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Teen Board Question - September 2017, Part 1

Teen Board Monthly Question

Teen Board Question - September 2017, Part 1

It’s back-to-school season here at Teenreads and we're welcoming a whole new Teen Board onto our site. To celebrate our new Board and the start of the school year, we asked our Teen Board members to tell us about the best book they were assigned to read during a recent school year, as well as which fall release they're most excited to read. As a bonus, we also asked our members to let us know how they manage juggling assigned reading with pleasure reading. Read below to see their answers!


In general, I'm not a big fan of assigned reading in school. That said, I had a weird literature class last year, and I was able to self-assign myself to re-read THE BOOK THIEF, which was pretty fun. This year I'm taking a Gothic Literature class, so that should be interesting. Of books that have not yet come out this fall, I'm super excited for THE BECOMING OF NOAH SHAW, THE LOVE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND LILY and BROODING YA HERO! With college applications this fall, I don't have a lot of free time during the week. While I try to fit in reading during the week, I will end up having to squeeze in as much reading as I can over the weekend. --- Isabel C.

The best book that I have been assigned to in a recent school year is THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is one of my favorite books and I had to read it for English my junior year. One fall release that I am really excited about was TOWER OF DAWN by Sarah J. Maas. I love her Throne of Glass series and I cannot wait to read her new book! When it comes to books that I have to read for school and books I read for pleasure I try to prioritize by reading during the week. I will read my assigned books during the week and read my other books during the weekends. That is just how I have always done it and it works really well for me! --- Emily F.

I recently was assigned LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel García Márquez and I unexpectedly enjoyed it! It was full of forbidden romance and an interesting early 20th-century setting. A fall release that i'm excited for is THE BECOMING OF NOAH SHAW by Michelle Hodkin because I loved the original Mara Dyer trilogy and I cannot wait to read from Noah's POV! --- Taylor F.

One of the best books I have ever been assigned is IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES by Julia Alvarez. I was assigned to read it last year for my English class. This book tells the story of the Mirabal sisters who played an integral part in the rebellion against Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic. The fall release I am most looking forward to is TOWER OF DAWN by Sarah J Maas. I just cannot get enough of her books! --- Rebecca D.

This year in my senior language arts class, we have been assigned to read an autobiography of our choice. I chose I AM MALALA by Malala Yousafzai. I haven't finished it yet, but so far it is amazing. Malala's story is so powerful and interesting to read about and I'm glad school gave me the push to read it. As for fall 2017 releases, I'm incredibly excited for 27 HOURS by Tristina Wright. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to get the hang of juggling school reading with fun reading, but my fingers are crossed that I'll find my groove soon! --- Jessi H.

My favorite school book ever has to be TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. I vividly remember my reading experience with the book, listening to book on tape and being so immersed in the story that I finished it on my own two weeks ahead of schedule. Being from Alabama, this classic is even more important in the context of my life. From the first page, I was immersed in the past of my state, something that I had never felt attached to before and I was able to have a glimpse into the worst parts of my home’s past. In the novel, I not only found the cruel and racist parts of Alabama’s past, but also the change that one person opposing the status quo can make, and a heartwarming message about the kindness of others. TKAM was the first school book that made a lasting impression on me, it taught me quite a few messages that have stuck with me (Atticus really is like the Dumbledore of Southern Lit). The characters Lee wrote are so multidimensional and teach new lessons on every reread of the novel. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD taught me not to dismiss school books as dull and is probably where my love of deeply symbolic and meaningful literature began. And also this TKAM quote is too good for me not to bring up: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” --- Anna Kate L.

A couple years ago, in my freshman year of high school, I was assigned to read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger. It is not only the best book I have been assigned to read in school, but it is one of the best books I have ever read. I didn't expect to like it so much, but I really enjoyed the voice of Holden Caulfield --- I think there are parts of him that nearly every reader can relate to. I am really glad I got the chance to read such a great book. For this fall, I am beyond excited for the release of Marie Lu's WARCROSS. I am a huge fan of Marie Lu and I can't wait to read her next book. I also hope to juggle assigned and pleasure reading by making sure to take some time out of each day to read a book of my choice. --- Ansley K.

