Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hester Prynne, Jay Gatsby, Ethan Frome. Oh My!

Ahh yes. September. It’s time to go back to school! Fresh pencils, crisp loose leaf paper, immaculate folders and binders, and of course… new books! I’m sure many kids (current and former) had a love/hate relationship with back-to-school time like I did. You get to see all your friends, but you have homework, you aren’t bored, but you do have to sit through that one class where you don’t know anyone, you get to goof off in study hall, but you have to run laps for gym class. Summer reading was behind you… and a whole year of new reading material was ahead… wait. Who am I kidding? I LOVED both of those things!

While many of my classmates were still recovering from the near fatal speed-reading of the summer reading selection I was eager to crack open the first book of the school year, whether it was a novel or a textbook, it didn’t matter to me!

Each year there was always something I was looking forward to reading.
My biology textbook (yes, I was THAT nerd).
The Scarlet Letter.
The Great Gatsby.
Ethan Frome. ….What the eff?

Because of my epic nerdiness I never truly understood why many of my classmates hated school reading. But then I was forced to read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton in 10th grade English. Oh. My. Gosh. All I could think about during class discussions was “What have I done to deserve this?” And if I was struggling with boredom how were my normally bored classmates still breathing?  Why would anyone think it was a good idea to make teenagers read this book in high school? Not only that but the teacher dragged it out for two weeks! I’m pretty sure we watched a movie adaptation starring Liam Neeson, but the details are fuzzy...

Thankfully To Kill A Mockingbird was next…

Which required reading books did you love? Hate? Which ones did you just totally skip out on? Have you gone back to reread any of them to see if they were really as good/bad as you remember?

14 comments:

  1. I had to read The Once and Future King my sophomore year and I LOVED it. Which was a total surprise.

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    1. Anne Marie I'll have to check that out! You aren't the only one who's mentioned it lately. Maybe it's a sign...

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  2. I loved looking at the periodic table. lol We actually DIDN'T read The Scarlet Letter or To Kill A Mockingbird, so I still haven't read them. Romeo & Juliet (audio version) was pretty bad, and I have yet to finish Beowulf. Most of the books, however, I loved. I still count The Glass Menagerie and Death of a Salesman as some of my favorites.

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    1. Deborah if you liked the periodic table I highly recommend reading the Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean! It's a compilation of the histories and anecdotes surrounding each of the elements. Fantastic read! The Scarlet Letter is great but can be dry and too metaphorical for some so if that's not your cup of tea then skip it. To Kill A Mockingbird is just great. Definitely read that if you get a chance! I read Beowulf in college... meh. I like the story but it was a bore to get through the language IMO. I haven't read The Glass Menagerie... yet. And I can't believe I forgot to mention Death of a Salesman!!!

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  3. I fell in love with Wuthering Heights when we had to read it in my high school. I reread it again last year and loved it just as much. I didn't hate it when we had to read Shakespeare, but it was really difficult to get through.

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    1. I've tried so hard to read Wuthering Heights... and I just can't get past the first 50 pages or so... *sigh* I should try again. Shakespeare was hard to get through for me too but I was lucky in high school to have some really great teachers who made reading them bearable.

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  4. Oh, you poor child. I subjected myself to some Wharton in 2013. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

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    1. I've actually been to her home. And it was after I had read EF. I would have been more impressed of the house and the grounds if I wasn't so bitter about Frome...

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  5. Uuuuuugh Ethan Frome... That book annoyed me too! Also, I changed schools between 8th and 9th grade, and my 8th grade curriculum at the old school was the same as the 9th grade curriculum at the new one... meaning I had to read the Odyssey, Romeo & Juliet, and Lord of the Flies TWICE. Not that I didn't like the books, but having to write double the number of essays was not fun!

    And I'm pretty sure my 10th grade English teacher was trying to drive us all into a pit of despair. Started off with World War I lit, then Holocaust lit, then Apartheid, then the Great Depression... the cheeriest book we read all year was Jane Eyre.

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    1. I wouldn't have minded rereading them either, Mary. But writing about them twice... UGH. And wow. Your 10th grade lit class sounds really REALLY depressing!! Why would a teaching willing focus on those topics for a whole year?!

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  6. How Green Was My Valley! I STILL harbor a deep despair that I spent so much time reading that book. And then, not only did you have to READ it, you then had to DISCUSS it! Ugh, ugh, ugh. That said, I really liked The Scarlet Letter, Gatsby and the required John Steinbeck.

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    1. Thankfully I did not have to read How Green Was My Valley. I'm not sure I've heard anything positive about it. The only Steinbeck we read was Of Mice and Men. I liked it even though it was a bit depressing.

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    2. Thankfully I did not have to read How Green Was My Valley. I'm not sure I've heard anything positive about it. The only Steinbeck we read was Of Mice and Men. I liked it even though it was a bit depressing.

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  7. To Wharton's credit, I found everything BUT Ethan From pretty tolerable. I took a Cather and Wharton class once that was unexpectedly good. I do recall having to read Orwell's 1984 IN 1984, because, how could we not, right? I got over the novelty of that amusing convergence pdq and realized I was not a fan.

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