College Reading List Meme

I was thinking about doing that BBC book meme, but it’s apparently bogus, so I decided to make my own.

When I was a homeschooler trying to convince colleges that I had an education, my family had a helpful book called Reading Lists for College-Bound Students with recommended high school reading lists from over 100 different American colleges and universities. At the front it listed the 100 most frequently recommended books. (Some authors have alternate suggestions, so it’s actually more than 100.)

The College Reading List Meme

The 100(+) books most frequently recommended for high schoolers by American colleges and universities

Bold the books you’ve read in their entirety.

Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.

  1. Aeschylus – Orestia
  2. Anonymous – Beowulf
  3. Anonymous – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  4. Aristophanes – Lysistrata
  5. Aristotle – Poetics
  6. Augustine, Saint – Confessions
  7. Austen, Jane – Pride and Prejudice or Emma
  8. Baldwin, James – Go Tell It On the Mountain or Notes of a Native Son
  9. Beckett, Samuel – Waiting for Godot
  10. Bellow, Saul – Seize the Day or Henderson the Rain King
  11. Bible
  12. Brecht, Bertolt – Mother Courage and Her Children
  13. Bronte, Charlotte – Jane Eyre
  14. Bronte, Emily – Wuthering Heights
  15. Camus, Albert – The Stranger
  16. Carroll, Lewis – Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass
  17. Cather, Willa – My Antonia or Death Comes For the Archbishop
  18. Cervantes, Miguel – Don Quixote
  19. Chaucer, Geoffrey – The Canterbury Tales
  20. Chekhov, Anton – The Cherry Orchard or The Three Sisters (I prefer his short stories to his plays, in general)
  21. Chopin, Kate – The Awakening
  22. Conrad, Joseph – Heart of Darkness or Lord Jim
  23. Crane, Stephen – The Red Badge of Courage
  24. Dante – Inferno
  25. Darwin, Charles – Origin of Species or The Voyage of the Beagle
  26. Defoe, Daniel – Robinson Crusoe
  27. Dickens, Charles – Great Expectations
  28. Dostoevsky, Feodor – Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov (I am a terrible Russian major, Notes From Underground was good though)
  29. Eliot, George – The Mill on the Floss or Middlemarch
  30. Ellison, Ralph – Invisible Man
  31. Emerson, Ralph Waldo – “The American Thinker” or “Self-Reliance”
  32. Euripides – Medea or The Bacchae
  33. Faulkner, William – The Sound and the Fury
  34. Fielding, Henry – Tom Jones or Joseph Andrews
  35. Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby
  36. Flaubert, Gustave – Madame Bovary (could not get into it)
  37. Forster, E.M. – A Passage To India
  38. Franklin, Benjamin – Autobiography
  39. Freud, Sigmund – Civilization and Its Discontents or Dora
  40. Garcia Marquez, Gabriel – One Hundred Years of Solitude
  41. Goethe, Johann von – Faust, Part I
  42. Golding, William – Lord of the Flies
  43. Hamilton, Edith – Mythology
  44. Hardy, Thomas – Tess of the D’Urbervilles or The Return of the Native (I seem to either love Hardy or hate him – loved Return of the Native and Far From the Madding Crowd, but haaaated Mayor of Casterbridge and couldn’t get into Tess)
  45. Hawthorne, Nathaniel – The Scarlet Letter (ugh)
  46. Hemingway, Ernest – A Farewell To Arms or The Sun Also Rises (double ugh)
  47. Homer- The Odyssey or The Iliad
  48. Hurston, Zora Neale – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  49. Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World
  50. Ibsen, Henrik – A Doll’s House (I’m surprised Hedda Gabler isn’t listed, too)
  51. James, Henry – The Turn of the Screw or Portrait of a Lady
  52. Joyce, James – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  53. Kafka, Franz – The Trial or Metamophosis
  54. Lawrence, D.H. – Sons and Lovers or Women in Love
  55. Lewis, Sinclair – Babbitt or Main Street
  56. Machiavelli, Niccolo – The Prince
  57. Malamud, Bernard – The Assistant
  58. Mann, Thomas – Death in Venice
  59. Marlowe, Christopher – Doctor Faustus (unless you count the bit that gets quoted in Shakespeare in Love *g*)
  60. Marx, Karl – Communist Manifesto
  61. Melville, Herman – Moby-Dick
  62. Miller, Arthur – Death of a Salesman
  63. Milton, John – Paradise Lost
  64. Moliere – The Misanthrope or Tartuffe
  65. Montaigne, Michel de – Selected Essays
  66. Morrison, Toni – Sula or Beloved
  67. Norton Anthology of Poetry
  68. O’Connor, Flannery – A Good Man Is Hard To Find
  69. Olsen, Tillie – Tell Me a Riddle
  70. O’Neill, Eugene – Desire Under the Elms (liked Mourning Becomes Electra though)
  71. Orwell, George – Animal Farm or 1984
  72. Paton, Alan – Cry, the Beloved Country
  73. Plato – Republic or Apology
  74. Poe, Edgar Allan – Great Tales and Poems
  75. Salinger, J.D. – The Catcher in the Rye
  76. Scott, Sir Walter – Ivanhoe or Heart of Midlothian
  77. Shakespeare, William – Hamlet or as much as possible (most plays, a bunch of poetry)
  78. Shaw, George Bernard – Pygmalion
  79. Shelley, Mary – Frankenstein
  80. Sophocles – Oedipus Rex
  81. Steinbeck, John – The Grapes of Wrath (couldn’t get into it)
  82. Swift, Jonathan – Gulliver’s Travels
  83. Thackeray, William Makepeace – Vanity Fair (couldn’t get into it)
  84. Thoreau, Henry David – Walden or Civil Disobedience
  85. Tolstoy, Leo – War and Peace (again, I’m a terrible Russian major, read several of his others though, and it is on my TBR pile)
  86. Turgenev, Ivan – Fathers and Sons (really happy to see this on the list – it’s totally under-rated, imho)
  87. Twain, Mark – The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn (liked Tom Sawyer though)
  88. Updike, John – Rabbit, Run
  89. Vergil – The Aeneid (prefer the Greeks)
  90. Voltaire – Candide
  91. Vonnegut, Kurt – Slaughterhouse Five or Cat’s Cradle
  92. Walker, Alice – The Color Purple
  93. Welty, Eudora – Thirteen Stories (“Why I Live at the P.O.” – freaking hilarious!)
  94. Wharton, Edith – The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth
  95. Whitman, Walt – Leaves of Grass
  96. Wilde, Oscar – The Importance of Being Earnest
  97. Wilder, Thornton – Our Town
  98. Williams, Tennessee – The Glass Menagerie
  99. Woolf, Virginia – To the Lighthouse or A Room of One’s Own (A Room of One’s Own has been in my TBR pile forever, really need to get to it one of these days)
  100. Wright, Richard – Native Son

