“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it” – Bertrand Russell
Do you know that 23 April is World Book Day?
The World Book Day is a yearly event on April 23rd, organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. Actually, it is meant to be the perfect opportunity for parents, teachers and students to join together in appreciation of the world of literature and the life-long pleasure of reading.
Reading remains one of life’s great pleasures and an important means of broadening our horizons of knowledge and experience. Books teach us about love, heartbreak, friendship, war, social injustice, and the resilience of the human spirit.
THE 50 MUST-READ NOVELS BEFORE LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL
Here are my top 50 books you should read at least once in your life . . . especially before leaving High School. The list includes books of diverse cultural perspectives for readers with varying interests and abilities.
The is not a top to bottom list but my take over the years from High School through to adult life.
Dear Reader, please share any of your favourites books for our young and upcoming readers in the comments section. Thanks.
1.THE LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkein
This is an epic high fantasy novel which was later fitted as a trilogy. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien’s earlier fantasy book The Hobbit and soon developed into a much larger story.
2. THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Bilbo Baggins sets off on an adventure through Tolkien’s ingenious world in the prelude to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
3. THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas
An action-packed story of a young swordsman who comes to Paris and faces villains, romance, adventure and intrigue with three Musketeer friends.
4. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
Comedy – A man is trying desperately to be certified insane during World War II, so he can stop flying missions.
5. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
The behaviour of a group of boys marooned on an island devolves into primitive terror in this boundary-pushing classic.
6. A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (series) by Lemony Snicket.
Three orphan siblings attempt to escape and outwit an evil relative who is trying to steal their parents’ fortune.
7. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
A child’s-eye view of racial prejudice and freaky neighbours in 1930s Alabama.
8. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
Hazel, a 16-year-old cancer patient whose prognosis is dim, has her life transformed when she falls in love with a young man she meets at a support group.
9. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë
Poor and obscure and plain as she is, Mr Rochester wants to marry her. Illegally!
10. THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE by R L Stevenson
A horror story in which Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.
11. THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho
An allegorical novel which follows a young shepherd in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there.
12. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS by Jonathan Swift
This is a novel in which Gulliver’s perceptions of himself and the people and things around him change, giving Swift ample opportunity to inject into the story both irony and satire of the England of his day and of the human condition.
13. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by JD Salinger
The story is set around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man named Holden Caulfield. Holden is not specific about his location while he’s telling the story, but he makes it clear that he is undergoing treatment after going through a difficult phase.
14. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
This is the drama of a poor Midwest family being forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression seeking decent wages and dignity.
15. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
The book tells the story of John Grimes, an intelligent teenager in Harlem, and his relationship to his family and his church. The novel also reveals through flashbacks the stories of other characters poignantly reflecting their lives in the community.
16. THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain
Although Huck Finn’s childhood may have appeared to be carefree and easy, this was not necessarily the whole story of the boy and a runaway slave who set sail on the Mississippi, away from Antebellum “sivilisation”. Read also The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a sequel to this one.
17. THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes’ thought-provoking piece that tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin. Well, any reading from Sherlock Holmes is bound to be of great interest.
18. THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe
A Nigerian novel depicting the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion whose family and personal history, and the customs he has to abide by are explored at length. Also works by another prominent Nigerian artist, Wole Soyinka (The Lion and The Jewel) would be a great read.
19. THE GREAT GATSBY by F Scott Fitzgerald
A mysterious millionaire’s love for a woman with “a voice full of money” gets him in trouble.
20. FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley
At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein and the tragic consequences that befell him.
21. ULYSSES by James Joyce
This is a modernist masterpiece reworking of Homer with humour. Contains one of the longest “sentences” in English literature: 4,391 words.
22. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by EM Forster
The novel explores the possibility of an answer to the question: Can an Englishman and an Indian be friends? The critical portrayal of the British community in India at the time is explored in depth.
23. 1984 by George Orwell
Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party scrutinizes human actions closely with interesting consequences.
24. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
This is an allegorical novel that reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. The events depicted are all in the eyes of animals at a farm.
25. TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES by Thomas Hardy
Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family’s fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d’Urbervilles. But Alec d’Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable.
That is my first batch of 25 novels I have really enjoyed reading. My other 25 is in my next post. There are other countless novels I have left out.
Do you have any other books that you have read that you think our students should read before leaving High School? If you do have please share them here with us. Thanks.
ONLINE READING APPLICATIONS
Let us look at ways you can read the books besides a stroll to the nearest library. There are many internet applications that one can access on the click of a button. My best reading applications include:
Amazon Kindle – Price: Free app
I have owned an Amazon Kindle since its inception. It is one of the more popular reading apps and has a massive library of ebooks available for purchase. That includes novels, fiction, non-fiction, and even stuff like comics. The app itself works fairly well. You can sync books to almost any device. The app also has customization options for things like font size, screen brightness, background color, and orientation. The app is free.
Adobe Acrobat Reader Price: Free / Pay a subscription
Adobe Acrobat is one of the best all-around PDF reader apps. It opens PDFs, lets you read them, and do other things. That includes searching, zooming, and annotating. It has a bunch of other features for business use too.
Audible Price: Pay a subscription
I do have an audio facility on my kindle – someone reads the book whilst I listen. I read Sir Alex’s autobiography listening to a heavy Scottish accent. Really nice! Audible is among the best audiobook apps. It boasts a collection of over 180,000 audiobooks, podcasts, and more. You simply pick your book, pay for it, and then listen to it like you would music. They do have subscriptions and massive discounts too.
Audiobooks Price: Free / Pay a subscription
Audiobooks is another subscription audiobook service. It works a lot like Audible does. You pay a subscription for month for one free book. You then get discounts on other books. From there, just download and listen to the book.
Comixology Price: Free / Pay a subscription
Comixology is among the best comic book reader apps. It features a collection of over 100,000 comics and that includes manga. The app syncs your collection between devices as well. There are two ways to experience this one. You can go the free route. That gets you a basic experience. You buy comics, you read them, and that’s that. Comixology Unlimited gives you access to hundreds of comics anytime for a monthly subscription.
Google Play Books Price: Free
Google Play Books is a fairly large ebook platform. It boasts a catalog of millions of books, comics, manga, newspapers, magazines, and more. Everything you buy is synced between all of your devices. Additionally, it comes with various read modes for normal books, comics, and more.
9 thoughts on “READING: THE 50 MUST-READ NOVELS BEFORE LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL”
Ive read a few from your list. My favourite one was Macbeth. Did it in my O levels & passed english literature with B.
How sweet. Well done – just taking you back. Thanks for your comments.
Thanks very much uncle
I read “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver my senior year of high school. More than any other book I read, it changed my life. For starters, I made my university decision (DePauw University!) largely because Ms. Kingsolver had gone there. 🙂
Wow! That is very nice. Many thanks Ms for sharing
I read most of these! I’ve seen the movie adaptations as well; but i must say, the books are certainly better. Thanks for the list!
Well done. I know you would. I prefer books to films adaptations