Guide to Great Books

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by Isabella Collins

To those who might have an upcoming book report due and are scrambling to find an short and sweet book to read for it, or to those who simply enjoy reading outside of school like me, below I have four very different books reviewed with a short summary along with a rating system so you can know how big of a book you are getting into. I tried to include a wide variety of genres of stories so that if you prefer historical books over fictional ones there is an option for you.

For the rating system, it is on a scale of one-to-five stars, one being the lowest and five being the highest. For length, the lower the stars, the shorter the book. The more stars a book has in difficulty means it is at a higher reading level or is generally harder to read than the other three books. And if a book has a lot of stars for plot, that means that I really enjoyed the story overall and found it very interesting and enthralling.

I hope this helps and that you enjoy these stories as much as I did!

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

The Cellist of Sarajevo follows the stories of four people trying to survive war-torn Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. One man, a musician, watches twenty-two of his neighbors and friends wait in line for bread and in a second they’re killed by a mortar attack. In their remembrance, he picks up his cello and vows to play at the bombing site for twenty-two days. Elsewhere, a man sets off to collect water for his family, throwing himself into the face of danger where he must determine what he values more; generosity or his survival. A third man, older than the first, sets out to search for bread and diversion for his life and runs into an old friend who reminds him of the life he once had and the person he used to be. Lastly- a young woman, a sniper- holds the cellist’s life in her hands. Appointed by her superior to protect him over the twenty-two days he is to play. As she protects his life with her own, her army prepares to test her the kind of person she has become.

Length: 2/5
Difficulty: 4/5
Plot: 5/5

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

At first glance Sophie is everything you would expect from a soon-to-be princess; with her glass slippers and devotion to good doing she knows that she will make top-marks at the School for Good, joining the ranks of past graduates like Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. While Agatha, with her shapeless black hair and her mean black cat, seems to be the perfect candidate for the School for Evil. To their surprise the two find their roles reversed

Sophie is dumped in The School of Evil and has to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training. Agatha is dropped into The School of Good among the fair maidens and handsome princes and finds herself in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication. As the two struggle to adapt to the world’s they’ve been thrown into they discover that the mistake might be the first clue to figuring out who they really are.

Length: 3/5
Difficulty: 2/5
Plot: 4/5

Cinder by Marissa Myer

At sixteen Linh Cinder is the best mechanic in all of New Beijing. But as part cyborg, she’s equivalent to a second-class citizen with a mysterious past. Living 126 years after World War IV, Cinder owns a booth in the marketplace, fixing everything from androids to hovers and even herself at times. While working one day she is approached by Prince Kai, prince and heir to the throne of the Eastern Commonwealth, who asks her to fix his android for him. Planning on working on the prince’s robot to get the hefty pay he offers if she can fix it as soon as possible, her efforts are all in vain when one of her two stepsisters, Peony, contacts the plague while with Cinder. Blaming Cinder for her stepsister’s imminent death, her stepmother has her taken to the palace against her will to be a subject in looking for the cure for the plague, letumosis. With an incurable plague ravaging the country and the secrets of her past being forced into the spotlight, Cinder must choose between the fate of her world or discover who she really is.

Length: 4/5
Difficulty: 3/5
Plot: 4/5

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being A Wallflower follows fifteen-year-old Charlie, an observant “wallflower” who is struggling to cope with the death of his friend, Michael, who had committed suicide earlier that year. To help lessen his anxieties and fears over the start of his freshman year of high school, he beings to write letters about his day-to-day life to you, a stranger he heard was nice and would understand his troubles, but has never met in person. Throughout the story, we follow Charlie as he tries to survive high school; the land of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  With friends, Sam and Patrick, at his back we get to watch Charlie grow as a person through his letters to us, discovering that all you really need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to make you feel infinite.

Length: 2/5
Difficulty: 2/5
Plot: 4/5

Cover Image: “An Open Book” by imanka is licensed under CC-by-2.0