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aspiecat
11-18-2014, 10:17 AM
After reading and commenting in the thread regarding American literature for high schoolers seemingly not having happy endings, I thought it might be interesting to see members' take on different books. There were almost two derailments in that thread (I am guilty of contributing to that LOL) so perhaps it's time to have a thread devoted to opinions on books we have read over the years.

You can put the title of the book(s) at the beginning of your post in this thread...include the author as sometimes we know an author and not necessarily an actual book.

It might lead to spoilers, so if you want to discuss a book and you believe you might give something away that is best left to when the book is read, please start your comment with **SPOILER ALERT**.

Aspie

alexsmom
11-18-2014, 11:06 AM
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.
I was subjugated to this book in middle school, and if it didnt start my hate affair with school reading, it certainly cemented it.
A bunch of (modern) boys get stranded alone on an island, and behave badly.
Unlike Tennesse Williams family disfunctions which i could appreciate later as an adult, this book to me was just miserable. You couldnt pay me to read it. Well, maybe you could, but itd take that much.

aspiecat
11-18-2014, 11:34 AM
"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott

**SPOILER ALERT**

The extremely mild debate about this book made me sit back and think about my take on this classic novel. Out of all the books in the series, this is my favourite, although all are pretty good IMO. Anyway, there seemed to be a couple of SHS members who were left feeling depressed by this book, and NOT for the reason I thought. I believed it was due to Beth dying, but it turned out being because Jo and Laurie not ending up together and/or Laurie ending up with Amy.

Now, I love this book and can pick it up once a year, read it in a sitting (not that I really have that luxury of time these days, but ya know) and be left feeling all warm and cozy. I always tear up when I read the poem Jo writes about the girls' boxes, especially Beth's, but it's a good sad...IYKWIM.

Now regarding Jo, Laurie and Amy, I think the pairing of Laurie with Jo's youngest sister is really spot-on. In my mind, Laurie needed someone who could honestly love her both because she exuded beauty and elegance, plus was well-suited to the kind of wife Laurie would be expected by society to have. What is more, she had a vulnerability, masked by her good looks and sophistication; it also showed Laurie that he needed someone who needed him in a way Jo never did.

Jo would have been far too uncomfortable as his wife, and even he in the end realised they were better off as good friends. And once she met Friedrich Bauer, it was clear he was just what she needed. Here was someone who could bring out the best in her both as a writer and a woman; at the same time he showed her she could do so without feeling she had totally left her beloved childhood behind, which was her greatest fear.

This is also one of the few books that, even leaving some things out, makes the transition to the big screen very well. I think the Susan Dey mini-series was pretty good, but my favourite dramatisation is the Winona Ryder film version. Even in an hour and a half, the central points of the book were able to be brought to the screen. Not only that, it was rather well-cast. I even don't mind Christian Bale in this LOL.

aspiecat
11-18-2014, 11:37 AM
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.
I was subjugated to this book in middle school, and if it didnt start my hate affair with school reading, it certainly cemented it.
A bunch of (modern) boys get stranded alone on an island, and behave badly.
Unlike Tennesse Williams family disfunctions which i could appreciate later as an adult, this book to me was just miserable. You couldnt pay me to read it. Well, maybe you could, but itd take that much.

I had to read this in 6th form! (That's the equivalent of 11th grade.) It was terribly depressing to me, but interestingly it was the first book that I read and didn't particularly like, yet was able to really get into for analysis. I guess that's why it's so often chosen: the number of themes to be studied in this book is immense.

But yeah...I have never read it again and never will, I shouldn't think.

ElizabethK
11-18-2014, 11:54 AM
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

I haven't read either of these books in a while, so I can't write in depth about the plot, but I do remember my reaction to both of these.

I read Crime and Punishment in 12th grade and it was a pivotal read for me. I think it was about the presentation. I was in an AP English class, and it was seen as an enormous privilege to be reading this book. There were about 5 of us, and we spent much of the year discussing this book in a way that I had never discussed literature before, with a teacher who was truly excited about literature. The fact that it was depressing was kind of a side note, we focused more on the psychology of the characters. This was the first time I appreciated the language and art of literature and I went on to study literature in college.

