50 Great Books You’ll Never Read in School

Back-to-school time is upon us, and for many, that means reading for pleasure will give way to burning through that syllabus. Classrooms, especially high school classrooms (college classes are becoming so weird and specific nowadays that you could read just about anything in them), suffer from the “classic effect” — which is exactly what it sounds like. Not that there’s anything wrong with literary classics, and they definitely should be read, but there’s so much more out there. And when you consider the fact that one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives — well, it would be nice if they had a little more to go on than The Great Gatsby. After the jump, find a selection of books you’ll (probably) never read in high school, but should still read, and add your own favorite anti-schoolbooks to the list in the comments.


The Last Samurai, Helen DeWitt

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why DeWitt’s first novel is still out of print. It’s big, it’s postmodern, it’s ambitious, it’s smart as hell, but unlike a lot of tomes, it’s also airy and fun and a remarkably quick read. And hey, hyperpolyglot 11-year-old Ludo has a lot to teach any student about committing to a subject.