Favorite Books I Had to Read for School

Friday Favorites 02I stumbled upon this meme at the adorable blog, Tessa’s Wishful Endings. Really it’s as simple as the name; you talk about a favorite book related subject on Fridays. It could be anything from favorite authors, books and genres to favorite reading spots, opening sentences and love triangles. Basically the world of novels is our oyster and with Friday Favorites, we can conquer it.

Favorite Books I had to Read for School

I love reading, I do. I really, really, do. But for some reason, at school when a teacher puts a book in front of me and says “YOU MUST READ THIS” the reader inside of me vanishes and instead the rebellious hoodlum takes precedent and silently declares war with the teacher.

I hardly read any of the assigned novels in school and I’m not proud of it. But I can’t change the past, I just have to move on and try to do better.

However, there were a few novels assigned that I couldn’t help but read and be taken in by its spell. Its these novels I will talk about today.

east of edenEast of Eden by John Steinbeck

I was completely taken by surprise with this novel. The summer before my sophomore year in high school I was assigned Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and hating summer school work on principal I in turn hated that novel. So in class during my senior year, when Ms. Potter assigned East of Eden I silently groaned and felt the rebellious hoodlum rising within me. I felt that Steinbeck was stalking me. He knew I didn’t read his previous novel and he was back for revenge. Game on Steinbeck.

I was determined to just skim through the book but when Ms. Potter actually dedicated a class period to reading the first few chapters, I had no choice in the matter. There I was practically shouting at the novel in my head as I read it when I found myself starting to read with earnest, starting to digest what I read and actually cursing the bell that meant class was over. This novel was actually okay, more than okay, it was fascinating. I read the whole novel quickly after that and found that Steinbeck had won the battle, but I didn’t care. East of Eden remains one of my favorite classics to this day.

thekiterunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Another novel assigned by the brilliant Ms. Potter. I’d heard great things about this novel and I knew it was probably a good one, but still the stubbornness in me wouldn’t allow myself to be excited. As soon as the words “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS” were uttered Khaled Hosseini was dead to me. I stared at that book for a long time, trying to convey what an inconvenience it was to me. This time it was my mother that convinced me as only a mother can (you all know the look and tone of voice). She had read the book and said it was a novel that I absolutely needed to read, not skim.

Since I live with my mother, I didn’t really have any other choice but to comply. Of course, this novel engaged me. Anybody that has read it I doubt can say otherwise. It’s a compelling story and utterly heart wrenching. It really is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives.

thegreatgatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This book was assigned for our final exam, which meant that it only earned double negative points from me. We were to have the book read and then come in and answer the discussion questions. Being the natural born procrastinator that I am, I did not even open the cover of the book until the day before the exam and I really had not planned on reading the book at all, but just do the basic skimming. I ended up finishing that whole novel in a matter of hours (it’s a short book).

I drunk the story in and loved what I tasted. My heart went with Gatsby as soon as he was introduced and stayed with him until the very end. The next day I went to class and I nailed that exam. It actually amazed me that I had so much to say about such a short story, but that’s just proof of Fitzgerald’s skill. Well done Fitzgerald, and well done Ms. Potter, you got me again.

There you go, the three books that I actually read cover to cover in high school. Sure, there a few more out there but none that resonated with me such as these three. Here’s a lesson for you kids out there: read the books teachers assign to you, though it may seem like they are doing it just to be mean, they are doing it for a reason. Trust them.

Did you struggle with reading books assigned to you? What books did you love the most in high school? Share below and happy reading!

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5 thoughts on “Favorite Books I Had to Read for School

  1. I’ve never been a huge fan of “literary” fiction, so I found high school reading lists fairly dull. There were a few that I quite enjoyed, although those were usually the result of independent projects where you got to choose your own book — for example, Catch 22, which remains one of the saddest and most hilarious books I’ve ever read. I think a big reason for my distaste with high school reading lists is that a lot of the books you have to read are kind of depressing … and I like my books to be upbeat and have happy endings. So I still did a ton of reading in high school … it’s just that most of them weren’t on the required reading list 🙂

  2. My roommate and I were talking about objectophilia one day… that’s a weird way to start a sentence… sorry… but I told her that if I had to marry an object, it would be East of Eden. It actually changed my life. That book taught me everything I know about love and rejection.

    I had to read it in high school too, but it wasn’t forced upon me (because we had a choice of what novel we wanted to read for an independent study), so that made it a much better experience, I think. I get what you mean about having a hard time enjoying books when they are assigned. Whenever I have a deadline for reading a book it always changes the whole act of reading for me because suddenly every page I read just becomes a fraction of the total number of pages that I need to get through that day. Despite that, I still managed to enjoy East of Eden, Great Expectations (believe it or not), Frankenstein, And The Glass Castle (by Jeannette Walls).

    • I’m sure you and East of Eden would have a blissful marriage.

      Glad that you understand, for some reason deadlines give me a complex. I haven’t read any of the other books that you listed, but Frankenstein in particular has been on my reading list for a while.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I actually hated The Great Gatsby in high school, but I’m considering giving it another change. Even though I love reading, I think having to read something can still bias me against it 🙂

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