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This groundbreaking classic is a Gothic romance, mystery, and psychological thriller all rolled into one; its themes were astonishingly modern for 1847. Fitzgerald's classic was the topic of my first high school term papera€”and despite that, I still love it.
While many believe that Emma is Jane Austen's masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice is more likely to show up on assigned reading lists. In this 1960 classic, small-town attorney Atticus Finch attempts a hopeless defense of a black man unjustly accused of rape, and to teach his children, Scout and Jem, about the evils of racism. While I greatly prefer my own assigned high school read The Sound and the Fury, the backstory on this slim novel is truly astounding. In this absurd, existentialist tragicomedy, playwright Tom Stoppard reinvents Hamlet from the perspective of the two minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, childhood friends of Hamlet who King Claudius uses to get more information about the insane prince. I read this myself for the Reading Challenge, having previously read A Room of One's Own but none of Virginia Woolf's novels. Dickens' thirteenth novel (and arguably his best) follows the early adventures and coming of age of the young orphan Pip. I had to read Catch-22 in high school and have been wanting to go back and re-read it, especially since I found out a few years ago that my grandfather once flew with Joseph Heller in WWII.
Jane Austen's book follows the life of two sisters as they experience love, romance and heartbreak. For a time, Unrealistic Body Woman was one of the most prominent female characters in the comic book world.
Fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby has built a mansion on Long Island Sound for the sole purpose of wooing and winning his lost love Daisy Buchanan, who married another man while Gatsby was serving overseas. It's been a staple on high school reading lists for years (and I talked about my significant high school experience with Mockingbird here), but it enjoyed a fresh burst of publicity when its companion Go Set a Watchman was published this summer.

In this slim novel, Woolf weaves together two seemingly unrelated storylines: one following Mrs Dalloway, an upper class woman preparing to host a dinner party, and the other her "double," a shell-shocked WWI vet contemplating suicide.
Back in 9th grade, I thought I was "lucky" that MY English class didn't have to read this one, unlike my poor friends who were assigned to a different teacher. This classic American novel captures the Jazz Age in all its decadence and excess, while weaving a wistful story of love and loss. If you were lucky enough to have a gifted teacher who brought classic works to life, that's fantastica€”but many of us read just enough Austen in high school to be convinced she was boring and stuffy. The story, again set in Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, is narrated by 15 different characters over 59 chapters.
The title references the fall of Adam and Eve, and the subsequent embattled relationship between brothers Cain and Abel. Woolf used stream-of-consciousness style to explore the inner workings of the mind; this pioneering technique had a lasting effect on fiction as we know it. Flash forward ten years, when I plucked this off the shelf as a "duty read," and then stayed up way too late turning the pages so I could find out how it ended. I remember reading Anthem in my freshman year of high school and I’ve always liked that one. Sometimes things are so wordy, because of the time, that I find listening is the only way I can read through it.
I also liked Ethan Frome for whatever reason… I think because the message was so strong. I was a high school English teachers for 32 years and haven’t read a classic since I retired 20 years ago. Certain books, however, are so valuable that just pretending to have read them is good enough.

Suddenly you aren't a monster, but a sensitive soul just trying to find his way in this cruel world.
If you were forced to read it back then, give it another try: youa€™ll enjoy it much more the second time around. Even if you've seen the movie (especially if you've seen the movie) you need to read the book. Give her a try nowa€”Pride and Prejudice is a terrific place to start, and if you don't fall in love with her writing (although I certainly hope you do), at least you'll know what the fuss is about. Consistently cited as one of the best novels of the 20th century, both for its own sake and for the great influence it had over subsequent fiction. Grounded thoroughly in its California setting, interweaving the stories of two Salinas Valley families, Steinbeck's magnum opus feels tragic, yet hopeful. Here are six books that, if name-dropped in the right situation, will get you the results you might be looking for. About to play a game of tennis with your accountant Dennis and want to throw him off?  Mention you have read The Art of War, and immediately you are in their head. Almost immediately people will start asking you questions about black holes, aliens, and the origins of the world.
I’d recommend either of those, though probably not for books you should have read in high school! As long as you respond with conviction, you'll have a bunch of new friends by the end of the evening.

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