The Books That Were Popular When I Was in High School (That I Didn’t Read and What I Read Instead)

books popular when i was in high school and what i read

The longer I find myself immersed in the world of book blogging, the more I see some of the same books pop up. Every year has its own list of books everyone seems to be reading (except me, because I tend to go against the grain and can’t stand the popular books – don’t get me started on one of last year’s popular books). Until I began to wade into book blogging a couple of years ago, I just happily read whatever looked interesting to me, so the last time I recall there being popular books everyone was reading was back when I was in high school.

My high school years were the first half of the 2000s. They were years punctuated with things like 9/11 (just 2-3 weeks into my freshman year), the start of the war against terrorism (of all the crazy ideas, we had a disaster drill where literally everyone on campus evacuated to the same field – talk about a giant target!), and a senior accidentally killing himself when he shot himself to get his girlfriend back.

But I was an English Honors and AP student, so was happily surrounded by people who loved books, which was much more preferable to knowing what was going on in the world. When we weren’t up to our eyeballs analyzing books for class, there were a few books that circulated around, and everyone seemed to be reading them. Except me, because they weren’t epic fantasy.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I really have no idea what this is about, but I think the narrator is a girl who was killed? Honestly, “bones” in the title completely and utterly failed to get me interested. Neither was I really interested in something that involved murder. I have yet to even muster up enough interest to actually find out what this book is about. Though I do now enjoy murder mysteries now and then. I’m wondering if it might be similar to Billy Bean’s Ghost where the ghost of a murder victim helped solve their own murder.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Another one where I have no clue what it’s about. I’ve never had a huge interest in time travel as it muddies life too much for my tastes, but the general consensus by my classmates was that it was good. My husband and I talk about time travel a lot, especially when it comes up in long standing series (usually TV) as it usually means the writers ran out of ideas. I’m just not a big fan of time travel, anyways, and the idea of being anyone’s wife back then just didn’t appeal to me.

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

I actually read this one, for 2 reasons, but I’ll only discuss one because the other involves another person whose privacy I’d like to maintain. This one came out the year I was applying to college, so it actually seemed quite timely. Of course, I was never going to go to an Ivy League or another university of a similar caliber, but I was intrigued enough to want to discover a bit of the college experience before I actually went. I can safely say my college years were nothing like Charlotte’s.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This is getting redundant. I really have no idea what this one is about, but I do recall my classmates saying how much they enjoyed it. Considering I was helping out a lot at home, especially with my own sister, I lacked interest, but maybe one day I’ll find out what this was about.

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Finally one I actually do know what it’s about. Considering my interest in psychology, I’m surprised I never picked it up. There was a lot of positive chatter about it when I was in high school, but, beyond hearing the title, I don’t recall anything specific. Of course, back then, I thought I’d be an English major in college.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

This one wasn’t talked about as much, but enough that the title still rings a bell. Want to guess whether or not I know what this one is about?

One out of 6 isn’t bad, right?

I definitely just didn’t have the same tastes in books as my classmates. So, what was I reading?

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

I discovered this series in the Spring of my freshman year. I distinctly remember sitting in my German class, reading the first book before class started. Then I spent the summer reading the next 3. And then I spent the rest of high school catching up on the series.

The White Tribunal by Paula Volsky

I have no idea why I picked this one up, but I credit it for teaching me what “inevitable” means. Too often I spent the few minutes before my 9th grade science class was due to start screaming in my head, “What the heck does inevitable mean?!”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I was in US History AP and decided I wouldn’t get the full experience of this time period without reading this book. So I read it, and it’s still sitting on my shelf, because not only was it a really good book, but it’s also part of history.

The Count of Monte Cristo, abridged by Alexandre Dumas

I do not recommend this. I wanted to read this book so badly, but I could only find abridged versions. It was so confusing I was practically in tears by the time I finished it. I finished this version believing Mercedes ended up living in squalor and begging for Dantes to take her back, but he vanished into the sunset instead. Definitely got a surprise when I finally managed to get my hands on an unabridged version.

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

This series annoyed me because I kept seeing them every time I went to the bookstore, so I started reading them. Then I slowly gave up after the 5th book because it sounded more like a platform for the author to air his personal beliefs.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I went through a classics period, which included this and War and Peace and Jane Austen’s books and Jane Eyre and The Illiad (still haven’t gotten around to The Odyssey). I have such fond memories of carrying this one around school because it didn’t fit in my backpack.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

I also went through a poetry phrase, so read this one and The Divine Comedy. I remember some of my classmates commenting on it in 10th grade, and I felt a little bewildered about why I, an English Honors student, wouldn’t be reading it and why weren’t they, also English Honors students, reading it?

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I went through an Agatha Christie phase and this one was my favorites. I still have most of the almost dozen Christie novels I read, but only a few really impressed me.

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

I was looking for big books so they would last a while. It was basically my mission every time I went to the bookstore. Finding this one kind of felt like finding a gold mine. Nine books in one? Yes, please! I remember my SRC (State Required Course) teacher in 10th grade seeing me reading this and asking how many books a week I read.

Come to think of it, I’m the only one I knew who regularly carried around books in high school that were not assigned. No wonder I have so many fond bookish memories during that time. And no wonder a lot of people I didn’t know knew me as the girl with the big books.

What was popular when you were in high school?

Pin this! (mostly a reminder to myself, but also an invitation to you!)

the books that were popular when i was in high school that i didn't read

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9 thoughts on “The Books That Were Popular When I Was in High School (That I Didn’t Read and What I Read Instead)

    1. I have the feeling I’d have a similar experience, and I already don’t like time travel books. It’s doubtful I’ll ever actually pick it up. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I loved Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series! And, I don’t remember what books were popular when I was in high school. I remember reading a lot of classics for school and just because. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first few were really good! Very interesting story and characters. Though I think I eventually found the classics to be more interesting at some point. Such a fun time to read the classics! And thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t remember any popular books during those years, but I do recall that everyone was madly obsessed with the TV series Lost … which I could never be bothered to watch, even after the teachers started referencing it in their lectures, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, same! My mom and I tried an episode and were completely lost within the first 10 minutes. I’m glad my teachers never referenced it, or, if they did, it just went completely over my head.


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