Required reading

What were you required to read when you were in high school? Novels? Non-fiction? Just textbooks? Which of those books were memorable?

Here are some of the books that are required reading in schools around the world (from TED Ideas), including:

Faust by Goethe (in Austria) — about a man who sells his soul to the devil — because of its different interpretations and influences on other literature and because it encourages students to think in different ways

The Days by Taha Hussein (in Egypt) — an autobiography of the blind man who became an education minister — because it encourages students to think about “the importance of gathering knowledge, the need to rebel against traditions and the negative effects of ignorance upon individuals in a society”

The Diary of Anne Frank (in Germany) — because “we should never forget what horrors were unleashed by narrow-thinking people”

Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata (in Indonesia) — about a group of students and their teachers who are living in poverty but persevere — because “it teaches sacrifice, dedication, hard work, passion, brotherhood, friendship, optimism and perseverance in the face of challenges”

Here’s an excerpt of the movie based on that last book (in Indonesian with English subtitles). Be patient and watch to the end; it’s worth it:

More books to add to my to-read list!

Some of the most memorable books I read in high school were:

  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence
  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

These were all required reading except Inherit the Wind, which I read because I did my graduation essay on the debate between evolutionists and creationists.

If you were to tell today’s high school students to read certain books, which would you choose and why?


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