Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Best Books I Read in High School

"The Best Books I Read..." is a new feature I'll be sharing every so often that will name the five best books I (or a guest) have read in a given situation. For example, I also have plans to do a "The Best Books I Read in College" post and a "The Best Books I Read in Grad School: Library Science" post.

The idea is to share favorites and allow comparisons, i.e. "I didn't read that one in high school, but we did read this." Also, in the case of some of the graduate school guest posts I have in mind, I hope the lists will be a good starting place for anyone interested in reading more in a certain area.

So, for my first "The Best Books I Read" post, I'll be sharing some of my favorites from high school. These are all books (or plays) my classes required me to read as a part of the curriculum when I was in high school in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School in St. Petersburg, Florida.

To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A classic, and for good reason. TKAM astounded me when I read it my freshman year of high school. 
The House of the Spirits: A Novel

2. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. My first introduction to magic realism and I was hooked. A beautiful and magical novel that deals with politics, culture, love, and family, all with distinctive style.

Beloved (Paperback)

3. Beloved by Toni Morrison. Another dark and deep story shedding light on the psychological and emotional tolls of slavery and its aftermath. Hauntingly beautiful writing.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

4. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. More magic realism from an excellent writer. Later, I read his One Hundred Years of Solitude on my own, but Chronicle is a good Marquez novel with which to start.

The Visit

5. The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt. Probably the one thing on this list of which you haven't heard. The Visit is a "tragicomic" play in which a poor town, Guellen, awaits the arrival of one of their past residents, Claire, who has since become phenomenally rich. Claire announces that she will donate one billion dollars/francs/marks (it doesn't specify the currency), but only if someone murders Alfred Ill, one of the town's most popular residents and Claire's former lover. The play is dark and funny and I would love to see it performed, but reading it is pretty amazing, too.

What were your favorite books from high school?