English literature has been an important part of the high school curriculum for a long time.
Different books have different themes and can offer students a variety of perspectives on life that they may not be exposed to otherwise.
In this article, we will talk about the 20 best English literature books for high school students!
Best English Literature Books for High School Students
Here we will discuss some English literature books that are perfect for High School Students.
To make this list we have done comprehensive research according to customer ratings and reviews. I hope this list will help you choose the right book for your needs.
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The book is about the trial of an innocent black man, Tom Robinson, accused of rape. It’s set in the 1930s in a small town called Maycomb, Alabama.
The story is told through the eyes of Scout Finch, a young girl who lives with her brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus.
Scout and her brother learn about prejudice when they befriend a boy named Dill from across the tracks.
They also see how people can be kind and courageous even when it’s difficult to do so.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a book about the Puritan society in America. The main character, Hester Prynne, has an affair with a minister and gets pregnant.
She was forced to wear a scarlet “A” for adultery on her chest because she had sinned against God.
This book is very interesting and it will keep you reading until the end! It’s about love, betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption.
I recommend this book to everyone who likes romance novels or historical fiction books!
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare. The story is about two young lovers who are from different families with opposing views on love.
This tragic love story has been told for centuries, but the original version was written by Shakespeare in 1595.
It is believed that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy to show his audience how dangerous it can be to fall in love at such a young age.
However, many believe that this play was meant to be more than just a tragedy; it was also meant to show how true love conquers all obstacles.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
In a farmyard on a windy day, Old Major calls the animals together and preaches his vision of a world where all animals live in peace and equality.
He dies shortly after uttering his final words: “Four legs good, two legs bad.”
When the drunken farmer Jones is taken away by the authorities, the pigs Napoleon and Snowball take over.
They are soon joined by Boxer, an enthusiastic workhorse who is convinced that he will someday be able to speak as humans do.
The animals revolt against their human owners and drive them from the farm. They rename it Animal Farm.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is a story of the American Dream. The main character, Nick Carraway, moves to New York and rents a house next door to Jay Gatsby.
He soon finds out that his neighbor has been waiting for five years to ask his cousin Daisy Buchanan out on a date.
This book was written in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940), one of the most popular writers of his time.
It’s considered one of the best books ever written about the 1920s in America.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works and was named one of the 100 best novels written in English since 1923 by the Modern Library Board.
The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. The book’s tagline explains the title: “Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…”.
In subsequent decades, the term “Fahrenheit 451” has been used as a metaphor for censorship, referring to books or other written materials being destroyed by authorities.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding.
The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.
It has been frequently challenged in the United States due to its themes of human savagery, violence, and social injustice.
Despite this, it has become a standard text in many English courses across the country.
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
“Frankenstein” is a novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, first published in 1818.
The story follows Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque creature from parts of cadavers.
He is disgusted by the creature’s ugliness and attempts to kill it, but instead the monster escapes and terrorizes the town.
This book was originally published anonymously in London in 1818; Shelley’s name appears on the second edition, published in France in 1823.
Although it initially received mixed reviews upon publication, “Frankenstein” has become one of the most famous works of fiction ever written during its 200+ year history.
It has had an enormous influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a completiste genre of horror stories, films, and plays.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
A Scottish nobleman plots the murder of King Duncan and takes his place as ruler of Scotland.
The three witches tell Macbeth that he will become king, but he must kill Duncan first. He does so and is then haunted by Banquo’s ghost.
Lady Macbeth convinces her husband to murder King Duncan and take the throne for himself.
He kills the guards, but when he sees blood on his hands, he realizes what has happened. Lady Macbeth tries to convince him that it was not real blood, but a trick played by the witches.
She tells him that they can get away with it if they do not wash their hands or have any doubts about it afterward.
“Macbeth” is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, based on the life of the famous Scottish ruler Mac Bethad mac Findláich.
It is a story of treachery, murder, and revenge set in the Kingdom of Scotland.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities is a historical novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published in 1859, as a serial and then in book form in 1859.
The story takes place during the French Revolution and tells the story of two men who meet after being released from prison at the beginning of the French Revolution.
They become friends despite their different social classes and are subsequently caught up in events such as the Reign of Terror, through which they lose touch with one another for many years.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most popular play, but it can be quite confusing. This tragedy follows the form of revenge tragedies in which Hamlet seeks vengeance against his father’s murderer and now rules Denmark as its king Claudius.
