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School Books That Aren't as Bad as You Think

Updated on September 12, 2012

We all know how it goes when a high school class is assigned a book that most every high schooler in the country has to read. Typically, they don’t want to do it, won’t do it, and are even convinced that it is horrible before reading a single word that isn’t part of the jacket. Now, I have to agree that some of the required high school reading is absolutely dreadful, though I understand we have to read it all for a purpose. However, some of them really aren’t as bad as you think, and here are a few that I’ve read and liked for at least some reason or another through high school.

Cover of The Crucible
Cover of The Crucible | Source

Conspiracy Theories and Gripping Legal Tales

Hamlet by Shakespeare

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

To Kill a Mocking Bird (the second part of the book) by Harper Lee

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

These books in particular are thrilling or captivating through their legal dilemmas and tales of conspiracy. Hamlet is all about a young lord going insane after the death of his father, whose ghost comes back to tell Hamlet that he was killed by his brother. It’s also a Shakespearian tragedy, so what do think is going to happen in the end? If you know anything about Shakespeare, then you should be able to figure it out. Julius Caesar is a good read for the same reasons as Hamlet, conspiracies, crazies, and death. To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee is, in the first half of the book, rather hard to follow. That’s not to say that the content is too hard to grasp, rather that the material won’t sink it because you’re about to fall asleep once you open the book. However, there is a payoff after the first part of the book. When you get into part two, you’re thrown in a gripping trial of a black man, being represented in court by the main characters father. The story keeps you wondering the whole time what will happen to him, and what will be the repercussions? Animal Farm, a fabulous book by George Orwell, was one favorite of mine in school. The story focuses on the animals of a farm that end up taking over and running it by themselves. However, corruption arises in their system and you won’t believe the ending. The Crucible by Arthur Miller is not only my favorite book from my high school reading assignments, but it is also my favorite play by my favorite play write. Like Animal Farm, the Crucible is a reflection of society. Staged in the times of the Salem Witch Trials, the play is really a reference to the red scare in America.

Cover of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Cover of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Source

What is Right, and What is Wrong?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Antigone by Sophocles

Sometimes it’s hard to determine right from wrong. For the main character of one of these stories, the choice seems easy. For Huck Finn in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it’s a different story. Huck Finn is tired of everyone trying to make him be something that he isn’t. He’s a kid and he’s going to live like he thinks a kid should. When he runs into a runaway slave that he knows though, will he really help him or will he worry about himself instead? Antigone by Sophocles however is a stand against the wrong doing of others. After her brother is found dead, Antigone wants to bury him properly, but because he was a traitor, no one will let her. How far will she go to show others that they were wrong? You may be surprised by the answer.

Cover of Night
Cover of Night | Source

The Stories of Life

Night by Elie Wiesle

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

The books in this section represent stories of life. Both are very intense insights into the lives of the author of Night and the main character of Death of a Salesman. Night is a gripping tale of Wiesle’s life in the concentration camps of World War II. The book entails his time just before the Nazi’s came and took him and his family and his horrible living conditions while in the camps. You won’t be able to shut this book until you’ve read it from cover to cover (and if you liked this book, then you should read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl). Death of a Salesman, another play by author miller as well as another favorite of mine, takes a look at the life of Willy Loman. With a series of flashbacks a look into why he has been trying to take his life, you will be enticed by story of Willy.

So Before You Write Them Off...

So next time, before you decide a book is bad just because you have to read it, consider the possibilities. You may be surprised by what you find under the cover. Reading is an essential part of education, and it should be something that you enjoy doing. While you may not always a book that you are "required" to read for school, you should at least give it a chance before heading off to Sparknotes.


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    • alyssabarron profile image

      Alyssa Barron 5 years ago from Illinois

      I'm so glad that I could inspire you!! That's why I wanted to write on here in the first place! I also learned that I have a HUGE interest in history now that I'm out of high school. In fact, it is one of my favorite classes right now!

    • Dan Barfield profile image

      Dan Barfield 5 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

      So true - being forced to learn about something often blinds us to the true merit of it. The same is true of whole subject areas not just individual texts. I've recently discovered that I find History interesting after all... but I haven't written about it. Thank you for inspiring me to do so. :)