The Top 10 Books I Wish I Had Read for School

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic was Top 10 Contemporary Books That Would Be Great Paired With A Required Reading Book OR Top Ten Books That You Wish Were Taught In Schools. Even though these are both great topics, I struggled with coming up with ten, and decided to focus on the books I wish I had read in school. Some people have read these for school, but every curriculum is different, and these are ones I wish I had been assigned to read (especially in place of some of my least favorites). This week’s list is separated by category.

The Classics That I Still Haven’t Gotten Around to Reading


Brave New World, The Bell Jar, The Screwtape Letters, Fahrenheit 451

Classics are intimidating, which is why they make us read them in school, right? Because otherwise, we might not pick them up. Or are we intimidated by them because they were required reading in school? Hmmm… Regardless, they can’t make us read them all, because there are so many of them! But some I kind of wanted to read, or want to read now, but I might be intimidated for one reason or another, or just haven’t gotten around to it for one reason or another.

(Somewhat) Classic Books I Enjoyed After Graduating


Anthem, Ender’s Game, The Giver

I’m noticing that there was a severe lack of dystopia reading in my school curriculum, which makes me sad. I missed out the poignant The Giver and the interesting Anthem, both which are nice short reads might I add. And while I don’t really consider Ender’s Game dystopia as much as sci-fi, I think it would still be a good school read that can get kids to thinking about the future.

Published After Graduating High School (or College), but Would Have Been Awesome to Read for School!


Cinder, The Book Thief, The Hunger Games

These were published in 2012, 2006, and 2008 respectively, all after I finished high school and Cinder after college, so I never would have really had the chance to read these in the classroom. But how great it would have been! You could read the original story of Cinderella before Cinder and then compare the two! The Book Thief offers a unique perspective on WWII you’re not going to find in history books, plus the prose is lovely. And then The Hunger Games is a true dystopia (much more so than many other YA “dystopias” that have emerged since), but is more interesting and friendly to read than, say, 1984. I think these more contemporary books would be great required reads.

What do you think? What books do you wish you had read for school? 

26 Responses to The Top 10 Books I Wish I Had Read for School

  1. AGREED! Especially with those last few picks 🙂 Cinder was AMAZING! I’d read it, required or otherwise. And I just recently picked up The Book Thief– it was a great read, and I’m glad I chose to try it! And of course, the Hunger Games manages to find its way into our lists, yet again XD

  2. Finally someone else who hated Heart of Darkness! That was the worst book in my entire college experience. And I highly recommend that you read The Screwtape Letters – it changed my entire perspective on life.

    • Ugh, yes, I had to read it for AP English my senior year of high school and it was torture. I really do intend to read The Screwtape Letters in full sometime; I have many excerpts from it and it is eye-opening for sure.

  3. You know, I often think “I wish I’d read that book in high school,” but then I think back to high school and realize I might still have opted NOT to read those books anyway, lol. Although The Bell Jar, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World might have been interesting enough to hook me back then. I’ve had The Screwtape Letters on my TBR for years now, ever since a pastry classmate recommended it, but who knows if I’ll ever get around to it.

    The Giver and Ender’s Game and two of the very few assigned books I actually read. They’re also two of my favorites. My English teacher senior year loved Ayn Rand, but for some reason she never assigned any of her books for us to read.

    I would have LOVED to have been assigned books like Cinder or The Hunger Games in high school! Sadly, I have a feeling I may have skipped The Book Thief as a teenager, but I’m so glad I read it as an adult. Great list, Amy!

    • That is true, that I might have opted out of reading something (since sometimes I had a list of choices) or that I may not have appreciated the book the same way. That is the downside of having 14 year olds read classics… it may not mean the same thing to them that it will 10 or 20 years later, heck, it doesn’t even have to be a classic. Sometimes life experience changes your perception on these sorts of things.

      • Yes, exactly right! I don’t think The Giver would have touched me as deeply if I’d read it as an adult, compared to reading it at like 12 (although I did read it again recently and still enjoyed it). Life + books are interesting that way.

  4. Ooooh great list! I’m not huge for the classics, so I can’t say I’d be jumping at those. But, I definitely wish books like Cinder and The Book Thief assigned for school. Such great books, and I’m sure they could really make some teens fall in love with reading if they didn’t love it already!

    • Classics are really hit or miss for me. Other than The Screwtape Letters (which I have read many excerpts of so I feel confident I would like it), I can only assume I would like the books I mentioned in that category, because I really might not. After all, I thought I would like 1984, THE classic dystopia, but then found it mostly (but not completely) disappointing. But yes, newer novels with the potential to become “new” classics I think would be great for teens to help foster a love for reading!

  5. I haven’t read any of those classics either. I do like reading those in class so that I have peers to discuss them with.
    I loved reading Ender’s Game in class. It was nice to read a sci-fi.
    So I still haven’t gotten around to reading The Book Thief (one of these days I will), but Cinder and The Hunger Games would be great choices to add to some assigned reading. I could really see The Hunger Games being taught in schools, and think it would be a great choice. Hopefully it could encourage teens to read more if they know that books like it exist.

  6. Great books! I’ve read most of them, except I haven’t read any Ayn Rand at all, and I haven’t read The Bell Jar. I keep meaning to…eventually. 😉

    Also I hated “Heart of Darkness” the first time I read it…but then I had to read it again for another class. I still didn’t like it. But then I had to read it yet again (my memory is terrible, so yes, I had to reread it every time it was assigned. Sadness.), and the third time around I really started to appreciate it. Strange, huh? I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite story ever, but I have to admit that now I like it.

  7. I still haven’t read the books that you need to get around to reading as well. They do seem good, especially “The Screwtape Letters.”
    I have read some Ayn Rand and really wasn’t a huge fan. I think the issue was that I hammered out the entirety of “The Fountainhead” in about a week in order to write an essay for a scholarship that I ended up not getting. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read her since, but I can see why it would make for good school reading.

    • Anthem is the only thing I have read by her and it’s a novella, so it’s short and gets to the point. I think someone else I know may have also not been fond of Fountainhead. I can see how that scholarship essay could embitter you!

    • I imagine it does mess with your head! Someone recommended it to me in high school and have been meaning to get around to it ever since, but I’m also a little afraid of it!

  8. Oh oh oh I’m reading Brave New World right now! I’m juggling so many books for school I haven’t gotten as much into it as I would like… but it looks like it’s going to be very interesting. All of the books that I was assigned in high school were so bland, I couldn’t stand it. I don’t think there was a single one that was even slightly interesting. I may have to do one of these for TTT soon. 🙂

      • I will likely be posting a review when I get done. 🙂 I’m having to read it at a slower pace than I would like because I have so much *other* reading, and at the same time I have set amounts of chapters to get through before each class. Argh.

        I already have so many ideas for propaganda posters for the book! I hope I can pull them off in a passable level of skill, haha.

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