Sage Creek High School

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The Best and Worst of School Required Reading

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Jennifer Baxter

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Junior+Makennah+Layng%2C+reads+The+Great+Gatsby+for+her+English+3A+class.
Junior Makennah Layng, reads The Great Gatsby for her English 3A class.

Junior Makennah Layng, reads The Great Gatsby for her English 3A class.

Photo by Jennifer Baxter

Photo by Jennifer Baxter

Junior Makennah Layng, reads The Great Gatsby for her English 3A class.

Throughout high school we are forced to read many books. Some had us on the edge of our seats, while others made us feel as if there were bamboo splinters being shoved into our fingernails.

Some of the best books I have read were the required reading books in high school. Freshman year, I enjoyed reading Fahrenheit 451, because it showed how different society would be if there was too much censorship.

The novel takes place in a dystopian society where books are illegal and the population, except for an underground network of people who read books illegally, are controlled by mass media. During class we would discuss how censorship affects us in the modern world and how a society can be controlled into a certain way of thinking.

This was thought provoking and helped me learn to analyze the world around me. The most interesting part to me was that people would believe whatever they saw on the television, because reading was prohibited. Interestingly enough, current freshman Connor Davis has a different opinion on the best book that he has read this year.

“It would probably have to be Romeo and Juliet. It’s not really a conventional book by today’s standards so you really have to get into it and talk with the class to understand it,” Davis said.

Even though Davis enjoyed this book because he found it to be unconventional, I find the play to be too over done. Also, I am not particularly fond of the Shakespearean language.

While Davis’ favorite book was Romeo and Juliet, my favorite book throughout high school was The Great Gatsby. This is a story that revolves around old and new money in the 1920s, along with the tragic tale of unrequited love between two main characters, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. This book is also captivating because it tells the story of a man who will do anything for love. Even though Gatsby has almost anything he can ask for, he is unhappy because he does not have the woman he loves beside him.

What made the experience of reading this book better is that during class, we would were taught that the weather was a representation of the character’s feelings and how the Victorian language of the flowers had meaning in the book. These devices enriched my experience of reading The Great Gatsby and brought to my attention new rhetorical strategies of looking at a text.

Interestingly enough, another senior also shares the same appreciation for this book.

Photo by Jennifer Baxter
Senior Donald Jason Rex. reads Freakonomics for his English 4B class.

“To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby,” Kelly Hack recommended. “I like to Kill A Mockingbird because it taught a story about prejudice and it did tell a good story. I loved the symbolism in The Great Gatsby and what it contained.”

While there are amazing books that you get to read in high school, there are also some that are just disturbing. In sophomore year, students are required to read The Hot Zone in CP English and Lord of the Flies in honors and CP classes.

The Hot Zone is about an outbreak of a strain of Ebola within controlled monkeys in the Center for Disease Control, and Lord of the Flies is about a group of young English boys who turn savage while being stranded on an island. I did not enjoy either of these books because I found them both to be very gruesome.

For Hot Zone, we had to learn about vomit projecting and how that helped the spread of the disease. While for Lord of Flies, we had to talk about how the beast (savagery) grows inside each of the boys during the events of the books. Both of theses activities sickened me and made me enjoy these books even less that I already did.

Lord of the Flies is my least favorite book [that] I have read in high school because in the end, everyone became savages,” junior Kara Prince expressed.

In high school, students are forced to read many books. Some of the books leave them wanting more and with great life lessons, while others you are glad you never have to read again.

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Sage Creek High School
The Best and Worst of School Required Reading