After posting up about the changes in school reading and reading Stephen Lang's response it made me think about the books I was made to read at that age and the only one I recall really enjoying was Animal Farm by George Orwell. Part of the problem was not only the choices but the restrictions that meant that once you found a writer you liked you were not given the chance to enjoy them in more depth, except of course Shakespeare, who was often taught so badly you learnt to loathe him.
In conclusion (after that rambling recollection) maybe the emphasis here is not on the books that are chosen to be put on the reading list but the way they are taught. Surely choice would be a good thing and if you want to go off and read Milton and Joyce then the teacher should be able to manage varied books being read at once. Otherwise it doesn’t matter if it’s the best book written if it is taught in such a way that every page becomes a chore to get through.