Top Ten Tuesday: Books I was Required to Read in High School (and Actually Enjoyed)

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is a Back to School freebie. For me, it was really hard narrowing this down to one topic. All the topics suggested by the Broke and the Bookish–books that you think should be required reading, books that could be paired with a history lesson, etc.–all sounded so interesting!

I finally settled on choosing ten books that I was required to read in high school and enjoyed. Throughout middle school and high school, I always forced myself to finish required reading books, even if I didn’t like them. While there were many books that I struggled to get through, there were also many that I really enjoyed and would read again. There are also a few that I didn’t like in high school, but appreciate much more reading them now.

Here are my top eleven (I couldn’t just choose ten!) favorite required reading books from middle school, high school, and college:

1.) Beowulf (Required in 7th grade)


I remember LOVING Beowulf whenever we read it in seventh grade! Even though I didn’t end up seeing it, the movie with Angelina Jolie came out around the same time, which made a lot of other people in my school excited to read it.

2.) Animal Farm by George Orwell (Required in 7th grade)

Animal Farm

What I really loved about reading Animal Farm was that we learned about the history behind it in my social studies class. It really helped me understand the book better! Also, I won in Final Jeopardy for my team when we reviewed this book in my class, so my whole team got bonus points.

3.) Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (Summer Reading for 8th grade)

Summer of the Monkeys

I really loved reading Where the Red Fern Grows in fourth grade, so it is no surprise that I loved this book by the same author. I remember I actually had fun reading this book, so I felt like I was reading for enjoyment, not just a test at school.

4.) That Was Then, This is Now by S. E. Hinton (Required reading for 8th grade)

That Was Then, This Is Now

This is another book that I remember actually having fun while reading. I remember we also did a classroom project that included making a life size cut-out of one of the characters!

5.) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Required reading for 9th grade)

Romeo and Juliet

I don’t know if this is my favorite Shakespeare play, but I remember having a lot of fun while reading it during class. One day, we divided the class into Capulets and Montagues and hurled Shakespearean insults at each other! I also remember that we got to read as the different characters in the play based on how well we did in our speeches throughout the year. I was so excited because I got to read as Juliet!

6.) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Required reading for 10th grade)

Julius Caesar

I remember also loving this Shakespeare play because of the projects we got to do in class. We all got into small groups and each group was either assigned Brutus or Mark Antony and created a political campaign for there leader. We made a commercial, propaganda posters, and speeches. I was so excited because my group got a 100% on our project! We also got to watch a clip from the movie which featured young Marlon Brando!

7.) The Great Gatsby (Required reading for 11th grade)

The Great Gatsby

I think the Great Gatsby is a book that everyone remembers reading in high school. I think this book stands out to me because one of my favorite high school teachers taught the class where we read this book.

8.) A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (Required reading for 12th grade)

A Streetcar Named Desire

I loved reading this play in twelfth grade because it was so different from a lot of the other things we read in high school. We also did small group research projects about different aspects of the play. I believe my group chose the setting which is a place that I’ve always been fascinated with–New Orleans! Like Julius Caesar, the movie version also features a young Marlon Brando (but he doesn’t play a likable character in this one).

9.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Chosen classic for 12th grade paper, Required reading for college)


In twelfth grade, we had to write a paper on an idea that related to a classic book. We were given a list and Frankenstein jumped out to me because I had an idea of the story and it was fairly short, so I knew I could read it in time. I also had to read this book for a humanities course in college. Every time I read this book, I gain a new perspective which I love!

10.) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (Required reading for 12th grade and college)

Invisible Man

If you asked me if I liked this book in high school, I definitely would have said no. I think it’s because it was so long and we usually only discussed symbols in the book. After coming back to this book in college, I understand it much better and really appreciate it.

11.) The Odyssey by Homer (Required reading for college)

The Odyssey

This book was required in my college humanities class. At first, I was put off by the size and the epic writing style, which I typically don’t read. However, as I started reading this book, I was engrossed in the story and devices used within the writing!

What were some of your favorite required reading books from high school?


6 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books I was Required to Read in High School (and Actually Enjoyed)

  1. Great list!! I didn’t even think to put Beowulf on mine, but now wish I had. Gatsby, Romeo & Juliet, and The Odyssey are all wonderful too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frankenstein was required reading at my high school AND in uni! My favourite high school book was Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fatah, about a Muslim girl living in Melbourne, Australia. Super funny and current. For uni however, my favourites were probably The Hunger Games and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (one of my all time favourites) 😀

    Here’s my TTT:

    Liked by 1 person

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