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    50 Books Taught In School That Are Actually Great, I Promise

    Just in time for back-to-school.

    We asked the members of the BuzzFeed Community to share books they had to read in school that they actually loved. Here are some of the best replies:

    1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    Puffin Books

    I realized that I saw myself in all four March sisters and related to them more than any other literary characters. I've read it several times since, and all I want for Christmas this year is to see the new movie adaptation. — emmanz

    2. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

    Ballantine Books

    It’s not a common school read, but it has everything you could ever want in a book. Romance, an edge-of-your-seat mystery, and friendships that last throughout the years. This book made me feel about every emotion imaginable and left my “summer reading pain” in the dust. I love it so much, I frequently gift it to friends. — katiek4eb45efca

    3. 1984 by George Orwell

    Signet Classic

    I read it my sophomore year of high school, and it really challenged how I considered the rise of technology and the roles the government has in all aspects of our daily life. Plus, the opening line still gets me. — gracec30

    4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


    Yes, all of the characters are problematic and generally horrible people, but the language is beautiful and I always find random lines when I reread it that I still cling to. Plus, the drama is always quite entertaining. — maddiejt

    5. Night by Elie Wiesel

    Hill and Wang

    I was very hesitant to start reading Night by Elie Wiesel. However, I found myself captivated by the story and I felt every emotion with Elie; some parts left me sobbing in the middle of the classroom. The fact that this was his true story was even more heartbreaking. I truly think this is a must-read for every person and it is one of the best books I have ever read. — TheDenehayhay

    6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    Bantam Classics

    It has so many twists and turns, fascinating characters, false accusations, prison escapes, buried treasure, and revenge. What more could you want? — aryna2

    7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

    Simon & Schuster

    When I was told I had to read Hamlet, I was a bit annoyed because it was another tragedy and Shakespeare’s language isn’t easy to understand. But, oh my God, how wrong was I! It was the most intense thing I had ever read at the time. It's still my favorite play to this day. — isaurel

    8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

    Simon & Schuster

    This was the first time I read a strong female character I could identify with — Lady Brett Ashley is the most badass character. YAS KWEEN! — carags

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

    Little, Brown and Company

    It was required reading in high school and I had no expectations of it. Even the title gave nothing away. But when we started reading it, I read ahead of everyone because it was just so good. What struck me the most was Holden had no idea what to do in life and he seemed so lost and uninterested, just how I did back then. I loved relating to a character that much, even though our lives were happening decades apart from each other. — c46d432c9b

    10. The Odyssey by Homer


    I thought such an old story would be hard to relate to and uninteresting. Turns out, there’s a reason this book has withstood the test of time! The Odyssey is the only work of fiction I didn’t sell back at the end of the semester in college, and I’ve reread it twice since! — jessicabarrotts

    11. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


    As slow and heavy as it was, Great Expectations changed my life. I was starting my fourth new school in four years, so maybe Pip’s angst about adapting to a new life found me at just the right time. But, I find that so much of that story has stuck with me, and I give it a lot of credit for my decision to study English literature in college! — magpiefrances98

    12. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor


    I read it in my final year of high school and I absolutely loved it! It highlighted the many issues black people faced in those times, and really opened my eyes. Even though I'm British Pakistani, it still had a lasting effect on me and, to this day, I love this book. — pwincessrasia

    13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Harper Perennial

    Our teacher gave us each a copy and told us to read the first chapter in preparation for the next day's class. I read the whole book that night and continued to reread it 'til the end every Monday night, until we had finished as a class. — patsys4c577e97b

    14. The Awakening by Kate Chopin


    The Awakening is a must-read for moms who are constantly judged by other moms. I didn't know it when I read it in college, but it sure came back into my mind 10 years later when I had my first child. — g42c2a3f22

    15. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison


    I was the only black person in the class and I was a pretty lazy English student because we always read boring classics that I couldn’t relate to at all. But this book meant SO MUCH to me. It expressed a lot of what I felt growing up. I felt SEEN and I’m glad my teacher felt it was important to add to our reading list. — khloebare

    16. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote


    Looking back, it's pretty gruesome that we were assigned this as juniors in high school. I remember being scared to be home alone after reading it. It was definitely the start of my love for true crime though, and I'm now a huge murderino. Seriously though, this book gave me a lot of perspective and helped me learn ways to stay cautious and keep myself safer. — courtneya4f8e9be56

