5 ‘School’ Books That Are Pretty Good

And no, we aren’t talking about Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

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Assigned readings are almost never fun. It’s not that the plot or writing is bad, it’s just that nobody wants to be forced into the activity. It’s a universal feeling too, even if you’re an avid reader. And yet, there are some real hidden treasures you might have never known about if it weren’t for your professor. Here are five amazing school-ish books that we love so much, we recommend reading them outside of the classroom!



In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez




Alvarez’s historical fiction novel is a retelling of the Mirabel sisters’ widely known lives, following them as they lead a revolt against the Dominican Republic dictator, Trujillo. Here is the official description of the book:

It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas–the Butterflies.


The Plague by Albert Camus




While this may hit too close to home, Camus’ beloved 1947 novel is an interesting way of showing the various paths people take when faced with fear. It also shows how happy endings are possible, even in dark times of history. The summary for the novel reads:

The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague, which condemns its victims to a swift and horrifying death. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they are forced into quarantine. Each person responds in their own way to the lethal disease: some resign themselves to fate, some seek blame, and a few, like Dr Rieux, resist the terror.


The Awakening by Kate Chopin




At only 102 pages, this novel follows Edna Pontellier as she struggles between an unhappy marriage and motherhood while also wanting to live the life she wants––with another man––and to not be judged by the society she lives in at the same time. The plot synopsis reveals:

Set in New Orleans and on the Louisiana Gulf coast at the end of the 19th century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle between her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century American South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women’s issues without condescension.


Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka




According to Amazon, Metamorphosis is:

A masterful mix of horror and absurdity that tells the story of traveling salesman Samsa, who wakes up one day to find out he has turned into a giant insect.

I mean, is there anything else to say? Everyone knows this book, but very few understand the message behind it. With themes of money and family, this novel shows you what can happen to the human mind if it’s focused on the wrong thing.


Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul




Told through the narration of a young neighborhood kid, this novel is about the different adversities people go through behind doors. Every chapter switches onto a new character, causing readers to become attached until the very last page. Here is the novel’s official synopsis:

‘A stranger could drive through Miguel Street and just say ‘Slum!’ because he could see no more.’ But to its residents this derelict corner of Trinidad’s capital is a complete world, where everybody is quite different from everybody else. Set during World War II and narrated by an unnamed–but precociously observant–neighborhood boy, Miguel Street is a work of mercurial mood shifts, by turns sweetly melancholy and anarchically funny. It overflows with life on every page.


synopses via amazon