Top 5 Novels That I Read In High School

Top 5 Novels That I Read In High School

The best books of the uncountable read throughout high school.
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Throughout high school, students are forced to read novels that they hate. Each book always seems worse when you are forced to read a certain number of pages a night and then discuss it the next day in class. Let’s face it, most of us have relied on Sparknotes for some of these books. Even among these books, I have always managed to find a book that I fall in love with. These are the books that drive us to actually read and not rely on online sources. You love writing those essays on them because you feel so passionate about that novel. Here are my top five!

1. "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker

This book is written in the form of an epistolary novel, meaning it is a book of letters and that chapters are generally fairly short. It is a quick read, but it has a heavy storyline. This novel exposes social problems regarding race and gender during the life of the main character, Celie, during the first half of the twentieth century. It is amazing how some of the issues are still prevalent today. This novel allows the reader to feel a rollercoaster of emotions as Celie grows up and develops.

The book revolves around the conflicts associated with hierarchy. The reader is exposed to the hierarchies both between and within races. The author successfully reveals that the problems were not just between the African American people and the white people, but rather between men and women. Even if black men were viewed low on the racial hierarchy, black women were a step below them. I both loved and hated being able to connect it to current events. Between the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for equal pay between genders, Walker’s messages remain prevalent. This Tony Award-winning revival of the story is currently on Broadway!

2. "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult chooses to write most of her novels through the perspectives of more than one main character. This writing style is particularly fascinating, especially in the case of this plot. Picoult creates a story line surrounding a school shooting in New Hampshire. The reader is exposed to the story through the eyes of the shooter, the shooter's former best friend, the former friend’s mother (a Supreme Court Judge), a police officer and the shooter’s mother. These perspectives allow insight into why the shooter did what he did.

Picoult displays what his peers saw, how parents reacted, what the police saw at the scene, how the shooter’s family felt afterward, and what was going through the shooter’s head, allowing readers to view the shooter as human.

I originally chose to read this book because I was a freshman when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. It was my first real exposure to the possibility of that happening and it occurred at a school only three hours away from where I grew up.

3. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer

The main character of this book is Oskar, an elementary school student who lost his father in the 9/11 attacks. Oskar has underdeveloped social skills and falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. Oskar finds a key in his father’s closet and it becomes his mission to find out where it fits. The envelope it is found in says “Black” on it, and this leads Oskar to go visit everyone in the five boroughs of New York with that last name.

Foer utilizes a show-not-tell philosophy in this book. He includes numerous images throughout the novel and includes letters from Oskar’s grandfather. These images are used to strengthen themes and symbols throughout the novel. It also ends with a flipbook of someone jumping from one of the Twin Towers. This is significant because Oskar creates that flip book but plays it backward because he believes it is an image of his father and by playing it backward, his father did not fall from the towers.

I loved this book because Oskar was a multidimensional eight-year-old who knows more than people twice his age. I barely remember this day in history, because when 9/11 happened, I was only three; however, my oldest sister was Oskar's age. Seeing Oskar’s pain and inability to cope with the loss of his father gave me a new perspective on that horrid day in history.

4. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

This story, which takes place during the Holocaust, is narrated through the point of view of death. Zusak writes of a struggling family that has taken in a Jewish man and allowed him to live in their basement. The reader is exposed to Jewish shops being destroyed and the book burnings that take place during that period.

Zusak personifies death as if it's its own character. The death toll increased so much during World War II, and death became so commonplace, that Death itself was almost bored. Death did not want to grace people with his presence, but it was his job.This novel created a whole new take on the Holocaust and emphasizes the pain of that period.

5. "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving

This novel surrounds the friendship of John Wheelwright and Owen Meany. It is narrated through a framed narrative by a present day John living in Canada, and a younger version of John living in New Hampshire. Irving utilizes the concepts of the Christ Figure and biblical allusions to strengthen Owen's character. John Wheelwright claims that Owen is the reason that he grew to believe in God.

This book takes place when both John and Owen are young elementary school boys, and then proceeds to go through high school. The author then includes diary entries from a 45-year-old John. The main event included was the Vietnam War. This plays an important part in the novel, as Owen has a preoccupation with death and his goal is to serve in Vietnam, active duty.

I loved this novel because of the different layers of complexity within the characters. There were times that Owen was funny, and then it would switch in an instant to serious. It was long book, but I could not stop reading.

Cover Image Credit: Tip Top Lifestyle

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Freshman Year Of College As Described By John Mulaney Quotes

Freshman year of college described by the King of Comedy himself, John Mulaney.

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Gracing the world with his presence on August 26, 1982, John Edmund Mulaney has taken the world by storm through his extremely relatable, at times awkward, standup comedy. And a lot of the time, I can't help but sit there and relate to his self-deprecating, hilariously truthful jokes.

So, here are 9 John Mulaney quotes that accurately and hilariously describe freshman year of college.

1. On finally becoming an "adult":

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It's been very funny to try to act like an adult. Even getting dressed. Every day, I'm like, 'Should I wear a blazer and walk around with an umbrella? Do I carry a briefcase?' Because I'm trying to be some image of the adults I saw on TV growing up.

2. On new-found struggles:

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I am very small and I have no money. So you can imagine the kind of stress that I am under.

3. When your very first round of midterms comes along:

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I like when things are crazy. Something good comes out of exhaustion.

4. When you take your very first midterm, and it didn't go quite as planned:

Giphy

If it's one of those true or false questions, you should be able to add a third option which is, "Who's to say?"

5. On studying for your first round of dreaded final exams:

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You can do good work simply staying up all night and eating nothing but junk food, but probably not in the long term.

6. On learning how to participate:

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College is just your opinion. Just you raising your hand and being like, "I think Emily Dickinson's a lesbian." And they're like, "Partial credit." And that's a whole thing.

7. On procrastination:

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Percentage wise, it is 100% easier not to do things than to do them, and so much fun not to do them—especially when you were supposed to do them. In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.

8. On dealing with your new lack of sleep:

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College [is] like a four-year game show called "Do My Friends Hate Me or Do I Just Need To Go To Sleep?"

9. On finally getting the hang of things, despite still occasionally messing up:

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The more you do stuff, the better you get at dealing with how you still fail at it a lot of the time.

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