Moving around growing up (my dad was career military), I often found myself coming into or leaving a school curriculum just as certain books were being taught or right after they had been taught. That means there were some of the accepted classics that I never read as part of my school curriculum. This week, I thought I’d break down my list into a couple of sub-lists based on my moving about.
Classics I Never Had To Take a Quiz On:
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee One of my favorite books of all-time. I often wonder if I’d had to read it for class if I’d have liked it as much as I do. Odds are, I probably would.
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I had to read Holden’s journey on my own.
3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. My senior AP English class did a section on Hemingway, but my teacher assigned myself and a couple of other people A Farewell to Arms instead of The Old Man and the Sea. Based on my later reading of this one, I’m glad that I was given the challenge of A Farewell to Arms.
4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I can recall the movie coming out but I never saw it. I think this may have been taught during my school tenure, but I read it on my own. I recently re-read it.
Books Not On the “Standard” Classics List:
1. Growing Up by Russell Baker. I read this during my sophomore year of high school. aker related stories of growing up in the Depression and World War II. I recall that my quoting a passage from the book in a journal entry for class really impressed the teacher. My fellow students were not as impressed.
2. The Merlin trilogy by Mary Stewart. I’m not quite sure how or why the Mary Stewart Merlin novels came into fashion in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but I know that several of my classmates and I were glad they did. If only because we could read a series of fantasy novels as assigned reading.
3. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. I don’t recall the exact details on this one, but I read this one for my Western Civ class as extra credit. I believe my assignment related to the ways the books was historically accurate and inaccurate.
4. A Separate Peace by John Knowles. After enduring Lord of the Flies, this was the next book we were assigned in my high school freshman English class. I’m not sure it’s still on the list today. It was an interesting story though all I really recall is that our narrator turns out to be the one who pushed Finney out of the tree. I think a re-read of this one may be in order.
Assigned Books I Read and Enjoyed:
1. My Antonia by Willa Cather. Probably the most memorable book from my senior AP English class. I remember reading ahead because I enjoyed it so much.
2. 1984 by George Orwell. What can I say — it was the 80’s and we were all fascinated by living to and beyond the year of the title. This is another one that I read well past what was assigned and got glaring looks for doing so.
I’ve got a lot more that I could include, but that’s my ten. What books did you read during your educational career that maybe didn’t make the list?