Books Everyone Should Read Before Graduating

Cece Phillips, Reporter

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The school year is nearly over, and that, my fellow seniors, means the end of high school. A place we’ve come to know for four (LONG) years. A place we grew up in. A place we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

It’s undeniable that high school has had an impact on each and every one of us. For some, it was the friends we made. For others, it was the teachers we met, or the things we learned. For me (and I’m not saying this ironically), it was the books I read…among other things.

While you might not describe yourself as an avid reader, I think it’s safe to say that every one of us has read at least one book over the course of their high school career (whether this was forced by a curriculum or by personal choice, I can’t say for sure).

No matter your relationship with reading, no matter if you love books or think they’re a waste of time, everyone has a book that has stuck with them, no matter how many years have passed. A book that made them think. A title they think of when someone says the word “book”.

Below is a list of books that, in my own personal opinion, everyone should read before they throw their graduation cap in the air. Some of these titles are what you might expect – the tear-jerking John Steinbeck paperback, or paranoia-inducing dystopia by George Orwell – others, though, you might’ve never heard of. Every title is dear to my heart, and each one is equally impactful on my life, so I thought I’d share.

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This famous title has graced many classic literature lists since it was published in 1951, and many might think this book is overrated, but it’s important all the same. The narrator in this book, Holden Caulfield, is what you might call a delinquent. Starting out in the winter of his junior year, Holden tells the story of a specific period of his life in which he feels he is going nowhere. I think this book is important because every one of us feels lost and confused at some point in their high school career. Plus I find the sarcasm and satire of Holden’s perspective refreshing and relatable, even half a century after its publication.

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another famous title, this book describes the inner and outer turmoil of mysterious socialite Jay Gatsby through the eyes of his friend, Nick Carraway. I think this book is impactful because it describes the way we as a society tend to see things the way we want them to be, instead of the way they actually are. A compelling tale of the American Dream and how yearning for something that is just out of reach can take over your life.

  1. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

I first read this book as part of a class assignment in the fifth grade, and since then it has stuck with me as one of my favorites, not just because of the story, but because of the character development and the way the author can get the reader to become so invested in the life of a fictional character. The book is set in present day, where teenage delinquent Cole Matthews is serving out an unorthodox sentence for nearly beating a classmate to death a few months earlier. Cole must spend a year in solitude on an uninhabited island off the coast of Alaska. During his time on the island, he faces many challenges that prove not only how unforgiving the wild Alaskan wilderness is, but also how much someone can change in just a single year.

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This book is one of my all-time favorites. A tale of adventure, friendship, discrimination, love, and so much more. These coupled with the beautiful story-telling of Khaled Hosseini creates a book so perfect I almost can’t believe it’s real. I know that it is a requirement for all sophomores to read this book in their English-10 class, but making reading a book a requirement tends to make it seem like a chore. I implore you to read this book again on your own time, because there are so many parts of this book that can’t be learned in a class assignment. Told from the perspective of Amir, a boy living in Afghanistan during the invasion of the Soviet Union in the late 70s, and his best friend Hassan, and how their lives are affected by things such as religious differences, social class, and political unrest. A truly beautiful story that will stay with me all my life.

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

This title starts out as one of fulfillment, friendship, and romance, but quickly turns into one of betrayal, suffering, and revenge. Protagonist Edmond Dantes has had a lot of success in his life, despite being low-born. When he is betrayed and imprisoned by jealous “friends,” he vows to take revenge on each and every one of them. First published in 1844, this adventure story has it all – an honorable protagonist, a beautiful love interest, a wise old man, and a malicious antagonist. It’s full of sword fights, travel, and clever dialogue, and the character’s personalities are so well-written you’d think they were real people. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to go on a journey without leaving the warmth of home.

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