Humanities › Literature Great Books from High School Summer Reading Lists Share Flipboard Email Print Jetta Productions / Getty Images Literature Best Sellers Best Selling Authors Best Seller Reviews Book Clubs & Classes Classic Literature Plays & Drama Poetry Quotations Shakespeare Short Stories Children's Books By Erin Collazo Miller Literature Expert B.A., English, Duke University Erin Collazo Miller is a freelance book critic whose work has appeared regularly in the Orlando Sentinel. our editorial process Erin Collazo Miller Updated August 11, 2018 High school summer reading lists are legendary. Many of us, however, managed to make it out of high school without being assigned some essential summer reading titles. This summer, why not pick up a book from this list? These books are so entertaining, they will make you wonder why you ever dreaded summer reading assignments. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee Grand Central Publishing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is set in Alabama in the 1930s and is told from a child's viewpoint. The story deals with race, outcasts and growing up. Popular on 9th-grade reading lists, it is a quick, well-written book that is easy to enjoy 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' - Courtesy HarperCollins Their Eyes Were Watching God is a sensual novel about an African-American woman in rural Florida that was first published in 1937. While it is an important telling of the black experience, it is also a story of love and strength with a voice that will draw you in and hook you '1984' by George Orwell '1984' - Courtesy Penguin Set in a grim dystopian future,1984 is a gripping, terrifying and suspenseful novel that is as relevant today as when it was first written. This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley 'Brave New World' - Courtesy HarperCollins Brave New World and 1984 are often lumped together on reading lists, although they paint very different pictures of what the future may hold. Brave New World is funny, clever and will help you better understand a lot of cultural references. 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald 'The Great Gatsby' - Courtesy Simon & Schuster The Great Gatsby is a short book about the American dream with great characters and descriptions of life (for the wealthy) in the 1920s. F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing underscores the decadence of a decade marked by opulence and bracketed with tragedy. 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker 'Dracula' - Courtesy Penguin Read the book that has inspired countless other books, movies, and TV shows. Dracula is written through letters and diary entries and will make you feel like an intimate player in a foreign world. 'Les Miserables' by Victor Hugo 'Les Miserables' - Courtesy Knopf Although I am normally not a fan of abridging novels, I admit that I first read an abridged translation of Les Miserables. Even abridged, it was a great book and became one of my all-time favorites. Whether you try the full 1,500 pages or take a 500-page version, this is a must-read the story of love, redemption, and revolution. 'The Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinbeck 'The Grapes of Wrath' - Courtesy Penguin In high school, half my class loved The Grapes of Wrath and half hated it. I loved it. The Grapes of Wrath is the story of a family during the Great Depression, but the descriptions and symbolic imagery tell a much bigger tale. This is definitely a classic in American literature. 'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien 'The Things They Carried' - Courtesy Random House The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a collection of short stories that creates a bigger story. O'Brien writes about the Vietnam War and how it affected a group of soldiers. The writing is excellent, and the book is powerful. 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' by John Irving 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' - Courtesy Random House Although high school summer reading is often classics, great works of contemporary literature often make the cut as well. A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of those books. You will not be sorry if you add it to your summer reading list.