School Books I Liked

By: Naomi Metoyer
OwlFeed Journalist

It could almost be said to be a universal truth that high schoolers do not enjoy to read–especially when they’re told to. Whether it be because as a teen we reject everything any authority figure tells us, or because the fun is taken out with a grade attached, or because the books kind of sucks sometimes–we don’t usually like the books we’re assigned.

classic books
Photo credit: Pinterest

Or so we say. I don’t necessarily think that’s always true. There seems to be quite a few books, when we finally admit it, that we all kind of enjoyed reading in school. Sometimes it’s the teacher, sometimes it’s the book and how it made you feel. But there are a few books we all genuinely look on with a smile, books that we read in school. Here are all the books I read in school that touched my heart, made me think, or just interested me.

 

  • (tie) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns was assigned to me as a summer project going into my junior year. I wanted to read books I liked, or swim, or do anything other than school activities, so when I peeled this book open in the week before school started, you could say my head wasn’t necessarily in the right place. I had to annotate and summarize and I also had a whole other book to read, too. But I shouldn’t have worried.

This story is beautiful. That’s the only way I can describe it. This book explores countless topics–womanhood, motherhood, forced marriage, loss, war, romantic and platonic love, sacrifice, sexism and patriarchy, acceptance, resilience, family, and so much more–all in the tumultuous and dangerous setting that often characterized Afghanistan during the years depicted.

This book is at once beautiful and tragically sorrowful. It will make you smile. It will make you cry. And if you don’t, you’re most likely not okay. Please, PLEASE read this book.

 

  • (tie) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 

I think I’m alone on this one, but I love this book. Granted, I understand why other people don’t. I, myself, had to read the book as I listened to its audiobook to understand what was happening and I was still lost at times. Reading this as a freshman is hard, but for me, it was worth it.

This story is satirical in its depiction of Austen’s time, making it funny if you understand the context. It is also a romantic book, with plenty of intertwining plot elements and interesting characters to hold it up as so much more. It explores class and being a woman in that time period. It also has one of my favorite fictional romances because the relationship seems more genuine with realistic characters. It is really cute, but also heartbreaking and interesting, with film and TV adaptations that are ALL just as good.

 

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

 

This book is will take you by surprise. It is a take on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and the regime after, doing so through the eyes of animals who take their farm back from the humans.

This book is not only proves endlessly engaging, but will unexpectedly take hold of your heart and squeeze until you think it will give out. It does not make you feel good, but it gives you a lot to think on concerning not only that time in history but the universal implications of it.

Don’t underestimate this book, and please read it to the very end! Trust me, even people like my sister who didn’t think much of it–or reading in general–at the start ended up loving it and remembering it years later.

 

  • Holes by Louis Sachar

 

I hope this book is still popular in middle schools. It seems everyone has read about the boys who go off to a nightmare summer camp instead of juvie and stumble upon an adventure generations in the making.

This book is so fun, and probably the very first (maybe the only, for some) assigned school book that kids actually end up liking. It has characters one’s own age that they can relate to who go on to do extraordinary things when they were down, and made friends in the process to share it all with. It engages a young audience while still being school material. This, plus the amazing movie starring Shia LeBeouf, is probably why it has such a place in the hearts of the kids of this generation.

 

  • White Fang by Jack London

 

I read this book over four years ago and so it’s hard to remember all the details, but I haven’t forgotten how much I genuinely enjoyed reading it. This book, about a wolf who, against his will, becomes domesticated.

I remember this read to be extremely insightful and interesting as it is actually told through the eyes of the wolf-turned-dog, White Fang. It was somehow both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. This book was just turned into an animated film (of which is highly recommended by my younger siblings), and has a companion book by the same author, titled Call of the Wild, about a dog who becomes wild.

 

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

 

I think maybe everyone in the world knows this book or movie. An undisputed classic–and written by a 17-year-old girl in a time when that didn’t help you–this book is a must for any school reading list.

This classic tale is one of friendship, family, class, and loyalty. The Outsiders has complex characters with realistic, complicated relationships. The themes expressed within its pages are universal, and yet so distinctly coming-of-age that this is a very significant text for those who first read it in their middle or high school years. If you really don’t want to read it, though, at least watch the movie because it is a good story.

 

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

This is another book I feel like everyone has read, but for good reason. It’s a bit slow, but it makes you think about our society and the way it’s going. If you keep in mind the fact that this book was written in the early fifties, this book really blows the mind. It is eerie in its seeming prediction of the future alongside its warning of what society could become in the future if we continue the way we’re going.

 

  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

 

This book is not a favorite for any of the reasons any of the others were. This book was unstructured and went all over the place in a way books usually aren’t and it made the whole thing seem more like a running thought than a book. Holden Caulfield, as many will agree, is a… different breed when it comes to narrators, being not very likable or relatable in many ways.

There a couple things going for this book, in my opinion, that really carried this book all the way onto my list. The humor, for one, and the realistic feeling of the whole thing are two of the main ones. When I say it felt like a string of running thoughts, I mean Holden guides us through the mess that is his head, with all the hilariously embarrassing or oddly intrusive events of his past and present laid out in front of us.

This book is so teenage, to put it simply. Holden talks about everyone, comments on everything, and is horny all of time. He’s always complaining, even when he has no right. He thinks everyone’s a “phony”, and that he’s superior to others for some of the stupidest reasons. I think that these qualities, above anything else, are why this book became so popular–because it finally and fully encompassed the young adult as its own category separate from adult and child, giving a whole demographic a new way to identify and connect.

 

  • Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

 

The son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor flips between him asking his father about his experience during the war and depicting what actually happened. Enlightening and gorgeously illustrated and structured, but it will make you very sad. Be prepared.

 

  • Night by Elie Wiesel

 

A Holocaust survivor recounts his experience as a jewish prisoner at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War Two. A heartbreaking read, but worth it.

It gives one a true look into a story heard countless times before and gives faces to the stories in the most raw and vulnerable way possible.

 

  • Inferno by Dante Alighieri

 

This book follows Dante, who is making his way through Hell on his way to Purgatory and then Heaven, meeting lost and condemned souls and through them, changing his views on the world, justice, and God. You should not read this without context or help from a professional source or else it won’t be as good. Otherwise, it is a very interesting read and one that makes one think on morality and life.

Suggestions from others:

 

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Call of the Wild by Jack London