As we slowly approach the end of the school year, I find myself looking back not only on the past few months, but the past few school years. While taking my trip down memory lane, I came up with this week’s prompt – books we all, or at least most of us, had to read for school. Now, most students do not usually enjoy being forced to read a book for school. Many would much rather just read it for fun. For whatever reason being forced to read often takes away much of the enjoyment. Regardless, I think we still have a few books that we liked reading for school. So, this week I’m going to discuss a few of my personal favorites that I read in high school.
The first book I want to mention this week is the timeless classic The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It takes place in the Roaring 20s, a time filled with jazz and never-ending parties. We follow the main character, Nick, as he watches the titular Gatsby make a name for himself by throwing lavish celebrations and attempting to win over the love of his life, Daisy. Soon, the parties lose their glamour as the novel takes a darker turn, and secrets and bodies alike begin to pile up. Teachers usually spend class periods trying to explain how the infamous green light is somehow an analogy for the American Dream, which is fine and dandy, yet I personally do not believe that is why so many people thoroughly enjoy this book, not to bash those who are into seeking out the symbolism in novels. Maybe we’re drawn to the vibrant jazz age we never got to live in or the luxurious lifestyles of the characters, but either way we are somehow attracted to this classic book. I would personally recommend this book for those yearning for a time they didn’t get to experience and don’t mind hearing the phrase “Old Sport” over and over again, though it kind of rubs off on you.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare is next on the list for this week’s recommendations. This, along with Romeo and Juliet and a few sonnets, is a common pick for the Shakespeare unit in most high school English classes. It tells the tale of young Prince Hamlet as he avenges his father’s murder and brings his uncle to justice for his dastardly schemes. If this plot sounded remotely familiar, you might want to re-watch Disney’s The Lion King after reading Hamlet. If you want to liven up your reading experience, you can always pretend you’re back in English class and assign your friends different roles to act out the story. I don’t mean to brag, but I was a decent Horatio back in the day. This is perfect for those who are classic Shakespeare fans and don’t mind a melodramatic main character running the show.
The last book for this week is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It follows the titular Jane through her various misfortunes in life as she tries to find her place in the world and falls in love with her brooding employer, Mr. Rochester. The novel tackles big themes like classism, religion and feminism, and was commonly brought up in English classes for being a prime example of bildungsroman. Wow, using that word brought me back to Mrs. Sixel’s class. I would recommend this book for those who are avid fans of period romances such as Pride and Prejudice.
That’s it for this week’s recommendations! If you’re feeling a tad reminiscent of high school, I would suggest grabbing one of these books, or whatever your favorite book may have been at the time, and reading out on Main Hall Green one of these days now that the weather is warming up.