Friday, March 13, 2009

Another book list

This is a list of books that the College Board says that college-bound high school students should read. After being in honors English classes in high school and minoring in English in college, followed by homeschooling and reading tons for the past 13 years, this list makes me feel slightly inadequate.

Those in red are those that I've read. I am italicizing those that I'd like to read.


Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A Death in the Family by James Agee
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Inferno by Dante
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Iliad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Beloved by Toni Morrison
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Selected Tales by Edgar Allen Poe
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Call it Sleep by Henry Roth
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Antigone by Sophocles

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (read 1/2)
Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Candide by Voltaire
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Native Son by Richard Wright

I've read 49 of the 101. Of those I really only think about 25 are important to read. It seems to me that many of these are best read later, and for pleasure. I am so glad that I did not first encounter Pride and Prejudice as a book to be dissected in class.

I also think that one of the benefits of homeschooling--especially the way we do it--is that my kids have encountered literature as they were ready for it and as it suited their mood and taste. Bethany commented, on hearing this list, "No wonder so many kids think they don't like literature."

We also found the list of Poetry and Cultural and Historical Texts to be dismal. "You should read these three poems by this poet." How about picking up a book of poems and reading?


Susan said...

I have read FOUR books on that list. Three of them I disliked. The fourth was one I disliked in high school, but enjoyed reading as an adult when I read it aloud to the kids.

In addition to reading four, I have seen all four of the Shakespeare plays on the list, although I haven't read them. Reading and dissecting Shakespeare in high school taught me to hate it. Happily, a group of fantastic Shakespearean actors have changed my mind.

Point is: if you're feeling slightly inadequate about your list, then boy-howdy... I am VERY inadequate. (But you know what? I can bake cinnamon rolls, and they probably make us happier than a Dickens story or a Steinbeck tale would, anyhow.)

Meg89 said...

49 is great! I was excited about my 26!

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Italicize Death Comes for the Archbishop. It is REALLY good.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

It seems like there is a very strong emphasis on early 20th century literature. I don't know how they can include both the Iliad and the Odyssey and not have the Aeneid.

Oh well.

Elephantschild said...

Toni Morrison? But I digress...

I'm heartened to know that although I've not read even 1/4 of the list, I'm at least AWARE of most of the others and could fuddle around and come up with an explanation of why they're important.

BTW, you MUST read _Things Fall Apart._ No other way to understand post-colonial Africa.

And shouldn't Catch 22 be on that list?

Jane said...

I read a surprisingly large number of these in high school.

Susan, I am certain that all of your cooking has that effect. I actually liked Steinbeck. I read everything he wrote the summer before my junior year in high school. Thought I hated Dickens, because we read Great Expectations--which I did hate. :)

I will add Death Comes to the Archbishop and Things Fall Apart to my "TBR" list.

EC, have you read The House at Sugar Beach? If so, what did you think of it?

Elephantschild said...

Most difficult book I've ever read, most fun book I've ever read. Her childhood was MY childhood... except my mother was never attacked like hers was.

She and I had the same first grade teacher. She and I visited the same stores, movie theaters, and ice cream shop.

Jane said...

Wow. I kept thinking about you the whole time I read it. Knowing you was actually part of the reason that I picked it up.

carlsonloggie said...

Even the Russians don't read Russian literature---too long, too boring.

GreenJello said...

You should pick up "Tess". I read it as a senior in high school, and really liked it.

Karen said...

I've read 51 of the books on this list and enjoyed 22 of them. I read the Shakespeare, but found it difficult to plow through them. After seeing productions of the plays, I enjoyed rereading them.

The various reading lists always seem to miss many superior works. I loved reading The House of the Seven Gables, but didn't enjoy The Scarlet Letter. Who determined that one was better than the other?