6 Classic Novels 📚 from High School 🏫 Worth Reading 📖 as an Adult 👩 ...

What are the classic high school novels you should read again as an adult? You're about to find out.

Exposing high schoolers to literature is a really noble (and challenging) task. Literature teaches us about history, gives us insight into why the world is the way it is, and challenges us to expand our minds. This is why we were all forced to read lengthy novels, and why most of us dreamed through English class or invested a bit of money into SparksNotes (guilty). The biggest issue with most of this reading wasn’t the books themselves, but rather the inexperience of the readers. Ten bucks says that if you were to revisit these 6 novels today, you’d have totally different thoughts about them. So, here are the best classic high school novels you should read again as an adult.

1. “the Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Talk about a classic and definitely one of the best classic high school novels you should read again as an adult! Reading this in high school seems like a real snoozefest – there’s lots of drinking, partying, killing, and some lady freaking out over some shirts. Read it again as an adult and you really get a deeper appreciation for Fitzgerald’s underlying themes: social and socioeconomic classes coupled with a harsh criticism of the possibly unobtainable American Dream. With more adult eyes, you can really appreciate the struggles of all the characters (even the ridiculous Daisy who is a victim of her circumstances).

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2. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

Not really a book, but still worth a read. To the high schooler, this story is all star-crossed lovers, dramatic family situations, and sword fights. To the adult reader, the story is ridiculous. Talk about “roll-your-eyes-heave-a-sigh” teenage angst! You want to kill yourself because you can’t have the boy or girl you love?! Get over it. Use your adult perspective to spend some time examining the adult characters in the show: the Capulets, the Nurse, and the Priest. They’re far more interesting than all the hormone-driven teens. Also, once you get past the language barrier, Shakespeare is pretty hilarious!

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3. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

I guarantee high school you missed the strong feminist currents in this novel (and all Austen’s novels). Again, another great piece of literature written off by teens as a romance novel – the girls drooled over Mr. Darcy, and the boys hated the novel completely. A little adult perspective really helps create an appreciation for Austen. First of all, she’s hilarious. Her characters are witty and sarcastic, and you’re bound to find yourself laughing out loud. Secondly, when you give it some historical context, you can really appreciate Austen’s feminism. Sure, the women all end up happily married, but they married on their choice and challenged the Romantic Era patriarchy.

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4. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

Ah, the dystopian novel. Chances are, you read either “Brave New World,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “1984,” or “Animal Farm” in high school. Chances are you thought they were really weird but you were kind of picking up on those dystopian themes. A re-read is well worth the effort because your cultural, social, and political knowledge will truly change the way you look at these novels. Be aware, however, that the themes in these novels might make them seem more like horror stories in the context of our current society.

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5. “Frankenstein” by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Your beatnik English teacher wanted you to read this to introduce you to Gothic and Romantic Era literature. You spent the whole time wondering why it was nothing like the film (where the hell is the big, green monster?). Revisit this novel f

and really delve into the Romantic themes: the power of nature, the flaws of unrestrained knowledge, and the monster in us all (seriously – the Doctor is far worse than the Monster). Enjoy the novel even more knowing that Shelley wrote it as part of a writing challenge while on vacation with literary greats Percy Shelley (her hubby) and Lord Byron. In terms of longevity, I’d say she won.

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6. “the Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Super snoozefest for a high schooler. It seems to be written in a different language, and really – why the heck do we care about a torrid affair in Puritan society? We get it: good vs. evil, sinner vs. saint, the blurred lines of both. As an adult, you maybe gain a little more appreciation for Hester and her scarlet "A." She faces prison and a life of social disgrace for following her heart (and loins), but instead of spending her life feeling sorry for herself, she embraces the role society has given her and turns it into her personal freedom. Hester makes a neat little life for herself while challenging social, gender, and religious norms, and is kind of a Puritan badass.

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