I was just recently looking at a list of classic pieces of literature that have been read by high schooler’s for many years and were an important part of the English curriculum. I couldn’t believe the number of flashbacks I had of my years in AP English, and how many of these books I studied and wrote essays on. Here are just 5 books that I will lightly touch on, there are many, many others.
Let’s start with “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee in our number one spot. This book was set in Alabama in the 1930’s. The main character’s were Scout, Jem, and their father Atticus Finch, who was a lawyer and a kind, upstanding man. The plot centers around Atticus as a defense lawyer who was defending an African American man accused of raping a white woman. The themes of the book are coming-of-age, racism and social equality.
Second, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This book was set in the 1920’s in Long Island New York. The story centered around narrator Nick Carroway attending lavish parties held by his neighbor Jay Gatsby. There was a tragic romance between Nick’s cousin Daisy and Gatsby and the tension that arises with her husband Tom. The themes of this book are wealth and the American Dream.
Third, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Set in the Great Depression Era, this book follows migrant workers Lennie and George who are traveling from farm to farm looking for work. The theme of this piece of work is the American Dream and friendship.
Fourth, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Set in the South in the 1880’s, the book is about Huckleberry Finn’s adventures and how he befriends a slave named Jim. They travel down the Mississippi River together, Jim looking for freedom and Huck grows up along the way. The theme of this book is coming-of-age, racism, and moral education.
Fifth and finally, “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. This book takes place in the 1940’s in New York and Boston. The main character is Willy Loman, a salesman stuck in the past, daydreaming of a better life for his two sons. The main themes of this book is betrayal, the American Dream and the past.
There are so many other books I could list but these are five that will forever live on in my memory.