Top Books for High School Reading Lists

As we’re starting to wind into the Holiday season (already!!!) we thought we’d put out a couple of quick suggestions when you’re thinking about gifts for your high school aged friends, nieces, nephews…whatever.

We wanted to draw attention to two classic books that, more often than not, are left off of the standard curriculum. Many schools evade these two works because of the concepts and philosophies they bring up: Grapes of Wrath for it’s hard look into the American class system, and often brutal evaluation and glance into the working class conditions during the Dust Bowl and the Depression, and Atlas Shrugged because of it’s starch adherence and propagation of Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, which, let’s just say, doesn’t get every principal in the world excited.

So now that I’ve given away the two winners for this Fall, let’s take a closer look at them.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

steinbeck grapes of wrathJohn Steinbeck, as I’m sure you already know, is by far one of the greatest American authors of all time. He has a large collection of classic works, which includes The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Winter of Our Discontent, The Pearl, and, of course, Of Mice and Men.

You can get The Grapes of Wrath audiobook free download courtesy of, or buy it from Amazon here.

While he is a popular author to read in high school, most schools focus on Of Mice and Men, and leave Grapes of Wrath off of their lists, due in part because of it’s sheer epic length, and in part because it deals with a number of really difficult themes surrounding poverty in America.

Even though the setting is 80 years ago, many of the conditions presented have a clear analogy to today’s world, and can be difficult to cover in the classroom.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

atlas shruggedThe second winner for this year is Atlas Shrugged. Again, this is an amazing classic American novel that is too often neglected in high schools across the country.

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents a completely contrarian philosophy to that of Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath. Her Objectivist outlook describes a world where extreme greed and unrestrained Capitalism is the highest ideal, since she argues that greed is the only thing that motivates individuals to action.

Drawn to a further conclusion, our society exists because of the selfish achievers, and she argues that allowing this to exist unfettered is in our best interest as a society.

Again, this topic gets very complex very quickly, which is why many schools shy away from it, but it is still an important book for our high schoolers to be reading!

Click here to get the Atlas Shrugged audiobook free, or click here to buy Atlas Shrugged.

Why We Like Bernie (As If You Didn’t Already!)

With the presidential primaries in full swing, and the crazy year of a thousand hopefuls finally narrowing down to the top few candidates, we’re left to pick from the “real” candidates and figure out who is the best bet going forward.

From the Democratic side, the only two choices are really Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, since the others (led by Jim Webb, O’Malley, and Chaffee) are all so far behind there’s no hope of catching up. Hell, one recent poll showed them lagging miles behind Joe Biden, who isn’t even running!

Our Pick: Bernie Sanders

bernie sandersIn our view, the best bet is by far Bernie Sanders.

The reason? Education, education, education…and a little bit of Wall Street anger.

By far the best part of  Sanders’ platform is his stance that getting a good education means going to a reputable college, and that having a college degree is the equivalent of what having a high school degree 40-50 years ago meant.

In other words, if you don’t have a college degree in today’s world, you’re virtually unemployable and are relegated to low-wage jobs for your entire life.

It’s sad but true, and yet there are a surprising number of American families who have yet have a single family member go to college. Compare that to the fact that children of college graduates are about 100x more likely to graduate from college, the wage differences between college graduates and high school graduates, and you start to see a real picture of the American class system.

Then, factor in that Bernie’s plan makes Wall Street pay for a free college education system, and you see why we have a clear winner.

Not only is it essential to help break down class barriers, but it’s in our national economic best interest to produce highly educated individuals. That’s the only way that we, as a country, are going to be able to remain competitive in an international marketplace. Education leads to innovation, and future prosperity.

We just have to invest in it today!