Ranking the MIHS Curriculum Books

Ranking the MIHS Curriculum Books

As a second-semester senior, I’ve worked my way through my fair share of classic high school curriculum reads. And let’s just say, I’ve loved some and absolutely hated others. From the depth of the characters to the predictability of the plot, even to the types and amount of literary devices used (sorry, I’m in AP Lit), I have my opinions. So, here’s my ranking of eight of the most iconic pieces of literature consumed by the average MIHS student.

  1. Lord of the Flies (1/10)

“Lord of the Flies,” oh how I loved dozing off seconds into reading, discussing and writing about your boring contents. If I’m being honest, I just could not bring myself to care. Every character was dislikable for at least one reason, the plot was drawn out and boring, and the point of every symbol was obvious 1% of the way through its drawn-out description. Is this a harsh critique? Yes. But, it’s rooted in a burning passion derived from what I considered a monumental waste of my time. I would absolutely never reference “Lord of the Flies” over numerous other works I’ve read on an English AP exam. Useless.

2. Piano Lesson (5/10)

My feelings toward “The Piano Lesson” are similar to those toward “Lord of the Flies.” I just could not have cared less! While it explored some fascinating and awful aspects of our country’s history and its effects on a family’s values and dynamics, the style of writing just felt dull and unengaging for such a gripping topic. I’d blame my strong feelings on my tendency to dislike ghost stories, however “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, which recently became one of my favorite books ever, has disproved that pattern.

3. The Great Gatsby (5.3/10)

“The Great Gatsby” was fine, but once again, every character was dislikable for at least one reason. I know that’s kind of the point with this one because of the whole “criticism of society” theme, but when I’m not rooting for the success of any character during their endeavors, why am I still reading? It was also kind of old news at this point. I feel like I get my fair share of critiques on society in my day-to-day life as is. AND, the green light is dumb. I said it. In my opinion, it seems like F. Scott Fitzgerald could not think of a more creative symbol so he went with one lacking depth and interest.

4. All Quiet on the Western Front (6/10)

“All Quiet on the Western Front” was decent but just too depressing and brutal to get a better score. When it’s that difficult to turn the page because you’re borderline expecting fragments of limbs lost to explosives or a mangled corpse on yet another page, you find it hard to enjoy the book, no matter the importance of learning about the topic.

5. The Bean Trees (7.0/10)

Aww, “The Bean Trees” was just so stinking cute. I CARED, YAY! The characters were likable and had struggles that made the reader empathize with them. The whole time my curiosity was piqued by Taylor’s past and how she came to have such a determined, kind, funky personality, and of course also by Turtle’s origins and how her story would fold out. Also, the symbolism of that goshdarn tree blew my mind. I love a good literary device and this one was better than good. And, a strong female lead always gives bonus points in my gradebook.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale (8.7/10)

I can’t believe it took me until senior year to read “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and yet I’m also a little glad it did, because this book is deep and intense and complex, so (almost) the later the better for really comprehending and appreciating it. A good designed-to-be-utopian but inevitably dystopian society is always so intriguing to me. The motives of those who first created Gilead and the hyper-specific roles and rules for everyone within it are so fascinating and leave the reader wanting more on every page, including once the novel is over! I’m really excited to get my hands on the sequel.

7. Beloved (9.5/10)

I’m actually nearing the end of my first read through of “Beloved” by Toni Morrison at the moment and I can confidently say, even without having read the novel front to back, that it is one of my favorite books of all time. I definitely think its never-ending applicability to the upcoming AP Literature exam also sways me toward loving it. I really do think I could reference it in answering just about any literary prompt, it’s just that chock-full of good stuff. The number of new literary devices my teacher has introduced us to through this book alone is super impressive, and yet it’s also a GREAT story with a really cool fluctuating timeline. Love, love, love it. Honestly I can’t say there’s many books that I was excited to reread before even finishing the first read through, but Beloved has definitely achieved that status.

8. The Kite Runner (9.7/10)

Maybe I was already having a bit of an emotional spell when I read this but “The Kite Runner” continuously broke me into literal tears. The heartbreaking, horrible scenes of this story were definitely present, but they were written tastefully and in ways that left you, well, broken, but also even more attached to or at least opinionated on different characters. Each major character was complex and multidimensional, and the jumping between past and present was super effective at informing the reader of different bits of information at just the right time. 

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