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Teen Literature Day

For this list I have excluded religious texts, plays, short stories, and books from a series. These five books meet a certain criterion I have established for myself to separate abominable, poor, average, excellent, and life-changing literature. A book must:

  • Instruct

  • Warn

  • “Entertain”

Thus, these are my favorite books:

  1. The Once And Future King by T.H. White

  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

  5. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This book is a masterpiece of philosophy: those who look at life on a level far below the superficiality of vampire romance and gladiatorial warfare among children, will relish in the questions: how does a structure built upon principles of valor, altruism, and camaraderie fall into corruption? Do corrupt leaders corrupt their followers or do corrupt people elect corrupt leaders? Which principles of leadership should be encouraged and which should be weeded out? Human nature is a complex society of emotions which brings about great and horrible outcomes. The Once And Future King elaborates on this society like no other book.

F. Scott Fitzgerald who is the author of The Great Gatsby once said, “Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy”. Fitzgerald’s ability to disillude his readers of “hero-worshiping” encapsulates his entire anthology of work. The Great Gatsby exposes two of man’s largest flaws: its inability to let go of the past and his inability to adapt when his recreation inevitably fails. Fitzgerald weaves a tale of betrayal and personal failure—something most people have suffered from; thus, worshipping flawed-man will, without fail, to a tragedy.

This book was written by a 19-year-old woman. To the unobservant reader, it is only a haunting story which incites an idea for a Halloween costume; however, to those who read to be instructed and warned, it does just that: it discusses, in great detail, the ultimate questions of conquest: just because it is possible, does it mean it should be done? Is there ever a time when a discovery of immense proportion can outweigh ethical limitations? It shows that the greater the mistake, the greater the consequences. There are philosophical dilemmas pertaining to existentialism versus determinism. It is a masterpiece.

Charles Dickens’s reputation as an author revolves on resolving a great number of conflicts within his stories in a best-case scenario, a happy ending. Great Expectations breaks this mold. Pip the protagonist grew up in poverty from his verbally abusive sister and her humble husband, Joe. An unknown benefactor provided Pip with an immense fortune. Dickens then tells the story of Pip frivolously spending his money to his own ruin: this story depicts a young man who does not live up to his “great expectations”. This painful, home-hitting story reflects the fear many of us have: are we living up to our “great expectations”? Many of his could perhaps answer we are doing our best to do so. Some lie to themselves. Some know they are not. This novel speaks to all.


Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, a prince, lived the life as the “underdog”. Many see him as naïve and almost overly ambitious. Yet, Lev stays positive even when ridiculed for being so; thus, many perceive him as an idiot. It is an interesting quality one can have: to be the best version of ourselves, despite all telling us it is the worst idea. This novel warns the readers of self-betrayal and jealousy. It illustrates what Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “To be great is to be misunderstood”.

Eric Anderson was born in Arizona and raised across three states: Ohio, Indiana, and Texas. Eric holds a master’s degree in rhetoric and writing from Northern Arizona University. As a high school English teacher, he enjoys “passing on” his love for classical literature to his students. An author himself, his first foray into children’s literature included classics like The Frog Who Cannot Jump and The Untidy Teacher. Both earned him high marks from his first and second grade teachers.

His latest book is called, "The Adventures of Pook and Boogee: The Boys Meet Mr. Jones." Great for STEM learning, his book is a story of two boys-one a precocious inventor and the other his lovable brother—who go back in time to meet the African American inventor Frederick McKinley Jones.


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