However, among them are many uncertainties such as what may have caused him to go mad or not act at all once being sure that King Claudas killed his mother Gertrude who had been unfaithful towards her husband prior (but also complicit).
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The year is AD 2540. Humans have developed into a society where people are genetically engineered and live in perfect harmony with one another, under the guidance of World Controllers.
The story follows Bernard Marx, who is considered an outsider by others due to his intelligence and nonconformity.
He is invited to join the “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” (a government facility that breeds humans) after being observed as a potential troublemaker.
While there he meets Lenina Crowne, the woman he loves but can never be with because of their differences in social class.
He also meets John Savage, who was raised outside of civilization and has been living on his own for years before returning to civilization as a result of his mother’s death.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
“Of Mice and Men” is a novella written by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck.
The book was published in 1937, and it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.
It has become one of Steinbeck’s most famous works due to its popularity with readers both during his lifetime and to this day.
“Of Mice and Men” was selected for inclusion in the United States National Student Association’s “One Hundred Best Books”.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A coming-of-age story, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an 1884 novel by Mark Twain.
It is commonly used and accounted as one of the first Great American Novels.
The book tells the adventures of Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective).
The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River.
By satirizing antebellum Southern society, Twain created a classic American comedy in which Huck emerges as a hero.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl is the first book written by Anne Frank. It was written while she and her family were in hiding during World War II, from 1942 to 1944.
Her diary chronicles her life in hiding, with an emphasis on the difficulties she faced and how she dealt with them.
She wrote it in the hope that someone would find it after the war and would be able to read about what happened during those years.
In 1947, two years after its publication, it became a bestseller throughout Europe.
An estimated 30 million copies have since been sold worldwide; more than five million of these are in English alone.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“The Bell Jar” is a semi-autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath which was first published in 1963.
It is widely considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and has been translated into over 30 languages.
The story follows Esther Greenwood, a young woman from New York City who struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies while working at a magazine in New York City during the early 1950s.
She eventually checks herself into a mental hospital where she slowly recovers.
1984 by George Orwell
“1984” is a novel by English writer George Orwell published in 1949.
The novel is set in Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.
It is written from the perspective of an unnamed protagonist who works as a “revisionist” at the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite past newspaper articles so that they match the current party line.
He also must eliminate all references to unpersons (people who have been “vaporized”, i.e., not only killed by the state but denied existence altogether) and make alterations to documents that have become outdated due to recent events.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness is a novella by Joseph Conrad, originally published in 1899.
It is widely regarded as a seminal work of English literature and part of the Western canon.
Heart of Darkness tells the story of Charles Marlow, who narrates his experiences in the Congo Free State (modern Democratic Republic of the Congo) before leading an expedition upriver to find its headwaters.
His journey upriver takes him through Europe and into Africa where he encounters both physical danger and moral bankruptcy on the way to “the heart of darkness”.
The book explores themes such as imperialism, materialism, human exploitation, greed, and self-discovery.
The Odyssey by Homer
The Odyssey is one of the two major ancient Greek epic poems (the other being the Iliad), attributed to the poet Homer. The poem is commonly dated to between 800 and 600 BC.
The poem is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, and concerns the events that befall the Greek hero Odysseus in his long journey back to his native land Ithaca after the fall of Troy.
It takes Odysseus ten years to return home after the ten-year Trojan War. He has many adventures on the way, including a visit to the underworld.
On his journey, he meets several characters who help him on his way home or try to stop him from getting home, including the Cyclops Polyphemus, Charybdis, and Scylla, the sorceress Circe, the sea monster Kalypso, and the Laestrygonians.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
“The Outsiders” is a coming-of-age novel that follows the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles to find peace within himself, his family, and his friends as they try to survive in a world where violence is commonplace.
The book was originally published in 1967 and has since sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
It has been translated into many different languages and adapted into film twice; once in 1983 starring Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, C Thomas Howell, and Diane Lane; then again in 2000 with Kristen Stewart playing the role of Cherry Valance.
The book won many awards including “Best Novel of 1967 Award” by Library Journal; “Best Fiction for Young Adults” in 1984 through the American Library Association; Newberry Honor Book Award in 1968; and was the finalist for the National Book Award in 1967.
This is a list of the best English Literature books for high school students. We hope that you find this list helpful in your search for reading material and we encourage you to share with us what you think about any of these great reads!