3 Best Books We Read In School

School is officially in motion for most of us and if it hasn’t started for you yet, it probably will be getting underway in the coming weeks. We are going into our final year of college (yikes!) and it has us feeling a little nostalgic. We have always associated the fall season to school and it will be strange (though also nice) to no longer have that transition be a part of our lives. Reminiscing about school sparked an interesting thought in our heads. What were the best books we reading during our schooling? Which ones stuck out? Which ones meant the most to us? Well, we narrowed it down to three to share with you guys. Let’s hope you think they are as good as we did…

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (Leah’s Pick)

“They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.”

The Things They Carried was a book I read for the first time in the fall of my Junior year of High School. I was an IB English student and it has stuck with me ever since. I actually read this book twice that year. I read it once for English class, but then I read it again the following summer for IB Theory of Knowledge. I wrote at least two papers on this sucker and my copy is littered with annotations in a variety of different inks. You would have thought multiple people had read my copy. What I have always loved about The Things They Carried is that, like many good books, you find something new every time you read it. Every time I read this book I am coming at it from a new perspective. Every time I read this book I am a different person from the last time and, because of this, I get something new out of it every time  I read it.

The Things The Carried was the first, and really the only, “war” book I have ever read. But the thing about it is that it doesn’t feel like a war book. It is relatable on so many levels. It isn’t the stories that one has to relate to—you don’t have to have been in a war zone to understand this book. You only have to be human. I have never connected to a book on an emotional level as much as I have with this book. That is what makes it relatable. Because Tim O’Brien’s portrayal of emotion and humanity is unparalleled. I will always cherish this book.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Leah’s Pick)

“Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros’s greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children, their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, it has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics.

Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong–not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become.”

I also read The House on Mango Street in IB English during my Junior year of High School. One of the best things about The House on Mango Street was that, much like The Things They Carried, it took me to a place I had never been. It showed me a part of our world that I was not familiar with, but somehow I was still able to relate to the book. It still resonated with me. Again, that power of emotion took hold on me. Books that are important have a way of transcending time, place and experience. Those are the books that are worth reading. If you can find one like that, like The House on Mango Street, don’t let go of it.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (Meg’s Pick)

“Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless–bordering on masochistic. Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived preschooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family. Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employers Hermès bag. Those who take it personally need not apply. Who wouldn’t want this job?

Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn’t work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day. When the X’s’ marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four-year-old, her own integrity and, most importantly, her sense of humor. Over nine tense months, Mrs. X and Nanny perform the age-old dance of decorum and power as they test the limits of modern-day servitude. Written by two former nannies, The Nanny Diaries deftly punctures the glamour of Manhattan’s upper class.”

I got to read The Nanny Diaries in my AP Language and Composition class junior year of high school (which now feels like forever ago) and I remember loving to get to read this book! It was one of the first times where I was ever aloud to choose what I wanted to read in school and I remember being SO happy that I picked this book from the other choices we were given. It was HILARIOUS but also important. And it went so much deeper into the role of a Nanny, the relationship they have with the children they care for, the way their ’employers,’ for lack of a better word, treat them and how this method of raising children, of course, affects the child. Suffice to say, this book is FUNNY, but it is also so much more than that.

Well that’s all we have for now! What books have you read in school and LOVED? Have you not liked ANY of them? What are some of your least favorite school reads? Let us know in the comments!

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