What is your favorite required-reading book from high school?
Ylish Merkley: George Orwell’s 1984. It’s the only book I’ve violently thrown onto the floor while bawling my eyes out before I even finished reading it. Upon completion of the greatest dystopian novel, I was emotionally compromised for weeks.
Stephen Dark: Othello. I still pick it up 30-plus years later to soak up a little of Iago’s gorgeous, conniving language as he teases, intimates and plucks at Othello’s jealousy until it’s about to burst.
Scott Renshaw: I still have a very vivid memory of reading Ray Bradbury short stories—particularly “There Will Come Soft Rains” and “The Veldt”—in what I believe would’ve been junior year English class. That was right around the time I was also discovering Stephen King, and there was something electrifying about the unique care being devoted to genre works. It taught me early on that there was no value in pre-judging based on premise or genre; execution was the only thing that mattered.
Rachel Piper: My favorites were the short stories—and no, not because they’re short, but because many classic short stories are so eerie or twisty: Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever,” Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” ... Hey, I’m sensing a theme here—awesome short stories are written by women; boring stuff like “Bartleby the Scrivener” and Walden are written by men.
Paydn Augustine: It was required reading, but I didn’t read it up until recently. Catcher In the Rye is a phenomenal book, and I am glad I read it later instead of back then. Having an adult perspective is a good flashback instead of reading from Holden’s view.