Saturday, April 26, 2014

High School Required Reading

Hi Guys,
Today I'm going to be doing something a little different. I'm going to be reviewing twenty books in one post. I'm aware it sounds a little crazy, and nearly impossible to do, but I'm going to attempt to review every book I read in my English classes of high school. Obviously I'm not going to be going into a ton of detail on each book, but some will be longer than others. These will be more long pieces of works, I'm not going to be reviewing like 2 page short-stories we read, and each of the ones I mention are quite significant pieces of literature. The books in order from 9th grade to 12th grade are:

 *- one star (hated it)
**- two stars (it wasn't for me)
***- three stars (it was okay)
****- four stars (really enjoyed it)
*****- five stars (loved it)

9th Grade
La Linea by Ann Jaramillo *
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell ****
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare ****
The Odyssey by Homer ***

10th Grade
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston ***
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles ***
Antigone by Sophocles ****
Night by Elie Wiesel ***
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare ****

11th Grade
The Carolina Way by Dean Smith **
The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving **
The Aeneid by Virgil ****
The Crucible by Arthur Miller ****
The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne ***
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe ***

12th Grade
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ****
Macbeth by William Shakespeare ***
Hamlet by William Shakespeare ****
Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell *****
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen *****

I'm only going to be reviewing by favorite book from each year and talk a little about what I thought of it. My favorite book I read during my freshman year was Romeo and Juliet. I know it has a lot of mixed reviews, but I thought it was very interesting. I read as Romeo in class and I really enjoyed putting myself in his situation. I definitely would not have followed his path in real life, but I enjoyed experiencing a different perspective.

My favorite book I read during my sophomore year was The Taming of the Shrew. When my class read this, we were given an assignment: "Write your own version of the famous play and make it relevant to today's society." My group of peers decided to spice things up by switching the genders of the characters to show how gender roles in society have begun to change. My teacher thought the idea was brilliant and named us the victors of the assignment turned "competition." I played the Shrew, Katherine (Kyle), in our reenactment. I believe translating this story into a modern one helped us as students understand the story, it is HILARIOUS and remains one of my favorite Shakespearean works.

My favorite book I read during my junior year was The Crucible. I played John Proctor as my class read this, and I can say that he is one of my favorite characters of all the classic literature I have read. For me, he is very relatable (aside from the adultery), if I was put in his situation I would probably have handled it the same way he had. His actions and dialogue match his personality so well. The plot of the story was very interesting as well, it spotlights how one lie could effect everything these characters have ever known. Certain aspects parallel events in modern society, making the story even more gripping. Some events in this may seem dramatic to some readers, but I was hooked and I could visualize everything that happened so well, I didn't see anything wrong with the plot of the story. I found myself so invested into these characters and this story that I would get enraged at certain characters enough to cause discussions in class about the motivation of characters. Which caused most of the students to join in the conversation which shows how gripping this story is.

My senior year was a good year for required reading, and I each piece I read about affected me, and I want to talk a little about each one. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was hysterical,  it was probably the funniest book I've ever read. It was very random, and jumped from one topic to the next, but the satirical points made from this novel made me laugh out loud. It wasn't just a giggle, but a boisterous roar of laughter. I loved Arthur as the main character, but my favorite characters were Ford Prefect and Marvin (the paranoid android). These characters were the causes of my outbursts.
Pride and Prejudice is my favorite classic I've ever read. I never thought that I would like a book based in this time period, or with such a plot, but I LOVED it. I fell in love with the characters, the plot, the setting, the topics, and the humor. That's right, this book is hilarious, I would have never guessed. I laughed harder at certain scenes during this book than I did during The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Elizabeth is a wonderful main character that is very relatable, intelligent, and sarcastic. Mr. Darcy is also a wonderful character, his character arch is probably the best I've ever read. These two characters make the most perfect couple and I crave more of their stories.
Shooting an Elephant, for a short story, is very gripping, and I felt that I could see everything happening before me. Orwell chooses his words very carefully and makes each one pluck at the readers' heart strings. I can't wait to read more of his works.
Macbeth is my least favorite Shakespearean piece I've read, I only liked one character, Banquo, and things don't really end up very well for him. I read the part of Macbeth and found that I was entirely annoyed with his characteristics. He was all brawns and no brains. I found the plot very interesting but I couldn't enjoy it because of the HORRIBLE characters. I appreciate the message of the story, but that's about all I appreciate about this play.
Hamlet was strangely addicting to me. I didn't really LOVE any of the characters, but the plot was amazing. I loved the mystery, the suspense, the humor, and even the tragedy of this play. Everything played a large role in tying the play together and making everything believable. I enjoyed reading as Hamlet, it was quite interesting walking the narrow line he walked between sanity and insanity. Half of the time I believed he was normal and he just wanted to put on an act for those around him, but their were certain scenes where I felt that he had gone completely bonkers. I loved reading about him and wondering about his state of mind.

Those are all the required reading books I read in high school, I hope you enjoyed it. I never really review many "classics" on my blog and I hope to read more so I can review more. This books opened my eyes to the world of classic literature and made me realize why they are "classics." I hope to be posting more blog posts soon, but in the meantime I hope you guys try to read more classics, they are quite influential.

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