Books I Should Have Read in School, but Didn’t Challenge


Books I Should Have Read in School, but Didn't Challenge

You know how it goes. Your friend is talking about how much she disliked reading The Scarlet Letter in high school, or she raves about her eighth grade English teacher, who made her memorize Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” because it appeared in The Outsiders, her favorite book in middle school. You remember being assigned The Scarlet Letter, but you couldn’t get past the chapter on the Custom House, and you bought the Cliff’s Notes instead. Fess up! Sadly, you never had an opportunity to read The Outsiders. Maybe your teacher never assigned it, and it somehow slipped under your radar.

We all have a list of books we feel we should have read, probably in school, but for a variety of reasons, we didn’t. I moved around a lot as a kid, and I missed out on some novel studies because of it, but I also admit to having trouble keeping up with the reading schedules set by my teachers and not being able to finish books. When the unit was over, I set the book aside and never picked it up again. This challenge will allow all of us who feel we should have read certain books, whether they are classics of literature, or children’s books we seem to be alone in missing, to read those books!


  • Sign up using Mr. Linky below, and include a link to your blog post announcing your participation in the challenge. You may participate if you don’t have a blog. Feel free to leave your reviews in the comments or on a site like Goodreads.
  • The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.
  • You need not decide which books you will read at this time, and you may commit to any level with which you feel comfortable.
  • You can determine whether a book meets the criteria for the challenge. If you think you should have read it in school and didn’t, then it qualifies. In fact, you can even define school however you like—elementary school, middle school, high school, college, grad school—the list goes on and could vary based on the educational system with which you’re most familiar.

Challenge levels:

  • Literature Professor: Read 12 books you feel you should have read in school.
  • Graduate Student: Read 6 books you feel you should have read in school.
  • College Graduate: Read 4 books you feel you should have read in school.
  • High School Graduate: Read 2 books you feel you should have read in school.

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129 thoughts on “Books I Should Have Read in School, but Didn’t Challenge

  1. I am on my fifth book already and I was just going for the Graduate Student level (6). I don't think I have 12 in me but I will definitely finish this challenge with the required 6 for this level. So far: Brave New World; Lord of the Flies; Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Beloved; and I'm reading The Bell Jar. Thanks for this challenge. It is keeping me motivated.

  2. Just finished my first book for the challenge … The Grapes of Wrath. I LOVED it! I've never read anything else written by Steinbeck, but I've already added Of Mice and Men and East of Eden to my TBR pile.

    1. You know, I've never read a Steinbeck novel. Not one. Of Mice and Men is on my list for this challenge, though. I should read the others, too. I really should.

  3. I'm jumping into this challenge late, but it fits into my reading plans for the year, and it sounds like a ton of fun!

    1. Great book choices! I actually read Pudd'nhead Wilson twice before I ever got to Huckleberry Finn.

    1. I loved both of those books, and I didn't read either one in school. I still need to read Of Mice and Men.

  4. I just finished Of Mice and Men. I will be teaching this book next year in English 11, which is why I chose it. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. That being said, I think it will make for a wonderful character study. I also think it would be cool to explore the theme of tragic dreams; those that are never really meant to come true.

  5. Ah, I can't tell you how excited I am to do this! Where was this thirst for knowledge and literacy when I was 16? I think I can finish it, even though I'm starting in the last third of the year.

  6. Read A Raisin in the Sun this summer. Although I would prefer to teach a work by one Mr. Arthur Miller, I am not terribly disappointed to teach this instead. I especially like how A Raisin in the Sun will follow Of Mice and Men in our English 11 curriculum. It will put a different twist on the tragic dream theme for the students.

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