I was perusing the blogs I read and came across this article in Publisher's Weekly. Kevin Smokler's book, Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School, reflects on high school English Lit classes and the books we were
forced assigned to read. In the Publisher's Weekly article he lists his top 10 required readings and the things he missed the first time. I've tried to synthesize his comments about these great books and at times resorted to quoting him:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - A story about acceptance and longing, as well as the pain of forbidden desire and American dreams.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - A story about blood feuds, human bondage and adventures with best friends.
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - "A smothering culture is the barrier to love, Wharton says, but circumstances beyond our control. And how, despite that, we can still show initiative in our own lives."
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper - The story addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American deep south. Atticus Finch has become an moral hero and model of legal integrity.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Our hero comes to hate what he does, burning books, and the himself as well.
- The Stranger - by Albert Camus - Perhaps the answer to this masterpiece’s chaos and mystery is a kind of level head, a respect for calm and rationality that his narrator couldn't handle.
- Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka - "Family is the entire area in which Kafka’s great tale happens, asking us “ Isn't it just as weird to wake up a member of a group you didn't sign up for as it is a cockroach?"
- The Poems of Emily Dickinson - "Read her poems again (and some pretty good recent biographies) and you’ll witness an artist of great ferocity. Dickinson wrote with fire (a poem a day in her best years), knew the work of her poetic heroes cold, and sought out mentors and constructive criticism."
- The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon - “Life is loony but it's better to experience it in all its lunacy than get off the road. Wanna ride with me?”
- Animal Farm by George Orwell - "Orwell reminds us we are all the same flawed creatures yesterday as today.Animal Farm is a lesson in how we all are tragically human."
What required reading, high school or college, would you want to re-read?