I also loved Hemingway as a teenager. My favorite Hemingway book was A Farewell to Arms. But it is also insanely depressing. Stylistically, Hemingway is drastically different from Dostoyevsky, and I really like his spare way of writing.

I'm not sure if I read A Farewell To Arms in school or on my own, but I think, based on my appreciation of it that I read it on my own. There is a huge difference between reading a book because you have to and reading it because you want to, and I think that really colors our approach to enjoying literature. I was a bookworm as a kid, and read all sorts of classics, so I didn't mind the required readings in school but I also didn't enjoy them as much as I could have.

fastweedpuller
11-18-2014, 12:21 PM
I think, Aspie, that one of the reasons that other thread appealed to us is the REASON we read at all. And there are many reasons! But the underlying theme of the hate seems to be that reading shouldn't, I don't know, hurt? And I guess I simply think a little tragedy on the page is acceptable, if not downright necessary. It's FICTION. It's not happening IRL to you.

Personally, I've been really jazzed as a mom to re-read some childhood faves with my daughter. Homeschooling or no, this has been so FUN for me. And I kind of chart where to go with them, too: at what age, for example, should I hit her with Watership Down? with Little Women? with The Awakening??? (Answer: when she's 11, 11 and 18.)

It's been an eye-opener for me as well. I thought she'd love A Wrinkle in Time. I thought she'd hate Bridge to Terabithia. Wrong, so wrong, on both counts. Anything by E.B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Scott O'Dell, Roald Dahl ALL GREAT, have stood the test of time. I remember hating Tuck Everlasting as a kid but it's beautifully written! And: she cannot stand anything by Beverly Cleary or ANY Pippi Longstocking. Ah well, different strokes.

amradiofairyland
11-18-2014, 12:25 PM
This may make me very unpopular, but here goes: I grew up loving Watership Down (even after being freaked by early exposure to the film), but on rereading it as an adult grew increasingly irritated by the characterization of the female bunnies. Not only are they largely bit players in comparison to all the males, the male characters are clearly human (allegorically speaking) and behave as such, while the females act largely like stereotypical rabbits (skittish, wary, passive), so by comparison come across as sort of sub-human. And in fact, they aren't even given authentic behavior for rabbits, let alone allegorical women with an equal part to play in the creation of a society.

Also, I had a hard time not grimacing through most of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I read it with my daughter after not having looked at it since childhood. I had loved the magic of it, but am now struck by how heavy-handed the religion of it is.

fastweedpuller
11-18-2014, 12:54 PM
This may make me very unpopular, but here goes: I grew up loving Watership Down (even after being freaked by early exposure to the film), but on rereading it as an adult grew increasingly irritated by the characterization of the female bunnies.

Also, I had a hard time not grimacing through most of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I read it with my daughter after not having looked at it since childhood. I had loved the magic of it, but am now struck by how heavy-handed the religion of it is.

Ah: both good points. DD had to read LWW last year with Oak Meadow's 4th grade curric. I had her do a very pro-Christian book analysis with it. I really hit her hard with the "why is this important, why did Aslan have to die" thing. And yeah, women's mis-, under- and bad representation in literature, movies, etc. You'd think women were only 25% of the population!

aspiecat
11-18-2014, 01:39 PM
FWP - the other thread appealed to SHSers more? Ummm...sorry, but did I miss something? Or was what I wrote in my OP mistaken for my being upset in some way in the other thread? Coz that's not the case at all. I simply thought thread for opinions on books was a good idea considering it's a really interesting thing to debate. It's not a case of a thread appealing to people more than another one. Never occurred to me.

fastweedpuller
11-18-2014, 01:52 PM
Nah, I was simply surprised how much people seemed to hate sad/tragic endings in books! I'm not comparing the posts; bad choice of words in "appeal" apparently. ! Sorry! bad me!

I guess I am just surprised that having to read pick-your-adjective stuff in high school turns people off of reading after high school. It lit a fire under me, the idea we could analyze books, that people could see different things when reading the same words...I guess I have always enjoyed both reading books and talking about them. And that this is not universal is sad to me is all.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-18-2014, 02:41 PM
Now regarding Jo, Laurie and Amy, I think the pairing of Laurie with Jo's youngest sister is really spot-on. In my mind, Laurie needed someone who could honestly love her both because she exuded beauty and elegance, plus was well-suited to the kind of wife Laurie would be expected by society to have. What is more, she had a vulnerability, masked by her good looks and sophistication; it also showed Laurie that he needed someone who needed him in a way Jo never did.

