Thankful for the books we are forced to read in English

Lorrin Johnson, Editor-in-chief

Throughout high school, the biggest lessons I’ve learned have not come from math problems, science experiments, or textbooks.

In four short years, I’ve read 19 books solely for the purpose of school… and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. (Well maybe not every single one… Fahrenheit 451 is pushing on the boundary of distaste.)

From To Kill a Mockingbird to Hamlet, each book that I’ve read has taught me a special lesson that I otherwise may have had to learn the hard way (i.e. Have my uncle kill my father and then struggle to avenge his death as I battle with my conflicted conscience. )

The lessons reaped from each of the novels we have been assigned in school are invaluable; questioning human nature and the world around us allows us to better understand ourselves and others, and these are lessons that we will never forget—whether we like it or not. Questions about morality and justice, and our own unique answers to them become engrained into our minds, resurfacing during times when we are making decisions in our own lives.

Reading outside of school is great, but as I’ve become progressively busier with AP classes, outside of school activities, and college apps, reading for fun has become essentially impossible. If I do get the chance to read outside of school, I usually don’t reach the second half of the book.

Reading in a structured environment as we do in school provides students with a wonderful opportunity to learn, grow, and be entertained—if they seize it. Sure, you can slip by without reading any of the novel and just Shmooping it all. But if you take the time to really invest yourself into your assigned reading, you’ll find that all of the books are powerful, inspiring, often humorous, and genuinely entertaining.

And the most irreplaceable benefit of reading whilst in school is the assistance and framework your teachers provide when it comes to analyzing the books. Yes, any of us could read Macbeth for fun, but are we really going to grasp its full beauty and meaning? Our teachers help us understand why we are reading the books we are reading, and how it applies to our own lives.

So next time you groan about being assigned yet another Shakespeare text or dystopia novel, remember that you won’t have these opportunities for long—and that the lessons you will learn from these books are some of the most important lessons you will ever acquire.

So thank you, books I’m “forced” to read. Thank you for enlightening me, for prompting me to ponder life’s biggest questions, and teaching me lessons that I will carry with me not only into college, but into the rest of my life.