On the Books I Read for High School: Years 9 to 11

A lot of the people I went to high school with had a love-hate (to be honest, mostly hate) relationship with the books we had to read. I’m no exception. I wasn’t required to read a huge number of books for high school, despite gravitating towards the humanities. In my first three years of high school (Years 9, 10 and 11, as they are called in New Zealand), I was only required to read one book a year. All three of these were for English class.

These years were the least exciting for me, probably due to teacher’s desperation to find a simplistic text that could also be easily written about. And so, in Year 9, I read Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl. The following year, I read The The Wave by Todd Strasser. In Year 11, my first year of proper exams, I read The Diary of Anne Frank.

I don’t know anyone out there who wasn’t completely enthralled by Roald Dahl’s tales as a child. I certainly had my fair share of favourites.

Boy is a collection of memoirs from his childhood. Just like his novels, it’s full of hilarious moments that are bound to have you in fits of laughter. And just like his novels, there are a number of moments that take on a slightly more serious tone.

To be honest, my lack of enjoyment of this book was probably because the teacher I happened to have at the time. She didn’t really sell the book, and I really struggled to write an essay that I found interesting but also met her standards.

So even though it was beyond amusing and incredibly memorable (seriously, I still remember some of the stories in this book like the back of my hand… and they still make me laugh!), I found it hard to just sit down and enjoy this book for what it was: a really wonderful memoir.

The following year, I read The Wave by Todd Strasser. Based on a true story (very loosely, if you believe some accounts), it follows a school that experiments with discipline. When a history class conveys their dismay at the Nazis unfaltering obedience, the teacher begins to toy with the students’ ideas of conformity and solidarity.

A straight-forward book with a terrifying message, this book frightened me. It’s pretty simplistic and not mind-blowingly well-written, but the story in itself was enough to make me shudder. And it was certainly enough to ensure that I remember it pretty darn clearly.

Next was The Diary of Anne Frank. I’m always a little ashamed to say that I didn’t really enjoy reading this. Even though the story itself breaks my heart, I found reading about her life in the attic a little bit tedious.

But while I didn’t necessarily like reading it, I’m really glad I did. It’s stories like these that ensure that we’ll always remember, no matter how many years have passed.


There we go! The three books that I was required to read for my first three years of high school English. Sure, they didn’t blow my mind, but I’m definitely glad I read them.What were some of the books you read for high school? Did you love them? Hate them? Let me know!

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