KIS HS English Teachers’ Favorite Books

Ever wondered what your English teacher’s favorite book is? Find out their favorite books only on Blueprint! Featuring Ms. Clarke, Mr. Collings, Mr. Miller, Ms. Pate, and Mr. van Moppes.

Reading is one of the most rewarding experiences that everyone can have regardless of one’s gender, race, ethnicity or social status. It enables us to empathize with others, learn about humanity, and improve ourselves into compassionate people. For me, reading novels has not only been a pastime but my counselor and friend; books have taught me to live wholeheartedly and authentically, to strive towards my goal.

Just as how each and every one of us has at least one favorite book that influenced our lives, KIS HS English teachers also have their many favorites. In an attempt to discover insights into their favorite books, Blueprint has interviewed several English teachers.

Ms. Clarke

jane eyre

  1. What is your favorite book?

I will choose my favorite classic- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

I’ll admit I first read this book in grade 9 because I shared a first name with it. I loved this book because of the heroine, Jane. It was a book I read at just the right moment: 9th grade, when I must have been looking for some unique and memorable female role-models in the stories I was reading. Jane Eyre is one of those: deeply introspective, guided by strong beliefs, and absolutely her own person. This was the first British Gothic/Romantic book I’d ever read; the supernatural, dramatic elements of the story compelled me. There’s nothing quite like a story with unexpected, shocking twists, and Victorian literature is full of them!

  1. How has it impacted your life?

After I read Jane Eyre, I choose The Eyre Affair (a modern British Alternative History/Sci-Fi/Mystery novel) for a 10th grade English project. It is this weird, funny, fast-paced story that let me realize/ enjoy being a bookworm. As you read it, you get to enjoy all these allusions, inside jokes, and alternate narratives that stem from Jane Eyre and other classics. The sequence of those two books helped me realize how much genuine enthusiasm and fun I found in the act of reading, and in the use of imagination and attention to detail that exists in so much good fiction/writing.

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

“I am no bird, and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will…”

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

“I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

Mr. Collings


  1. What is your favorite book?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

I love the way it presented the need for civil disobedience and the way people can use it to bring down the combine. It speaks to me on a higher level and shows the importance to practice civil disobedience in my daily life, but also to understand the consequences for participating in it as well. The cause needs to be bigger than the individual. Plus it is hysterical. It makes me laugh every time, even though I have read it on numerous occasions.

  1. How has it impacted your life?

Ken Kesey’s story impacted me by the way it showed me to challenge my thinking, and to fight against the combine. I believe my work as a teacher is the same kind of work that McMurphy was doing in the story. I see education as greater than myself, and because of that I am willing to fight for the way it can be most impactful for my students.

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

“‘But I tried, though,’ he says. ‘Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn’t I?'” (Kesey 111)

“It’s too late to stop it now. McMurphy did something to it that first day, put some kind of hex on it with his hand so it won’t like I order it. There’s no sense to it, any fool can see; I wouldn’t do it on my own. Just by the way the nurse is staring at me with her mouth empty of words I can see I’m in trouble, but I can’t stop it. McMurphy’s got hidden wires hooked to it, lifting it slow just to get me out of the fog and into the open where I’m fair game. He’s doing it, wires… No. That’s not the truth. I lifted it myself.” (Kesey 126)

“And we’re sitting there lined up in front of the blanked-out TV, watching the grey screen just like we could see the baseball game clear as day, and she’s ranting and screaming behind us. If somebody’d of come in and took a look, men watching a blank TV, a fifty-year old woman hollering and squealing at the back of their heads about discipline and order and recriminations, they’d of thought the whole bunch of us were crazy as loons.” (Kesey 128)

Mr. Miller


  1. What is your favorite book? (title and author)

River Town by Peter Hassler

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

Hessler’s work is admirable and speaks to many of the sensations I have personally felt while living abroad.  As Hessler starts to learn Mandarin, he attains a Chinese identity when he is given a Chinese name—“Ho-Wei.”  The disparity he feels between his Chinese self and his American self-reads like a version of “Borges and I” with the dual identity theme of “author-self” and   “self” taking shape for the visitor to a foreign land. Hessler’s personal descriptions of the alienation and fascination of living in a foreign land ring true to the style I would like to create in my travel writing.

