Reading throughout the grades: what book reigns the favorite?

Abigail Tobis ‘20, Editor-in-Chief 


March is reading month, which allows us to celebrate the amazing books, plays, short stories and poems that we have had the privilege to experience throughout our lives. In school we have experienced a variety of texts that have taken us through the 1920s Jazz Age and onto an island in WW1, but which book is South Lyon High School’s favorite? Let us take it to some poles to find out. There are many books that we have read throughout the years, so we condensed it down to 10 contenders.


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – This story tells of two migrant workers in California trying to find work during the Great Depression. Although it is one of the shortest novellas that we read, the book had significant importance in terms of not only the historical context, but also the themes regarding the importance of friendship and well as defying the odds and overwhelming hardship.


Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – This classic Shakespear tragedy is one almost all of the generations before us have read about. It is  a boy and a girl bound by forbidden love. Being in the middle of two feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets, Romeo and Juliet must hide their passion in secrecy. This play introduces Shakespearan language to freshman readers and provides foundation for modern western romance stories. 


Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – The classic tale of angst follows 16-year-old narrator Holden Caulfield in 1950s New York as he attempts to navigate his feelings of loneliness, agony and distaste for all of the “phones” in the world. Caulfield has many internal issues that the reader has to detangle stemming from the death of his brother. This novel has themes of innocence, but also isolation and sadness, as well as coping with loss. Although Holden’s sarcastic tone can be off putting to some, a lot can be learned about teenage angst. 


A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry – This play follows a black family of five that live together in a two bedroom apartment in Chicago. One of the main characters, Walter, slowly becomes frustrated with being poor and sets out to change their income with a liquor store partnership. This books highlights the struggle that African American families had to endure in the 50s and the discrimination that they experienced. When given insurance money by their late father, they are forced to make a decision of how to equally distribute the money fairly. It also demonstrates the importance of family and focuses on the concept of the American dream, and how that dream is sometimes limited by societal constraints. 


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Told through the point of view of Jean Louise Finch looking back at life as a six year old, also known as Scout, this book follows her father. Atticus, a lawyer is defending Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a young, white woman. The novel explores the concept of morality, and showcases themes of racism and education, while teaching readers about societal injustice, prejudice and descrimination specifically in the 1930s rural sath. 


Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – Albom sees his sociology professor on the television and wants to visit him due to the impact that he had on his life and his writing career. He begins to make weekly visits a common occurrence, seeing him every Tuesday. As time progresses, readers see a beautiful relationship form, showing the true beauty of life and why we should appreciate it while we have it. 


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Taking a glance at the two fictionalized towns of East Egg and West Egg of New York, readers follow the lives of Jay Gastby who appears to be living the American dream as well as narrator Nick Carraway who is looking on in awe at his seemingly perfect life. Nobody truly knows the man behind the name Gatsby. Not only is this novel an enjoyable read, but it wraps readers in the thrill of the Jazz age and sparks conversation about what the American dream truly is. The novel also has many engaging symbols within that make the story most interesting to dissect. 


Hamlet by William Shakespeare – In Shakespearean classic, Prince Hamlet of Denmark’s uncle had killed his father, and in the bard fashion he is then visited by the ghost of his father and told that he has to kill his uncle. The play follows the many choices and sacrifices that Hamlet has to make. With a theme of revenge and wrath and the possible consequences that come along with it, this tragedy is an enjoyable read. 


One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – Taking place in a psychiatric hospital, the plot surrounds a man who faked his insanity in order to serve his sentence in a hospital instead of a prison work farm. Diving deep into the human mind this book provides an interesting outlook on the brain and the psychological impact these areas can bring touching on the idea of freedom.


Lord of the Flies by William Golding – In this WWI allegory British aeroplane crashes on an isolated island and the only surviving group of school boys must figure out how to fend for themselves and figure out how to structure their own society. This story provides a darker look at the ways of survival and humanity in the time of danger can deem to be very negative. 


Sampling 40 students, The Great Gatsby is the clear winner, taking 28.2% of the votes. Senior Ty Chaffin, who voted for Fitgerald’s novel, said, “It makes sense that The Great Gatsby won, because it is an intriguing story and was different from anything else that we have read.” Romeo and Juliet did not get any votes out of all that were sampled. It is clear it was not a fan favorite amongst the Lions. “I think that for Romeo and Juliet we just spent too much time talking and over analyzing the meanings of the story,” senior Hannah Rosario said. Throughout high school we have spent a lot of time reading different types of stories and experiencing new types of literature. Whether we hated them or loved them, they have all brought us new experiences and insights. Let us celebrate March by picking up a new novel, play, or short story and dive deep into the world of literature. Who knows maybe you’ll be the only one to find out the truth about Gatsby. 


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