16 Books You Wish You Actually Paid Attention to in School

Posted by Hayley on August 29, 2015
Assigned reading can be annoying, but you know what else is? Becoming a grown-up whose responsibilities don't include reading. If you missed out on a classic the first time around, try it now—just think how proud your former English teachers will be!

This week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What assigned reading book do you wish you had paid more attention to in school? Check out the top answers below.

Very Good Lives
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Our Souls at Night
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The Cartel
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The Familiar
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The Cartel
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The Cartel
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The Familiar
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The Cartel
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The Familiar
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Which book did you sleep through in English class? Did you ever try and read it later?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 244 (244 new)


message 1: by Ishi (new)

Ishi For me it was Around The World in 80 day!


message 2: by Kandice (new)

Kandice In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there.


message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda "Scarlet Pimpernel" bored me to tears in highschool.


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Mclaughlin I loved Brave New World in highschool. That book was the only book I really loved in highschool required reading.


message 5: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Bryan Only seven of these titles required reading for high school back in the dark ages. Sula and Handmaid's Tale not yet written :)

Of the ones I did read, The Old Man and the Sea bored me silly. Do not wish to read it again. For Whom the Bell Tolls may get revisited one day. Didn't read for high school.


Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten* I couldn't stand Frankenstein in school. So very dry. Didn't like Hemingway or Steinbeck either, but I adored Anne Frank. My other favorites were To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984.


message 7: by Shannon (last edited Aug 29, 2015 08:39AM) (new)

Shannon Stevens The Awakening. I would give it another try as an adult, but it was a total yawn in high school.


message 8: by Claire (new)

Claire Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

Whilst I didn't read it at school it was on the reading list for those who took A'Level English. The only one on the list I read at school was Lord if the Flies, which I really didn't like. I plan to reread it now 20 years have passed to see if it is better now I have aged.


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

My school in Florida, it was one of the optional summer readings from the 'modern' choices.


message 10: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Out of the Silent Planet by C.S Lewis was required reading for Senior English. I thought it was the hardest book to read because it did not make any sense. I have tried to reread it and still cannot get through the first two chapters.


message 11: by Kim (new)

Kim Ellis Great Gatsby - reading now while my Sophmore studies it.


message 12: by Carol ꧁꧂ (last edited Aug 29, 2015 08:57AM) (new)

Carol  ꧁꧂ Anne Frank was my favourite required reading at school (unless we are counting plays - in that case it's Romeo & Juliet)

My least favourite was New Zealand book The God Boy. Why that was inflicted on NZ high school kids I'll never know.

Don't go check it's GR's page though - reviews full of spoilers!


message 13: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Two books I hated from high school The Old Man and the Sea and The Red Badge of Courage.

The Old Man and the Sea was absolutely dull. Simply written, which I tend to like, but dull. Maybe because I couldn't connect to the Old Man, because everyone else I convince to read it actually likes it.

The other, The Red Badge of Courage was painful. I don't like war stories to begin with (I used to get up and leave the room even during John Wayne war movies), and argued to be allowed a different read - to no success. I did connect with the young boy, and thought him a coward at several points. After all these years, that's what still stands out, and I probably won't ever read it again.

Only slightly surprised the latter book is not listed above...


message 14: by Hester (new)

Hester Read them and some more than once. I would add Great Expectations and many of Charles Dickens social ethics writings! It is amazing that writers like Kalil Gibran, Elie Wiesel, etc. give such examples to live by yet history just keeps repeating the worse!


message 15: by Krissy (new)

Krissy Carr Moby Dick - lost me at the nine pages to describe the line


message 16: by Cristina (new)

Cristina Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

I read it in high school!! It was assigned at university as well. Loved it then and have read it several times since (I graduated in 1999).


