A Rating of Every Summer Reading Book

Scroll to the end to tell us your favorite summer reading book!


Magnet is infamous for the summer reading books we have to read, from yams to Lord of the Flies to Holden Caulfield; the required reading books have become a collective inside joke amongst all AMHS students. Even as seniors, people still make jokes about summer reading books from freshman year. We, McKenna and Anson, have both read *most* of the books on this list, so we felt the need to give our professional opinion and rate every summer reading book we have ever had to read at Magnet.


Anson’s Reviews: 

Mythology - By Edith Hamilton (paperback) : TargetAppreciation: Chinua Achebe influenced writers around the world         Bless Me, Ultima | The Great American Read | WTTW Chicago

Anson’s Freshman Year Reviews

  • Mythology (6/10) I enjoyed this book because I had previous knowledge about Greek Mythology, but having to annotate every chapter definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
  • Bless Me, Ultima (5/10) – I don’t remember much about this book, so obviously I have no strong feelings and therefore it receives a true neutral score. 
  • Things Fall Apart (4/10) – The origin of the yam joke. Classic magnet humor. We are all trauma-bonded because of the amount of analysis we had to do for this book. 
  • Siddhartha (2/10) Honestly, this book was very slow and long and it was such a drag to read. It didn’t help that Mr. Flanigan spent the whole first month of school talking about this book. I know too much about Herman Hesse and I wish to never see this book again in my life. 

Overall freshman year ranking: 4.25/10

Their Inner Beasts: 'Lord of the Flies' Six Decades Later - The New York Times     Order Life of Pi, ISBN: 0156027321 | HMH     ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT - HamiltonBook.com

Anson’s Sophomore Year Reviews:

  • Lord of the Flies (7/10)I liked this book but at times, it was really dark. There were definitely some interesting plot twists though. 
  • Life of Pi (3/10)– The symbolism in this book was great but the book was so slow that I couldn’t stay interested. I mean, 90% of the book was a boy alone on a boat with a tiger. 
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (3/10)– I don’t remember a single plot point of this book…come to think of it…I’m not entirely sure if I read this book at all. I’ll give it a few points because I don’t remember anything about it, but I’m sure there were some redeeming qualities. 

Overall sophomore year ranking: 4.33/10

The Catcher in the Rye - Wikipedia    Catch-22 - Wikipedia       The Color of Water - Wikipedia

Anson’s Junior Year Reviews

  • Catcher in the Rye (9/10)This may be controversial, but I really like this book. Holden is such a hateable character and I like judging him based on his terrible actions. The book was such an easy-read and it was a nice change of pace from the heavier books we had to read for junior year. 
  • The Color of Water (9/10) This book was such a good story and I can’t think of anything I didn’t like. The author’s writing style kept me interested throughout the whole book and I think I read the whole thing within two days. 
  • Slaughterhouse Five (7.5/10)This book was whimsical and weird and dark all at the same time. Overall, this book deserves a 7.5/10. So it goes.
  • Black Boy (5/10) – I have no strong feelings towards this book, so this is another book that must receive a neutral score.  
  • Catch-22 (0/10) – I hated this book. It could be because I was reading it on an 8-hour car trip or the fact that I hate war books, but I just didn’t vibe with it. There were just too many names and too many storylines for me to remember at once. Not to mention that it was the longest book on our summer reading list. I know that a lot of people really enjoyed this book, but I firmly believe those people are crazy. I am disappointed that it was taken off the junior reading list now. Though I hated it, I think that every junior should have to suffer through reading this book- it’s a rite of passage. 

Overall junior year ranking: 5.9/10

Parenting While Black | cambridgeforum        All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel - Kindle edition by Doerr, Anthony. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Senior Year Reviews

  • Counting Descent (5/10) – I liked most of the poems in this book, but the annotations severely detracted from my enjoyment.


McKenna’s Picks 

Mythology - By Edith Hamilton (paperback) : TargetAppreciation: Chinua Achebe influenced writers around the world         Bless Me, Ultima | The Great American Read | WTTW Chicago

McKenna’s Freshman Year Reviews

  • Mythology (9/10)A great book. Basically Percy Jackson (aka the greatest book series of all time). Only thing that screwed it up was the assignment that went with it 🙁
  • Things Fall Apart (5/10)– YAMS. This book is still alive solely because of the memes, not because of Okonkwo and his murderous self. I’m not just referencing the boy he killed. I believe I died reading this book.
  • Bless Me, Ultima (4/10)I’ve gotta be honest, I didn’t read the second to last chapter. I’m sorry, Ms. Shifflette.
  • Siddhartha (3/10)The only thing saving this book was the class discussion on Kamala with Flan the Man.

