My high school reading life was mostly my own, but I was required like countless others to read books assigned to me. In my high school grade cohorts read based on a rotational book list. The group I was in contained The Red Badge of Courage, Tale of Two Cities, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World, Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank, Beowulf, Jonathon Livingston Seagull, A Raisin in the Sun, MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Death of a Salesman.
To establish reading culture and to encourage teachers to share their reading with their students, I used to recommend books and share my personal and professional reading for my weekly professional development sessions as a TAP Master Teacher. As I started to share the images of the books I was currently reading, I realized there were many classic books that I had not read, but have heard the titles over and over. I decided to remedy this reading gap in myself partly because I felt self-imposed pressure to read some deeper classic literature and honestly see what all the fuss is about with some of these books. There has to be something to them or they wouldn’t be classics in the first place.
This idea triggered a memory way back when I started my education career in Kokomo, IN. I attended a staff development workshop where teachers had to share something about themselves no one else knew. One teacher said that during the summer she would read books all by the same author. I decided then reading classic books I had not read before would be a good fit for me rather than a popular mystery author. The idea had been on the Summer Bucket List for awhile, but I never executed it.
In my sophomore English class I became obsessed with the short story “The Celestial Omnibus” by E.M. Forster. We read the story and it stuck with me. I remember not knowing what an omnibus was. I was thrilled when I was able to find the story as an adult and reread it. Currently I am obsessed with short stories and recently finished Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. I have been paying very close attention to short story recommendations especially from Rebecca on the All The Books Podcast through Book Riot.
To execute my “Read More Classics” plan, I did some research to find current high school reading lists since it has been awhile since I have been in high school. Part of this research has included asking friends what they were required to read many moons ago.
There are some classics I have read now have been sprinkled throughout the last couple of years: Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird (this was the book people were shocked I had not read previously), East of Eden,The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath,Alice in Wonderland,The Tell Tale Heart, and 1984.
The plan is to read Count of Monte Cristo, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye this summer. I will keep you posted!