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):
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)
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
The Last Man (portions)
Things Fall Apart (portions)
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.