Reflections on Assigned High School Reading

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Ah, high school English classes and their required reading materials – novels, plays, and short stories  you grew to adore or which became the bane of your existence. Here’s a ranking of some these books and plays-from snoozefests to ones I’d read without being asked to.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck- This book, which isn’t even 200 pages, took my class months to read, and I hated all of it. This book bored me to death-I think I fell asleep while reading it a few times. From a bunch of innocent animals being killed to the only female character being just a plot device and not even having a name-this definitely wasn’t my favorite.

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare- William Shakespeare is the bane of my existence, the man has haunted me my entire high school career. This play was so messy-way too many characters whose names all sounded way too similar, way too long, and half the time I didn’t even know what was going on or who was saying what? Next!

A Separate Peace by John Knowles-First of all, the narrator is a psychopath-he literally pushes his best friend out of a tree and shatters his leg out of jealousy. That’s not normal! Also, let’s be real, no matter how much our English teachers try to deny it this book is full of homoerotic undertones. No one is that obsessed with someone they only view in a platonic way.

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger-I could write an entire essay about how annoying  Holden Caulfield is. He’s whiny, he hates everyone and everything, he’s obsessed with girls he barely knows; literally everything about him annoys me. If he was a real person alive in 2018, he’d be one of those annoying kids who thinks they’re unique because they drink black coffee and read Friedrich Nietzsche and think they’re better than you because they listen to bands no one’s heard of. Don’t be a Holden Caulfield.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald-This book gets a lot of unnecessary hate, but I genuinely really liked it. I love Fitzgerald’s writing style, it’s so poetic and beautiful. All the messages in it, like the American dream allegory and differences between the rich and poor-I loved this book.

Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller- This play made me cry on many separate occasions. This play is relatable at any age because we all have gone through something similar that each of the Lomans have gone through. I have a special place in my heart for this play.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien-I really thought I wasn’t going to like this book, but I ended up really liking it. Each short story is effective, they all make you think about the deeper meanings behind life and death. This book made me cry several times-I highly recommend it.

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