    17. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë


    It was probably the only book I completely read in AP English (sorry, Ms. Widener!), and I expected to hate it, but I loved it. Jane is a strong-willed heroine who cares for people, but doesn’t easily forgive when she’s been wronged. As an 18-year-old, I respected the hell out of that and now, at 30, I still do. — charlsiew2

    18. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


    I had to read it for my 9th grade English class, and it really is the kind of book I thought would be boring. Two guys wandering the road? It didn’t seem as if it had a real purpose to it. But man, that book hits you hard and it’s the kind of thing I never would’ve checked out on my own. I still think about and, to this day, I can’t hear the word "rabbits" without flashing to that one scene and falling into a state of melancholy. — foxb3

    19. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Harper Perennial

    I read it as a freshman in high school and thought I was going to hate it. Aldous Huxley was way ahead of his time, given that the book was written in 1931. The dystopian novel explores controversial topics that speak upon our ability to connect with individuals. It's just incredible. — kennedyk4a9e8d691

    20. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

    Simon & Schuster

    The characters were all so dark and so well-written. You could feel their slow descent into madness. It's the most badass and entertaining book I read during my time in school, and it remains one of my favorite books to date. Plus, Lady Macbeth is THAT bitch. — autumndavis

    21. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


    I really loved it because it opened my eyes to the world of women's objectification by men at a time when I was most vulnerable. It really taught me the importance of being persistent towards achieving your goals and gave me the nerve to advocate for more women’s rights. — hylandcameron

    22. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

    Signet Classics

    The House of Mirth was a book I had to read junior year. I didn’t really like any of the characters at first, and I found the story to be awfully dull. But, I realized it was such a heartbreaking and complex story about a young woman who is completely betrayed by the society she adored so much. Overall, I came to love the story and it taught me a lot about how dangerous society and social norms can be. To this day, this day, it’s probably my favorite book I had to read. — thuienguyen

    23. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


    All I wanted to do my senior year of high school was take Brit Lit and read Pride and Prejudice. Being able to dissect the book (and the man who has ruined every expectation of love I have) was definitely something I looked forward to after lunch everyday. Elizabeth Bennet is still someone I strive to be, as she was strong and a woman ahead of her time. I guess you could say I love Pride and Prejudice...most ardently. — greciaj4399bc898

    24. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


    It’s beautifully written and tells a story about WW2 from an unusual perspective. The character development is amazing, and you fall in love with each and every one of them. It’s one of the few books that's made me cry. — leighb4e93be472

    25. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

    Wordsworth Editions Ltd

    My AP English teacher hooked me by saying, “It has ghosts, graveyards, scary houses, and romance,” which were all my favorite things at 16. I instantly fell in love with the book, and my romance with Heathcliff, Cathy, Edgar, and Wuthering Heights itself, continues on. — starlachristineb

    26. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

    Simon Pulse

    Go Ask Alice always stuck with me. I've reread it multiple times and it never gets old. — horseyloveforever

    27. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer


    I laughed way too hard at the Miller's tales and all the other nonsense that happened. Reading this made me realize that the writers from antiquity aren't so different from today. I can still go back and read the tales and enjoy them over and over. The craftsmanship, the characters...all of it is so silly and good. — pks0

    28. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


    I loved all the characters and how they were intertwined, as well as the time period. It's just so rich and complex! — lledlow1

    29. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

    Harper Perennial

    It was hard to get into at the beginning, but I had to dig deeper to finish my final project. After taking the time to understand it, it turned out to be a beautiful journey for Janie. — gabbysimm

    30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

    Simon & Schuster

    Once I stopped taking the book so seriously, it became a great read and genuinely made me laugh. It's definitely a good book to read while stressing about college applications. — amandag4fe9e4ba0

    31. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky


    It truly made me think about sanity in relation to the human condition and what morality means in an apathetic universe. It inspired me to study philosophy on my own time, which has become a real passion that I love. — claireification

    32. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence


    I never would've read this myself, but it was such a touching and impactful story. Every detail and every word is raw and beautiful. I thought about it for days after reading it. — mariajamal974

    33. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier


    I did not want to read it since it had a super cheesy cover that looked like a terrible romance novel my grandma used to read. But sure enough — two to three pages in — I was completely hooked. The mystery, suspense, grandeur, drama, the romantic locations, and so many twists and turns made it unputdownable! BRB going to read it again now! — dannio

