Throughout out school years, we are forced to read many books in our English classes. And it is here that many students become convinced that reading is boring, because all the books that they are being forced to read are old and hard to read and well…boring. And I will admit, I agree to an extent. I don’t really agree with the school system’s idea of ‘good’ literature (which mostly consists of books published 50+ years ago. I mean, I get why those classics are important, but come on. There are plenty of modern books that have literary merit too).
Nevertheless, I try as hard as I can to promote the joy of reading, and especially having an open mind to reading. So here are some books that I read in school that I actually liked. Maybe you’ll come across them in your English class this Fall.
Since hearing that I would read this book in my tenth-grade year (because everyone at my school read it in tenth grade) I had this gut feeling that I was going to like it. I don’t know why. But my instincts were right. I loved the main character, Scout, and I loved the familiar comfort of the Southern setting. The book actually mentions my hometown in it, which I found super cool.
Another book I knew I would love. I resisted watching the movie when it came out (the new one, with Leonardo DiCaprio) because I wanted to read the book first and knew that I was going to read it in my 11th-grade year. It’s a tiny little book, which for me is a plus, and probably the first book that I liked where I didn’t like most of the characters. A lot of people who dislike Gatsby dislike it because of its characters. But for me, that’s the whole point of the book. You’re not supposed to like Daisy, and you’re supposed to believe in Gatsby, even though he’s pretty shady and delusional besides. And I also loved the new movie; I think it perfectly reflected the themes and mood of the book, and I also picked up on the link between the 1920s and culture today with the music. Kind of puts the whole message of the book into perspective.
What can I say? I’m a basic English major, and I love me some Shakespeare. Well, maybe not all Shakespeare. I hated Romeo and Juliet. But Hamlet was so much fun, which now that I think of it might come across as a little odd because it’s a tragedy, but trust me on this one. I had the good fortune of having it read aloud in class (I played Ophelia), with lots of in-class discussions, so my class could actually figure out what was going on. I may read a lot, but I’m not a genius. Shakespeare is confusing as heck.
Don’t believe me yet? Okay, when you read Hamlet, just imagine Hamlet as an emo teenager who, like, goes shopping mostly at Hot Topic. He’s absolutely hilarious in all his soliloquies and you don’t even realize that he is the embodiment of your middle school/ high school self.
I read this book of my own accord when taking AP lit my senior year of high school. We had to read a lot of material to prepare for the exam, so my teacher told us that we could pick one book each semester to read on our own, as long as it was ‘of literary merit’ (basically meaning the people who grade the essays on the exams have deemed it up to their literary standards). I looked around online and found that this one was on the list of books that could be used, and I read it for 2 main reasons: 1) It was short, and 2) it was published only 63 years ago, so I wouldn’t have to worry about old language.
This book remains to be a major inspiration to me. It totally rocked my world and blew my mind. it’s one of those books that changes your perspective on life. And it’s a book about books, you guys. It reminded me why I even read in the first place. And it made me feel weird about earbuds (little inside joke there for you rock stars who have already read the book)
This is a book that I was assigned in AP lit, and while we didn’t read it aloud in class, we did discuss it a lot. This is one of those staple books that I’d say most schools (at least in the US) teach. It’s another one of those books that change how you look at the world and culture, and one of the discussions I remember having in class was how the book reflects today’s world. It’s not my absolute favorite listed here, but definitely worth the read. I think George Orwell is one of those authors that everyone should read, because the guy was like one of the founders of the dystopian novel.
I read this book back when I was a wee little freshman in high school, and it was probably the first book I read that really nailed me to the floor. It’s a very raw and gritty read, and to a fourteen-year-old who mostly read light fantasy, it was jarring, and I will forever be grateful to this book for that. It made me realize my love for books that aren’t necessarily happy, but are nonetheless compelling. I don’t know very many people who actually liked this book – in fact, I’ve had quite a few odd looks when people find out I actually liked such a ‘creepy,’ ‘disturbing,’ and ‘morbid’ book. *beams innocently*
I think this book also got me into celebrating banned books week. I proudly say that I read banned books, and I will always encourage reading freely.
In addition to these books, I also read The Giver by Lois Lowry on my own, but I know that it’s used in a lot of schools. It’s actually the first book in a series, which a lot of people don’t know. I loved all 4, so if you read The Giver in school, I definitely recommend checking out the rest of the series. (The books go in the order: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messanger, and Son).
Hopefully, in the future, the realm of literature taught in schools will expand to recognize that modern books are just as valuable in an educational sense as the classics. But until then, we read on. And to those of you in school who have to read books you hate: hang in there. Read books that you love, but don’t give up on English class, and read the books you need for school to get the grade. 🙂
What are some of your favorite books you read in school? Do any of you read classic books in your leisure reading? (Props to you if you do, that’s awesome).
As always, have a lovely day and I’ll see you guys again soon. 🙂