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DT: come reap

I am older now; I have more than what I wanted, but I wish that I had started long before I did

Posted on 2004.18.11 at 12:45
How I feel about it all: awakestill awake
Soundtrack: Crosby, Stills and Nash - Wasted on the Way
When I was in high school, we had to read things like Flowers for Algernon and other depressing fare.

Kids have it better in today's English classes.

What books did you have to read in school? Did you find books you'd read forever? What books did you hate? What about books from the outside? Is there one book that forever defines your youth? Is there one book you WISH your English teacher had used in his/her curriculum?

I really, really wish there'd have been more SF and Fantasy, but. Books like I Never Promised You a Rose Garden still haunt me. I don't know how many times I read it as a teenager, and I first discovered it (along with Go Ask Alice and Lisa, Bright and Dark) in my school's Resource Room (where I used to hang out, geekily, because d00d, teh Books).

Geez, it's no wonder I'm a psych nurse, with what I read as a kid. Of course, I also read Helter Skelter so many times that at one point I had memorised the first few paragraphs. *ponders*


Ten O'Clock Medievalist
tarimanveri at 2004-11-17 22:11 (UTC) ()
In grade eight, I had to read Julie of the Wolves and The Call of the Wild, Medicine River in grade nine, Cry the Beloved Country and The Grapes of Wrath in grade ten (when I did an independent study, Lord of the Flies in grade eleven, and Of Mice and Men in Grade 12.

I think The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men left me permanently scarred; my senior English courses placed an unfortunate stress on British and American nobel-prize-winning writers to the complete neglect of say, Canadian literature. I really wish we'd studied CanLit. And more Shakespeare, although over the years I did have to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest.

I read Flowers for Algernon too, but in French.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-17 22:16 (UTC) ()
Cry, the Beloved Country is actually on my list of Books to Read.

Flowers for Algernon would make me suicidal in any language. It's SF, but not my kind of SF.
corridorgeist at 2004-11-17 22:50 (UTC) ()
Wish my high school had had cirriculum like that...
falconcat at 2004-11-17 23:43 (UTC) ()
I still cry at the books we were forced to read. "Silas Marner" and "The Scarlet Letter" spring to mind.

One of my favorite books as a child were "1984" "Too Kill a Mockingbird" and "Wurthing Heights".

But the one book that is my all time favore - I read when I was about 12 or so was "Of Mice and Men". The best book ever.
falconcat at 2004-11-17 23:45 (UTC) ()
Wurthing Heights......LOL
Latter-day Jezebel
nmalfoy at 2004-11-18 00:21 (UTC) ()
Hated, hated, hated The Red Badge of Courage and Return of the Native. Ohsomuch hate.

Loved A Seperate Peace and Darkness at Noon.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 14:55 (UTC) ()
What's Darkness at Noon about?
i lost to a hamburger...
littlealex at 2004-11-18 00:34 (UTC) ()
I can't remember a lot of books that I was given to read as a kid in primary school, but I do remember a lot of books I read outside of school for fun. I read a lot of Goosebumps, lots of Choose Your Own Adventure stories, I tried to get into Jules Verne and HG Wells (I remember reading Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but I don't think I ever got through 20000 Leagues Under the Sea), and I failed to get into Anne of Green Gables.

As for high school, I kind of lacked an extra-curricular reading habit, but I did manage to enjoy a lot of the in-class books we read. I did not like sophomore English, it was a fucking waste of time, I never want to see Chinua Achebe or The Things They Carried again, thank you. However, freshman English with Shakespeare and Sophocles, that was pretty good. I didn't do a lot of junior English because of my China-going, but that's okay because my favourite year was senior English, which I picked Brit Lit for. I loved the teacher for that class, so everything from Chaucer to Nick Hornby and everything in between (even bloody Forster and Conrad) was made good by that class.