    34. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


    We read it as part of a gothic module. I went into it thinking it would be so boring because it was an old book. But, it’s timeless and teaches you a lot about how kindness can impact the world. The monster isn’t always the monster. — louises427ab4845

    35. The Giver by Lois Lowry


    I read The Giver in the 7th grade and it rocked my world. It was the book that got me hooked on science fiction and fantasy, and my teacher even gave me the next book in the series to keep. — skipnees

    36. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes


    It was assigned in 9th grade and I was prepared to hate it. Instead, I full-on snot-streamed sobbed for three straight days after finishing. — angieg421ddf032

    37. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne


    My teacher really let us explore the feminist lens and how powerful defying stereotypes can be, even when the whole world is against you. I loved it even though it took place during a time period I usually don’t enjoy reading about. — emmab419b8a784

    38. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Mariner Books

    I was actually forced to read The Little Prince in sixth grade and I couldn't understand it one bit. But because it was assigned, I finished it and, good Lord, this book incredible. I still quote it to this very day, and even though I have a bookshelf of unread books, I reread The Little Prince all the time. — k4764538fb

    39. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


    Of all the books I had to read on the colonization of Africa (and there were A LOT), this one actually showed the story from the side of the Africans and revealed how much colonization destroyed their way of life. It was such a nice break from the typical racist “white man's burden” classics that we were forced to read. — katelyns4f3e1e707

    40. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

    William Morrow

    This was such a good mystery novel! I had to read a ton of mystery books for school, but none of them were as good as this one. It was easy to understand without being cheesy and cliché. It definitely sparked my love for mystery novels!


    41. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Algonquin Books

    My senior year of high school we read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Being the only black student in the room, I was worried about the novel because of its origins and its authorship, but once we began reading, I couldn’t put it down. It was by far the best coming-of-age story I’ve ever read, especially since it takes on real-life struggles like the pressure to succeed, anxiety, and family dynamics. A wonderful novel with a brilliant author. — krnicholson19

    42. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy


    It was the first time an assigned reading actually stuck with me. I absolutely fell in love with this book. I was 14 when I first read it and now, at 36, I still recommend it to people. McCarthy has such a unique style of writing and his books truly come alive. The imagery and emotions in his stories come through unlike any other books I’ve read. I've since read almost all of his books because of how much I loved All the Pretty Horses. — michellecarpentierp

    43. The Road by Jack Kerouac


    We dove deep not only into the book but also into his life, the experiences of the Beats, and society at large during that time. It gave me a new perspective of people who were fighting for social justice before us, what their beliefs and struggles were like. The book also gives you the opportunity to psychologically study so many different characters, not only the three mains and their friends, but also the various people they met along the way. Many people find The Road inspires them to travel; for me, it inspired me to more deeply know the history of the movements I believe in and to work for change while being respectful of those wounded by the terrible behavior of others. — erinl50

    44. A Separate Peace by John Knowles


    In 10th grade, I read an annotated A Separate Peace by John Knowles and absolutely loved it! I was not expecting to like this book so much, but the characters were really relatable and fun. — bmeece142

    45. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, which I read during senior year of high school for AP Lit, made me cry more than any book I've ever read. It filled me with so much passion. — elisal469b50a34

    46. The Crucible by Arthur Miller


    I've always been fascinated by Salem and witches, and that period in American history. It's probably the only thing I read in high school that I really enjoyed. — christopherb4dd9f84fa

    47. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving


    We had to read a few chapters over spring break, but I finished the whole book. I was so disappointed that none of my friends had read ahead like I had. — rebeccaw4e0b815bb

    48. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

    Harper Perennial

    Growing up in a Christian household, this novel normalized my doubts about my faith and the church. It really helped me to feel OK with growing into something my parents didn’t expect me to be. — sidneyallisonb

    49. House of Spirits by Isabel Allende


    It's a beautifully written, generational novel that includes magical realism, strong female characters, and historical references about the government overthrow in Chile, inspired by Allende's own experiences. — chelsean4ed15dc5d

    50. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

    Puffin Books

    In the 6th grade, we read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and I reread it every year until 10th grade. I still love the unique answers to the mystery, the diverse and fun characters, and all of the little "side mysteries" that kept me engaged every chapter. I'm surprised it's only gotten one (almost impossible to find and not very good) film adaptation. It would make for a fun, Clue-like movie. — colleend9

    Do you love a book on this list? What was your favorite read from school? Tell us in the comments!

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