May 28, 2012

Posted by in Question | 15 Comments

Question – What Books Do You Remember Reading In High School?

As part of my Authors After Dark author spotlight interviews, I have been asking authors what book do they most remember having read in High School?

I did not really read for pleasure back then – I read what I needed to read.  I had great English teachers but they all had one thing in common:  they all managed to suck the fun out of books for me.  Looking back I realize that my biggest problem was having to dissect the books to the point where a period was no longer a period.  It had become the longing the author found to find some quiet mind-space to focus all his energy on continuing on with this emotional and imagery-filled story…or some such crap.  And speaking of imagery, I’ll tell you this much:  imagery is so much more fun when you don’t have to analyse the hell out of it.  When you don’t have to cut it open and watch it ooze everywhere.  (How’s that for imagery ;))

I went to a French High School and it’s funny how most of the books I remember reading were from my English classes.  I remember reading Cue for Treason in grade 9.  We started studying Shakespeare in grade 10 so they used CFT as an introduction to the world we would be learning about in later grades.  I don’t remember that story much but I do remember the assignment we had to do to go along with it.  Odd?  Yeah.  But it was a really fun assignment.

I also remember reading The Stone Angel.  Man did I bomb on that book.  I was in grade 12 I believe.  I had a very passionate English teacher that year.  He was amazing but he expected us to dissect the book to pieces!  I found it was dull to begin with and with all the extra ways he asked us to scrutinize the book, I just lost interest.  Completely.

The only book I remember reading in my French classes was Les filles de Caleb: Le chant du Coq.  I remember that one because they were making it into a TV show at the same time.  So we would read a bit of the book then watch it on TV.  It was awesome!  And man oh man, Roy Dupuis as Ovila…even at 14 years old I could appreciate that.  😉



In grade 12, I started reading The Chronicles of Narnia – the only books I read for pleasure in High School.  I don’t remember why I picked them up, but did I ever love them.  I remember telling Pierre, the guy who had his locker next to mine, all about them.  He then proceeded to make fun of me in various ways.  If we were walking into a class that had a picture on the wall, he would have me duck since the picture was going to “leak water at any moment”.  Or he would shove me gently out of the blue and say that he just saved me from being run into by a walking-talking tree.  It sounds terrible but it was actually really funny.  Then one day, he had his wisdom teeth pulled and was home-bound for a while, so I brought him a care-basket.  In it I had baby-food prunes and other terrible baby purées and the first few books of the Narnia series.  When he came back to school, he asked if he could borrow the others from me.  In fact, he still has my book five!  And The Last Battle still, in my opinion, contains one of the best quotes ever.

So there you have it – the books I remember reading in High School.  Now it’s your turn to share.  What book(s) do they most remember reading in High School? 

  1. It’s a really great question, and as you know I don’t have any memory lol. I remember some of the stories but not the books… I know I read a lot of classic books, or even Emile Zola with Au Bonheur des Dames, Mary Shelley with Frankenstein. We didn’t really have any English books, only french ones.

  2. Sapphire says:

    I read lots of books in high school. Some of the required reading was: One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Secret Life Of Bees, The Things They Carried, and Lord of the Flies. For fun, I read The Witches of Eileanan series and Harry Potter. There’s many more, but I can’t remember the titles :/

  3. I read Angelique, the whole series, by Sergeanne Golon. This was a long time ago.

  4. I so agree with you about High School books seemingly designed to suck the fun out of books. I started reading when I was young so I was already well on my way with reading and enjoying stories until they decided to practically ruin it for me with yawners. They still do. I just had to help force my son read “The Chocolate War”. Was a boring book.

    I remember in Grade 5 my teacher did a fabulous job reading all of the Anne of Green Gables books. She was so animated in doing so. She made a fabulous Anne and in fact, I do believe she got many others in the class who were not readers to start.
    You know the books in high school were so boring that I don’t even remember what their titles were. My one English teacher wrote a book called “Growing Up Black in Canada” and we were forced to read and review her book. Talk about a turn off. I didn’t like her to begin with and as cool as it was to have an English teacher who was actually published, the content just was not exciting nor of any interest to me.

    My son in Grade 6 has a fabulous teacher who has introduced so many awesome books to her class this year. My youngest is my only reader and I am sure his teacher played a part in that.

  5. I had a bad James Patterson addiction for a while in high school. His Alex Cross books (at least the earlier ones) are my favorite of his.

  6. It’s funny you mostly remember the English books – I have the same problem even though I’m sure I read more French books than English in my French high school, too. Aside from all the Shakespeare, we got to choose books from a selection one year and I read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which helped turn me onto genre reading.

