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Easy to Read, High Interest Novels & Short Story Ideas

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I just signed up to teach an Adult Ed English class - students of mixed ages, but many, I think are 17-20. I taught HS English years ago, but I don't really want to use YA literature, about kids, high school, parent/relationship angst etc. So that rules out most of what I've taught previously.

I'm looking for relatively short novels (200ish pages) that are highly engaging, well-written, but not "literary" with huge vocabulary/complicated sentences. Any subject matter except what would be uncomfortable to read aloud (sex or graphic violence).

I'm also looking for short stories - same thing - high interest, well-written, but fairly easy to follow.

Any ideas???

Thanks!
post #2 of 14
How about books by Ernest Heminway? He's known for his simple prose. His books aren't too childish for the target audience.
post #3 of 14
Funny, my very first thought was Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

Is Life of Pi by Yann Martel too controversial? No sex and not a lot of violence, but lots of religion. It's very simple to read though and pretty engaging.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon is another book that isn't difficult to read. It's an adult book, but I've seen it on some middle school curricula.

Nick Hornby's novels might appeal a lot to that age group. You'd have to preview for sexual content though. High Fidelity or About a Boy are both engaging reads. Songbook, his non-fiction essays about music might suit.
post #4 of 14
What about David Sedaris or Dave Barry? Short humorous essays -- I think they're both pretty easy to read.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
Funny, my very first thought was Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

Is Life of Pi by Yann Martel too controversial? No sex and not a lot of violence, but lots of religion. It's very simple to read though and pretty engaging.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon is another book that isn't difficult to read. It's an adult book, but I've seen it on some middle school curricula.

Nick Hornby's novels might appeal a lot to that age group. You'd have to preview for sexual content though. High Fidelity or About a Boy are both engaging reads. Songbook, his non-fiction essays about music might suit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalia the Muse View Post
What about David Sedaris or Dave Barry? Short humorous essays -- I think they're both pretty easy to read.


Bolded would both be great choices... also The Five People You Meet in Heaven would be good. A little longer than your ideal but To Kill a Mockingbird would be level appropriate, depending on your level of conservatism toward violence (my 12yo DD is fine reading it) or The Diary of Anne Frank. Number the Stars would also be good, I think.
post #6 of 14
Animal Farm?
post #7 of 14
I loved Life of Pi and enjoyed the conversations it sparked among folks who read it, but it was hard to get into for many folks in my book club. If you are trying to foster an interest in reading in an adult ed class you might want to hold off on it until the students are hooked enough to be patient with a slow start.
post #8 of 14
This is probably much too long, but what about The Help? It is enagaging, and not too difficult to read. I would think that the fact that it is a very recent book might also be appealing to young students.

I know you said this is an English class, so I'm guessing you only cover fiction, but if you do include non-fiction, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is incredibly well-written, and would generate some excellent discussions.

For short stories, there is always Chekhov. Some of his storied, like "The Lottery Ticket" or "Joy" have themes that the students might find interesting, even if the language is a bit antiquated.
post #9 of 14
How about this one?

The Hunger Games by Collins? It's rated 4.5 stars on Amazon with over 1300 votes. Very engaging, very easy to read, will appeal to the age group you are talking about.

For short stories, you could try O'Henry (?) Sweet and easy, always with a twist at the end. Or maybe Edgar Alan Poe? He's creepy and scary enough to make it interesting, and will hit the Halloween mark.
post #10 of 14

Not novels, but short stories

I love, love, love short stories. I think they're totally over-looked by the reading public in favor of novels, because, well, that's what book stores present to us, because that's what the publishers send to the books stores, because there's more money to be made in single-author novels.

50 Great Short Stories, by Milton Crane is one of the best and at $6.99 it's pretty darned affordable.

Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg is part of a larger series of anthologies by great, accessible writers like Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card and others.

On the pricey end there is Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense, my English 101 text book in Jr college. I loved the book so much I kept it, even though I wasn't an English major. It's chock full of short stories, poetry and excellent follow-up questions.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thanks everyone!! I am going to get the Curious Incident of the Dog... and The Five People You Meet... and Legends from the library to check out!

I already had Illustrated Man on my list of short stories, and had thought about Nick Hornby since I just finished High Fidelity & About a Boy. I'd recommend them/book talk them, but can't read them outloud (too long, too much f word).

In case anyone is interested, this is what I've pulled from my own shelf to think about excerpts etc -

The Tale of the Unknown Island - Saramago
Walden - Thoreau
The Beauty Myth - Naomi Wolf
My First Summer in the Sierra - John Muir
Mary Oliver poetry
High Tide in Tucson - Barbara Kingsolver
American Mosiac Multicultural Readings in Contect (old college anthology)
Dove - Robin Lee Graham
The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff
The Bean Trees - Kingsolver
The House on Mango Street - Cisneros
The Island - Gary Paulsen

Then I also requested/will pick up from the library:
Einstein's Dreams
Nurture Shock
Food Rules - Pollan
Animal Vegetable Miracle - Kingsolver
Anthem - Ayn Rand
No Impact Man

I was thinking I'd do a novel, but now I think I might just do a bunch of exercpts from memoirs, nonfiction books/essays, and short stories. Then they can choose their novel themselves (or with my help) and do a book talk.

Thanks again for the help!
post #12 of 14
I would also add in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (I think that is the author) as a short story. I have read it in a few English/Lit classes starting in high school and it always inspired very interesting class discussion.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mackenzie View Post
I would also add in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (I think that is the author) as a short story. I have read it in a few English/Lit classes starting in high school and it always inspired very interesting class discussion.
Good one! I remember good discussions for that too. I'm pulling out my veeeery old Junior Great books to look for short stories too. I remember there were some good ones - Harrison Bergeron, The Ledge, etc.

Also I have a cassette of Edgar Allen Poe stories & I think I remember the Tell Tale Heart being on that - that'd be great for Halloween!
post #14 of 14
Mix it up a bit with really short fluff pieces.
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