  1. How has it impacted your life?

When I lived in Taiwan, the students laughed at my Chinese name, “Yue Han” (约翰) which consists of two characters–the first means “promise” and the second means “writing.” It is a good name for a writer. The idea of a “foreign self” and a “local self” is an idea that I take from Hessler and regularly use in travel narratives.

Ms. Pate


  1. What is your favorite book? (title and author)

I have so many favorites! I usually claim The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Beloved by Toni Morrison, or A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as my favorite, though.

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

Each of these books has compelling character arcs and some sort of tragic abyss. I am a character-driven reader; I need to get into the main character’s head and root for him/her. All of these books also draw me in with the beauty and poetic richness of their language. While they all involve deeply troubled or injured characters, they also contain some of my favorite sentences in the English language.

  1. How has it impacted your life?

The Sparrow captured my imagination and love of adventure; the other two books have shaped my transition from Social Studies to English. They are all books that I have read multiple times 🙂

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

So many! I could have chosen a huge list, but I thought I’d just add a couple from Handmaid’s Tale and Beloved. The Sparrow has wonderful language, but it’s not about the language the way that the other two are.

Handmaid’s Tale: “Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.”

Beloved: “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”

Mr. van Moppes


  1. What is your favorite book?

Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk  

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

It just felt so prescient when I read it. Like it was a lens into the future. It examines conspicuous consumption, globalization, marginalization, minimalism, greed, isolation, etc.   

  1. How has it impacted your life?

It reminds me of the true value of things, what is truly important, what matters as a human being. Love, tangible relationships, freedom of thought.

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

The things you used to own, now they own you.”

“The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.”

So often, we forget to ask the teachers about their favorites. However, as shown in the interviews, KIS English teachers have a vast array of their favorite books, whether that is classic or modern. Perhaps, students can attempt to read the department’s books and discover how they impact their own lives.

– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)





Sights by Ms. LaRue

“I hope I see all of this before another fifty rides around the sun.”

So I have ridden the planet around the sun over fifty times now and I have seen some things. I saw disco and the associated clothing. It was not scary at the time. I saw a president resign and that was kinda scary for a kid. I saw a man walk on the moon. It was AWESOME. I saw a hockey team defeat all odds and win the gold. It was strangely, patriotically, inspiring. I saw college. It was spectacular. I saw a man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was wonderful. I saw the beginning of rap. It was interesting. I saw a wall come tumbling down. It was electrifying. I saw the sunset on the pyramids of Egypt and the sunrise over the sunflower fields of South Africa. Traveling is delightful. I saw the beginnings of comprehension of the human effects on the environment, and the accompanying arguments about climate change. It was disheartening. I saw the advent of computers and the internet. It was bewildering, at first. I saw the Sydney Opera House and the Vatican.  Again, traveling is delightful. I saw planes fly into buildings. It was horrifying. I saw significant improvements in honoring civil rights. It was, and is, a potential promise of a better future.

But I hope to see even more. I hope I will see a change in the current THEM OR US structure that dominates in much political and social discourse. Life is generally in the middle. There are always more than just two choices. I hope I will see the end of territorial expansionist policies by governments and others. It is all just dirt on the same planet and most of us live in concrete towers now anyway. Perhaps it would be a benefit if we all remembered that we are members of the same race – the human race. I hope I will see changes in the ways we address poverty. There is always enough food every year to produce more humans but clearly not enough to sustain their survival in the manner in which we have chosen to feed them. It would probably help if the Americans would cease their obesity epidemic. Right now, it seems that one out of every three people in the US  weighs more than the other two combined. I hope I will see legitimate forays into space. This is a no-brainer. I hope I will see a worldwide decrease in sleep anorexia. Electricity only meant lights at night. It did not mean for us to deny ourselves sleep. I hope I see a change in the way we treat the planet. We are not the only species here – nor the most important. I hope I see a renewal in appreciation for art, for art’s sake. I hope I see more thinking. The more science advancements we achieve, the more ethical contemplation we will need. I hope I see the end of rape.

