Monday, September 2, 2013

Things Kids Should Read in High School

Working off the model I had, these are some books I read, and some I didn't until later, with some I read also having been removed. All in all I think these books would

1) Give them an appreciation for literature

2) Make history more accessible

3) Teach a proper ethics

The last is probably the most important, but not all such works need to be all three.

Freshman Year: The English 9 Catch-All

Catcher in the Rye. Hook 'em quick. Running away from school is fun, but bad.

Romeo and Juliet. Hook those who didn't like Catcher. Teen suicide is bad.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Segregation is bad.

The Power of One. Real bad.

Poetry: Poetry is a good way to express yourself. Some tried and true Freshman winners include Ozymandias by Shelly, Howl by Ginsberg, Ulysses by Tennyson, The Tyger by Blake, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Thomas, The Road Not Taken by Frost, The Weary Blues by Hughes, The Red Wheelbarrow by Williams, A Boston Ballad by Whitman, Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Dickinson, The Tower by Yeats, and Ode on a Grecian Urn by Keats.

Short Stories: Short stories are fun! More tried and true works: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Hemingway, A Rose for Emily by Faulkner, A Good Man is Hard to Find by O'Connor, The Lady or the Tiger? by Stockton, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Bierce, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by le Guin, The Most Dangerous Game by Connell, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Marquez, The Lottery by Jackson, The Yellow Wallpaper by Gillman, On Keeping a Notebook by Didion, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, The Telltale Heart by Poe, Harrison Bergeron by Vonnegut,  Man from the South by Dahl, The Nose by Gogol.

Sophomore Year: Western Civilization

The Iliad (selections). Where it all begins. Rage is bad.

Oedipus Rex. Incest is bad.

The Apology. Philosophy, on the other hand, is good. But kills you.

The Bible (selections: Genesis, Exodus, Job, Mark). God is going to be so mad at you...

Julius Caesar. Assassination is bad. Maybe.

Barabbas. Thank God you're not him.

Becket. Having to choose between two all-powerful allegiances is hard.

St. Joan. Even if you know what you're doing, things can still turn out badly.

Galileo. Sometimes selling out isn't a bad thing.

A Man for All Seasons. Having to choose between two all-powerful allegiances is hard, part two.

Candide. Enlightenment won't save you.

Crime and Punishment. Nothing will save you.

"In the Penal Colony". The death penalty is scary.

Hedda Gabler. Bitches be crazy.

Regeneration. World War One was really pointless, tragic.

The Plague. Life is really pointless, tragic.

Junior Year: O beautiful, for spacious skies...

The Scarlet Letter. Thank God we're not a bunch of Puritans anymore.

The Crucible. No, really...(Also McCarthy was a bad, bad man.)

"Benito Cereno" and "Bartleby". Moby Dick is too long, anyway.

"Self-Reliance", "Nature", "Civil Disobedience" and "Life Without Principle", Walden (Selections: Where I Lived and What I Lived For, Solitude, Higher Laws, Housewarming). "Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation." Kids love language like that.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Get ready for some uncomfortable conversations.

Death Comes for the Archbishop. There's a lot of America out there.

The Jungle. Socialism is good.

Main Street. Americans are bad?

The Great Gatsby. Americans are complex.

The Grapes of Wrath. Depression is depressing.

A Streetcar Named Desire. Americans are tragic or hot with their shirts off.

The Old Man and the Sea. Fuck it, lets go to Cuba.

The Monkey Wrench Gang. We're not bad people if we save the planet.

Senior Year: Electives

Whatever. Some of the lit I read:

Philosophy (West and East): No Exit, The Painted Bird.

Epic Lit: The Odyssey, The Inferno, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Long Walk, The Alchemist.

Russian Lit: Fathers and Sons, The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya, The Duel, The Overcoat, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Bronze Horseman (also Crime and Punishment and The Nose).

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