Friday, June 30, 2000
Teens Give Suggestions for Summer Reading
Unfortunately, reading is not something I consider fun, or would do in my spare time. What's even sadder is that I feel I am fairly representative of the attitudes and opinions of most high school students towards reading. In the minds of students, reading, and books in general, are usually limited to the classroom and are coupled with a teacher and that feeling that you "have to do it." When asked why I think the attitudes towards "pleasure reading" (an oxymoron to many high school students' ears) have so drastically changed with the times, I could not really come up with a coherent answer. After some thought, though, I believe it has to do with the extremely busy lives high school students lead today. With college admissions becoming more and more competitive, students have to cram their spare time (after-school hours, weekends and even vacations sometimes) with sports, band, clubs and other extracurricular activities, in addition to homework. With the growing expectations and amount of work, I find it understandable that the average high-school student only finds time to pick up a book by choice during school breaks. Also, with the exciting advent of the Internet and new technologies, teens today have a lot more choices of activities that they can pursue in their leisure time, such as playing video games, chatting online and watching televisionnone of which should take the place of reading. So, with all that said, here is a short list of books which hopefully some students will use as a start, end, or whatever to their reading over this summer.
The New New Thing by Michael LewisHaving just finished this book as one of my five mandatory summer reading books at Middlesex School, I wonder why I had never heard of it before. A riveting 'Silicon Valley Tale" about billionaire Jim Clark's (founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape) life and rise to incredible wealth, this book is not only entertaining and extremely interesting, it is also very informative about the ongoing Internet and technology revolution, and gets to the roots of the increasing ferocity of American capitalism.
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. SalingerThis is one book which all teenagers should read at some point for all can relate to Holden Caulfield, the cynical narrator of this story. Starting with his expulsion from high school, Holden reveals to the reader his thoughts and actions as a loner and nomad in a "phony" society. Much of this book, which was meant to comment on various aspects of teenage life in the forties, holds true and is relevant today for high school kids.
Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerA chilling and tragic true-life story of a Mt. Everest expedition gone wrong. This horrific, touching and adventurous tale is a must-read for all. Though it is quite lengthy, once you're into it, you'll be done before you know it.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldOften referred to as "the great American novel," this is a classic story which, while developing a love story, at the same time defines the "get-rich-quick" decade of the twenties. This passionate love story between Daisy and Gatsby, a self-made man who believes in the "American Dream of Success," slowly unfolds, through the perspective of a cousin. Yet the various affairs and other incidents that occur serve as a means for Fitzgerald to comment (between the lines) on the changing ideals of American culture. This book really should be required reading for all teenagersand trust me you will appreciate it, and hopefully enjoy it as-much as I did.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayWritten in Hemingway's unique, descriptive, yet simple style, this relatively short book is about a fisherman's struggle. Yet to truly understand the magnificence and tragedy of his work, one must read between the lines and pick up many symbolic references and metaphors, In short, it's a touching story about a lot more than just fish.
The Color of Water.by James McBrideA success story through the hardships of poverty and racism, this inspirational story "is about a black man giving tribute to his white mother." In each chapter the narrator switches between himself and his mother, creating a beautiful and "interesting book that I would recommend" (Suggested by Aaron Pinsky, a junior at CCHS).
War of the Worlds by H. G. WellsCommenting on culture and imperialism, this "is a science-fiction book which tells a story of how aliens from Mars attack Earth and destroy much of England. Though it was first published in the fifties, I recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction, or to anyone who wants to be scared out of his mind by this stunningly realistic "first-hand" account of an invasion." (Suggested by Stephen Foster, a junior at CCHS).
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeMost people by their high school years have read this book, but if you have not, I would definitely recommend it. Being one of the most well-known classics ever written, this novel incorporates racism, the law and other strong forces affecting the lives of three young children in the 1930's, to form a dramatic story with a powerful ending. (Suggested by Brian Abend, a junior at CCHS).
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito