Hey ‘80s and ‘90s kids: could you use a little refresher when it comes to the literature that lined the shelves of your academic career? Maybe you’re interested in revisiting some of the epic stories that you loved during your angsty teenage years? Check out this list of the best books you read in high school: popular books you read that pretty much convinced you that you are the deepest person ever. These books defined your youth and may even be the last books you actually read.
Maybe you loved reading! Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were trying to rebel against the system by boycotting homework assignments. Either way, you'll still be able to appreciate the richness and the variety within these popular texts.
During a time when teachers, parents, and institutions were trying to mold our vulnerable young brains, much of the reading curriculum from our teenage years was weirdly rebellious and revolutionary. Self-discovery, dystopia, individualism, and revolution were just a few of the recurring themes in classic books like Animal Farm, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Outsiders, etc. The books listed here are timeless pieces that can be revisited and reevaluated at any time in your life, and we’re fortunate to have the exposure to these brilliant (and often controversial) authors.So here is a list of some the greatest books (and plays) that should be familiar to you. If you’ve scanned the depths of your memory and cannot locate any of these titles, read the brief explanations for some concrete references. If you still cannot conjure any recollection, call Spark Notes and ask them about their return policy.
- Photo: Oxford University Press120245
If your uncle killed your father, then married your mother, then pegged you as crazy, you’d probably be pretty pissed, too. You might even go mad. In Shakespeare’s most renowned (and best?) play, he challenges the depths and the limits of the human psyche.And if you don’t remember any of this, you probably remember, "To be or not to be, that is the question” (3.1).
- Photo: Back Bay Books220260Teenage angst, awkward sexual encounters, unidentifiable emotional confusion. What’s not to like? Throw in a pinch of nostalgia-for-the-unknown and a dash of sibling devotion and you’ve got yourself a teenage heart-wrencher. Besides, everyone’s felt a little Holden Caulfield-ish at one point or another..amirite?
- Photo: Scribner317651This is a tale of old and new money. It’s a story about deceit, class, love, nostalgia, and ego. Just when you start to think that the mysteriously fascinating Gatsby will get what he wants, we find out he’s nothing but a shady bootlegger. But by this point, we’ve grown to like Gatsby! We don’t care! But, guess what? It doesn’t matter. Because (SPOILER ALERT) Gatsby dies in the end anyway.
- Photo: Harper Perennial413247At first, Boo Radley probably gave you the heebie-jeebies. You wanted to play with Scout, and you kind of wished Atticus Finch could be your dad. Along with these unforgettable characters, a story of the injustice of segregated 1930s Alabama unfolded, and you learned a lesson about false judgments and truth of character that you'll never forget.