American Literature High School Reading list
I now *do* remember reading The Great Gatsby and The Scarlet Letter in High School. and I was in an Honors program so I don't know why I didn't read To Kill A Mockingbird or any Twain that I can recall (or was it that forgettable for me?!?!)
I have read all of Rand and get into a rut of re-reading either Fountainhead or Shrugged every three or four years. I embraced Ray Bradbury as I segued out of the Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder books so I consider him covered.
I am narrowing this down that I should probably read Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Hemingway, and... Salinger? Faulkner? Melville? Steinbeck?
Well, I am at least seeing that I will probably be reading more than five books (and interspersing my Pepys in between. Gosh, I love Pepys.)To Kill A Mockingbird is a good read. It's fundamentally a children's book, I think, and while Lee is certainly a talented writer, I'm never quite comfortable lumping it in with true works of genius.
Add some Vonnegut to your list - I'd start with Cat's Cradle there. And if you're interested in science fiction, you can't go wrong with Asimov (not great literature, but sure as hell important).
Similarly, dig into some Heinlein. I couldn't possibly pick a sane number of books to recommend, but if you want a prime example of the sense of wonder and excitement that apparently sprang up post-WWII in America, read some of his juvenile/YA works. They're not great literature, but they're tremendous fun, and certainly helped shape a generation.
I've been struggling with Faulkner, myself. My first introduction wasn't until college, and I started with Go Down, Moses, which I think is a little bit too intense to start with. I'd start out with A Fable or Absalom, Absalom! - but that's just me. I'd definitely rate Faulkner as one of, if not the most intellectually challenging American novelists.
Read Moby Dick. Don't feel bad if you end up skipping a page here and there, unless you're super interested in whaling. It's truly a great book but does suffer a bit from bloat.