Overall freshman year ranking: 5.25/10

Their Inner Beasts: 'Lord of the Flies' Six Decades Later - The New York Times        Order Life of Pi, ISBN: 0156027321 | HMH         ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT - HamiltonBook.com

McKenna’s Sophomore Year Reviews

  • Life of Pi (7/10)– My best friend read this book 3 times and watched the movie. That’s all I’m gonna say.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (5/10)– Pretty heavy emotionally and interesting enough.
  • Lord of the Flies (5/10)– This book had no business being this dark. 

Overall sophomore year ranking: 5.66/10

The Catcher in the Rye - Wikipedia     Catch-22 - Wikipedia     The Color of Water - Wikipedia

McKenna’s Junior Year Reviews

  • The Color of Water (9/10)– I listened to an audiobook of this in the car and I was hooked. I love memoirs in general, but the way it switched
  • Catch-22 (7/10)– First 12ish chapters are awful. After that, it gets interesting (an audiobook helped too… I highly recommend getting one from the library online for most of the books). Too many random characters for my liking, but the potential is there.
  • Catcher in the Rye (6.8/10)– Ahh- the ramblings of an angsty teen. I didn’t enjoy the book while reading/listening to it, but after class discussion, I grew to appreciate it.
  • Black Boy (6/10)– Actually pretty interesting. I’m probably gonna read the second part if I ever get the time.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five (4/10)– So it goes.

Overall junior year ranking: 6.56/10

Parenting While Black | cambridgeforum          Americanah - Wikipedia

McKenna’s Senior Year Reviews

  • Counting Descent (9/10)– An absolutely amazing collection of poetry. Playground Elegy, What the Cathedral Said to the Black Boy, Each Morning Is a Ritual Made Just for Us, and Meteor Shower are just a few of my favorites. This would be an 11/10 if we didn’t have to annotate it all.

Oryx and Crake - Wikipedia    The Things They Carried | National Endowment for the Arts

Senior Year Choice Book – Since McKenna and Anson did not read every book, we tracked down people who did to give us a review. 

  • Americanah (9/10)Reviewed by McKenna- I read all 600ish pages of this book nonstop for two days. While it was the longest choice novel, it was very impactful and entertaining at the same time (almost like a book I would choose to read on my own). Only two people in my class chose this book, and only a few more people grade wide. If the books are the same next year, I highly recommend selecting this one. Just like with some of the other novels, the only thing holding it back is the interactive notebook assignment that everyone has to do, regardless of which book you select.
  • All the Light We Cannot See (9/10)Reviewed by Anson – I very much enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction so when I saw a historical fiction book on our summer reading list, I was so excited. There were so many conjoining stories which really made the story interesting and the story was tied together perfectly.
  • Oryx and Crake (4/10)Reviewed by April Johnson – Oryx and Crake, honestly, was a slow read. I didn’t enjoy it all that much, there were some truly nasty themes and storylines that just ruined the book. I like to read to feel good, this book did not do that. It was interesting for what it was, but I didn’t personally like it all that much.
  • The Things They Carried (8/10) Reviewed by Josh Moore – The things they carried was a telling story of the struggles faced by the American soldiers and their returns home. While the book focuses on expressing the emotions and experiences faced by these soldiers, it is clear that we may never truly understand the trials and horrors those who fought in the Vietnam war faced and that added to the emotion and mystery of the book. 


Overall Ranking of Every Summer Reading Book 

  1. Color of Water – 18/20

  2. Catcher in the Rye – 15.8/20

  3. Mythology – 15/20

  4. Counting Descent – 14/20

  5. Lord of the Flies – 12/20

  6. Slaughterhouse-Five – 11.5/20

  7. Black Boy – 11/20

  8. Life of Pi – 10/20

  9. Things Fall Apart – 9/20 

  10.  Bless Me Ultima – 9/20

  11.  All Quiet on the Western Front – 8/10

  12.  Catch-22 – 7/20

  13.  Siddhartha – 5/20

Ranking of Senior Year Choice Books

  1. Americanah – 9/10

  2.  All the Light We Cannot See – 9/10

  3. The Things They Carried – 8/10

  4. Oryx and Crake – 4/10

What is your favorite summer reading book?


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