high school reading club

Each summer, my high school would send the summer reading list along with the final report card of the year. You were only required to read one (or two) books, but then there was a list of “suggested” titles for your enjoyment (and 1 point of extra credit on your fall term grade for any 15-page essays submitted from the list… it maxed out at 5 possible points).

I always read a lot during my summers, due to a combination of interest and boredom, and I always did the extra credit essays to help out my grade. And, inevitably, the only term I’d ever get an actual A (94-100) in was the fall term. I’d never get past that dreaded GPA-sinking A- in the winter or spring, no matter how hard I tried. I think I actually got 94’s for at least 3 terms… so close, but just not good enough.

This afternoon, they published this year’s summer reading list on the school’s facebook page “by popular demand.” I guess some alumnae need to fill up their kindles with nostalgia for “encouraged” reading…

When I began high school in 1994, our freshman required reading was A Separate Peace… which was obviously designed to scare the daylights out of all the incoming boarding students. I’m happy to see it’s just an interesting read now… and not forced into classroom discussions during the first week of school!

What was your favorite high school “required reading” book??






  • Heather

    Kudos to anyone who can get through Walden. I started it several years ago and have never finished it (and I LOVE to read). It’s just so dry and long. I do remember loving Of Mice and Men.

  • Natalie

    Distinctly remember reading A Separate Peace during the school year sophomore year and hating it with a passion. I remember reading a bunch of the classics on my own we didn’t read in class – the Brontes, finishing up Austen, etc.

    I had no required reading until the summer before AP Literature! That’s actually kind of surprising given my over-achieving high school, if I think about it. Surprised some parents didn’t demand it.

  • stacey

    We had at least one book for English and at least one book for social studies every summer before high school. I think my favorite was probably The Jungle by Upton Sinclair? Which normally people hate, but I really liked it. I also really liked The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. My least favorite summer reading book was probably River Cross My Heart. An Oprah book club pick that I have no idea how it got on our reading list, but it was atrocious!

  • talda

    wow, the kids at your school are a lot more advanced than my high school. i remember reading some of these books in college. though, i remember feeling behind there as well since a lot of people had already read some of those books in high school.

    i didn’t have required reading until i took ap english my senior year. got stuck reading catcher in the rye and the scarlet letter among others. i couldn’t get through the scarlet letter [or the movie for that matter!] and i ended up hating catcher in the rye with every fiber of my body. i would have stopped reading it but i didn’t want it to win. also, the promise of chucking the book across the room in victory was very motivating.

    chucking that book was arguably the best thing about that book.

  • Rhey

    One of my favorites was The Awakening by Kate Chopin, but I also really liked Waiting for Godot. Stories that I can actually remember years later are inevitably good ones. Or bad…really, really bad. For example, I can’t stand Steinbeck though I know so many love his work.

  • Maria

    We had a very similar reading program at my high school, although instead of writing an essay we could take exams on any of the books we read for extra credit.

    I HATED a Separate Peace. I’ve yet to meet anyone that actually liked it.

    This list has inspired me for my summer reading!

  • ep

    Fun list! Good to know I’ve read almost all of them! :) Anything by Thomas Hardy was a favorite.