What are English Teachers’ Favorite Books? An Inside Look

Nikki Gomez, Staff Writer

English teachers always assign students books to read for the school curriculum; however, do the teachers actually like the books they make students read? What makes a book an English teacher’s favorite? 

In AP English Language and Composition (AP Lang), the class covers numerous topics including adultery and gender inequality, such as “The Scarlet Letter,” “The Awakening,” “the Bell Jar,” etc, which is an important topic Jane O’Brien, an AP Lang teacher in Milton says her favorite book is Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert because it made her decide to study literature. The novel is about a peasant named Emma who marries a doctor to escape poverty. The text discusses in an eloquent manner the unhappiness humans face when they are unable to resolve their problems. One of the books students have to read that O’Brien loves teaching is “The Awakening.” because  “It’s a local color text, set in New Orleans and it’s a great piece to talk about equality between men and women.”

Cathy Power, Milton’s AP English Literature teacher, does not have a favorite book, however, her favorite authors are Thomas Hardy and William Shakespeare. Her favorite play, which she teaches, is “Arcadia” by Tom Stoppard. “It is a high intellectual comedy, which incorporates history, literature, math, science and love,” says Power. “It is very sophisticated and beautifully written and has moral questions and issues relevant to today. It is a very thought provoking play.” In AP Lit, students have to read many high level diction books. Dr. Power’s favorite books that are in the curriculum is “Heart of Darkness,” “Hamlet” and “The Perks of Being Earnest.”

One of the 10th English teachers, Karen Jones, says her favorite books are “The Color Purple,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “The Color Purple” discusses women overcoming oppression in a patriarchal society. In “The Handmaid’s Tale” the protagonist Offred, is living in a totalitarian society. “Every piece of it came from history and I find it very interesting,” says Jones.

One of the 11th/10th grade English teachers is Paige Jacobson. Her favorite books include “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Tales from Earthsea” series. “They all have a mix of adventure, fantasy, complex characters, vivid and precise language. Both authors have an amazing talent for storytelling,” says Jacobson. Her favorite book to teach students is “Lord of the Flies” and “The Crucible.” because they “are similar and show how complex humans are and how they behave and act.” 

Rebecca Deweese teaches 11th and one 10th English class. Her favorite book is “Little Women” because she grew up loving the book and identifying with the characters. Her favorite book to teach students is “The Great Gatsby” because “the language of the book is beautiful as well as the color symbolism.”

Melissa Oliver teaches 10th grade English. Her favorite book throughout high school was the “Catcher in the Rye.”because she “related to it and it was one of the first books that were similar to [her] personal experiences.” “Catcher in the Rye” is one of many teenagers’ favorite books because the main character is relatable.  Last year, Mrs. Oliver was able to teach her students one of her favorite books, “Catcher in the Rye.”

 “Slaughterhouse-Five” is another favorite of Mrs. Oliver’s because it “has a nice message about time and death, and the idea that all time happens at once.” The main idea in “Slaughterhouse-Five” is that time does not matter and it’s important to live in the moment rather than worry about what has already happened or worry about the future. 

Gillian Miller teaches 9th grade English. Miller’s favorite book is “White Oleander” because “the language is beautiful and [she] loved the writing.” Miller’s favorite book to teach students is “Frankenstein” because she “enjoyed the discussion on what it meant to be human.”

The main thing to English teachers that make a book their favorite is whether the books include thought provoking questions in the reader’s mind. Books that carry a hidden meaning and have a theme related to today’s society is what English teachers look for in a good book.