Falcon Roundtable: Favorite Novel in the FSS Curriculum

From Journalism to English 9 to Peace and Social Justice, the Friends Select English and History Departments teach, analyze, and share many memorable, well-written, and well-loved books. Teachers show students how to engage deeply and meaningfully with the texts, generating strong individual connections with graphic novels, personal narratives, and classics. Members of The Falcon share their favorites.

Illustration by TJ Hampton ’21


Catcher in the Rye was easily the most enjoyable book out of the FSS curriculum. It is the perfect example of a great character study. What makes this book so great is that you don’t usually find yourself rooting for the main character but you keep reading to find out what happens next. Holden Caulfield is so well written because of his unusual negative aspects. He is such a bad person, yet you still find yourself reading to see how he progresses. This book also prompted many creative essays and projects. I was able to use Caulfield’s character to create unique pieces such as “Holden at FSS.” The uniqueness of the story along with the distinct character traits makes this novel one of a kind.


I can say with confidence that The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. The framing narrative of utterly apathetic narrator Nick Carraway coupled with the absolutely ridiculous, completely unlikeable, yet remarkably un-hateable cast of characters like Tom, Daisy, and Jay Gatsby himself creates a complex, frustrating, and shocking story that leaves you with endless questions. What I found most compelling about this book is the plethora of tense, on-edge moments. The tensions, conflicts, and just-missed interactions leave the reader tensing up and cringing without realizing it. I have never had a book elicit so many feelings and reactions from me, even if they were not positive. It was a very compelling read laced with subtle symbolism that drove you to seek out every nook-and-cranny detail with which that F. Scott Fitzgerald teases the reader. 

Zoe S.

My favorite book in the FSS curriculum is Night by Elie Wiesel, which I read this year in Peace and Social Justice. I absolutely fell in love with Wiesel’s writing style, and I was captivated by his incredible storytelling. This book also brought a lot of meaningful class discussions which allowed me to analyze and understand even the smallest details. I’ve never enjoyed reading a book for homework as much as I did while reading Night.


In fifth grade, Amanda had the entire class read Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. This book stands out in my mind as the greatest piece of her class. It tells the story of a young girl, Miranda (who lives in New York), and her experiences with a homeless man who has some more than confusing habits. The way the book wraps itself up, confusing to many in the class, including myself, is in fact brilliant. It gives greater closure than nearly any other book I’ve read. I especially recommend this book as a reread to those who read it at a younger age.


The tenth grade recently read PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi. After just the first chapter, I was instantly intrigued by this graphic novel, especially as someone who learns better visually. Though you would think it would be difficult to pick up much from a graphic novel, the illustrations and few bits of text are so rich and deep, as they focus on young Marjane’s life as a child living in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. Not only does the reader learn about what happened in Iran during this time, but also about the experiences that Marjane goes through at such a young age. I definitely recommend this book and look forward to it in your Peace and Social Justice class.