to read from junior high through high school and which ones I actually read (the ones I truly read are bolded):

The Hobbit

Call of the Wild

Romeo and Juliet

The Merchant of Venice (read in class)

For Whom the Bells Toll (didn’t get past the first page. Didn’t care for Hemingway’s simplistic writing)

Huckleberry Finn

A Tale of Two Cities

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Great Gatsby

The Scarlet Letter

Out of the ones I read, the only one I didn’t care for was The Scarlet Letter. I really like detailed descriptions, but Hawthorne took it to the nth degree, and there were portions where he’d go off on tangents, and I’d forget where the characters were and where the scene was taking place.

But as for the others, I loved A Tale of Two Cities, The Hobbit, Huckleberry Finn, and The Great Gatsby.

In college, I had the good fortunate to be able to read all kinds of wonderful classics and interesting literature as well:

The Yellow Wallpaper


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (portions)


Pride and Prejudice

Lady Susan 


The Last Man (portions)

Things Fall Apart (portions)

Twelfth Night

Taming of the Shrew

Beowulf (sorry, didn’t like this one!)

And other books from other countries, like the Thirteenth Night.

Lots of great stories. I especially loved The Yellow Wallpaper, Twelfth Night, Metamorphosis, The Last Man, and Frankenstein.

The portions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were brilliantly written. Stevenson’s words are like reading a psalm. Beautiful.

Mary Shelley’s writing is similar in that regard, as well. Poetic and stunning.

I read To Kill a Mockingbird on my own back in 2010 just because I wanted to. Great book.

So, I’m wondering when my son will be reading any of these or other classics. Perhaps I’m a literature snob, but the classics are incomparable and vital reading material for teens, in my opinion.

I wrote my son’s English teacher to see if he had a list of the books the students would be reading the rest of the semester. I’d like to see if there are any really good books on the list–classics, I mean. I’ve not gotten an email back as of yet. Hopefully, I will.

The previous private Christian school my sons were in in Lancaster, PA, had amazing reading lists with some of the books I mentioned above.

My older son took British Literature and World Literature his junior and senior years, and he read Fahrenheit 451, Wuthering Heights, Things Fall Apart, The Kite Runner, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name a few.

Am I being too picky? A literature or book snob? Do public schools not offer the classics anymore? Are In Cold Blood and The Hunger Games considered “classics” now? If the old classics aren’t being offered in English classes anymore, that’s a big disappointment to me.

I may have my son read Frankenstein on his free time over the summer. It’s a short book, and it’s awesome, with lots of important messages.





9 thoughts on “Required Reading

  1. My daughter had a few classics, but the new theory is less books, more in depth though (and she was in two years of AP English and a college level course) Even in her first actual college English class, she read only one, Bleak House, unless you consider A Man for all Seasons a classic. Lit is more varied, but books are still good

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting….The Hunger Games? Does he have to take any more English before graduating? Maybe that will be more of a literate based than reading based class? I know my step-son had to read Lord of the Flies and Jekyll and Hyde, but not until his senior year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. I’m not sure, Mary. I was hoping to get something back from the English teacher, more out of curiosity than anything else. Christopher did say that they were going to read Lord of the Flies but changed to the Hunger Games instead.


  3. I’d certainly question whether Hunger Games was a classic. My High School English Teacher would have a fit if he discovered that on the reading list.
    However, I would accept In Cold Blood, if it happens to be the one that was written by Truman Capote. Penguin has released it a part of their orange cover classics series (though I hope they don’t do it with Hunger Games).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think Hunger Games is a classic, whatsoever. Although, I went ahead and read the first chapter and half of the first page of the second chapter to get an idea of the writing and writing style. The author is a very good writer. She drew me into that story by the second paragraph. Anyway, I heard back from his English teacher, and my son had the choice between Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies. I told him he could switch, but he wanted to stay with HG because he’s already about 8 chapters in and didn’t want to fall behind. I warned him of the violence and asked if he liked the story so far. He said he did. So, his choice, hubby told me, and so I agreed.


    2. Yes, I know In Cold Blood was written by Capote. The movie followed. My son didn’t have to watch the violent parts. My husband and I didn’t raise our sons on violent movies or video games, so that book and some anime he watches the past several months has been his first introduction to very violent films. In any case, he’s to read a nonfiction book about Mt. Everest disaster and then a bunch of Edgar Allen Poe works (which I do consider classics).


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