On forced reading.

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Wayoftheredpanda

Professional Billy-Bumbler Trainer
May 15, 2018
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#1
How did you feel about novels you were forced to read and analyze in school? I like some books we read and some were boring, but they all had us analyze them half to death. Being forced to analyze books for themes and allusions and literary devices and what not just takes all the enjoyment out of reading, especially when the themes are obvious (Gee, Animal Farm is a political satire of 1940’s soviet Russia? I never would’ve known). My English class is starting “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe tomorrow and I do not want to read it, it’s just going to get in the way of me finishing The Dark Tower series which is a lot more fun and interesting compared to what the class novel is about. We’re also going to read Animal Farm later this year which I really don’t want to do because I like that novel and I don’t want to have it ruined for me by writing a five page essay on why the pig’s name is Snowball.
 

Wayoftheredpanda

Professional Billy-Bumbler Trainer
May 15, 2018
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#3
I liked The Outsiders and Roll of Thunder, Hear my cry which we read in 7th grade. I’m also a fan of “Freak the Mighty” which we read in 4th.

I didn’t like The Pearl by John Steinbeck which I read in 8th, they could’ve at least picked “Of Mice and Men” or “The Grapes of Wrath” compared to the garbage we read
 

Tery

A homeward angel on the fly
Moderator
Apr 12, 2006
14,103
38,211
Bremerton, Washington, United States
#4
McTeague. Which SK loves but I found deadening and ugly. I get it supposed to be that way to say whatever it's saying. But I found the endless picking apart as boring and irritating as you did. The other book I had to read that year was Ulysses by James Joyce which was much better. As my choice to read -- yes, she actually gave us a choice -- I picked The Fellowship of the Ring. She wasn't happy when I quoted Tolkein about his lack of hidden symbolism, etc. But she had to give me a good grade because I hit all her requirements.
 

AnnaMarie

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2012
7,026
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#5
There was a book I was forced to read in grade 6. I’m not sure what it was called, but in my head I reamember it being called The Invisible Man. It was about a guy who has to jump out of his plane behind enemy lines. He must remain invisible to the enemy until he can be rescued. I wanted to read Anne of Green Gables. But....I loved that book. It was everything
I would chose not to read, but I loved it.

In highschool, The Pearl and Charley (aka Flowers for Algernon) we’re assigned reading. I enjoyed both. I don’t remember any other books. Maybe Romeo and Juliet. OK, but rather dumb.

But poetry.

I loved poetry. I loved reading it and I loved writing it. My friends and I started our own poetry club at school where we would read poetry including our own. And then.....it was assigned. And ripped to shreds.


Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.


Such beautiful words. My favourite poem. Originally. I have a vague memory of getting into a heated argument with the teacher.

It was many years before I was able to read that poem again without feeling stressed. I still do not fully enjoy poetry and stopped writing. (I was young. I believed my poems would some day be poems that everyone loves and knows. And nobody was going to rip them apart and ruin them for some young person. Lol)
 
Sep 1, 2018
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#7
Hmm, interesting topic! I had a bad habit when I was young of loving the idea of reading (unlike now!) but not actually getting around to it. The Great Gatsby is one of my all-time favorite books now and one that if I gave it the proper time and effort back then I feel like would have resonated, even then, within me. I do think a book like that though is a perfect example of a book teenagers don't and cannot really appreciate that early in their teenage years. I can certainly understand the effort to try though.
 

Spideyman

Uber Member
Jul 10, 2006
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Just north of Duma Key
#11
Forced = required reading in my day and age. Just about all of Dickens . Beowulf another. It was mainly because it was to analyze, take apart every word, sentence, paragraph What did the author mean, why did she/ he use this technique. I do recall answering once-- go ask the author, not me *** strongly advice against doing that!

Books are for enjoyment. Later in life I read with enjoyment and awe all of Dicken's book. Even Beowulf. Time changes in life and so do the concepts of books.
 

Wayoftheredpanda

Professional Billy-Bumbler Trainer
May 15, 2018
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#12
go ask the author, not me *** strongly advice against doing that!
That’s great advice Spidey! Instead of picking apart every little trivial thing instead of enjoying the book and being free to interpret it like it was supposed to be read I’ll just tell my teacher to leave a note on Chinua Achebe’s grave if he wants an answer.
 

fushingfeef

Uber-in-waiting
Aug 14, 2009
10,010
20,355
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
#14
I do approve of assigning reading of things that people normally might never read, it can't hurt to expand one's horizons, but on the other hand I think it should be mixed in with allowing readers to choose their own stuff as well. I know a lot of kids never read at all unless it was assigned to them.

Personally, my most hated assigned reading was "Pilgrim's Progress", which is generally regarded as the most boring book ever written. If you can get through PP, you've accomplished something.
 

Spideyman

Uber Member
Jul 10, 2006
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Just north of Duma Key
#15
That’s great advice Spidey! Instead of picking apart every little trivial thing instead of enjoying the book and being free to interpret it like it was supposed to be read I’ll just tell my teacher to leave a note on Chinua Achebe’s grave if he wants an answer.
:no_pig::no_pig:retired teacher here-- not good advice. It got me in trouble back in HS and it will do the same with you. Much of these exercises in analyzing writing style and author's meaning is to teach about structure, to use your imagination as to why things were laid out in that manner. Some author are very generous in explaining their methods and reasons why they did this or that. Have you ever compared your teacher's interpretation to an actual interview by an author? Then and only then can you make a statement of disagreement and have proof. Just read to enjoy.
 

Wayoftheredpanda

Professional Billy-Bumbler Trainer
May 15, 2018
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#18
:no_pig::no_pig:retired teacher here-- not good advice. It got me in trouble back in HS and it will do the same with you. Much of these exercises in analyzing writing style and author's meaning is to teach about structure, to use your imagination as to why things were laid out in that manner. Some author are very generous in explaining their methods and reasons why they did this or that. Have you ever compared your teacher's interpretation to an actual interview by an author? Then and only then can you make a statement of disagreement and have proof. Just read to enjoy.
Don’t worry Spidey, I was joking. I just find that picking apart every sentence of a novel takes the point out of reading it.
 

HollyGolightly

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2013
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Heart of the South
#20
I must have had really good teachers -I can't recall any book we read that I hated - though there were books I would have never chosen. We always got to do reports on some we had to read and some we chose to read. I learned I really like Russian literature. And I didn't like Dickens much . And Shakespeare was quite ribald and funny - that was surprising. But I also got to read The World According to Garp, Evergreen, Hollywood Wives!! AnnaMarie I LOVED Flowers for Algernon! And I didn't much like the usual Steinbeck, but because he was on the reading list - I discovered Cannery Row and the other books about Doc and the boys that he wrote that never seem to be on anyone's reading list - and they are great. Somehow I got out of high school without reading To Kill a Mockingbird - I had to discover that gem on my one - but I thought it was incredible. We are a readerly bunch, aren't we? I'll read a cereal box to entertain myself.
 
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