As a person with a BA in English and a Master's in a dual English-history research program, allow me to explain:
- James Joyce sucks.
- John Steinbeck was a brilliant stylist with a weakness for making his messages far too obvious and preachy. But mostly his writing is no longer taught in schools, having been superceded by trendier authors like Toni Morrison.
- Malcolm Gladwell is a very successful hack.
- Non-fiction DOES absolutely belong in high school English classes. Short essays can contain some of the finest writing we have. I would be very happy if we shoved Fenimore Cooper out the window and replaced him with, say, "Up, Simba