I hope I see all of this before another fifty rides around the sun.

– Ms. Carmen LaRue

Best and Worst Films of 2014 by Mr. Joo

Mr. Joo is back with his latest movie reviews for 2014.

10.  John Wick

“Satisfying action flick that’s like a good round of a shoot ‘em all video game.”


9.  The Interview

“It felt good to exercise my democratic right to laugh at some Seth Rogen crude humor.”


8.  Draft Day

“Kevin Costner is at his best when starring in sports films…reminder of his glory days.”


7.  American Sniper

“Politics and controversies aside, Bradley Cooper’s superb performance is enough to make this one of this year’s best.”


6.  Boyhood

“Pretty hard not to be impressed by Richard Linklater’s 12 year effort.”


5.  Grand Budapest Hotel

“Been waiting a long time for the second Wes Anderson film I liked (first since Royal Tenenbaums).”


4.  Two Days, One Night

“Simple honest look at ordinary people and their reaction to difficult situations.”


3.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

“A blockbuster with substance.”


2.  Foxcatcher

“How this was snubbed for the Best Picture Academy Award is a mystery.”


1.  Gone Girl
“Flawless movie…David Fincher’s best since Fight Club.”



10. Into the Woods

“Forgettable…other than Meryl Streep’s performance.”


9.  The Theory of Everything

“Most overrated film of the year…a mediocre biopic at best.”


8.  300:  Rise of an Empire

“Violence couldn’t be any more tedious in this failed attempt to revive the original.”


7.  Noah

“So dull…Evan Almighty didn’t seem all that bad after watching this.”


6.  The Fault in our Stars

“Relentless force-feeding of sappiness too exhausting to sit through.”


5.  Lucy

“Hard to believe Scarlett Johansson was once in gems like Lost in Translation and Ghost World.”


4.  Godzilla

“It was 90 minutes into the film until anything happened…and so many talented actors wasted on nothing roles.”


3.  The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

“Such a shame this had to be Robin Williams’ last film.”


2.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

“There was no need to reopen the manhole to let these reptiles see the light of day again.”


1.  Transformers:  Age of Extinction

“No surprise here.”



5.  The Divine Move (신의한수)

“Never knew a movie about baduk can be so exciting.”


4.  Han Gong-ju (한공주)

“Upsetting but intriguing story about a girl’s struggle to find herself after a traumatic event.”


3.  Miss Granny (수상한그녀)

“Same old Freaky Friday story…but a darn funny one.”


2.  My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아, 그 강을 건너지 마오)

“Haven’t shed so many tears in a movie theatre since I watched ET as a 2nd grader.”


1.  Whistle Blower (제보자)

“Based on the true story of Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk’s fabricated stem cell research…Park Hae-il delivers a great performance to add to the screenplay’s take on Korea’s modern history and social criticism.”



5.  The Royal Tailor (상의원)

“It’s about as fun as you’d think a film about tailors would be.”


4.  My Dictator (나의독재자)

“Expected more for a film with such interesting premise.”


3.  Sea Fog (해무)

“Perfectly titled for such a haze of a movie.”


2.  Scarlet Innocence (마담뺑덕)

“More ridiculous than even the most outrageous Korean drama plot.”


1.  Big Match (빅 매치)
“Dullest movie ever for a film that was billed as an “action” flick.”

– Mr. Joo (Teacher)
Header: Mr. Joo (Teacher)