Elegant, artistic Amy is probably better suited to be a proper wife for Laurie, but he and Jo really seemed like soul mates and had such great chemistry. Jo and Laurie's antics are some of my favorite parts of the book. By having Jo marry Friedrich, it seems like LMA was bowing to Victorian convention. She didn't want to give Jo a marriage based on passion or leave her single (as LMA was herself), but gave her an older, father-like husband who could guide her with his superior wisdom. Blah.

I obviously have put too much thought into this book. :o

I wish I could comment on the books I had to read in high school, but my long-term memory is really bad. I remember liking The Scarlet Letter, Catcher in the Rye, and Grapes of Wrath. Hated Billy Budd. I actually don't remember reading a ton of novels in high school, despite being in honors classes. We never read Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, or Gatsby, which the non-honors classes did. I read many more classic novels on my own or in my college humanities classes.

dragonfly
11-18-2014, 02:48 PM
Lord of the Flies

I can't remember how old I was when I first read this--high school for sure--but I greatly enjoyed it, not because I found the story delightful, but because it was the first time I read something in which I understood the symbolism and themes without any help from the teacher or a textbook. It made for an easy critique assignment, which was a nice change. I guess I am or was very literal, so critiques and analyses were harder for me.

dragonfly
11-18-2014, 03:00 PM
Alas Babylon, The Glass Menagerie, Of Mice and Men, The Oxbow Incident...these were the books we read in my 11th grade English class. I think there were a few others, but only one that I wouldn't call depressing (I can't remember what it was though...). Not knocking the books, they were great, just not anything I found uplifting.

Harrison Bergeron (http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html): Even though it's a short story, it is one that stuck with me strongly since I read it for the first time in high school. I could get very armchair-psychologist-y here, but I won't. Suffice to say, I appreciated the message, and am reminded of it often.

halfpint
11-18-2014, 03:13 PM
I was homeschooled and didn't read most if these "classics". The few that I did read I hated, not because they were sad, but because I didn't "get" them and they just made no sense and weren't compelling. Teenagers just don't have the breadth of experience to understand why people do all sorts of things!

Anyhow, after hating my way through "My Antonia" (can't even remember what that was about now) and a couple others (don't even remember what), my mom got smart and let me have more say in what I read. My hatred for analyzing books totally disappeared once I was talking about a book I liked (and understood).

The one bad side effect was that I never even knew what the "classics" were until I was an adult - people would compare notes of having to read XXX classic and I would be like "what's that about, I've never heard of it". So maybe there is something to that captive-audience thing after all. As I've gotten older I've been more interested to find out what really happened in those books that are cultural touchstones and have gone back and read (or listened to) a few, but not a lot.

There are some others that were mentioned that are aimed at slightly younger audiences, but I read them so young that I totally forgot what happened and had to go re-read them as an adult. And some of them were totally different! I too missed all the religious stuff in the LWW series, and remember being scared of Anne of Green Gables (maybe the croup incident?).

Instead I gobbled evey sci-fi fantasy book I could get my hands on, and quite frankly I think that a lot of the "themes" that get analyzed in "Literature" are in that easier stuff too. Though you do miss some of the writing styles/voice stuff and of course the cultural references later on.

aspiecat
11-18-2014, 03:17 PM
FWP - I see what you mean. The first two syllables in my screen name are frustratingly...well, frustrating! I take things so literally...apologies...

My sister NEVER read for pleasure until she discovered PD James in her mid-20s. Every book she read in childhood and her teen years were ones that were part of the curriculum or those that would help her get where she wanted to be. So reading fashion books to learn how to dress for success and teen mags so she knew how to become popular and increase her standing at school was the norm for her, as was reading whatever chapters in school textbooks were required of her by her teachers. So even the awfully depressing novels we had to read at school didn't really faze her at all, and she never, EVER got emotionally involved in any book she read.

I, on the other hand, hardly ever had my nose out of a book. I read voraciously - probably as an escape from real life - and even the typical tragedy-themed novels I had to read in high school couldn't put me off reading for pleasure. Heck, I was always reading another one or two books of my own choice at the same time, so it didn't even occur to me to be put off reading.

