Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
When you’re in high school, having a full-time job and a family to care for are things only grown-ups have to worry about, which makes it hard to understand a character like Willy Loman. As the main character in this Arthur Miller play, salesman Willy is not exactly a role model: He’s disillusioned with the American Dream, lies to his family, and cheats on his wife. As a kid you probably thought Willy was a lame bad guy. But in rereading the play as an adult, you can really relate to Willy’s daily struggles and finally appreciate how Willy’s failed dreams are behind his flaws and drive his self-deceptions.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Sure, when you’re 13, reading about talking pigs taking over a farm seems weird and boring. And you probably tuned out your English teacher when he droned on about how the novel is an allegory for Soviet Union-era communism. But George Orwell’s 1945 classic, Animal Farm, takes on a much greater meaning when you reread it as an adult and discover that the book is about more than talking farm animals. It’s a multi-layered historical analysis of human behaviour that examines the way power breeds corruption.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
You may have read and even enjoyed Harper Lee’s 1960 groundbreaking novel in middle or high school. Maybe you even identified with and rooted for Scout, the novel’s strong and sassy female protagonist who tries to stand up for what’s right. Reading the novel again as an adult, however, helps you appreciate the novels’ thorough examination of racism, prejudice, and injustice in the rural south in the 1930s. On the second read, you also better understand the novel’s approach to childhood, and how children can lose—at least partially—their sense of compassion and justice as they transition to adulthood.