Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Book List Meme: Books That Take You Back to High School

What a fun list this week!  Since I'm not too many (read "two") years away from a twentieth reunion, the books that I remember when I think back to high school are the ones I spent the most time with. So, without further ado ...

Three Books That Take You Back To High School
  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - Mrs. Murphy would never forgive me if I had forgotten this book by now.  We spent what seemed like months analyzing this book to death -- themes, characters, settings, etc.  I'm only now getting to the point where I'm considering a re-read!  I wish I still had the group paper we wrote on it but I passed it on to my brother when he had the class.
  2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - This may have been the most painful reading experience of my life.  I can't stand this book.  Luckily, one of the characters had the middle name of my boyfriend at the time and so I sketched in his first and last names around every instance of the character name.  That distracted me enough to get me through the dustbowl.  My brother didn't appreciate inheriting my copy of the book though!  I think he convinced my mom to buy him a new one.
  3. My Antonia by Willa Cather - This book actually has good memories as it's one of the first adult books that my mom recommended to me.  Along with Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre and some other random books, this one means something to me because it meant something to her as a young reader.  I read it a couple of times when I was young but haven't visited it in a while.
What books do you recall the strongest from your high school days?

Letting these novels take me back,


  1. Hi - interesting post and has got me thinking. I would say that my school days books are:

    1. Jane Eyre - my English teacher said that if I did not cry at the end of this novel then I was not the woman he thought I was, and I did not let him down. I remember that being my first adult really emotional read.
    2. Tess of the D'Urbervilles. We did this for our GCSE novel and everyone absolutely hated it for about the first 200 pages - then we got it and we were away.
    3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - when we were about 16 we went through something of a Sylvia Plath phase... I still think of her Ariel collection of poems sometimes, but the one that has really stuck with me is her Bell Jar novel... I guess that it is a classic adolescent/adult boundary read.

    Great post, thanks for sharing


  2. Don't know how I didn't think of "Grapes," except that I didn't really appreciate it until much later, and after I had actually taught the book a few times. And as for "Tale," I think we need to get a read-along / re-read going on this one, as I'm gearing up to teach the book next month.

  3. +JMJ+

    I also read My Antonia when I was in high school, but it wasn't for high school. Then I had no one to discuss it with because no one else had read it!

    How was it taught to you in class, Kristen?

  4. I've just started My Antonia! I had to read Death Comes for the Archbishop as a sophomore in high school and found the experience so painful, I"d written Cather off for good. Now that I'm giving her a second chance, I'm impressed. :)

  5. I could pretty much say the same ones ... but My Antonia was college for me!

  6. I didn't read any of these books in high school. We weren't nearly as well-read apparently as other schools. I did read My Antonia last year and really enjoyed it.

  7. Hannah - Great list! I think this is a fascinating exercise!

    Ted - I wonder if I would appreciate Grapes of Wrath more now than I did in high school. I am planning to finally re-read TOTC this year now that I appreciate Dickens so much more than I did in high school!

    Enbrethiliel - I didn't read it for school either really. I read some other Willa Cather books for a project but it was a self-chosen author project so there was no teaching, per se.

    Eva - I read Death Comes as a senior and liked it but it was also my third Cather so I think I was just comfortable with her writing by then. I need to do re-reads of Antonia and Oh Pioneers though!

    Jenners - I'm surprised to see that so many people have read My Antonia. You don't hear about it much!

    Rebecca - I'm sure there are regional differences in high school require reading lists. It would be an interesting thing to see.