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini --- a story about two Afghan women learning to survive in their oppressive society --- was probably the best book I’ve ever been assigned to read in high school. It was especially exciting because it was finally a book that wasn’t written before I was born, and I didn’t have to try and decipher any 16th century English. On top of that, it was actually extremely interesting and had a fantastic and emotional storyline. This fall, I’m super excited to read TOWER OF DAWN by Sarah J. Maas, which just came out this month. I’ll probably have to sacrifice a few hours of sleep here and there to find time to get my homework done and still read, but it’ll be worth it. --- Katie T.

I have read a lot of great books in my time in school (partially because it's very difficult to find a book I don't like) but over the summer I was assigned to read A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini. It's a novel about the life of two Afghan women, and I loved it so much. It's so real and enlightening, along with being very prevalent in modern times. As much as I love reading books for school, I would still rather be reading a personal novel. It's extremely hard to manage reading along with all my homework and extracurriculars but I somehow manage. My friends are constantly astounded when I tell them I read in the school year, but I couldn't live without it. I'll admit that I get significantly less sleep than my classmates, but it's worth it. Currently I am super excited to read the just-released WONDER WOMAN: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, and I can't wait for John Green's TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN. --- Caitlyn K.

Ah. Back to school. To many, it means homework, but to me, it means fall releases. Aw yeah. We're a season closer to the release of ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS by Maggie Stiefvater (All hail the queen of cars). She is one of my favorite authors, mostly thanks to The Raven Cycle series (I love that series). I'm excited to see what she does next. I've read many books throughout the years for English, but my favorite was probably THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini. One, it's a newer book compared to 1984 or FAHRENHEIT 451. Two, it's a complicated and heart-wrenching story that tugged on my heart strings for sure. Honestly, it's not too hard to work with school reading and pleasure reading. Normally, the books are completely different, so it's not hard to distinguish the plots and characters. And my class usually reads school reading at a snail's pace, so I'm done with any book I'm reading for pleasure before we finish the school required reading. --- Wren L.

The best book I've read during a recent school year was THE GREAT GATSBY by Scott F. Fitzgerald. I read it during the first semester of my junior year. Though I had seen the movie and heard the story countless times, I had never actually read the book. Having seen it on screen spoiled some of the book's most important reveals, but I still enjoyed reading from Nick Carraway's perspective and noticing differences between the book and film. Though I'm not waiting for any particular fall release, I'm excited to read more books for pleasure this year. It'll be difficult to juggle assigned reading with pleasure reading, especially with college applications coming up, but I plan to take advantage of the breaks so I can read a book I'm excited about! --- Juliette G.

The best book I was assigned last year to read was probably THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeanette Walls. While this book wasn't specifically assigned, my class was assigned to read an autobiography for an essay. I highly enjoyed this novel and it broke my heart a multitude of times while reading her life story. The book I'm most looking forward to reading this year would have to be THE BECOMING OF NOAH SHAW by Michelle Hodkin. The title itself gives me chills because of the parallel between it and the first book in the Mara Dyer series. I cannot wait to be able to see into Noah's mind and see what happens next in Mara and Noah's story. Luckily, I am not taking a class first semester that requires me to read novels for school, seeing that I am currently taking an advanced composition course first semester. Second semester, I will be taking a class that will require reading, so I plan to try to make a scheduled time for reading a little bit of a pleasure book in the evening before bed. I also utilize the extra time at the end of classes to sneak in a few pages of pleasure reading. --- Anna R.

The best book I was assigned to read during a school year was one that I had some choice in --- we got to pick a memoir to read, and my group chose WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with lung cancer. While it wasn't exactly the most uplifting book, understandably, it was written so well (Kalanithi was originally studying literature in college), my group had really meaningful discussions about the memoir, and it was very inspiring in certain ways. It was also one of the few memoirs I've read, and it's definitely an interesting and often overlooked genre. This fall, I'm super excited for SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George --- I love historical fiction, and I've been really interested in the 1920's ever since I finished watching "Downton Abbey." Also, the story is a Shakespearean retelling, and, not to judge a book by its cover, but the design is gorgeous. I usually try to fit my pleasure reading in after I've finished my homework on weeknights, or on Friday afternoons --- honestly, who needs social events when you could be reading instead? --- Rachel R.

The best book I was assigned to read during a recent school year was THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini. It was a story of redemption, family and overcoming hardships. It was an excellent book. Reading for school and for pleasure at the same time is difficult, but I usually just read my pleasure book and once a school book comes along I stop reading my pleasure book and read my assignment. I pick up where I left off once the assignment is over. --- Ashley D.

