Five books that you definitely used SparkNotes for in high school, but should read now

Lindsay Giovannone, Copy Desk Chief

Spoon River Anthology (1915) – Edgar Lee Masters
This lesser-known book is worth reading. “Spoon River Anthology” is a collection of short free-verse poems, which are epitaphs in the graveyard of the fictional town Spoon River. Free-verse poetry, especially shorter poems, are enjoyable and easy to read. Masters’ ‘Spoon River Anthology’ shows the human soul’s complexity through grave markers, describing joy, sorrow, kindness and evil.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) – Erich Maria Remarque
“All Quiet on the Western Front” masterfully tells the story of German soldiers’ distress and isolation while in the trenches during World War I. Remarque says it best. “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped (its) shells, were destroyed by the war.”

As I Lay Dying (1930) – William Faulkner
“As I Lay Dying” is a gothic novel that is consistently ranked among the best books of the 20th century. Faulkner’s stream of consciousness writing style traverses the perspectives of 15 characters over 59 chapters. It tells the story of Addie Bundren’s death, and her family’s attempts to honor her wish of being buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi. Set in Faulkner’s apocryphal Yoknapatawpha County, Miss., ‘As I Lay Dying’ fixates on our mortality and causes us to grapple with our own existence.

Brave New World (1932) – Aldous Huxley
Considered the first true dystopian novel, “A Brave New World” is set in the futuristic society of the World State, where technical rationality reigns supreme and the social hierarchy is based on pre-programmed intelligence. The main characters grapple with forbidden nonconformity amidst a world where “every one belongs to every one else.”

In Cold Blood (1966) – Truman Capote
“In Cold Blood” is regarded as a pioneering novel within the true crime genre. Capote spins a tale based on the story of a quadruple murder in Holcomb, Kansas. The victims, the Clutter family, make especially poignant victims because of their soulful innocence. The two killers–Perry Smith and Richard Hickcock–take on atypical Bonnie and Clyde personas, evading the law together. “In Cold Blood” weaves together a tragic tale of fate’s inevitability that’s definitely worth the read.