The Most Unpopular Assigned Reading Books at Skyline (and Why Students Hate Them)


Assigned reading is a necessary evil of most all high school English classes, but some books are particularly baneful when looking back through all of the literature that students have had to drudge their way through. They stick out in students’ memories like a sore thumb, and every time they hear their titles, they cringe a bit. Here are the most unpopular assigned reading books at Skyline, and why the student body seems to hate them so much. 

  1. Cry The Beloved Country is both a bore and problematic. 

Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton is one of the novels required for ninth grade honors English classes, and is also one of the novels that seems to be mutually hated by everyone that’s read it. The novel follows the journey of a Zulu priest and his travels to South Africa’s Johannesburg in search of his son. It is described as a literary protest against structures in society that later led to the apartheid by Wikipedia, but the novel reportedly comes off as paternalistic as it was written by a white man from a white man’s perspective. The wordy language, boring plot, and white saviorism were all cited by students as reasons why they hated the book. “It is so painfully long, and there’s so many names,” says Xanthe St. James, a senior looking back on her time as a freshman. “I think that there should still be an African novel in the curriculum, but there are many other books that are better choices than Cry the Beloved Country.”

  1. Anything with Shakespeare in the name seems to be hated by Skyline students. 

Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet are all required reading for Skyline English classes, and with no lack of their abundance, students are sick of Shakespeare’s works. The main complaint was that the numerous works were verbose and too difficult to interpret, being written primarily in Early Modern English. In many’s opinions, Shakespeare is overhyped and outdated, and it’s time to cut him out of the curriculum. 

  1. “The Most Dangerous Game” is a short story that should have been shorter. 

This short story by Richard Connell follows a hunter who becomes stranded on an island and is then hunted by a Russian aristocrat, and according to Skyline students, it actually had them rooting against the main character, who is said to be obnoxious and irritating. It was described as unnecessarily long and pretentious, and a bad intro to ninth grade English, where it’s required reading for some classes.