5 Books You Need to Read Before You Graduate High School

As you might have gathered, I’m a sucker for good writing. An avid reader, I think good literature is key to understanding the world and the people in it. I’ve read a fair number of books throughout high school, some of which have resonated with me more than others have. With just under 2 months left of high school, I’ve decided to compile a list of 5 books that I would recommend every highschooler read before they graduate.

Oh and as for any book, I would definitely recommend reading from a tangible text, but in case that is not an option, I’ve included links to pdfs for all of the books.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This book was probably one of the first I had read about Afghanistan, so it definitely enlightened me about the culture, especially the religious and political turmoil there. The book is fiction, but many aspects of the book are derived from Hosseini’s actual experiences, as someone who fled Soviet-imbued Afghanistan. The stark imagery and chilling details contribute to a reverberating story. The symbolism in this novel is also heavy, which is always a penchant for me. Personally, I love symbolism and when it is utilized well in literature, I automatically am more captivated by the text. The book does break hearts, but leaves readers emotional yet inspired, as it ends on an extremely hopeful note. Please read.

4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Although the book is as dismal as its title insinuates, I was compelled by the Capote’s take on the plot. Instead of simply reporting on the murder and its repercussions, Capote takes a controversial stance. He digs into the pasts of the murderer, analyzing what led him to kill, ultimately revealing a soft side of him. Influencing an audience to understand and even sympathize with a murderer is neither easy nor universally condoned but Capote accomplishes it. This unconventional approach to such a story was fascinating and it inspired me to also stray from the orthodox in my own writing in the hopes of shedding light on important yet often ignored ideas. Most importantly it showed me that sometimes, the most interesting and worthwhile stories are hidden in the obscurity of the atypical. Oh and by the way, In Cold Blood is a true story. Happy reading!

3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

I read this book during the summer before my sophomore year, a period during which I was quite aware of my insecurities and lack of confidence. A book about a young 2nd generation immigrant boy’s struggle to discover and make peace with his identity, The Namesake really struck a chord with me. I could completely relate to Gogol – feeling lost, unbelonging, and ashamed. Seeing his journey of self-acceptance over the span of decades really inspired and guided me to forge my own similar path. Overall, this novel is beautiful, intricate, and highly symbolic (again, I’m a sucker for that stuff). Jhumpa Lahiri is my favorite author of all time and I would actually recommend all of her works to anyone in search of a good read.

2. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

I’m pretty sure everyone knows who Malala Yousafzai is but just in case you don’t, she is a young girl from the Swat Valley who was shot by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school. Her autobiography details her culture, upbringing, and heroism. It not only tells her story, but that of her country and the injustice and violence that has swept the Middle East. Inspiring and eye-opening, I am Malala will make you feel guilty for everything you have ever taken for granted, especially the right to education.

1.  Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Throughout the novel, Gladwell discusses the concept of success and some of the arbitrary and often unrecognized factors which allow some people to rise to high success, becoming outliers in their fields. The depth reached in this book is achieved through examining the roots and elements of different scenarios and the research and analysis presented in this book is unlike that of anything I’d ever read. In searching beneath the surfaces of facts that most people just accept, Gladwell analyzes the unsuspecting components and criteria that can determine and explain success.

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