And nowadays, though I don't take English class anymore, I read a lot of non-fiction, biographies, when I do read. Lots of fiction based on Chinese-born Americans, lots of Jung Chang, Amy Tan, Adeline Yen Mah. Actually what I can say is my favourite book at the moment, and one that I really really love and recommend to anyone, not just those sinophiles around, is Adeline Yen Mah's "Watching The Tree". It's a really personal and intimate perspective and explanation of a lot of Chinese and East Asian philosophy and traditions. I really learned a lot from it, and found it really interesting and insightful. Great thing is, I got it from my grandmother.

Now, you know I'm not a book person, but that's my little book history for you.
i lost to a hamburger...
littlealex at 2004-11-18 00:37 (UTC) ()
Oh man reading the other comments -- I totally forgot To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice And Men! I think the former was great, I really loved it, but the latter was the first book I ever cried at. It was terrible, I was just sitting there on the couch in the living room doing my homework when all of a sudden - ouch. I finished the book and just started crying.

Also, unrelated sort of, but a movie my parents got my sister and me into young was the Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing. So while it's not necessarily reading the play I like, I think it's still really cool that parents can get their kids into Shakespeare. But there's a whole other rant about movies being as good at moving people and transporting them to another place as books are, and that'll be for another time.
crikkita at 2004-11-18 05:10 (UTC) ()
Hmmm... this guy teaches at a boarding school in NH ... I wonder whether a friend of mine had him ... or it could be that other one of which everyone has heard ..... Geesh, if reading skills are that poor at the best prep schools in the nation, then I weep for America's youth. (A sad, sad thing for a 30-yr-old to have to say!)

I was extremely lucky in HS. My junior- and senior-level classes read things like Joy Luck Club, Love Medicine (Louise Erdrich), Beloved, poetry by Langston Hughes, Going After Cacciato (a Vietnam-era novel whose author's name has escaped me at the moment, but he was on NPR the other day), The Invisible Man (Ellison, not the other one), Frankenstein, Dr. Faustus, Othello, a whole course on Modern Poetry, from Dickinson and Whitman to the present.....

... and I spent all my free time reading Stephen King! *facepalm*
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 11:38 (UTC) ()
... and I spent all my free time reading Stephen King! *facepalm*

Heck, I do that now. Nothing wrong with that. The guy's brilliant.
Non-Recovering WoW Addict
heinous_bitca at 2004-11-18 06:47 (UTC) ()
I had to read The Hobbit in 9th grade. A friend who had read the whole series told me there was more, and while I still read my "animal" books for years to come (mostly the Black Stallion series, but there were other non-horse books in there too), I had found my love of fantasy in Tolkien.

I don't remember the books I hated reading. I liked Flowers for Algernon, tho. We even did a play of it. I had a bit part. I do remember discovering my nascent love for post-apocalyptic SF in high school (though I didn't really realize it at the time), by reading Alas, Babylon and Z for Zachariah, though the latter may have been in middle school, not HS.
the day you left was just my beginning
patchfire at 2004-11-18 07:12 (UTC) ()
We had to read the standard 'canon'-fare, I would say. I hated Wuthering Heights, and I hated Jane Eyre. We had to read the latter in 10th grade, and the former in 12th grade. I still haven't figured out why they thought we needed to have TWO Brontes inflicted on us.

But. We also had to read Brave New World and 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale. And we read The Things They Carried, which is, IMO, one of those books that eludicates a time and a mood very very well. We read Pride and Prejuice, which I re-read at least once a year. And other books we read, I don't re-read them, but I think it was good that they were required. The Awakening, for examples, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. We read, for whatever reason, a fair amount of Holocaust lit... I think in some cases it would have been more impactful (is that a word?) if we had read less (Diary of Anne Frank in 7th grade, Night one year in high school, The Bread Givers...).

I can't really complain about my high school lit, though. They didn't force us through Moby Dick or anything. ;) And I did decide to keep most of the books I had to buy... so obviously they haven't totally scarred me.

