*Note: Not everyone has read all the exact same books. These are the books and plays that I've chosen. There will be four books and two plays. Six being the worst and one being the best. Warning: major spoilers ahead for several books and plays you may read in English.

6. The Great Gatsby - This book felt more like the boring 20s. I’m sorry. I’ll see myself out. But anyway, out of all these classics, I can safely say I disliked “The Great Gatsby” the most. Maybe it’s because I'm not an old soul, but it seems to be much more problematic when read in 2020 instead of the 1920s. Gatsby is very charming when played by Leonardo DiCaprio but other than that, he and all the other characters lack something very important to a good book: likability. Gatsby spends all this time stalking Daisy, singles out Nick so Gatsby can set up a date with her and makes Daisy choose between him and the husband she has a child with. Daisy abandons Gatsby after she accidentally runs over Myrtle and she flees the country with her family. At the epilogue Nick realizes, just like we did, that no one was in the right here.

5. Romeo and Juliet - I’m entitled to my opinions, but it scares me to publicly rank this so low. At the time, was it a classic? Yes. Does it ruin expectations of love, realistic relationships and originality in the entertainment industry? Also yes. The concept of two young hearts fighting the odds of their social differences created classics such as “West Side Story” and “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, but what about the original? The Montagues and the Capulets are causing turmoil with their blood feud, and when Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet at the party, it is love at first sight despite all odds of age and other relationship commitments. The characters are dull and naive to the point of stupidity. Just check her pulse. The ending is dismal, especially considering the entire plot could’ve been avoided if every character wasn’t so stubborn and violent. Sorry, not sorry.

4. Lord of the Flies - Speaking of dismal endings with young children, it’s our number three spot, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. In war-torn 1940s Britain, a plane evacuating schoolboys crashes on a remote island and the adults on the plane don’t survive. The novel begs the question of what would happen if kids were to recreate society, if you were trapped in wild nature, who would you become? Apparently, Golding believes that children would be violent and selfish leaders when they live like animals and shadows in the night must be killed. I have many mixed feelings about this book. You feel for the characters that meet a violent end, but only truly care about Piggy’s safety and happiness. The thorough details and longevity cancel out and ruin the intensity of the plot. But my opinion is saved by the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching ending to Ralph and the other boys' story.

3. MacBeth - This Scottish Play is clever, masterful and carefully executed from start to finish. MacBeth takes you through the ups and downs of Macbeth, scottish noble, and his slow unraveling after a prophecy from three weird witches lead him to do unthinkable things. Like most Shakespearian works, the play is long, in original transcription and hard to understand. But you can’t fully comprehend any play without seeing actors and a set bring the script to vivid life. With compelling and iconic characters such as MacBeth and Lady MacBeth, their power, lust and paranoia of securing the monarchy has messages of how rags to riches through immorality and blindness to others will not have a happy ending.

2. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury was ahead of his time and we do not deserve his storytelling. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel with a clear message, but at the same time has you scratching your head trying to piece together the same puzzle as the main character. Guy Montag is a firefighter in 21st century America, whose job is to create fires and burn piles of books (books burn at 451 degrees). Guy meets Clarisse, a 17-year-old on his street who opens his eyes to the oppression and brainwashing all around him. Montag’s journey to justice and his realization of the power of books is powerful to avid readers and still heavily applies to today’s world of screens and misinformation. The ending will have you at the edge of your seat, as the main character tries to make things right, no matter what the price. Montag is inspired by Clarisse’s death to learn to listen to others and seek knowledge no matter the cost.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird - The older I get, the more I understand and appreciate my top classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s timeless novel is globally recognized for the simple messages of childhood and growing up in and understanding injustice and inequality in everyday life. Spunky and confident Scout Finch is the main character of our story. Scout lives in the small town of Maycomb with her brother Jem and father Atticus during the Great Depression. Atticus chooses to defend an African American man who is accused of raping a white woman halfway through the novel. What follows exposes Jem and Scout to the true colors of their community and the racial inequality in the south at the time. The story has heart, with relatable characters and a powerful message that has earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize and libraries banning the book many times over the years. The metaphor and contrast of Boo Radley and Tom Robinson shows the reach beyond race and prejudice and is powerful enough to strike you in a way you won’t forget.


Celia Bergman