The Best (and Worst) Books I Read in High School

Hello everyone! While I would prefer to have a book review by now, I feel like I just haven’t had the time or energy to continue reading. Closing shifts are the worst. Anyone who has worked retail can relate to how I feel. I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to do something like this. I thought about making this about my required reading in grade school but I really don’t remember much of what I read back then. I do, however, have very distinct memories of my Honors English classes in high school. I had some very interesting teachers who had some interesting teaching methods. I can get more into that in another post if you want. (Note: I’m also going to be including plays I read on this list).

The best books I read:

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Sophomore Year)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Junior Year)
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Sophomore Year)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Junior Year)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (Senior Year)
  • The Color of Water by James McBride (Sophomore Year)
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Freshman Year)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Senior Year)
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Freshman Year)
  • Fences by August Wilson (Junior Year)

The worst books I read (with explanations):

  • Anthem by Ayn Rand: I know a lot of people of Rand but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy her writing. This book, in particular, is very confusing as it is written without singular pronouns. That is an important aspect of the book as it is a dystopian novel but it doesn’t make it any less confusing.
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: I just found this book to be way too sappy for my tastes. I understand the sentiment behind the story but it was just too depressing, even for me.
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright: It always sounds bad when I tell people I didn’t like this book but it’s not because of the subject matter. This book is his autobiography and the first half of the book is incredibly interesting. The second half of the book, however, is all about Communism and it just gets super preachy. The end just felt like a let down.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros: I’m not a huge fan of poetry but I can always appreciate. This book, however, was too abstract for my tastes. Again, I understand the subject matter but I just thought it was so vague.
  • Seven Events that Made America America by Larry Scheikwart: This book was so bad that my teacher decided to not have us even finish it. It’s written from a very Conservative standpoint and also the events weren’t even that important. The entire book is just this guy ranting about the “liberal media.” It was not something that I cared for in high school and not something I care for now.

Let me know if you read any of these books in high school or tell me your favorites or least favorites. I had some odd experiences in high school English so my experience is probably very different that yours. I’d love to hear about it though.

 

Book Tropes I Absolutely Hate Pt. 2

I’m technically supposed to be studying right now, but in order to stop myself from freaking out, I decided to rant a bit more about book tropes that I’m tired of seeing. Side note: Is it weird that I stop myself from studying out of fear that I’m “over studying?” Does anyone else do that? Anyways, back to my rant, I’m going to share a few more tropes I can’t stand and I would love to hear your feedback.

Overly-Possessive Relationships – This trope tends to pop up more in the fantasy genre more often but this fictional couple just needs each other. They can’t be apart from each other for whatever nonsense reason that the author gives them. Jealousy may be a natural part of a relationship but it turns into abuse when taken to the extremes. We shouldn’t be seeing relationships bound together with too much love. Examples of this are Bella and Edward from Twilight, Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and Ana and Christian from Fifty Shades of Grey. 

table flip

The Snark Master – Listen, I’m a very sarcastic person and I love sarcastic characters but their personality can’t be solely that they are the sarcastic one. I want to see character traits outside of quips and one liners. It’s the worst when this character cracks jokes even during dire moments. At a certain point, it even gets cringey so please use sarcasm respectfully.

annoyed

Overly Metaphorical – Metaphors can make your book or break your book. We’ve all seen the memes from The Fault in Our Stars about the cigarette as a metaphor. You know, that’s fine but what I hate is when a writer tries to shoehorn in as many metaphors as they can. Most books are set around one over-arcing metaphor or have several running metaphors throughout but it’s just bad writing if every other person, object, or situation is a metaphor of some kind.

hades

A Whole Lot of Exposition – World building is a wonderful thing for writers. In fact, I admire writers who create entire fantasy worlds. But, what I don’t like is when a novel has to stop to give you a history lesson about the world. You can weave in the backstories without taking away from the ongoing narrative.

angry writing

The Awkward Virgin – This character knows nothing about sex. Their parents never gave them the “birds and the bees” talk. They must have slept through high school sex ed or even just biology because they are just so shocked by any sort intimacy. Female characters like this are typically supposed to be “cute” because of this while male characters like this are laughed at. How about we don’t shame people for being virgins as much as we shouldn’t shame them for being sexually active?

hate

Hip with the Kids – I may be only 21 but I struggle with learning the newest slang. Adults authors may feel the same way and you shouldn’t use modern slang if you don’t know what it means. Urban Dictionary is a great reference, honestly. If you want to write convincing teen characters, don’t try too hard. Teenagers aren’t completely stupid or self-centered and they don”t speak a different language.

