Everyone always complains about the books they were forced to read in high school. (Just be glad it wasn’t this.)  But what about the other kind of book: the writing that’s so juicy and funny and wild  and transformative that high school is pretty much its natural habitat to begin with? Here are the first of my first-string choices:

Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Oh Merricat, you scamp! Shirley Jackson is one of my all-time heroes, and this novel is one of her greatest.

Arthur Rimbaud’s “Le Bateau ivre” (“The Drunken Boat”) – Rimbaud to me is the young adult poet, the voice in love with free freedom, with possibility, with what comes next.

Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” the funniest serial killer story ever.

J.D. Salinger’s “Franny” – You can read “Zooey” too if you want (it’s more light-hearted), but Franny is the one to meet. [I included no links because the ones I found were so pedantic they depressed me.]

Thinking about these books reminds me so joyfully of how much FUN it is to read.  And the path to reading for pleasure – as so many bemoan that The Young do not – is pleasure itself. Let’s rock.