The Best Books in Westmont English Class

By Julia Kemp

As a senior, I have now read almost all of the books assigned at Westmont for English. Though some teachers assign different books and I admittedly have not read all of the books assigned to me, I believe that I have a sufficient ranking of the 10 best books I have read so far as a Westmont English student. 

10. Great Expectations

I read Great Expectations as a young and naive Freshie in Andy Evans’ English Honors I class. Though the novel initially bored me beyond belief and terrified my Harry-Potter-only mind, Great Expectations served as my introduction to real literary analysis, and was the first essay topic that clicked for me. Great Expectations follows a young British orphan, Pip, as he grows and falls in love with a young girl living with her adopted mother in a creepy and forbidding mansion. The novel, though not my absolute favorite, will always have a special place in my heart as it sparked my love for English.

9. The Right Stuff

Though I don’t always enjoy non-fiction books, author Tom Wolfe has such an interesting writing style and voice that I was captivated while reading the novel. I read this book during my junior year, in Chris Haskett’s AP Lang class. The Right Stuff follows the story of a group of pilots and astronauts as they bravely lead the 1960s space race. Though stressed with extracurriculars and an unbelievable workload, The Right Stuff was such an interesting and unforgettable story that I just had to include it on my list. 

8. Night

Night is the one book on this list that I will never read again. The novel, set in the Holocaust, follows the story of a young Jewish boy as he is seperated from his family and endures unimaginable horrors. Night is an extremely important and jarring story, and I am very glad that I read it, but it was genuinely difficult to read. 

7. Of Mice and Men

Another Freshman English novel, Of Mice and Men was really fun to read. I love the characters and the different societal minorities they represent. This was definitely the first book I read at Westmont where the ending made me cry. 

6. To Kill a Mockingbird

             A timeless story about inequality and justice, To Kill A Mockingbird was definitely my favorite freshman read. The story follows a young girl, Scout, living through an unjust rape trial in the south. I read this book during the pandemic, and it definitely helped me escape the stress I was feeling. 

5. The Kite Runner

My most recent English read, The Kite Runner, has beautiful symbolism and narrative, and was a great book to enter my senior year with. The book addresses the horrors occurring in Afghanistan from the ‘60s to the 2000s. Though I read some pretty sad books, I have cried more reading The Kite Runner than all of them combined. 

4. Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was my favorite book that I read junior year. I loved the message and the visuals. The story, set in the ‘20s is narrated by a lowly East Coast newcomer, Nick, and tells the story of the lustful relationship between Jay Gatsby and his muse, Daisy. The well-known classic certainly lives up to its reputation, and I loved reading it during my junior year.

3. Animal Farm

Animal Farm, a meaningful and symbolic allegory, was a hilarious and imaginative take on the Bolshevik revolution. I viewed it as a sort of puzzle where I tried to figure out which characters related to real historical figures. If you knew me and my WHAP-loving self sophomore year, then you know that I had a bit of an obsession with the Russian Revolution. Reading Animal Farm and trying to decipher the characters was a thrilling and entertaining way to occupy my Zoom year. 

2. Lord of the Flies

Along with the Russian Revolution, I had an obsession with Freud and psychology. The characters in Lord of the Flies, representing the different factions of the human conscious, were equally as fun to decipher. The story follows a group of young boys as they are abandoned on an island and try to survive. As the boys try to create a society, similar to how humans try to create a society, they ultimately create violence and chaos. I think this book is a really interesting take on humanity and the way we struggle to create peace between our own human faults. 

1. Brave New World

Brave New World is my favorite book that I have read at Westmont so far. I read this book during my online Sophomore year, and my eyes were glued to every page. The novel is set in a dystopian future, where genetically modified humans are born into strict social hierarchies. The characters are taught to be unfeeling, unloving, and insensitive toward the suffering of others. I find Brave New World to be the perfect societal commentary, with an amazing criticism of the dystopianism of our capitalist industrial world today. While some may not agree with my Brave New World adoration (such as my fellow editor, Amelia Lipcsei), I believe that Brave New World is the best book taught at Westmont.