angry drake

The Wimp – This character is the complete opposite of “The Punching Bag” that I mentioned in my other book trope rant. A cold breeze blows and this character is all of a sudden in a coma, or something. This character is taken down with one hit and is somehow saved by the other characters. We don’t all have to be good fighters but don’t make your character completely useless if you’re going to put them in a combat situation.

sherlock angry

The Romantic Weakness – This character is written as strong and stoic until their true love rolls around. Then, just like magic, this character melts into some kind of romantic mess from a completely different story. This sudden personality shift is so lame and takes the reader out of the moment.

sheldon angry

I realize that this is more of a writing ranting as opposed to a book trope rant but I still hope some of you share my thoughts and feelings. I’ll link you to my previous book trope rant. I would love to hear some of your most hated book tropes. Maybe we can even make this into a tag. Book Tropes I Absolutely Hate

 

Book Tropes I Absolutely Hate

I talk about many books I love and a few that I was unimpressed with but I haven’t done a full-on rant yet. I’m not going to be ranting about any books in particular but I will be highlighting tropes that I feel need to be thrown in the literary trash heap of things writers need to stop doing. These are in no particular order. I hope some of you share my opinion or maybe have a horrible trope that I didn’t mention.

Questionable Consent – I don’t know when we started thinking it was sexy for one character to reluctantly give into another character’s romantic desires but I think this one needs to die. Either both characters are in a relationship or they aren’t. Pressuring someone into a relationship isn’t attractive and we need to stop portraying this in novels.

confused

Indecisive Characters – Indecision is a perfectly viable plot device that can be used correctly to develop a character but your character ought to make a damn decision. This especially happens with female characters who are caught in some stupid love triangle. If you’re going to have your character face a tough decision, make it matter.

i don't know

Needless Character Deaths – Character deaths can be essential to a story, especially depending on the genre of story. That being said, even if the character shows up just to die or begins the story being dead, make it matter. Don’t let this person die for no good reason and don’t forget about their death. Make sure to refer back to the death as being important, regardless of if the character is good or bad or in between. Don’t kill off just because you want to.

time to die

Mental Illness as a Quirk – If you want to write about a character with mental illness then go for it but make sure that you are giving a realistic portrayal. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I can tell you that panic attacks aren’t “cute” nor am I looking for someone who will “cure” me. Don’t try to romanticize mental health issues, or even physical health issues.

nervous

Uneven Couples – It’s a perfectly normal part of romance literature to create couple that are opposites but don’t make your characters so opposite that they are basically incompatible. I hate when you’re reading a book and one half of the couple is some sort of perfect, successful, angel while the other person is basically a pile of trash. It’s especially worse when the perfect one tries to “fix” the garbage one. Write your couples better.

what

Main Characters with Stupid Problems – The whole point of your main character is to give them actual serious problems to solve. Don’t juxtapose your character’s problems with a side character’s problems who are significantly worse. I’m not going to care if the main character can’t pick which shirt to wear when their friend is dealing with a broken leg or something.

stupid

Too Much Perfection – We want our characters to have redeeming qualities but you have to balance them out with some weaknesses. Even if we’re talking physical qualities, don’t make your character unbelievably perfect. Make them a little human, at least.

perfect

The Punching Bag – If you’re writing an action-based story, make sure your character actually does react to pain like a normal person. Sure, your character might have a more strength or endurance than an average human but they should still react to an injury like any other person. Don’t make them a punching bag that can just take hit after hit without problems. Eventually, your character should get knocked down and not get back up right away.

punching

Lack of Consequences – When you do something bad or questionable, then the result of your actions should catch up with you. Regardless of if we’re talking a protagonist or antagonist, their actions should somehow result in consequences even if its karma taking place.

consequences

The Pseudo Nerd – Your character is allowed to have interests but make sure that they actually know what they’re talking about. Just because your main character can name all of the planets in our solar system, it doesn’t mean that they are an aspiring astronomer like the writer says they are. Don’t be lazy and not do research.

nerd

Too Much Crying – I feel like a hypocrite writing this because I am a bit of a cry baby but I still eventually suck it up and go on. This should be the case for your characters. I don’t want to read about your Mary Sue sobbing non-stop for no real reason. Keep the crying to a reasonable amount please.

crying