Oh, That Dreaded Reading List
Eden from So Anyway asks:
What was your required reading in high school? What did you love? What did you hate? What do you think everyone should read and why?
A lot of the so-called classics were required reading at my high school. I didn’t really hate any of it, but I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic either. I think what took away from the enjoyment was the analysis of each piece that accompanied every chapter. Didn’t the author write a novel or a play to be appreciated in a more general sense rather than be dissected endlessly on term papers and lectures and tests? Yes, these term papers and lectures and tests are necessary for learning but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.
During high school, I read the typical stuff: Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, Julius Ceasar, Macbeth, Hamlet), Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Turn of the Screw, The Age of Innocence, All the King’s Men, Cold Sassy Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, etc.
There were also several times where I got to choose what book I wanted to read which sometimes turned out to be more fun (such as Heart of Darkness and Waiting For Godot). And then there were those classics that I read outside of the classroom on my own: Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Truman Capote, those other Shakespeare plays (The Tempest, King Lear, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Taming of the Shrew).
As for what I think everyone should read–there should be more sci-fi/fantasy on the required reading list. I wouldn’t go so far as to advocate Harry Potter (which is better suited for younger kids) or even geek favorites like Douglas Adams and Anne McCaffrey, but I would like to see authors such as William Gibson, Octavia Butler, and Ursula K. Le Guin who dabble more on the side of social commentary.