It’s September and the school buses are again making the rounds. In honor of back-to-school, us Pub Crawlers have been chatting about some of our favorite required reading from high school. (And also some of our least favorites). I’ll kick things off…
Favorite:A Separate Peace by John Knowles and The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, both read in 10th grade when I had an amazing teacher. I remember connecting with these characters because they felt so distinctly teen, and I loved that.
Least Favorite: The Red Pony. I could not stand this novel. I don’t even remember why. I had a grudge against Steinbeck until Grapes of Wrath won me over in 11th grade.
Favorite: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Seriously the only book all the Juniors read beyond where we were asked to.
Least Favorite: Ulysses by James Joyce because, come on, who had time to read that when I was busy writing Harry Potter fan-fiction when I was home?
Favorite: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The language in this book is gorgeous!
Least Favorite: Hmmm, probably A Light in August? I just wasn’t a fan of Faulkner…
Favorite: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I have no idea why, but I was obsessed with that book.
Least Favorite: My Antonia by Willa Cather. I didn’t even finish this, I’m ashamed to admit. I got, like, three chapters in, decided it was too dreadful to continue, and SparkNoted the rest.
S. Jae-Jones (JJ)
Favorite: Probably Jane Eyre or Pride & Prejudice. Because I am predictable like that. Jane Eyre pretty much cemented my love of the gothic novel, but I really appreciated the way my teacher taught us the book, which was pretty much about sex. Passionate sex, romantic sex. In other words, FEELINGS. I loved Pride & Prejudice because I thought it was funny. Austen is extremely wry and she writes about ridiculous people that just SKEWERS their ridiculousness. (Although unlike Bronte, she doesn’t do earnest feelings nearly as well.) Other books I loved were Beloved (Morrison) and The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald).
Least Favorite: Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I tried, Thomas Hardy, but I just can’t get into you.
Favorite: The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig. This was a memoir about a Polish girl exiled to Siberia during WWII, and at thirteen, it was a revelation to me.
Least Favorite: Far From The Madding Crowd. Like JJ, I just couldn’t get into Thomas Hardy. I faked my book report on this one. Still not sure if my teacher knew or not…
Favorite: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Least Favorite: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
Favorite: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Least Favorite: My Antonia by Willa Cather
Favorite: A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Least Favorite: The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Favorite: Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, which is still one of the best novels about the cultural divide between immigrant mothers & their daughters that I’ve ever encountered.
Least Favorite: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I didn’t find anything likeable or interesting about the characters or the story, and I was assigned the book 4 times between grade 9 and second year university!
Favorite: I also liked A Separate Peace.
Least Favorite: I’m pretty sure I didn’t care for the rest of the books assigned in school, but that’s all overshadowed by the amazing books I picked out for myself from the library.
What’s your favorite novel read during high school? What about least favorite? Tell us in the comments!