Students’ Most Beloved Assigned Books

Students Most Beloved Assigned Books

When your English teacher walks into class with a box full of books, it is usually accompanied by a chorus of groans. Most high schoolers dislike school-assigned readings. Even if someone enjoys reading, required books can take away from time they’d spend with their own books. Yet, there has always been a book introduced in class that has stuck with you. The ending made you cry or whoop with joy, and every time you hear its title, a small smile slides across your face. The question is, what are these books?

Known as Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet has solidified its place in many students’ minds for its humor. Shakespeare caters towards high school students through his classically acclaimed beautiful writing and wit. This assigned reading has been described as “funny”, “funky” and “interesting.” This is partially credited to how the play is taught; Romeo and Juliet is read in class, making it a more interactive unit. Many students have stated that it was not just the reading but the class projects and experiences around this story that really engrossed them.

Another well-loved assigned story is The Odyssey, an epic poem by Homer. It is also taught through in-class readings, with students reading passages out loud. The Odyssey follows protagonist Odysseus as he travels home to Ithaca from war. It has been described as “interesting,” and Odysseus’ large personality carries the poem by capturing the audience’s attention. He is courageous, sharp and strong while also being boastful, careless and dishonest. These contrasting traits make the epic story outrageous and funny.

Students’ beloved stories are not all fiction, though; Night by Elie Wiesel is another favorite book. Night is a memoir of Wiesel’s experience through the Holocaust, as he was forced from normal life to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The novel makes an impact on its freshman readers, because Wiesel was the same age as them during his experiences. The memoir has been described as “moving” and “emotional” by students. 

The dystopian genre has grown in popularity over the past couple decades, but few can compete with 1984, the original dystopian book. George Orwell created a world that has captured sophomores’ attention thoroughly. 1984 is an anti-utopian novel about the omnipresence of state surveillance to force conformity. The book strikes a chord in many students due to its ease of reading, despite the complex storyline. 1984’s plot is full of twists and turns and this unique story draws in many interested students.

The Old Man and the Sea is the story of an elderly cuban man who spends 84 days trying to catch a fish. Written by Ernest Hemingway, it is a story of perseverance, determination and the human condition. Students have enjoyed this book for the relationship between the old man and a younger boy who worked for him. The perspectives from people of vastly different ages makes for an interesting read. It has been described as “a vibe” and is generally taught to juniors.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a collection of short stories. Each story comes from or centers around a platoon in the Vietnam War, the Alpha Company. O’Brien had served in the Vietnam War, and he blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction by inserting himself and other people he knew into the stories. Students enjoy these stories for their metafiction aspect. It is also loved for how it creates a fun atmosphere while introducing the reader to war.

Following the early life of a girl named Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird deals with themes of racism and prejudice. The book focuses on a trial of a Black man in the south during the Jim Crow era. Scout’s father, a white lawyer, chooses to defend him, causing Scout to confront her prejudices. Students enjoy the book due to its powerful and motivational messages.

There are millions of interesting books in the world. The chances that your teacher chose one of them aren’t low. So, the next time you get an assigned book, don’t rush to SparkNotes. Consider the writing and story you may be missing out on and open to page one.

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About the Contributor
Lily Dezfulian, Reporter
Lily Šekarić Dezfulian is a junior entering her second year on staff. Besides playing for the Yorktown Ultimate Frisbee team, Lily rock climbs and plays volleyball and basketball outside of school. She continues her epic battle against the Montenegrin language and its seven cases. Her favorite book is I Who Have Never Known Men and she enjoys sketching strangers.

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