message 17: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Jones Urfer We read a lot of Shakespeare's plays, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Beowulf, and Canterbury Tales....... other than that I really don't recall. I can't say I enjoyed any of those books/stories/plays. We also had the "recommended books" list from which we could choose books to read for book reports. I always stuck w/ the ones I already knew and loved, like Little Women or Gone With The Wind. Years after graduation I started reading other books off that list, and, what do you know - there were some GREAT books on there. LOL. I wish I had read Pride and Prejudice in high school. It is now my all-time favorite book! I also have come to love To Kill A Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Dracula, and many others that are considered "classics".


message 18: by Larissa (new)

Larissa Langsather Fahrenheit 451


message 19: by Luu (new)

Luu Monteleone I really really hated The old man and the sea. It is so boring!


message 20: by Jane (new)

Jane Best books I had to read at school were 'Jennie' by Paul Gallico and 'Over the Bridge ' by Richard Church. None of the above were required reading or hold any interest for me!


message 21: by Kru (last edited Aug 29, 2015 09:37AM) (new)

Kru I have read an excerpt from The Good Earth while in school. It was the part where they move to the city and I liked it so much. I could read it only sometime back and felt so nostalgic.

I have read Jane Eyre also at school. I loved it too.


message 22: by Voldemort (new)

Voldemort Flaubert's Madame Bovary!


message 23: by Michelle (last edited Aug 29, 2015 10:08AM) (new)

Michelle Wardhaugh I'm not sure what is meant by "paid more attention to." I read some of those listed in high school or college. We talked about them, studied them, and I remember if I liked or didn't like them, but I don't know how I could have paid them more attention. I noticed there weren't any of Shakespeare's plays up there. I remember liking to study those even when I didn't like the play itself. They had so much depth.


message 24: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."
My daughters read it in High School in BC. I thoroughly approve. On two counts: Canadiana and feminism. (As a male immigrant I over-compensate! :o) )


message 25: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Larissa wrote: "Fahrenheit 451"
Agreed. This was a "School reader" back in the mid-70s in the UK. It left me with a profound lifelong respect for books and reading.
Being forced to read "Great Expectations" however left me with a similarly lifelong revulsion for Dikkens ("That's Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author" - sorry couldn't resist the MP reference.)
Hated Old Man and the Sea. Didn't even finish Moby Dick. Found 1984 a thoughtful read. Didn't understand what was happening in most of Animal Farm (I was ~12).
Enjoyed Lord of the Flies (I attended a boys Grammar School). Fell asleep during Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mocking Bird.

Not surprisingly, I ended up in the Science Stream...


message 26: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Shawver Sorry. I was sleeping so I can't remember.


message 27: by Jane (new)

Jane Aaaarrrghhh, I just remembered my absolute favourite set book at school! 'The Ivory Horn ' by Ian Serraillier. I was totally in love with Roland!


message 28: by Rebe (new)

Rebe Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

I never had to read it for an English class, but my high school book club did pick it one month, which is why I ended up reading it. I feel like it'd be too explicit for a high school English class, honestly.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

I was never assigned any of them. I guessed I missed out on a lot of books.


message 30: by Marijan (new)

Marijan You are all lucky you didn't have Croatian and din't have to read 'Proljeća Ivana Galeba', where a doorknob is described over 10 pages.


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul E. Morph The only one of these that was on the syllabus at my school was 'Lord Of The Flies'. I loved it then and still do now.

The only book I had to read at school that I absolutely HATED was 'The Mayor Of Casterbridge' by Thomas Hardy. I have never been tempted to re-read it... but maybe I should.


Rebecca ♥ Warner, Kishan, Magnus ♥ The only book from school that I didn't actually read was The Tempest.