(I keep being tempted to get rid of the Brontes, though.)
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 11:41 (UTC) ()
Well, I at least own 1984. I bought it for mr_t00by and neither of us has read it yet.
sistermagpie at 2004-11-18 07:24 (UTC) ()
Heh--I read all those books too, the ones that were dark depressing teens with mental problems one.

In class off the top of my head I remember having to read The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Thread That Runs So True, The Yearling, Red Badge of Courage, Daisy Miller, Sound and the Fury, The Scarlet Letter, Johnny Tremaine, Heart of Darkness.

We also had a list of summer reading. We had to do three books off the regular list and one book off the special "honors" list. But since my summer job allowed for lots of reading I went down the honors list reading a lot of them. Found a lot of really good books that way--but I remember being just completely confuzzled by Jude the Obscure.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 11:40 (UTC) ()
Found a lot of really good books that way--but I remember being just completely confuzzled by Jude the Obscure.

A friend of mine loves that book. I know nothing about it except that it was considered Controversial in its day.
stormwynd at 2004-11-18 12:57 (UTC) ()
Are you asking what did I read in *school* or what did I read in *class*? Huge difference for me.

My high school was (back then) very much tied to the traditional western canon. Of all the books I read in English class, the only one that made a huge mark on me personally was The Scarlet Letter. The whole "destroying your own life by keeping something a secret because you're ashamed of it" theme resonated very strongly with me, being a hyper-closet gay teenager at the time. I still remember one particular passage from the end of the novel that, as much as anything else, told me that it was time to come out:

"Among the many morals we can draw from our poor minister's miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence: Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!"

As for books I read *while* I was in high school, I found the Outsiders in the school library during my freshman year and devoured it and SE Hinton's other books during a bunch of free periods one week. I also found a copy of John Fox's The Boys on the Rock in the school library, swiped it without checking it out, and read it at home. (It's a boy's coming out story -- there was no way I was going to actually check it out with the librarian.) I *did* return it anonymously at the end of the year, though.

I share your wish that there had been more SF/Fantasy as well.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 15:05 (UTC) ()
I *did* return it anonymously at the end of the year, though.

It's important to be honest when you steal. That's my motto. *eg*

Have you read At Swim, Two Boys? It's one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful stories I've ever read. *loves*
closet_geek at 2004-11-18 13:17 (UTC) ()
I guess I've been lucky, because most of my experiences with novel studies at school, elementary or secondary, have been mostly OK. Although that may have been due to me being an English superdork and having read a lot of them beforehand, loving them despite whatever tedious work the teacher assigned to us. Off the top of my head I can name The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple...all of these I had read and loved beforehand, so it was great to get marked on how well I knew them. Yes, yes, English superdork = me.

However, I did say my novel study experiences have 'mostly' been good. I took a lit class this year because I needed a course where I could eat chocolate bars under the desk and skip every Friday. (A class where you read books = very happy English superdork. Math I can live with.) Of course, all my grand plans went to shit on the first day of the course, when my teacher stuck a copy of 'Heart of Darkness' under my nose and said to read it within a week. I couldn't make a heads or tails of what Conrad was saying and neither could my class, all of whom are on the same academic level as I am (superdorks, unite!) and I *still* can't. Luckily, one of the advantages of having an lj is the great flist; I begged for help with HD on my journal and one of the teachers on my flist complied with her oral notes on Conrad, having taught the damn story a few times. Fortunately, we're done with HD and onto Salinger now, and I'm back to the height of my superdorkdom...read 'Catcher' and loved it way before I turned teenager on my parents, and that probably accounts for my Holden-esque personality now. But I'm getting pretty aprehensive, I think we're due to start Lolita soon and that means I have to start sweating and going to class again. Bah.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 15:38 (UTC) ()
I think we're due to start Lolita soon and that means I have to start sweating and going to class again. Bah.

