The Best (and Worst) Books I've Read for School

Over the years as a high school student, I've read my fair share of assigned books for school.  There's been the good, the bad, and then the just . . . okay.  Here's a list of the most memorable, no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

The Best:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

If you know me, then you must know of my undying love for Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road.  I read this book for my Sophomore English selection last year, and ever since, it has remained an all-time favorite.  It will take A LOT for any other book to surpass this.

I Liked:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

My mom used to read the "watered down" version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to my brother and me as children.  I read Huck's story early this school year for my American Literature class, and I actually quite enjoyed it.  A true classic.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott-Fitzgerald

I think every American high school student is required to read this book at one point or another.  The storyline had already been spoiled for me, so the "revelation factor" wasn't quite there.  However, I did enjoy Fitzgerald's descriptive language and imagery.

The Worst:

These books are undoubtedly written well, but I just couldn't connect with them on any level.  The enjoyment wasn't there.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Like I said, this book was undoubtedly written well.  But it quite simply, wasn't for me.  I know, I know, it's an Oprah Book Club book and everything.  I'm sorry.  Maybe one day I'll return to the text and find more meaning.

Blu's Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

Blu's Hanging is one of the most confusing, most disturbing books I have ever read.  There were too many metaphors to comprehend.  After reading, I didn't feel moved or changed--only grossed out.

So, what assigned books have you read?  Any thoughts on the above mentioned?

Julia's a dreamer. She often zones off periodically throughout the day thinking up plans for the future, pining over fictional characters, and concocting up possible plot lines for stories.

You can find Julia on her main blog, Peach Print, on Twitter @peachprint, on Instagram @yapeach, and of course, right here on the APCB blog.


  1. I haven't read any of the ones you were made to O.O mine weren't all that enjoyable and Wuthering Heights remains my least favourite book of all time! However I did enjoy Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and own the series hoping to continue with it on my own time eventually. Anyway, great post!
    Enchanted by YA

  2. One of these days I need to read Jellicoe Road - that's awesome that you read it for school. We didn't read anything but classics when I was in high school.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  3. I love The Great Gatsby. Great choice! I haven't read any of the ones on your worst. I think my favorite book I read at school was To Kill A Mockingbird (and many more haha) and the worst I read at school was A Separate Peace. I really did not enjoy that one.

  4. i recently finished the great gatsby and was surprised when i ended up liking it! my other favorites are probably to kill a mockingbird and of mice and men! btw, love your blog! so glad i found so many amazing ones from the TP twitter chat! :)

  5. Oh I remember hating Mark Twain so much in high school, I adored The Great Gatsby! Even though I read it in the 8th grade, I also really loved The Color of Water! Oh and Demian by Herman Hesse!

  6. I had to read Beloved by Toni Morrison.... *shudder* I am still scarred for life. It was HORRID. I never had to read Huck Finn or Great Gatsby though. I did read Pride and Prejudice and LOVED it. Same with To Kill a Mockingbird. But man do I remember some of those bad school readings... LOL.

  7. We have to read very boring books in my country, they're Latin american classics but it's like the teachers just pick the worst of them all! I think the only one I've actually enjoyed is One Hundred Years of Solitude.

    Lipstick and Mocha

  8. I haven't read any of those books at all! O_O But I am looking forward to reading the Great Gatsby junior year! :D Did you ever read Tuck Everlasting, Sarah Plain and Tall, The Giver, Shiloh, Island of the Blue Dolphin or Call of the Wild? Those are all books I've read throughout middle school and I loved them.. okay maybe not Giver. That was honestly not bad but the book just really bored me.

  9. School was kind of a blur for me because it was a while ago. I did love Great Gatsby though. I think I hated reading anything Shakespeare. His writing is beautiful, but the language is so heavy and I just can't understand some of it. I do love seeing his plays in person though. I recently saw Romeo and Juliet at The Globe theatre in London and it was awesome. Maybe seeing the play just made the action come alive. I still think it's boring to read though.

  10. The one thing I will say about compulsory reading, I read a lot of books I would not have otherwise read, and so did most of the people I meet around my age. It's that common thread that makes me thankful, that I was FORCED to read certain books (and it helps me with trivia games). Good school reads: Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, The Catcher in the Rye, The Assistant, A Farewell to Arms, and a bunch of others I can't quite remember. =)

  11. I DO have to say that it's awesome that your school had you read more modern stuff too! Although, it's kind of a wash since you didn't like them anyway haha. I don't like mandatory reading, and I was always a huge reader, even in high school. I found most of the books they assigned to be boring as sin though.

    I did like A Separate Peace. Which, ironically, was the most recently published one that we had to read. A Glass Menagerie was good too, and A Streetcar Named Desire, though tbh I remember the movies more ;)

    I did NOT like all the others, basically. I enjoyed watching some of the Shakespeare plays (a local college put them on, and we would see them after reading them) but the reading? UGH no more. Please no more.

    The absolute worst though? The time my dad made me read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Because I was 10, and because it was so. damn. boring. Can't even blame school for that one ;) OH though it was rivaled by this insanely boring book in college- it was like, all this weird symbolic poetry, but like, LONG poems? And the class would sit around and go on and on debating these poems for DAYS (it was this advanced class with a bunch of REALLY snooty girls who thought they were the smartest people in the whole world) and I was like "yeah, I just read 10 pages about a blue jug, I'm fresh out".

  12. You read Jellicoe Road for class? WHAT? I wish I did too. For me, the best book I read was, hm, I would say Maus, which is a WWII graphic novel. But other than that, I don't think I had that many good reads unfortunately. And I didn't get into an advanced english class until junior year of high school? The worst book I can say, with certainty, was The Portrait of a Life of a Young Artist or whatever the heck that title is. Or Wuthering Heights. I did not like that book!

  13. You're so lucky to have been able to read Jellicoe Road! I never read many novels for English class... off the top of my head, I just remember Dracula and Jane Eyre! I tried reading a Toni Morrison book once but it didn't click with me. I liked a short poem from her

  14. I enjoyed Huck Finn & Gatsby too. My favorite I have ever had to read I think would be To Kill a Mockingbird. Thanks for the great post!

  15. I actually haven't read any of these, haha! But I do look forward to reading Gatsby. I tried reading Jellicoe Road when I was younger but couldn't get into it so hopefully I'll enjoy it more the second time around. My favorite is probably To Kill a Mockingbird and me least is The Lord of the Flies.

    Jess @Princessica of Books

  16. That's so cool that you got to read Jellicoe Road for school! I hope I'll be able to read it, someday. As for books I've read in school, I definitely hated the Iliad.

  17. We always have to read books for school but really, Jellicoe Road? I wish I had to read that one for school! Although a lot of people would be happy with the Hobbit and The Giver, which we had to do for school. Although I wasn't a big fan of The Hobbit. Or the Great Gatsby. Thank goodness I haven't had to read any of the ones you labeled 'the worst' though!


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