So, if I counted right, that’s 36 top choices I’ve read in their entirety, plus 7 alternates and a bunch of partial reads. I’m not gonna get hired as an English professor anytime soon, but not bad. My favorites on the list (in alphabetical order):

Pride and Prejudice Book Review

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It’s probably safe to call Pride and Prejudice my favorite novel. It comes down to Pride and Prejudice vs Middlemarch, but while I consider Middlemarch to be the slightly better novel, I’ve read P&P a lot more times. And watched the BBC adaptation a lot more times, as well as most of the other film adaptations, including the modern AU, the weird black & white one with the 1840s fashion and the totally OOC Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and the Bollywood version.

I get that it’s a totally predictable and boring choice for favorite book, but it really is just that good. And I don’t just mean the romance, although the romance is obviously wonderful. Jane Austen was freaking hilarious and an extremely astute observer of life, so even if you don’t like romance in general, you should give this book a try for the satire.

My rating: (5 / 5)

Middlemarch Book Review

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Middlemarch gets my vote for the best English language novel ever written, and possibly my favorite as well. It comes down to Middlemarch vs Pride and Prejudice and I can never choose. Middlemarch is longer and more challenging than Pride and Prejudice, so I haven’t read it as many times, but although not openly satirical or as sharp-tongued as Austen, Eliot shares both Austen’s wit and her deep and nuanced understanding of the foibles of human nature. At the same time, Eliot’s novel is much further-reaching than Austen’s. Middlemarch is subtitled “A Study of Provincial Life” and unlike Austen, who confines her pen largely to provincial gentry and their romantic and financial entanglements, Eliot lays out the whole life of a small English town in the 1830s, from gentry to vagrants and everyone in between. The psychological realism she achieved is remarkable, especially considering the field of psychology barely existed at the time the book was published, and despite the very different world her characters inhabit, you will recognize them as well as if they were your next-door neighbors (indeed, it’s quite possible that some of them are), and grow to care deeply about them.

My rating: (5 / 5)