Saturday, September 14, 2013

Librarians' Line-Up: School Books

In honor of the back-to-school season, today's Librarians' Line-Up is about school books. Our favorites, and those that stuck with us.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
In fifth or sixth grade we read the Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It is a mystery about who is going to inherit a large fortune from Sam Westing. He chooses 16 people to all live in an apartment/business complex and compete. I haven’t read the book since then but I can still quote it at you.
~Amy W.

Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner
Other kids read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. I read Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust, which deals with a lot of the same themes. A white man, a member of a prominent (if somewhat shady) family has been murdered. A black man stands accused. The ensuing story, written in Faulkner’s typical stream of consciousness style, examines the role of race in the Jim Crow south.  As is the case in practically everything that Faulkner wrote, there are some epic length sentences. But there is also some lyrically beautiful prose, and Faulkner deftly captures the fundamental ambivalence of the liberal southerner, caught between love for, and veneration of, the culture of his home region, and acknowledgement of the intense bigotry woven into that culture.
~John F.

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I think the books I liked best were the ones I expected to dislike the most.  For some reason I thought Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was going to be horrible, but I really enjoyed it.  Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart has also stuck with me, as well as The Things They Carried.

--Being an English major I have a ton from college that I loved and may not have picked otherwise, but I’ll just stick with the high school titles.
~Amanda D.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
When I was in sixth grade, I had to read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and it’s easily the best book that’s been a requirement. It’s about Ponyboy Curtis, a boy living with his brothers and growing up on the wrong side of the tracks; he’s one of the Greasers. His life is filled with gang violence as the Greasers constantly clash with the upper class Socs. What makes this book so excellent is not only is it a great story of teens, but author S.E. Hinton was a teen herself when she wrote it. Additionally, when it was published in 1967, it single-handedly launched the new designation of “Young Adult” literature.  
My favorite school book was Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I read it in 9th grade and truly enjoyed it. Books with castaways, deserted islands, survival, beasts, old dead pilots, bullying, and murder are consistently fun reads. I'm always surprised when I see middle school kids reading it, though. While it is quite the adventure novel, I think the issues and themes that the book delves into skew a little older and may be overlooked by younger readers. On the other hand, it is fun and definitely would give students something to talk about.
~Mary P.
For summer reading before I began my junior year in high school, we read Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I don't know if it was my favorite book per se, but it was one of those books that really stuck with me. I loved the back and forth of the text, including a lot of somewhat ridiculous situations. The wordplay and character confusion softened the very serious situations occurring within the book (it is set in WWII). The author was very graphic at times, with his descriptions of violence, especially. However, that only added to the book, in my opinion. The story itself was an interesting peek into WWII, and I definitely learned things from it. I also feel that you have to respect a book whose title was added to the general lexicon. 
~Cailey W.

Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Hey Reader! Guess what!? I’m super pretentious! Oh good you have your monocle, so you understand. Basically, Cailey told us to write about favorite books read in school, and I’ve already written or talked about two of my favorite books from high school, so let’s move on up to college (don’t worry grad school, I’m sure you’ll get a shout out too). I was an English major, which is why I’m now a poor librarian with a heart of gold, so I had to read… A LOT! Although it’s not my favorite work or Shakespeare play, Taming of the Shrew holds a place in my heart because I talked about it, read it, and wrote about it more than I like to think about. This is a troublesome story about abuse, marriage, relationships, and vermin (aka men). Mainly I loved it because I had an amazing Shakespeare professor. She rocked and made me love Shakespeare. This post is more about the English teacher and not the book. The teacher makes all the difference. Foiled again Cailey! Mwhahahaha!

What about you? What book stuck with you?

1 comment:

  1. "Once and Future King" in 6th grade loved it. 7th grade the "Iliad and the Odyssey", actually even"Bullfinches Mythology"