While in high school, most people read the “standard set of books,” the books that are classics, but that you may not have chosen to read at that age. Yet, looking back years later, I have realized those books are now some of my favorites.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published in 1886, the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has withstood the test of time. Readers are introduced to a man, and his two alter egos: Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde. London lawyer John Gabriel Utterson begins to see strange occurrences between the two, and decides to investigate exactly what is going on. The characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, are opposites in personality. Dr. Jekyll is a well-known older man who constantly battles between his good personality, himself, and his evil personality, Mr. Hyde. To help with the challenge, he creates a potion that transforms himself into the young and cruel Mr. Hyde. However, over time, Mr. Hyde’s traits take off on their own, causing Dr. Jekyll to rely on the potion to maintain his dual egos. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic story that details the public versus private life of a well-known citizen.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Even if you haven’t read the novel, many people will know the story of Elizabeth Bennet and the eligible, good-looking bachelor, Fitzwilliam Darcy. When Elizabeth first meets Mr. Darcy, it isn’t love at first sight. She thinks he is arrogant and conceited, and her disgust grows when she discovers that he has been causing trouble between his friend Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister, Jane. Yet, the two’s views of each other change throughout the course of the novel and portray the theme that first impressions are sometimes incorrect. In fact, the original title for the novel was First Impressions. Readers are also given insight into the complexities of life for middle-class England during the early nineteenth century. Since its publication in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has received numerous awards, adaptations in movies and television, and has been placed on PBS’s list of The Great American Reads. Trust me, Pride and Prejudice is a must-read for everyone.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Published in 1990, The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories about American soldiers during the Vietnam War and is based upon O’Brien’s experience as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division during this time period. Readers see the war through the eyes of multiple characters. The novel is a combination of fiction and nonfiction. For example, in the story, Alpha Company takes the place of the 23rd Infantry Division. In addition, the audience is taken on a journey of physical and emotional burdens that the characters carried during war time, as well as understanding how the characters use the fear of shame as a motivation. Examples of the short stories are “Love,” “On the Rainy River,” “How to Tell a True War Story,” and “Speaking of Courage.” The Things They Carried is an insightful, well-written novel about experiences many people don’t have. Plus, it is one that reinforces the importance of honoring and remembering veterans.
The books we read in high school gave us a chance to experience classics and beloved tales that we may not have experienced otherwise. What books did you read during those four years that have since become your favorites?