When I came home from the summer I was in desperate need of a good book. The constant demands of my classes, work, friends and sleep kept me from doing one of my favorite things last semester: reading. I had a goal this summer to read as many books as possible, and I’d say I have done a pretty good job of it.
At first however, I was lost as to which books to read, until one glance at the row of books on top of my dresser gave me a great idea. In high school I read so many books, some that I hated, some that I actually liked, and some that I skimmed because I had so many other things to do. Many times I would read to get it over with, instead of reading to understand the story. Books hold so much incredible knowledge and I have found that reading one multiple times can open your eyes to many details of the story you might have missed the first time around. So I decided that I wanted to re-read some of those titles that I had particularly enjoyed during my time as a high school student. Here is my list of books you might have read in high school but should read (for the first time or again) and why.
1. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Why? I had to read this classic in my freshman year English class. Obviously this classic play has been a major influence on storytelling in many forms (films, television, dance, opera, and other theatre productions such as West Side Story) since being written. The way I see it, Romeo and Juliet is the first installment that all the rest of the installments don’t even compare to, it’s that good.
But, like most of the other titles on my list, the real reason I think this tragedy should be re-read is for the minor characters. It is easy to get caught up in Romeo and Juliet’s dialogue and emotion, which is understandable because it is their love story. However, Benvolio’s devotion to Romeo, as well as the Nurse’s to Juliet, makes the star crossed lovers’ tale that much more deep and passionate. It was easier to feel sympathy for Benvolio and the Nurse when the tale ended when I re-read the story.
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Why? This novel is one of my favorites. It is compelling, suspenseful, and emotional. Unlike any story I have ever read, it looks at human potential and selfishness as well as selflessness. Even though the two main characters are never named, only referred to as “the man” and “the boy”, their mysterious journey captured my mind early on. It is hard to imagine a post-apocalyptic world quite like McCarthy’s. Not even Hunger Games compares.
Just like Romeo and Juliet, it is easy to miss many details in this story because of the constant suspense. The love the man has for the boy is sometimes so subtle yet so heartwarming that it is overshadowed by descriptions of the setting or the mention of another person nearby. Details of the man’s past also make the story that much more addictive.
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Why? Like Romeo and Juliet before it, this novel published in 1813 has been read for years and years by high school students. In addition to being a story of love, Elizabeth Bennett’s opposition to her society is truly timeless. I first read the novel for summer reading in between freshman and sophomore year and was upset when we did not talk about it much in class. I loved the dynamic Elizabeth had with Darcy as well as with her sisters and parents. The back and forth between Elizabeth and Darcy hooked me. However, when I re-read it last year I noticed more of her sarcasm and his subtle soft side. Only then did I see how in love with her he was from the beginning.
4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Why? This is the most recent novel from high school I have re-read. It was my third time reading it and I was reminded as to why I keep coming back to Lily, Rosaleen and the Boatwright sisters. I think I have grown to love June Boatwright more and more each time I read the novel. I like how her character is a sharp contrast to her sister, August’s, yet they both are extremely protective. In addition, each time I have re-read the novel, Lily’s growth continues to surprise me. She comes off as shy, young and immature, however, I think she is the opposite. Like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, Lily’s opposition to her society’s norms is comforting and exciting. And do not even get me started on June and Neil. I. Love. Them. I definitely have re-read their scenes more than three times…
Of course for a bookworm like me there are plenty of other books I have read for school that I would recommend (The Outsiders for instance, which I read in eighth grade), but I think these four are my favorites. They each are entertaining in their own way. I hope I inspired you to pick one of these up, if not for a second or third time, maybe for the first!