As an English major, I've read my fair share of assigned readings for some of my classes. And like all of us, I have also read many assigned books in high school as well. Some people might groan and complain at assigned readings, and honestly, most will just end up looking it up SparkNotes, but I actually read all the books. Some I could have gone without, but school actually helped exposed me to books that I ended up really liking and probably won't have picked up on my own. Here are the best books that I've had to read for school (so far)...
1. "Affinity" by Sarah Waters
Reading this book was one wild ride - but I mean that in the best way possible. I couldn't stop reading this addictive story about a woman who is drawn to a mysterious prisoner.
2. "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
This is definitely not just a book for children. There are so many complex themes present in this fantastical adventure story that jump out to you as an adult reader.
3. "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin
Reading this book helped further open my eyes to the oppression that women face in regards to the expectations placed by society. Also, the ending to this story was simply unforgettable.
4. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison
Providing commentary on slavery, race, love, guilt, family, and much more, this book is pretty mind-blowing, especially aided by the storytelling talents of Toni Morrison.
5. "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
While reading this for A.P. English during my senior year of high school, I'm pretty sure I was the only one who actually enjoyed reading this crazy story that takes you inside the deranged and unhinged criminal mind of main character Raskolnikov.
6. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You might think of the flashy film featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, but when I think of "The Great Gatsby," I mostly think of F. Scott Fitzgerald's beautiful prose. I actually read this book before it was assigned during my junior year of high school, but I was more than happy to read it a second time.
7. "The Handmaid’s Tale" by Margaret Atwood
This dystopian novel showcases a society where women are extremely oppressed, making this both an intriguing and alarming read. I was immediately drawn into this twisted world that Atwood created.
8. "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson
This disturbing - yet witty - novel is a perfect example of gothic literature. It's a psychological thriller of the best kind, and the ending was something that I never saw coming. This is one book that will definitely make you think.
9. "The Razor’s Edge" by W. Somerset Maugham
This is a book that slowly grew on me when I had to read it back in high school. It makes for one compelling read and also teaches some eye-opening lessons on life.
10. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
I think pretty much any high schooler is assigned this book at some point. It is, undoubtedly, a classic in the world of American literature, so that is not a surprise. This book teaches many important lessons that should not be overlooked, and it's just an extremely engaging story.
Assigned novels in your classes should not be seen as a burden - instead, they should be seen as an opportunity. I know that I'm typically drawn to popular or new novels, so I'm thankful that school has allowed me to expand my literary perspective.