Thursday, 7 March 2013

Reading List for Homeschool High Schoolers

If you're being homeschooled through high school, one of your greatest anxieties (fears? terrors?) might be college. Sure, it sounds exciting, but it's also intimidating, isn't it? After all, universities are designed for kids who have been in public schools their entire lives, and it's possible that what we've learned at home just won't cut it in the "real world."

Well, as a homeschool graduate who has also earned a bachelor's degree in English, I'm here to give you some solid advice that should make you feel a lot better.

Student by CollegeDegrees360
Student, a photo by CollegeDegrees360 on Flickr.
First, breathe

It's OK, you can have confidence in your parents, your curriculum, and your own abilities, and of course God. It's natural to be nervous about transitioning from home education to a public or private college, but it doesn't have to be a bumpy ride.

One thing that will help enormously is to be familiar with the books that you will be studying in-depth once you get to college. Since my major was in English I spent a lot of time reading and analyzing Non-Western literature, British literature, and American literature—a lot of books in other words. Though there were many that I had never read before, it helped that I was familiar with the classics and had been exposed to many of those works.

Though there can be no complete reading list for the college-bound student, here are some titles that I think you'll find very helpful to read (or at least get the CliffsNotes on) before striking out into the stormy waters of higher education. Even if you're not going to college, these are some of the most well-known books in the Western world and can broaden your horizons, deepening your insight and giving you some common ground with your public schooled friends. 

Disclaimer: Not all of these books have a Christian worldview, or are even very pleasant to read, but they offer valuable opportunities for testing your faith and applying what you have learned. If your parents don't want you to read some of them, by all means don't. There are many other valuable reads that I have left out, but this should get you started. 

How many of these have you already read?

  • The Norton Anthologies: These collections of excerpts and whole works are invaluable to the serious student. Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction, stories from the Middle East, Latino or Australian literatureyou could spend decades reading these anthologies alone. Old editions can be bought fairly cheaply on sites like eBay and Amazon. 
  • Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
  • Amy Tan: The Joy Luck Club
  • Angelou, Maya: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 
  • Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman
  • Benjamin Franklin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Charles Dickens: Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield
  • Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre
  • Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
  • Edith Wharton: The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence
  • Ernest Hemingway: A Farewell to ArmsThe Old Man and the Sea and perhaps The Sun Also Rises
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby and perhaps Tender is the Night
  • Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis 
  • Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • George Orwell: Animal Farm, 1984
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin 
  • Henry James: Daisy Miller: A Study.
  • Herman Melville: Moby Dick and "Bartleby the Scrivener"
  • James Fenimore Cooper: The Last of the Mohicans, The Pioneers, The Deerslayer (then read Mark Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses")
  • Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and perhaps Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion
  • John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and perhaps The Pearl
  • Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness
  • Kate Chopin: The Awakening 
  • Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina. War and Peace
  • Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and perhaps A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Innocents Abroad
  • Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables
  • Ralph Ellison: The Invisible Man
  • Richard Wright: Native Son
  • Robert Frost,        Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes: Selected poems
  • Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and others
  • T.S. Eliot: "The Waste Land"
  • Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar named Desire, Glass Menagerie 
  • Upton Sinclair: The Jungle 
  • Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse
  • Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
  • Washington Irving: "Rip Van Winkle"
  • Willa Cather: My Ántonia
  • William Faulkner: As I Lay DyingThe Sound and the Fury
  • Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Besides my personal college experience, these are some helpful resources I referenced:


  1. Oohh, I see so many of my favorites on here! Especially Jane Austen ;)

    1. Isn't she the best? I was able to take a college course completely dedicated to Jane Austen. Imagine it!

    2. Sounds divine!! I'd love to take a course like that!! I dedicated my 11th grade research project which was part book review part author biography on Jane Austen and Sense and Sensibility. Best author biography I've ever read :)

  2. I was surprised when I didn't see any Agatha Christie mysteries on that list. Have you read any of them? They're absolutely marvelous. :)

    Overall a wonderful list, Abigail! I'm so going to try to read every book on this list! Thank you so much for sharing!

    As for whether I've read any or not, I believe I've read a few on those books. :)

    ~Anna Elizabeth

    1. Yes, Agatha is absolutely amazing! I'm especially a fan of Poirot and Miss Marple. Unfortunately, I didn't come across her at all while studying for college, though on a general reading list she would be a must-read.


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