These five books changed the way these students think


Jefferson Mao

Teachers, parents, and seniors have probably told you from time to time that “Reading books is essential to your growth as a person” as if it were a part of your diet. But, we’ve all rolled our eyes at that idea; nobody wants to go through the pain of straining their eyeballs and brain, only to find a couple of lessons that prove no value to them. However, five students (including me) easily identified books that made a real difference in their lives.


Soph. Jefferson Mao — Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method

Although not much of a narrative-driven book, the book features Bruce Lee teaching his many techniques that include variants of kicks, punches, sidesteps, as well as training focusing on power, durability, balance, and speed. The book even includes photos to give the reader a visual idea of what he’s trying to explain and teach to the reader.

I became galvanized by Lee’s visual images and explanation of his techniques and training, giving Mao motivation to work out more frequently and increased dedication towards achieving his dream body— a body like Lee’s. “ I was absolutely astonished by Bruce’s physique and his movements. He used his footwork so gracefully as if he was a dancing ballerina, and his punches and strikes were fluid to see in motion on the photos as he explained them in text too,” I said. I now aspire to follow in my role model’s footsteps as I plan to practice Lee’s techniques and training once I’m past the age of 18, giving myself a new purpose in life to pursue. “ Seeing this man in action was enough to give myself a potential hobby, and that hobby is Martial Arts”.


Soph. Nayeli Mora — I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez

The story follows a young girl named Julia Reyes, a smart, brash, and rebellious teen. She lives on the rough side of a Chicago neighborhood with her parents and sister, Olga, who doesn’t create trouble for her parents. However, when Olga passes away in an accident, Julia discovers that Olga was not as pure as she was raised to be by her parents.

After reading I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Soph. Nayeli Mora understands that the relationship with her parents needs to change as she needs to become an adult.” I’ve always been very close and connected to them but after the book I realized I have to branch out and be independent,” said Mora. Mora explains that she needs to move out as she realizes she doesn’t need to follow tradition, including her family’s wishes to marry a man and move with him. “My parents said they wanted me to stay home for college or apply to nearby colleges because it’s part of Mexican tradition that the women stay in the household till marriage,” said Mora.


Soph. Cindy Perez-Escobar — My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George 

The story follows a young boy named Sam Gribley, who decides to run away from his home in New York to the Catskills Mountains. However, he notices that he’s not prepared to survive the wilderness without the proper knowledge he needs. So, he walks to the nearest town he could find and discovers a library, providing him with ample information to start his journey into the woods of the wilderness.

Perez-Escobar learned that being independent is important for her to change as a person. “Taking matters into my own hands is something Sam did in the book My Side of the Mountain. And that’s a book that’s all about taking matters into your own hands in order for you to be happy,” said Perez-Escobar. She explains that she doesn’t want her life to be decided by others as she thought more about herself. “I want to make decisions for myself that will help me, not just to please others, cause Sam could have gone back to the city but he did not because he felt trapped.” After taking into consideration of Sam’s actions, Perez-Escobar thought that his way of living life was a lesson for herself to live her own life.


Soph. Alec Chan — Assassins Creed: Last Descendants by Matthew J. Kirby

The story follows a teenager named Owen who’s trying to figure out the reason behind his father’s prison sentence, knowing certainly that he didn’t commit any wrongdoings. Monroe, the information technology professional at school, could aid Owen in clearing his father’s name through a device called Animus which allows him to explore his genetic memories through his DNA.

 During a meeting with his grandmother, Chan needed to share what he’s learned in his life to his grandma along with his relatives and siblings. When it was his turn to talk, he was about to say something stupid, but took the time to think about one of the books he read, Assassins Creed: Last Descendants, and said “People will blind themselves to the reality to what they see, limit their expectations to what is closed within their mind, and follow blindly to what they see is right, Nothing is True. To build a foundation within ourselves with ourselves as the public, and ourselves as the ruler, and to preserve that foundation, everything is permitted,” said Chan. Chan’s quotation of the piece implies that he learned about how people are more willing to follow the reality that they live in instead of trying to follow themselves, the ruler of their own mind the mind where they could bring their expectations to life as everything that they’ve thought of is permitted.


Soph. Sierra Alexia — A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawkings

The story features Stephen Hawkings explaining the fundamentals of space to people who have no prior knowledge of the space beyond earth. He speaks to the reader with non-technical terms about space and time as a whole, sharing his knowledge with the reader.

Soph. Sierra Alexia read  Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and learned about how the time of peoples’ lives could have such significance in building themselves as life moves with time. “I now take the time to contemplate how my actions could have long-term effects.  This holds true for my daily activities, interaction on social media, and plans for the future,” said Alexia. However, she does not experience this one change alone as she speaks with someone who wanted to talk about and question the theory of time travel during the summer of 2020. “I was able to have a full conversation with this intelligent person, and I don’t consider myself to be as intellectually bright as this person” and “After reading “A Brief History of Time” I find myself being able to have deeper conversations and questions about the theory of everything”, said Alexia. Alexia explains that due to the book that she’s read, she was able to improve her skills in speaking individually to another person and questions regarding the topic of the theory of everything.

Despite books carrying alot of words and text that seem difficult to read, Me, Mora, Perez-Escobar, Chan, and Sierra have found a piece of the book that has changed them. I’ve started to become more motivated in training, Mora knows that she can’t follow her family traditions for her whole life, Cindy needs to make choices of her own in living life, Chan learns the meaning of one of the quotes of his book after being asked by his grandma to share his life experience, and Sierra improving her knowledge in speaking and the theory of everything.  Reading books isn’t easy, but if one is up to the challenge of learning through them, then they can find a piece of that book to hang onto themselves.