Rebecca ♥ Warner, Kishan, Magnus ♥ Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

I also read it in high school.


message 34: by Sara (last edited Aug 29, 2015 11:38AM) (new)

Sara F. I've read a few of these books, want to read most of the rest. But I read Lord of the Flies in high school and HATED IT. My God, what a miserable book! And I usually love most classics, but reading this book was awful. All I can remember is our teacher going on and on about the symbolism of one of the characters having pink skin. Really?


message 35: by Azur (last edited Aug 29, 2015 12:06PM) (new)

Azur None of these books were assigned reading for me. I'm from Germany so we focused on German classics, but even in English class we never read any of them. :(

Have a look at my shelf if you want to kow what we read.


message 36: by Hákon (new)

Hákon Gunnarsson Cindy wrote: "Out of the Silent Planet by C.S Lewis was required reading for Senior English. I thought it was the hardest book to read because it did not make any sense. I have tried to reread it an..."

It wasn't a required read where I went to school, but I have to agree. I really had difficulties getting through this one when I read it.


message 37: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

It's on many A level syllabi in Britain.


message 38: by Gerd (new)

Gerd E. wrote: "I did connect with the young boy, and thought him a coward at several points. ..."

That might be because he is a coward.
I think that's the whole point to "Red Badge", when finally he takes a stand it's not heroism it's simply that he sees no other way for him to go.


message 39: by Jenna (last edited Aug 29, 2015 12:57PM) (new)

Jenna Most of Anne Franks diary was edited out becuase she talks a lot about exploring oneself sextually.


message 40: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."

It was at my High School for AP Lit. I went to school in Indiana.


TheObsessiveCupcake Kandice wrote: "In what school is The Handmaid's Tale required reading?! I want to go there."


The entirety of my term paper in 10th grade was on that book. I was the luckiest person in my class, as everyone else was reading anything from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy to A Portrait of a Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. It was probably the most interested book I ever had to read for school.


message 42: by Christopher (new)

Christopher The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We read that book in 11th grade, but after taking the AP test, so I was totally uninterested in reading anything that was assigned to me, even more so than usual.


message 43: by Cindy (new)

Cindy The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I took an honors English Lit class in college and this was required reading plus a 10 page essay on the book. Quentin's chapter was so confusing. The whole book was hard to read. I did not get a very good grade on my essay. I reread The Sound and the Fury and it still confuses me.


message 44: by Joann H (Sshh!!! I'm reading) (last edited Aug 29, 2015 02:10PM) (new)

Joann H (Sshh!!! I'm reading) Um, was I the only geek who read the books from the assigned reading list before the teacher told them to?

My assigned reading list included:
- Roll of thunder hear my cry
- The Hobbit
- Anne of Avonlea
- Miguel Street
- William Shakespeare;A Midsummer Night's Dream

*whispers, I also read the books from my brother's assigned reading list.


message 45: by Andrea (new)

Andrea "1984". I read it in 1987. I do not, to this day, know how I fudged the paper on this book. I should go back and read it now. It might make a lot more sense.


message 46: by Fee (new)

Fee For me it was German class: Beneath the Wheel


message 47: by Michaela (new)

Michaela Marijan wrote: "You are all lucky you didn't have Croatian and din't have to read 'Proljeća Ivana Galeba', where a doorknob is described over 10 pages."

are you kidding lol


Linda Abhors the New GR Design Marijan wrote: "You are all lucky you didn't have Croatian and din't have to read 'Proljeća Ivana Galeba', where a doorknob is described over 10 pages."

hahaha! We had instruments of torture like that, too! Apparently, for some, it was The Old Man and the Sea! :)


message 49: by Janna (new)

Janna Morrow Shannon wrote: "The Awakening. I would give it another try as an adult, but it was a total yawn in high school."

You have to read "The Awakening" as an adult. Honestly, it is one of my favorite books ever. It is really empowering for women. Please give this book another chance. You will not be sorry.


message 50: by Janna (new)

Janna Morrow Christopher wrote: "The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We read that book in 11th grade, but after taking the AP test, so I was totally uninterested in reading anything that was assi..."

This is another great book that is a classic and must be re-read by younger women as adults. I think a lot of books we read as teens are different for us in adulthood.


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