THE OTHER WES MOORE by Wes Moore was a fantastic novel I was assigned to read my sophomore year. It illustrates how different environmental factors can affect two boys with the same name and who were born in the same impoverished city. These Baltimore natives travel divergent paths, one leads to life imprisonment while the other leads to scholarly prestige. It gives readers, especially privileged readers, an apt sense of “the hood” and how place of birth can determine the course of lives. I’m anxiously waiting for the release of BEFORE THE DEVIL BREAKS YOU by Libba Bray this October. The third novel in the Diviners series, this book will continue the story of Evie and her friends’ escapades. I am certainly anticipating some angst-ridden relationship drama and the narration of creepy folklore. I hope that these two activities will be combined and I can take pleasure in the novels I am assigned. However, if I am juggling multiple books, I will do all I can to read throughout the day; in the bathroom, during lunch, etc. -- Melat E.

This past summer, my English class required that I read EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng. This novel was one of my all-time favorites for school, as it incorporated many aspects of YA contemporary novels with the addition of historical events, as well. The story starts with the unexpected death of the “prized” child in a family of five, and each family member is left distraught regarding how this tragedy occurred. As they begin to piece together the truth, their darkest secrets are exposed, leaving their household in chaos. This novel captivated me from the start, particularly compelling was how all characters served as a narrator and offered their own perspective and ideas of what happened through flashbacks and present day events. While I enjoyed this read during my summer break, it will now be more challenging to find time to read for pleasure due to school demands. However, when I need a break from homework, I plan to indulge in reading, including my Teenreads assigned book. I feel like carving out time to read for pleasure allows for an escape from the intensity that school work brings. --- Ryan H.

The best book I was ever assigned to read during a school year was during my sophomore year of high school. Our teacher handed us a list of classic books and told us that we had to choose one to read. I chose PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. The sarcasm of the main character Elizabeth Bennet combined with the old English and romance of the novel resulted in me discovering one of my all-time favorite books. The book I am most looking forward to this fall is INTO THE BRIGHT UNKNOWN, the third and final book in The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson. The first two books in this series were fantastic and gripping and I cannot wait to see how it all ends. Although it will be a struggle to balance pleasure and assigned reading, I always make sure to schedule time for fun reading. Whether it be reading a paperback for 10 minutes before bed, reading an e-book during passing periods, or listening to an audio book on the way to school, scheduling a daily time to read for pleasure is important in maintaining your sanity in the midst of other homework and reading assigned for class. --- Ellie T.

For my A Level English class last year, I was assigned KANE AND ABEL by Jeffrey Archer. I read the book in under a day, and it quickly became one of my favorites. I loved how the story was plot-driven as opposed to the dilly-dallying approach often taken. I was wholly engrossed in the novel from beginning to end. As for new releases, I'm a huge Sarah J. Maas fan, so I'm beyond excited to get my hands on a copy of TOWER OF DAWN. --- Rachel D.

The best assigned book I read last year was THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAYby Oscar Wilde. I was really surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did, because it had some hard to understand language. Still it turned out to be amazing, and I loved reading it. I’m really excited to read HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA by Kerri Maniscalo, because it’s the sequel to the first audiobook I ever really enjoyed, so I’m hoping the sequel is good as well. I balance assigned reading and reading for fun by trying to do as much homework during school as I can, so I have more time after school to read for fun. --- Jessica K.

I read the novel ROCKET GIRL by George D. Morgan for my All School Reads Week. I loved how Morgan included history, science and creative narration to write the biography of his mother, the first female rocket scientist. And drumroll please…introducing A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES, by Krystal Sutherland! When I read the reviews, I knew I just had to read this novel for myself. I intend on reading this book at night under my covers, just like I do with other books I read for fun. Usually, if I want to read a book that isn't assigned homework, I listen to it on audiobook. However, there are always some books that just have to be felt between the solid caresses of a cover, and I believe A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES is one of them. (P.S., I have to give five stars to MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, by Gerald Durrell. I was assigned this for summer reading and I have never laughed more with a book than with this astonishingly true story.) --- Lauren C.

The best book I read recently at school was THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller. For some reason, I was so intrigued by the power struggles and moral conflicts of each and every character. Then we watched the movie and seeing Daniel Day Lewis as John Proctor made me enjoy it even more. As for fall releases, I am so excited to read John Green's new book (of course) and the third book in Libba Bray's The Diviners series. Along with those, I am reading THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin for school. Overall, it's looking to be a great fall for reading and learning alike. --- Bryn D.