Lolita is one of those books that I really think I need to read, like A Tale of Two Cities, that I just haven't done. But I should.
robinhoo at 2004-11-18 13:51 (UTC) ()
Like many folks, I read "the standard fare." The ones I particularly remember loving beyond all reason were: To Kill A Mockingbird (grade 8), Lord of the Flies (grade 10, although I was hugely bitter that the "regular" English classes got to read The Crucible that year, but the AP class didn't), The Grapes of Wrath (grade 11, and I actually loved that book!), and Hamlet (grade 12). I loathed, hated, abhorred, abominated, and execrated the following: Fathers and Sons (grade 8, by Turgenev; WTF is this book about?!), Fahrenheit 451 (also grade 8, and yes, I just saw all the sci-fi fans' heads explode, but I hated this book), Romeo and Juliet (grade 9), and All the President's Men (grade 12 -- we hated this one so much that we finally got our teacher to let us quit reading it).

Books I WISH we'd read: Lord of the Rings (almost all my guy friends had read it, and I tried, but didn't like it at the time); Cry, The Beloved Country; something, anything, by Stephen King; Dracula (a friend who teaches 11th-grade AP English recently told me her students read The Dead Zone AND Dracula, which makes me writhe with envy); and an actual novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne (we read short stories, which I loved, but no novels). Also, since I grew up in the South, the single novel I read by an African-American author during the entire span of my upper-grade-school career was Langston Hughes' A Raisin in the Sun, which is actually a play. That's it. Disgusting, isn't it? So I'd also add pretty much anything good by anybody who isn't a dead white man.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-18 15:36 (UTC) ()
something, anything, by Stephen King

He should definitely be read as part of some progressive teacher's curriculum. The Stand would be so very perfect. It has everything--good v. evil, post-apocalyptic genre, politics, medicine, metaphysics, friendship, love, hatred, death. A class could dissect this book for an entire school year, never mind a mere semester. I've read it three times (I think), and I'm still not tired of it.
peacey at 2004-11-19 03:55 (UTC) ()
Gah. How incredibly awful is it that I've had to sit and think for a full day to try and recall what books were required reading in school and all I could come up with is "Flowers For Algernon"? Holy shite, it's pathetic. I remember reading "MacBeth" in 11th grade and going on a field trip to Stratford, Ontario, Canada to see the play performed (along with "The Tempest"). THAT was wonderful, although I do quite detest reading plays of any sort. For me, the words of what is essentially a script fall flat unless they're coming out of someone's mouth. On my own, I did read, "The Scarlet Letter" and loveloveloved it. I read "The Martian Chronicles" too - about four or five times in the span of a year once. Of course there was the tattered copy of "Forever" by Judy Blume that got passed around my little clique of friends over and over. Oh! I forgot that we read, "The Odyssey" and parts of "Beowulf" and all of "The Canterbury Tales." I obviously don't recall much about them, but do vaguely remember thinking that "Beowulf" was pretty good (though I couldn't tell you much about it). However, the book that made the biggest impression on me in high school was, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." It is, to this day, my favorite book of all time. Do I want to know what that says about me? No. Do I care? No. :)
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-11-19 06:02 (UTC) ()
However, the book that made the biggest impression on me in high school was, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." It is, to this day, my favorite book of all time. Do I want to know what that says about me? No. Do I care? No. :)

What it says, my dear, is that you have very good taste in books. Now I'm positive you will love Good Omens. Go read, forthwith. Or fifthwith, even, along with all the other stuff I'm forcing you to suggesting you read.
franzeska at 2004-11-21 17:02 (UTC) ()
I would describe my school books as "depressing crap". My mother actually asked them to knock it off with the death and angst and was told that "real literature is depressing". We read some of these horrid things year after year.

My most hated list: Flowers for Algernon
The Crucible
The Lord of the Flies
The Lottery
The Veldt
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (out of all the Christie they could have chosen...)
The Tortilla Curtain

The last of those is the only one from high school. All of the others were inflicted on little grade schoolers. It's a good thing my mother had started reading to me when I was little because otherwise, I'd never have picked up a book again. If my future children's teachers are this stupid, we'll be having words.

I don't like depressing books, but I hate heavy-handed, moralistic, patronizing twaddle far more. Most of those were both.
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