The books I read in my English classes in high school were always insightful and educational, despite how utterly boring some of them were at times (I'm looking at you, Steinbeck and Hawthorne). After finishing my freshman year of college, I've realized just how important it is to read the books that are assigned in high school. Classics are brought up in history classes, physics classes, and of course English classes. References are thrown left and right, and if you haven't read the right books, you'll be left in the dust to awkwardly laugh at a joke you don't get while the rest of the class is snickering at the professor's wits. Here's a quick brush up on some of this classic literature before saying your goodbyes to your parents and loved ones until Thanksgiving. (However, I highly recommend reading a few of them for yourself.) *SPOILERS*
1. "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Marie Remarque
A young German man goes to war with his friends. They all die. You might cry. I did.
2. "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin
A young woman is tired of playing the role of "angel of the house" and decides to live her own life away from her family. She swims off into the ocean at the end and we can assume that she dies.
3. "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller
Willy Loman is a salesman who starts acting weird. His wife and sons notice. He dies.
4. "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver
A Baptist family goes to the Congo to help the people there and they fail miserably. The youngest sister dies. The father dies. The other four sisters go off on their own in very unexpected directions.
5. "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
A man goes to war and discovers that everything is backward in the military, creating the term "catch-22."
6. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison
After writing a 13 page research essay on this book, I could never do it justice by summarizing it in a few sentences. You need to read it for yourself.
7. "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare
To be, or not to be? That is the question. A dad dies at the beginning. A lot of people die at the end.
8. "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare
I didn't read this one but there have been so many references thrown at me in everyday life that I wish I had. Please read this.
9. "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare
Julius Caesar doesn't see that his friends are betraying him. He gets stabbed. He dies. Et tu, Brute?
10. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is that Holden Caulfield is an angsty young teenager who is going through some stuff and this book is about it.
11. "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
A man goes to war and is abducted by aliens. Things get really weird.
12. "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
A family experiences the Great Depression. It's raw and real and kind of boring at times, especially when the turtle is crossing the road.
13. "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A woman has a child out of wedlock and has to wear a scarlet "A" on her dress for the rest of her days and is shunned by the community. But then the father is revealed and it gets crazy.
14. "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
Animals take over a farm and pigs dress as men.
15. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A man goes to visit a cousin and happens upon a great love story that doesn't pan out.
16. "Pride & Prejudice" by Jane Austen
An aggravating book about the tantalizing love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy that doesn't resolve until the last ten pages.
17. "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding
Some kids survive a plane crash and live on a deserted island. Things get weird when pig heads get involved.
18. "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka
A man wakes up as a bug and his family shuns him and he dies and that's basically it.