The Library’s Hidden Jewels


Chloe Snyder

Lone Star High School’s library houses a large collection of novels that are not read by the majority of the student population. Those who are not familiar with the contents of the LSHS library are challenged by avid readers to open their horizons and take a peek.

“I think books as a whole are not given the recognition that they deserve in our school system today,” Bilbo-Murray, an English teacher, said. “Inside books are hidden jewels of knowledge that can only be discovered when one takes the time to open a book instead of looking on their phone and becoming lost in social media.”

Among the books that could be considered by readers, poetry in particular is apparently not given enough of a chance. Among the undiscovered poets and authors of recommendation were Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Markus Zusak and Dean Koontz.

“Many students find poetry boring or difficult to understand and give up on reading poetry. They miss the opportunity to explore the aesthetic joy beneath the surface of a particular poem,” Bilbo-Murray said.

The combined impact of the authors allow for an escape from the world and a reaffirmation of strength through prose.

“[I think a story or nonfiction piece is a notable work] if it offers some sort of good commentary or thought-provoking insight on the world,” Kameron Machon, 2021, said.

Similarly, readers provided confirmation that there are certain genres of literature that the majority of the student population miss out on when they do not attempt to read them.

“I would recommend Neil Gaiman, H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King,” Machon said. “They are kind of grim and dark but not in an overwhelming sense. They use it as a commentary on why we shouldn’t be afraid.”

Literary benefits such as wisdom, empathy and knowledge are not restricted to one genre; even children’s thrillers could offer those values to high school readers.

“Neil Gaiman has a novel called The Graveyard Book, a parody of The Jungle Book. A boy is taken in by spirits instead of animals and the moral is to not fear the unknown,” Machon said.

The atmosphere created by a strong story is enough to allow readers to discover ideas that they may not have been thoroughly exposed to without delving outside of their comfort zone. Accordingly, classic novels have not been utilized by modern students as fervently as youth and fantasy novels have.

“James Bradley and Ron Power’s Flags of Our Fathers is one of my favorite books if you’re into WWII non-fiction, and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King is a classic, as well as Howard Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights,” Alexander Jo, 2019, said. “Also everyone says they’ve read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas but they haven’t.”

Classic novels tend to have a more difficult language gap to readers than the recent releases, however, so students are encouraged to try reading them with an attentive and open mind.

“Everyone has their personal preferences and their own opinion on what a notable work is, but it’s mainly what connects to you the most and draws you into the plot or story,” Jo said.

Both classics and the historical fiction section of the library are underused by modern-day students.

“Historical fiction and classics involve a larger perspective that students at the school do not typically have the capacity for. It’s a muscle that you have to exercise,” Terry, the LSHS librarian, said.

Recommended authors for students were the realistic works of John Green, Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti and the science fiction books from Marie Lu, despite the literary merit of older authors. Students should not feel obligated to read works that are far from their interests but instead be open to developing their tastes over time.

“There has to be a balance between experiencing new ideas and personal connection. You want it to be relevant to you but also take you somewhere else,” Terry said. “The important thing for any reader is to read something that they enjoy. Don’t concentrate on literary merit but instead grow by reading what you like.”