Senior Opinions: Most Influential Books Read Throughout High School


Miles Hamilton, Contributing Writer

Since many of us first opened our eyes as newborns, we’ve been told stories, whether through nursery rhymes, story books, or films. Many of us will always remember at least one of these stories, whether it be from our childhood, or much later in life, and it is unique to each and every one of us. 

High school contains some of the most important years of a person’s life as it is a time when adolescents undergo significant mental changes. Consequently, it is also the time when they are most impressionable or open to outside sources as these influences can affect how they perceive the world around them. 

Throughout the four years spent in high school, students typically read several books, most often for English classes. The curriculum of Hastings High School contains a plethora of amazing novels that students read throughout their learning career. But which books do seniors, who have completed their high school experience, find most influential?

“I read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger sophomore year,” said Celia Silverstein. “I love how so much takes place in three days. The voice really stuck with me, and I found myself relating to Holden’s frustration with ‘phony’ people.” 

According to Isabella Santana, the most influential book she read throughout high school was George Orwell’s 1984. 

“I’ve read many different types of books, but this one was completely different than anything I’ve seen before because of the way it portrayed the government and the control of the government over its people,” she stated. 

However, for some seniors I interviewed, there was no one book that stood out above the rest as  being most impactful. Seamus Pugh believes that, “there was no single most influential book [he] read as part of [his] high school classes.” Instead, he felt that two of the most transformative books he read in high school were The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, which he read during SUPA American History, as well as The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne from his English Honors class. 

The literature department and the Lloyd Library at Hastings High School are both phenomenal facilities that provide a range of books for students to read, either as a class or individually. Throughout the four years a student spends in high school they will read a wide range of novels, from play scripts to historical novels, from dystopian novels to epic fantasies, and during these years each and every student will discover a book that, in their own ways, was most influential.