Reading Challenge: High School Reading Redo

September is right around the corner and can be known as Back to School Month. The start of school can vary based on location, but typically by September students are parked at their desks counting down the days until their next summer vacation. Well at least that was what I was doing. I certainly didn’t have the time to focus on required reading and often resorted to Cliff Notes. I needed my time to…I actually don’t remember but I just know my free time was not spent reading.

The adult me doesn’t even know that person: you can’t pry a book out of my hands nowadays. To rid myself of the guilt of not doing my homework I am going to spend the month of September reading the books I was supposed to read back in school (over twenty years ago). I only hope this makes my former English teachers – or English teachers everywhere – proud! If only I had my teachers emails, I would finally submit proper book “reports.”

Join or follow my progress through the hashtag #HSReadingRedo. Read from my list below or create your own. I would love to hear of your participation so come back an drop a comment below with your book “report” links!

My September #HSReadingRedo List:

1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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published in 1939

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Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. 

A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America.

At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.


2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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published in 1960

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The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.


3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

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published 1967

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This may have been a middle school read, but one I failed to complete nonetheless. So added to the list it is!

The original teenage rebel story.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends – true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends – he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…


4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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published 1943

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The American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.


5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

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published 1938

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I actually read this one and remember I loved it. I am looking forward to rereading, because I don’t remember anything!

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.


6. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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published 1949

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Since it was first performed in 1949, Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about the tragic shortcomings of an American dreamer has been recognized as a milestone of the theater.

Willy Loman, the protagonist of “Death of a Salesman,” has spent his life following the American way, living out his belief in salesmanship as a way to reinvent himself. But somehow the riches and respect he covets have eluded him. At age 63, he searches for the moment his life took a wrong turn, the moment of betrayal that undermined his relationship with his wife and destroyed his relationship with Biff, the son in whom he invested his faith. Willy lives in a fragile world of elaborate excuses and daydreams, conflating past and present in a desperate attempt to make sense of himself and of a world that once promised so much.


7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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published 1954

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I remember reading this one and often refer to Piggy and the conch shell to this day. No school reread list would be complete without it. 

When a plane crashes on a remote island, a small group of schoolboys are the sole survivors. From the prophetic Simon and virtuous Ralph to the lovable Piggy and brutish Jack, each of the boys attempts to establish control as the reality – and brutal savagery – of their situation sets in.

The boys’ struggle to find a way of existing in a community with no fixed boundaries invites readers to evaluate the concepts involved in social and political constructs and moral frameworks. Ideas of community, leadership, and the rule of law are called into question as the reader has to consider who has a right to power, why, and what the consequences of the acquisition of power may be. Often compared to Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies also represents a coming-of-age story of innocence lost.


8. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

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published 1971

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Purchase Links
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I read the one, but like Lord of the Flies, no school reread would be complete without this. Reading it as an adult versus an impressionable teenager should be interesting. 

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th
After you’ve had it, there isn’t even life without drugs….

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth — and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.
Enter her world.
You will never forget her.

For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl’s harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful — and as timely — today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction.


Noticeable Missing from the list (because I reread them in late 2017):

A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Join me in reading the list above or your own list! Or dedicate September to read at least 1 book from your school days.

Don’t forget to share your experience and lists with me! Drop a comment below or follow #HSReadingRedo on Instagram and Twitter. Can’t wait to hear from you! xo, Nikki


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24 thoughts on “Reading Challenge: High School Reading Redo

  1. I was thinking of doing something similar!! But I did all of my required reading in HS lol so I was thinking of just rereading them all. Especially the ones I didn’t like. I have a feeling little me didn’t appreciate them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great idea. I love To Kill a Mocking Bird. I read is as an adult as missed out of reading it at school. I’ve been meaning to read Lord of the Flies for ages now. Looking forward to hearing what you think of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m forcing my daughter to read The Outsiders. She’s hating it because there is no magic, no dragons, or anything like that. It’s Real People, she keeps complaining. TKAM was one of my favorite books to teach. It will always be near to my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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