Rad Reads

Literary classics you need to read before graduating high school

Calling all bookworms! Although you might at first think that a "classic" immediately translates to "boring," there are actually a *ton* of really awesome books out there that you might be missing out on.

If you are looking for something to do, you should pick up a book and transport yourself to another world. Here are some of the absolute best literary classics to read before you graduate high school: They're famous for a reason! 


Emma (Jane Austen)

Emma is a character that you can't help but love. She is beautiful, energetic and funny! This book takes you on a journey as she meddles in the love lives of *everyone* around her and gets herself into big messes because of it. This book is anything but boring, full of twists and turns—and, of course, fairytale romance! P.S. a certain yellow plaid '90s movie heroine is based off Emma (ugh, as if!)


The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith) 

Though this was written in 1955, it reads like a Lifetime movie. Does murder, identity theft and elaborate lying sound entertaining to you? If so, you won't be able to put this book down until you have read every last page and find out what happens to the "antihero" in the end. 


Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell) 
Technically, this one isn't a "classic" work of literature—it's classified as a self-help book and was written in 2008. However, you absolutely *have* to read it. It is a nonfiction look into how people interact with one another and how the highest-achieving members of society get to the top. It will completely make you rethink everything you thought you knew about human nature and prepare you for the workforce as an adult. 


A Midsummer Night's Dream (William Shakespeare)

This romantic play is one of the most fundamental texts in English Lit...and one of the most entertaining to read! The dramatic love triangles between the characters (aided with the use of magic fairy dust, ofc) will keep you on your toes the entire time. Also, someone turns into a half-human, half-donkey creature that is just plain hilarious. 


Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo) 

Okay, this is another one that isn't necessarily "classic" but *def* will be in a few decades. This book takes readers directly into the lives of some of the world's most poor people. Survival isn't guaranteed in the slums of Mumbai, and the story is inspired by true events that will certainly inspire you to count your blessings this holiday season. During a time where *everyone* in the world is struggling, it is so important to reflect on the big picture and appreciate what you do have! The story is both sad and uplifting and is a perfect read for this time of year. 


Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) 

Readers follow Jane from her extremely sad childhood all through her life until she finally gets the happily ever after with the man of her dreams. There are some *major* plot twists and spooky elements to this book, and you can watch the movie after you finish reading!

The Color Purple (Alice Walker) 

*trigger warning: this text deals with themes of sexual assault* 

This book tells the story of two sisters who escape multiple abusive and entrapping home situations and become independent, liberated women in the process. It is a long and trying journey of self-discovery that can be heartbreaking or even frustrating at times for readers, but it is worth every single minute of reading. 


The Shame of Survival (Ursula Mahlendorf) 

You have most likely learned about the Holocaust in history class, and will almost certainly read The Diary of Anne Frank at some point in school. However, there are relatively few surviving accounts of German children who were required to join the Hitler Youth during WWII, and this text is one of them. Reading this autobiography will complicate your understanding of this historical tragedy as you learn about Ursula's childhood under a Nazi regime, where the only options were enthusiastic compliance or death. Anyone who has found themselves interested in learning more about this time period should challenge themselves with this text and get a more complete vision of what actually happened. 

Which of these books are you going to read first? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag!

Slider Image: Instagram (@charlidamelio) 


by Lexi Casazza | 1/7/2021