General Chatter

Books that school ruined for us

By Rebecca Reed

Here at World of Books, we are an office divided, we went to very different secondary schools and studied very different books for our English Literature exams. However, there are some books that school really did ruin for us and we have compiled a list of some of our top books.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

“We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”
― Arthur Miller, The Crucible

Where do we even begin with this play? It is intense and dark and revolves around the Salem witches. Yes, we were also just children.

Now this is a stark difference from Arthur Miller’s previous classic of A View from a Bridge, The Crucible is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and it shares the chilling parallel between the real-life Salem witch hunt which America saw as one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history. The story follows how a small community in Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, building to a violent climax. It delves into the terrifying power of false accusations and depicts innocent men and women, destroyed by a malicious rumour.

Now, this was read over and over in English classes and children had to study this for a “mock” exam. This was to prepare us for the eventual GCSE exam where we would study Of Mice and Men.

We don’t think we could pick this book up now without the memories flooding back of the in-depth analysis into the characters, the story and the history.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

We know, Romeo and Juliet how cliché! The amount of time taken to study every little detail in every verse and monologue was enough for most English students to roll their eyes and mumble in disagreement. In some English lessons when the script got too much we would watch parts of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio instead and then we would pick it apart, all for a mini practice GCSE exam. We did a lot of those…

Sadly, none of us could prevent the fate of the two star-crossed lovers. We do love Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden romance, their love story made up for the sad state of affairs they found themselves in.

Although we have not picked up a William Shakespeare play since school, Shakespeare is one of our all-time favourite playwrights and his plays are destined to be around forever. We don’t think we will need to read this play ever again unless we are possibly playing the part of a character… of course!

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s
― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

Set in the Great Depression, and follows George and Lennie a pair of migrant workers who journey through farms to find work. Their dreams of a better life with land sadly fade away and matters get worse when Lennie is involved in a freak accident with Curley’s wife.

Now some students love this novel and other’s despised it. It tore rifts in the classroom, with many students taking sides between the two men.

We have many in the office that love this book, and have read and enjoyed it after secondary school, and then we have those who left the book firmly in the classroom and never looked back.

These books were all picked whilst studying for GCSEs or mock exams in school, analysing the characters and stories did help get us the grades we needed for the road ahead, but sadly due to the over-analysing many will not pick up these books again. Tell us in the comments below, which book school ruined for you, or have you been brave enough to read it again with a different eye?

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