Each day of an adult's life brings further proof that everything learned in school between the ages 12 and 18 is completely useless -- as was strongly suspected at the time.

But one thing you did get out of high school and junior high academics, even if you might have not have always fully appreciated it, is the opportunity to read some pretty sweet books.

We've listed five literary favorites that are assigned in school districts from coast to coast, along with the reasons they may have appealed to your malleable secondary-school mind. We've also pointed out how the ubiquity of these books has helped shape the culture we live in. We compare and contrast the canon, after the jump.

Catcher in the Rye
He might be a self-pitying rich kid who needs to be slapped silly, but as long as there are teenagers, they will relate to Holden Caulfield's search for authenticity and sense of alienation.
What the book has wrought: Hipsters.

The Great Gatsby
Everybody in high school occasionally wishes they could completely reinvent themselves, a la Jay Gatz. Also, it's a beautifully succinct treatment of the American Dream.
What the book has wrought: Exclusive parties in the Hamptons with ridiculous dress codes.

To Kill a Mockingbird
The book's contrast between the whimsy of childhood and the sometimes monstrous unfairness of the adult world particularly appeals to those still in-between the two.
What the book has wrought: Sam Waterston's aggressively moral acting career.

Lord of the Flies
Rigid social hierarchies, survival of the fittest, relentless bullying of the weak -- this allegoric novel explains middle school, the beginning of high school (and our eventual life in an office environment) to a T.
What the book has wrought: An overly cynical belief that humanity is an extended blackout away from descending into barbarism.

Romeo and Juliet
Whoever actually wrote this tragedy was pretty clued in to the apparently timeless teenage themes of recklessly intense romantic love and having parents who just don't understand.
What the book has wrought: CliffsNotes.

Agree? Disagree? Irked because we left your favorite high school novel out? The comment section is for book wars.