    I read a lot for pleasure, but I’ve always hated literature classes because dissecting books in that systematic way ruins the experience for me. I love blogs and reading about people’s opinions and thinking through my own reactions, but I find that so different and much more fulfilling than what we did in English class.

    And yes, Roy Dupuis… yum!

  7. I remember reading and enjoying: Silas Marner, Great Expectations, Catcher In The Rye, Lord of the Flies, Poe’s stories…I’m sure there were more but those are the ones I remember. For fun I read all of the Nancy Drew Mystery series, over and over.

  8. I read a ton of historicals, even straight biographies (I was totally into English history thanks to Masterpiece Theater). I also was reading lots of SF and Fantasy, and yes, I read romance also. The books that I remember the most are The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon, and The Lord of The Rings. Compared to what I was reading on my own, school reading assignments were pretty boring, and I don’t remember any of them.

  9. Melliane – Frankenstein! How cool!

    Sapphire – Oh! I read Lord of the Flies too. Or I should say, I dissected it. lol

    Diane – I don’t know that one. *runs to GR*

    Michelle – I have to laugh about your teacher’s book’s title! I also had a teacher who was published. Bought his book because I thought it was SO cool…only to not be able to understand a single word of it! It was French but it wasn’t any sort of French that I ever knew. LOL And you are so right about teachers. I never had a super fantabulous English teacher…

    Paranormal Haven – Another series I don’t know! *runs to GR again*

    sara – Brave New World! I’d forgotten about that one. And dissecting books should not be allowed. lol

    Dot – Nancy Drew! Lots of my friends liked those books!

    Jen – It’s a shame we didn’t get to read more UF in high school as part of our required reading curriculum. lol

  10. I agree, I hated reading the books of my list, and have to disect them. I am so certain the author never meant anything more than an entertaining story! I kept reading my own books, and my library books for fun though, thousands of them. Barbara Cartland and other historical romance authors I discovered, Westerns, fantasy. I also had to talk for my exams about the book I was reading at that moment. How could I ever explain a Tanith Lee book to those people? So I chose something silly I read before that one, and they graded me down as it was below my level …

  11. I remember a ton…Lord of the Flies, White Fang, The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, lots of Shakespeare…books I definitely appreciate more as an adult. I think these are books that should be tackled in college. While there are some teens mature enough for these reads, a lot are not. They should bring the reading analysis down just a tad for general ed English in high school. I think classical lit can turn off kids to reading because it can be difficult to comprehend…

    Outside of high school, I was all over the Babysitter’s Club. heh

  12. Latochia Bell says:

    I remember Great Expectations & The Great Gatsby (which surprisingly enough were 2 of my favs) and I am anxious to see what they do witht he movie adaptions. We read Mark Twain’s works, and various other classics. None that really held my interest because the teachers never really talked about anything relevant. Plus it is a little different when you HAVE to read and you CHOOSE to read!!!

  13. I read quite a few books during high school but I always had trouble to finish them because I don’t like when someone tells me to do something. In french, we call that “esprit de contradiction”!! lol
    But I remembre very well La Condition Humaine by André Malraux. I loved it and Une Vie by Maupassant. This one, I was absolutly annoyed by the heroine that I found really weak.

  14. Julie,
    I’m so sorry that you didn’t have a good English teacher. My mom is retiring this year from teaching High School English and her students adore her. I’ve also taught English, and I had several fabulous English teachers and it makes such a difference.
    I was trying to think about how to answer this question, and I think my answer would be “What books didn’t I read?” I think I read every book in our library. Granted it was a small private school and out library was the size of my bedroom at home. I think it had 4 rows of books, but I read most of the fiction ones.
    I loved Shakespeare, he was my favorite. I basically liked everything I read except Steinbeck. I just don’t’ like his writing. I usually had 3 to 4 books going at the same time.
    I started reading historical fiction in High School and had a love affair with historical England. I also began my lifelong love of fantasy writing, I read the Dragons of Pern series during this time.
    My daughter is in High School right now and found Agatha Christie last year.

  15. aurian – I feel the same way! I swear that Shakespeare is rolling in his grave screaming “no really, I just meant for it to be an apple!”

    Smash Attack – Lord of the Flies. That one was actually good. I can’t believe I forgot about it.

    Latochia – I remember one year there were so many of us who needed to take English to get our diploma, they had multiple classes. The other class was reading all classics and I was jealous because I felt like we should have been reading them too. Great Expectations was one of the books they read but we didn’t.

    Zendastark – It goes back to it being different whether we pick or are told what to read. LOL

    Mindy – I totally agree with you. I did have a very passionate teacher in grade 13 but his passion was the dissection of the book and not really the work itself. I bet I would have adored reading if I had the ‘right’ teachers. 🙂

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