High school revisited

Nicole Aikens

Out of the several books I was assigned to read in high school, I read four and a half. That’s not to say I didn’t read in high school, I just hated reading books that were assigned to me.

I was the kind of kid who could get a general summary of the novel and then go on to do better than the majority of the class on a quiz or test. I wrote “A” papers based on sparknotes.com research and pulled brilliant explanations out of some very interesting places. I was good.

But here’s what I realized: The books I did read are some of my favorites. So why not take the time to go back and read them? Maybe I’d even venture off into those other books I avoided all too well …

“A Separate Peace”

by John Knowles, Honors English 11

Aside from half of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” it took me three years to actually read a book I was assigned … but man, did I pick a good first one with “A Separate Peace.”

This was one of those “mandatory summer readings,” which was pretty much synonymous with “bullcrap” for me. I really had no intention of reading it, but three days before the first day of school, I picked it up.

“A Separate Peace” immediately went on my top-10 list of books, and my teacher’s explanations just made it that much better. The whole novel is a great description of the trials of adolescence, and the last paragraph is simply wonderful.

This book is definitely worth reading, whether you skipped it in high school or were just never assigned to read it. It is a little slow in the beginning, but it is definitely worth the struggle.

“The Catcher in the Rye”

by J.D. Salinger, Honors English 11

“The Catcher in the Rye” was assigned in Honors English 11. I did not read “The Catcher in the Rye” for Honors English 11. The only reason I read this book in high school is for pleasure. By the time I had it assigned to me, I had already read it, loved it and knew it well enough to do any assignment on it.

“The Catcher in the Rye” is a stream-of-consciousness book told through the eyes of the main character, Holden Caulfield. Because of the style in which it’s written, the usual complaints are “there’s no plot” and “all Holden does is whine.” That’s the beauty of it. He’s just a kid trying to find his way and figure out where the ducks go when the pond freezes.

“The Catcher in the Rye” is worth reading because everyone can find some way to identify with Holden. And there’s a prostitute involved, so if that does it for you, this is the book for you.

“The Alchemist”

by Paulo Coelho, Honors English 12

I read “The Alchemist” the second semester of my senior year. There’s a possibility that reading this book was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.

Here’s why: “The Alchemist” is cheesy with lines that repeat over and over again, but if you can buy into what it is saying, you will come out of it feeling as though you can do anything.

It’s worth reading because it just makes you feel good about life. It’s an easy read with a strong moral to the story. In my opinion, “The Alchemist” is better and more efficient than any self-help book out there.


by Ayn Rand, Honors English 12

I read this book as part of a three-book assignment. This was the only one of the three that I read.

“Anthem” has the utopia or dystopia aspect, as well as the character transformation that comes from that kind of environment. The writing style is a little weird, but by the end of the book it all makes sense.

“Anthem” was assigned along with “Brave New World” and “1984.” So if you are a person who enjoyed those books, I’m assuming this will be right down the same alley. Unfortunately, I still haven’t gotten around to reading those other two.

I think we should all make a promise to ourselves to go back and read the books we never read in high school. Who knows what we might get out of them now? Here’s the moral of this story: Better late than never.

Contact all reporter Nicole Aikens at [email protected].