Tee and I both love podcasts. She does a lot of listening on the days when she’s out in the field by herself farming, and I listen often on my daily commute, which is usually between 30 and 45 minutes each way. (Yuck.) We have a good friend – and former Wild Peace Farm intern! – who has similar taste in podcasts, and we’ve spent many hours out on the farm discussing recent podcast episodes. (The fall of 2014 was particularly exciting – thank you, Sarah Koenig!)
One of the podcasts in my rotation of favorites is Pop Culture Happy Hour. I don’t love every episode, because their appetite for pop culture is much wider and sometimes very different than my own, but I love it when they’re talking about something I enjoy (Serial, Gone Girl, Parks and Rec).
A few months ago, they had a discussion about high school required reading lists. And I got SO excited; I love lists. (Why do I love lists? Why do so many other people I talk to love lists?) AND I love books and reading. What if there was a list of required books for high school students that was exciting and amazing and inspired a lifelong love of reading and thinking and growth?
I go back and forth when I think about things like this. I think there are some books that it’s good to have students read, merely for exposure to significant authors – I don’t think I ever would have read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights if they weren’t assigned readings in my high school English class. Same with Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Faulkner, et al. Every once in a while, as an adult, someone will mention a significant literary work or author – Dante’s Inferno keeps coming up, recently – and I have the thought, I wish someone had made me read this in high school.
However, if I were going to make a high school required reading list for my kids, these are the ten titles I’d include:
(Note: I limited myself to ten choices in the interest of actually posting this instead of just continuing to add titles for weeks and months to come.)
My High School Required Reading List
-Ishmael (Daniel Quinn)
-The Witch of Portobello (Paolo Coelho)
-Animal Vegetable Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
-Harry Potter, all the books, immediately (J.K. Rowling)
-Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
-The Baron In The Trees (Italo Calvino)
-Even Cowgirls Get The Blues (Tom Robbins)
-The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown)
-Writing Down The Bones (Natalie Goldberg)
-The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera)