Being forced to read a book that someone else picked isn’t exactly a recipe for an enjoyable reading experience (ask any book club that doesn’t use our patented bring-and-vote system!). So sometimes, that means that we don’t get everything out of a book that we should. Because it wasn’t always fun, that means sometimes we skipped through the book, or read the Cliff notes, or barely paid attention generally.
This time around, no-one’s going to ask you to write an essay on the literary style, or the characters motivations or the themes. So sit back and enjoy. Take the chance to really dig into these classics.
This is the list of books you read in high school that you should definitely re-read.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Why you hated it: ok, you probs didn’t hate this one. It was ok.
Why you should reread it: Can appreciate that it’s more than just ok. There’s a dry humor to her writing that teenagers often miss. But also use this as an opportunity to explore recent books like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Why you hated it: Not an easy read, non-linear narrative, poetry, dream-like passages.
Why you should reread it: read it at your own pace, not having to worry about writing a paper on the language style and be submerged into the life of 1860’s former slave and the ghost that haunts her.
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Why you hated it: The endless analysis of the symbolism! A pigs head on a stick – what does it mean!?!?
Why you should reread it: stop worrying about the themes, and the meanings. Haunting story that doesn’t need to be analysed to death. Nor is it a universal truth that all children, left unsupervised, will become animalistic murderers.
1984 – George Orwell
Why you hated it: Think about the structure, the plot, and language. No gory, Hunger Games style deaths.
Why you should reread it: Totalianarism is scary and this is the original dystopian novel. You’ll see more, as an adult and more aware of how easily politics and society can change. Scary because of how easy it can really happen.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Why you hated it: It’s long winded, tedious and is basically just a lot of upper class English women gossiping.
Why you should reread it: Don’t take it seriously. This is damn funny. Written as a comedy, it is a biting commentary of what it was to be a woman in Regency England. It might call itself a romance, but Austen is very aware that love is based on the solid foundations of a prospective husband’s bank account. Witty and memorable.
Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
Why you hated it: Holden Caulfield won’t shut up about phonies and how much he hates them.
Why you should reread it: as an adult, have more empathy for a traumatised young man. A sexual assault survivor, who is grieving for his older brother who has recently died and he has no reliable adult supervision, no one he can turn to. He desperately fears becoming an adult himself and is trying to protect his younger sister from the same fate that he’s going through.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Why you hated it: Another long winded “romance”! Lots and lots of text and not much happens.
Why you should reread it: Jane Eyre is a quiet orphan girl, abused as a child and she grows into an adult without money, relatives or prospects in a time when women were basically objects. Yet she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’d rather be homeless than be a side piece. She’s a badass who sticks up for herself in a way that, even nowadays, would be extraordinary, but for back then it was just spectacular.
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Why you hated it: Dear Lord, how long is this book??
Why you should reread it: Now that you don’t have to get it finished for homework, you can relax and enjoy the beauty of those 600 pages. Steinbeck captures the feeling of what it’s like to live in this world, he recreates it perfectly and memorable characters.