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Saturday Seven: Books I Read in High School

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Y’all … my junior year high school English Lit class nearly killed my love of books. Just saying. I do know that it successfully created me into the type of reader who refuses to even entertain the idea of reading “literature” and also made me into the person who reads the end of a book first (yes, yes I do, at least when I think it might end sadly). Some of these books I read on my own, some were assigned. You’ll get the difference right away. Shockingly, I remember these clearly, considering how long ago high school was! HA!
The Bastard by John Jakes
This series by John Jakes may go down in history as the only books I’ve read and enjoyed (and by golly, I swear they helped me pass American History) that end with main characters dying in tragic ways. Normally, I will avoid those types of books like the plague, but I got so involved with this family, I just couldn’t stop reading them.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I grew up in California, and my teacher revered John Steinbeck. We read a TON of his work, and I hated it all. Don’t tell me about the significance or depth or imagery … all I know is the ending was horrifying and when my daughter was assigned this book for HER class, I nearly protested. I often wonder why some books are classics and some aren’t, and also why “classics” seldom end well. Was life THAT bad way back when?
Summer Mahogany by Janet Dailey
Ah … Janet Dailey. She’s the author who started me down the road to romance. I loved her so much and bought every book in her fifty book “state” series. I could quote from her books. I reread them until they fell apart …
… and then she plagiarized Nora Roberts. And I got rid of every book of hers I owned and never picked up another one. Still, I’m grateful she brought me here. I imagine I might have gotten here without her, but I’m still appreciative.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Yeah … I know … Hemingway is a master. Imagery, symbolism, irony. Whatever. I hate his work and am so glad I never HAVE to read another book or story of his. No wonder he was depressed. Geez.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Okay, this is one you might disagree with me on. I was truly blessed to have a teacher (not my English Lit teacher, another one) who instilled in me a love and respect for Shakespeare. She taught us about the era in which he wrote, showed us the little jokes he hid in his writing, explained with things meant. I remember being shocked that “wherefore art thou Romeo” didn’t mean “where are you” but instead meant “why are you Romeo”. When my daughter studied a few of his plays, I was worried. But she, too, was so lucky to have a teacher who taught his work right.

Lightning by Dean Koontz
Oh my word, I loved this book! It was my first Koontz book, and I started reading everything he wrote. I go back now and read his earlier stuff, and it doesn’t hold up as well, but I’ll forever be grateful to this book for starting me on the path.
Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey
After the dragonriders books, this series is my favorite from Anne McCaffrey. I wanted to BE her so badly (Killashandra Ree, the main character, not Anne McCaffrey, though I wouldn’t complain). I read and reread this series and still have it on my keeper shelf.
What do you remember about books you read in high school?

This Post Has 11 Comments

    1. I was also in drama my entire school experience, and we did two Shakespeare plays in high school and I had the lead in a show called “Get Bill Shakespeare off the Stage”. In that one, the kids don’t want to do Shakespeare so mess with some of the most well known dialogues. Even now, I have trouble getting them right because “Out, out damn spot. Out, out I say! The living room’s not where a dog should play!” or “TB or not TB, that is the congestion.” Heh.

  1. I had a wonderful Shakespeare teacher as well… he was a lot racier than many people realize. When Hamlet tells Ophelia to get herself to a nunnery, he probably did NOT mean a religious house– it was a play on words because it was also used to describe a whore house. I haven’t thought of Jakes’ books in years… I really enjoyed them too. I have to admit to also liking Steinbeck and Hemingway, though! My Saturday Seven is here:

  2. We read the classics, Animal House, 1984, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, William Shakespeare, Hermann Hesse, Death of a Salesman and so on and son on.

    1. Oh yeah … we read Animal House and I actually graduated in 1984, so that book was all the rage. My kid LOVES “Death of a Salesman”. What did you think of it?

  3. Do you have any idea how long ago high school was for me? LOL! I can’t remember that far back. They did have this tiny library tucked away in a corner. Every week I would go and pick up several books.
    McCaffrey I didn’t pick up until after I married, but I fell in love with her books thereafter.

    1. I’m 34 years out of high school … but I was clearly scarred. I actually worked in the school library in middle school …oh my heart <3

  4. I didn’t appreciate Shakespeare until I heard it performed (well after high school, lol). I remember (foolishly) trying to read the recommended reading list before junior year and struggling to make it through many of the American literature classics like “The Deerslayer” by J.F. Cooper, Willa Cather’s titles, and others, followed in senior year by such titles as “The Pickwick Papers” and other Dickens’ stories. Finding Anne McCaffrey’s tales changed my life and instilled my love of fantasy and science fiction. I really loved her “Ship Who Sang” series as well! My post is here:

    1. I honestly think forcing high school kids to read some of the “classics” effectively kills their desire to read. Yes, some of them are important. IMHO, Animal Farm and 1984 are wonderful cautionary tales and some of the romances from way back, like anything by Jane Austen, really help people understand the mores of the times then. However, teaching ideas like symbolism and irony can be just as easily done reading Harry Potter.

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