The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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Ranking the Required English Curriculum Books, Worst to Best

Ranking+the+Required+English+Curriculum+Books%2C+Worst+to+Best

The LFHS curriculum requires students to take four English classes over their four years here. These classes come with their fair share of reading, and I’ve got some strong opinions about these books. I decided to rate (most of) the required reading English books, worst to best.

Note: This is my opinion. I have not read some of these books in four years. If you don’t see a book that you’ve read or see one that you haven’t, It’s probably because I didn’t read it.

12. Catcher in the Rye *Sophomore Year Required Reading*

‘God DAMN,’ I hate Holden Caulfield. It was a challenge to bring myself to read this book sophomore year. The plot is basically Home Alone Two, but with all the fun sucked out, and also they gave “Kevin” (AKA Holden) trauma. Who let this poor boy run around New York City and think about some very heavy handed symbols? He might as well slap you in the face and say “SOCIETY!!!”

11. The Bible as/in Literature *Freshman Year Required Reading*

I simply do not understand why we had to read this book. This could have a 45-minute lesson saying ‘Hey everyone, sometimes the bible is featured in works of literature.’ This was one of the least entertaining books, considering it is mostly just about how to read and how to think about what you’re reading. Also, it’s too heavy, considering we only read a few of the stories. Sorry, Jesus.

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10. Fiction 100 *Sophomore Year Required Reading*

PSA sophomores: you DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY AROUND THIS BOOK IN YOUR BACKPACK. The printer is a beautiful tool. You do not need the entire book to read a four page story. There were a few banger short stories, but most of them were just about children being sad (which seemed to be the theme of sophomore year English…)

9. Brave New World *Freshman Year Required Reading*

The only reason this book is ranked so low is because I had to hear my teacher say certain made-up words that made me wonder if I had heard him correctly. If you know, you know. This was a good introduction to dystopian literature, but I failed to connect with or care about the main character, Bernard. This book is not the worst read overall, but not memorable either, considering there are many better dystopian novels we read later in high school.

8. Romeo and Juliet *Freshman Year Required Reading*

The movie was fine. The play is pretty good, but the plot was spoiled before we even started reading it. They both die, by the way. It’s fine. This is the ‘Rainforest Cafe’ of required English books. It’s just fine. Nobody enjoyed listening to their classmates struggling to read a Romeo monologue, but at least we didn’t have to do required reading outside of class time.

7. Death of a Salesman *Sophomore Year Required Reading*

This was the only good book we read during English class sophomore year, which isn’t saying a lot, but it’s something. Like Romeo and Juliet, I give this book bonus points because we did not have to read a single page outside of class, but it was painful to watch two of your classmates stumble through the book while reading out loud. If you want to read about a man hallucinating, go read Shakespeare’s Macbeth. If you want Macbeth to be a salesman, then yeah, sure, this book would be good for you.

6. The Odyssey *Freshman Year Required Reading*

Instagram account my class made for a project.

Oh, The Odyssey. Many, many horrible essays were written about you during freshman year. I liked the cyclopes, the magic women, and the pirates, but the story was a bit too long for me. However, it was an entertaining read. I appreciated Odysseus’ adventures, but I still do not know how to delete the Instagram account we made for Odysseus as a project. Please help.

5. Maus *Freshman Year Required Reading*

I LOVE PICTURES! Bonus points for being one of the only graphic novels featured in the curriculum. I liked this book, but I can’t remember much about it since it is a shorter read overall. I still don’t understand why the characters were all mice, but it is a beautiful story. And did I mention I love pictures?

4. Slaughterhouse Five *Junior Year Required Reading*

Junior year was simply the perfect year to read this book. The plot was simple enough that you could make your discussion participation sound intelligent, but complicated enough that you still had no idea what was going on. I appreciate this book and the meaning behind it, even if English teachers enjoy those silly little alien guys (what are Tralfmadorians, anyways?) too much.

3. Beowulf *AP Literature Required Reading*

This book made me feel so smart.  I felt like I finally understood a book and even found a little bit of a deeper meaning that I could back up with evidence. While some of the English books explore very heavy topics, Beowulf is an epic poem that had me thinking very hard about dragons and monsters. The title of my essay was ‘The Girlbosses of Beowulf,” and I was pretty proud of myself for that one.

2. Macbeth *Junior Year Required Reading*

This is where a little bit of my theater kid bias comes in. I loved Macbeth. It was gory, it was interesting, and it had a CRAZY plot twist. Bonus points for not having to read a single page outside of class. Lady Macbeth is my favorite character of all time – she is the ultimate woman icon. If you aren’t telling your husband to kill the king and take his throne, then what are you doing with your life?

1.Hamlet *AP Literature Required Reading*

HAMLET WAS SO FUNNY. This book had me kicking my feet and giggling while reading Hamlet’s little quips. Murder? I hardly know her! Hamlet is the stereotypical emo teen that we all relate to while stressing over college apps. Hamlet, my beloved, even though the movie was a bit crazy, congrats on being my favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Contributor
Taylor Ross, Visual Editor
Taylor Ross is a senior and is so excited to edit for The Forest Scout this year! Outside of school, she enjoys theater and photography. Some fun facts about her is that she has two dogs, and her greatest enemy is Mr. Leyden.
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    MG "English Department Oscar Recipient" KingDec 12, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    Putting Catcher below Fiction 100 and Brave New World was certainly a choice, but not many people these days have the courage to be so blatantly incorrect in public anymore, so I have a lot of respect for you, Taylor.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. I hope Mr. Leyden is paying you well for this.

    Reply