Surfing blogs the other day, I came across a reference to The Scarlet Letter that thrust me back to my Grade 10 English class. I never, ever liked having to read novels for school, but looking back now I wonder what I’d think of them as an adult—both because I’ve reached my full cognitive development and because I wouldn’t have to discuss them in a room filled with other people who didn’t feel like reading these books. A great Twitter discussion resulted, and I added to my list from people’s replies about books they read as an adolescent and have re-read since or would like to revisit.

  • We read Animal Farm in Grade 7. The people who wrote that curriculum should be fired. Seriously? Twelve-year-olds? This one is at the top of my list to read with adult neural pathways established.
  • Next is The Scarlet Letter. I enjoyed it in Grade 10, and I’m curious about what I’ll think of it having had some life experience.
  • Then there’s To Kill a Mockinbird, which I loved as an adolescent. I think I’ll love it as much, if in new ways, now.
  • In Grade 7 I read Black Boy. The book made a big impact on me then, and writing a paper about it became my first real lesson in revision. A lot of revision. That’s my most salient memory of this book, and it deserves better. This one’s on the list, for sure.
  • Finally, A Separate Peace. I don’t remember anything of it except that I enjoyed reading it. And so I’d like to read it again.

Two books lots of people read in high school that I didn’t but that I’d like to: Lord of the Flies and Catch-22.

Our next book-club book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I understand is a popular high-school read; I’ve just started it and already know I’ll love it.

Are there books you read in school that you’d like to revisit now? Books you didn’t read that you’d like to have read?