I’m a mediocre English student. I’ve never loved English, but it’s better than math. This past week I took the AP Literature Exam, which had me thinking about all the books I’ve read in high school. I thought about everything, from the first book I read in freshman year, Anthem by Ayn Rand, to the last book I read, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Of course, I didn’t read all the books I was assigned in high school, because if we’re being honest, some of them are painfully boring to read. In addition, the person who reads sparknotes almost always gets the same grade on assignments as the person who actually reads the book. But believe it or not, there are actually some books that are enjoyable to read.
The first book I read that I enjoyed, and actually read a second time on my own time, was the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. The writing style by Hosseini was my favorite part of the book. It’s an interesting journey of a boy looking for redemption. The book also gives great insight into Afghani culture. Even if you aren’t assigned this book in high school, I would suggest reading it on your own.
Animal Farm by George Orwell is definitely a story you should not sparknote. It’s referenced often, especially in regard to politics. It’s a critique of the Russian Revolution and an allegory of the rise of Joseph Stalin. Although it’s not a thrilling story, it’s relatively short and the language used is easy to read. Reading this book will come in handy later in life because of the themes presented in it.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding is another book worth the read. I read this freshman year and at first found it somewhat confusing to follow the number of characters. It’s a story of a group of choir boys whose plane crashed on a desert island while escaping Britain during World War II. The story is about their struggle for survival. It’s easy to become emotionally attached to characters, like Piggy. The main theme throughout the book is the natural instincts of civilization versus savagery. The captivating part of the book is discovering which characters turn to savagery first.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was a book that I did sparknote a bit, but only because I procrastinated it. The beginning is a little slow, but as you start to learn more about the characters, you become more curious and can’t wait to find out what happens. Scout, the protagonist of the book, is interesting because of her personality that contradicts her southern community. After I (mostly) read this book, I found myself coming back to the themes when reading other stories.
Sophomore year I enjoyed The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The roaring twenties setting made this book unique to other books we had read in high school. This book was intriguing to me because of their lavish lifestyles in Long Island, but I could see where some people wouldn’t enjoy reading it because it isn’t necessarily a happy bedtime story, but how many high school books are? Similarly to Lord of the Flies, it’s easy to sympathize with certain characters because of their situations in this novel.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger was the most recent book I read that I would suggest reading. People either love this book, or they hate it. Some people found it boring because it’s a very detailed narrative by protagonist Holden Caulfield, who doesn’t have a very appealing personality, while others love the complex narrative full of relatable themes. I personally found the conversational tone very interesting. And although Holden Caulfield isn’t very pleasant, he’s unpredictable, which makes the story intriguing.
In an ideal world, we’d read all of the books assigned to us, but when busy schedules, procrastination and a general lack of interest come into play, it doesn’t always happen. Hopefully this article will come in handy when deciding whether or not you should sparknotes a book.