The best book I've been assigned to read during a recent school year was easily TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time. I just absolutely love to follow Scout's point of view, and I find her innocence and courage so refreshing and inspiring. A fall release I'm super excited for this year is easily ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS by Maggie Stiefvater. I find the concept of a book about miracles wildly intriguing and I can't wait to read it! As far as juggling school with reading goes, the biggest thing for me is to stay on top of my schoolwork and homework, so that I have the ability to be pleasure reading every night, and so that I can continue to read all of the books that I've been wanting to for a while now. --- Savana W.

Fun fact! I haven't done assigned reading in the past. I had only been assigned a few chapters of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. This year though, we've already started A RAISIN IN THE SUN, by Lorraine Hansberry. I also have to read a narrative nonfiction, so I'm reading A CHILD CALLED “IT” by Dave Pelzer. Both of these books cover dark topics, but I'm really excited to read them and branch out from my normal style, and maybe learn something along the way. --- Becky N.

I read THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET by Sandra Cisneros when I was in ninth grade. It is safe to say that my view was altered. Not only did I have a firsthand connection to the protagonist, but I could honestly say that I looked like her. She was described in the way I describe myself. The small Spanish phrases that she used in her everyday language sounded oddly familiar. The culture she experienced shared some of that which I had been exposed to my entire life, and it was the first time I saw myself so accurately portrayed in a book --- especially one read for school.  School books always seem to drag on, more so they sometimes ruin the fun for any outside reading, but it's important to keep an open mind because a lot of the time, our teachers know what they're doing. --- Sabina Z.

My favorite book that I have read for school is actually one of my recent summer reading assignments. For my AP Literature course, I was assigned SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison. Starting the book, I thought it was weird and didn’t like it, but by the end I didn’t want the book to stop. The characters Morrison writes are complex and messy and flawed and one of a kind. Her symbolism and themes are ones that make you think and question. Overall, it is one of those books that I could reread forever and still find something new. As for how I plan to juggle pleasure reading with school, I made a rule for myself that if I have free time after homework, I’m not allowed to watch Netflix or anything and instead I have to read. That helps to make sure I have plenty of time to read releases I’m excited for, like GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff and WARCROSS by Marie Lu. --- Brynn S.

Over the summer, I was assigned ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood for my AP Literature class. Not only is this the best book that I have ever been assigned for my classes, but it is one of the best books I have ever read. The novel illustrates a society that comes as a result of corporate control that is derived from human nature and the natural inclination towards greed and power.  Though many might consider it scientific fiction, it’s considered speculative fiction because it describes a world that could very well exist in the near future. Atwood addresses issues of corporate control over society and the inhumane and horrible ways companies exploit and manipulate their consumers and the materials they put into their products. ORYX AND CRAKE is the result of countless hours of research into current experiments and ones that are being planned and prepared.  I suggest this book to anyone who is curious to see one way the future can look if we, as a collective society, do not change the way we are dealing with the situations in today’s world. --- Mikenzie R.

My favorite book of all time that I've had to read for school was actually a summer reading book from this past summer. It is JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte. The plot was dramatic and included a romance that you couldn't help but obsess over. For once I had trouble putting an assigned book down. This year it will be a challenge for me to juggle reading and school work because I am taking four AP classes and four more classes on top of that (woo senior year!). However I'm hoping to make the most of my weekends to fit some reading time in. Everyone needs a break now and then so I'm definitely using that time to catch up on the latest YA book releases! --- Danielle F.

Personally, I've never been a huge fan of required readings. However, the best book I was required to read was THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. One of the fall releases I'm most excited for is A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jared Reck. A librarian I know loved the book and has been raving about it to me, so now the hype for it is real for me. This year I'm being required to read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger. However, I've already read it last year and was not a huge fan of the novel. As for trying to keep track of reading, I don't have plans other than reading whenever I have free time. --- Marco M.

The best book I read this summer is JANE EYRE. Honestly this took me by complete surprise because classics are not my cup of tea. However, JANE EYRE was actually very interesting and although it was a slow start it soon became a real page-turner. I have not kept up with any new releases recently so sadly I can't say I'm excited for any future story just yet. What I am excited for is getting back into my reading routine! Having to read a chapter in the history book interferes with my "just for fun" reading BUT I think at least an hour of each can be arranged. --- Flor H.