I really hate the fact DS likes reading about as much as my sister (they're not blood related...it's a coincidence). Never reads for pleasure and when he decides he wants to read something, it takes a couple of days for him to realise he isn't into reading LOL. That from a kid who was reading at age three and teaching his Gr 1 classmates at age four how to do the same!

One book I had to read for school and I actually ENJOYED was "Kes". Great book...sad, but inspiring.

Aspie

CrazyMom
12-05-2014, 03:02 PM
Oh no. LOL. I still hate Little Women with a purple passion. Tried to read it again...just for the hell of it....cause so many of ya'll like it. Bleh. It's like every stereotyped gender role that's ever been inflicted on woman-kind. I just HATE seeing women portrayed as so small minded, so emotional, so caged. It's like reading ROOTS. Yes, I understand that it's a true portrayal of a time of history. I get that it's important we remember. But YUCK...let me OUT of that negative ugly time period. It frustrates me to have to revisit it. Above all, it makes me angry. I want to shake the people involved. I get it....they didn't have options. But spending time inside of that feels like torture to me. Little Women....if I had to live your lives...I would open a vein. (Sorry to those of you who are fans of the book...different strokes for different folks)

I loved Catcher in the Rye. Everyone hates that book. I adored it. Loved Nine Stories, too. (I also liked Joyce Marnard's autobiography about what a slimy creep JD Salinger was when she lived with him.)

I love almost everything Tennessee Williams ever wrote. I like dark southern dysfunctional family secret stories. They feel like ghost stories.

Hate, hate, hate Charles Dickens. Everyone loves Charles Dickens. I despise his stories. Ugh.

Hate Shakespeare, mostly. (Gasp!...lol)

Love James Joyce. (even his extremely kinky love letters...lol)

Love Steinbeck, Mark Twain. Gorgeous writers, both.

Hemingway was a misogynistic jerk....but he had amazing word economy. Very tight writing.

Riceball_Mommy
12-06-2014, 11:28 AM
I hated a lot of books I read in high school.

Their Eyes Were Watching God - I didn't like it all and I'm pretty sure I never finished it. I found the southern dialect hard to read. I did read a short story by the same author in English 101 in college, Sweat. The short story was much better for me. I'm not sure if the length made it easier to read or the maturity and experience.

The Stranger - This was another one I hated in high school. It was excruciating. I never finished it and a group of my friends had the one person in our group summarize what happened in the chapters we were supposed to read before class. In my English 101 class we read it again, but before we did he made a big deal over getting the right copy. He held up the same copy I had in high school and said "now this is a terrible translation, if you got this return it." He was right too the other translation was much better and I actually enjoyed the book.

Shakepeare - I love Shakespeare but I only loved it when read it out loud in class. That was the only time I enjoyed reading aloud in class. To study Shakespeare with homeschooling I'll probably have to get an audio book we can follow along with. It's much easier to get into with the separation of voices. Also Macbeth was my favorite, I had to read it twice for high school.

Lord of the Flies - Pretty sure I never finished that either, another book we had the one friend summarize.

The Cat who Went to Heaven - I found this book in my grandmother's house one summer and read it, then about a year later I had to read it again for school. I really loved this book and it was really my first experience with a religion that wasn't the vague Christianity I was growing up with. It told the story of the Buddha, and his experience with the animals that helped him, and all of this was explained through the story of an artist painting that scene. I still love calico cats because of that book.

PinballWizard
12-06-2014, 01:49 PM
I hated a lot of books I read in high school.

Their Eyes Were Watching God - I didn't like it all and I'm pretty sure I never finished it. I found the southern dialect hard to read. I did read a short story by the same author in English 101 in college, Sweat. The short story was much better for me. I'm not sure if the length made it easier to read or the maturity and experience.



Aw, one of my favorite novels of all time! I do agree that the dialect in the beginning is tough. I hope you'll give it a try now as an adult. Since you liked Shakespeare aloud, try reading the dialect aloud. It makes it so much easier to understand! Maybe audio book?! (I know, I'm pushing hard here, lol!). The book is such a rare one in that it follows the life path of a black female. The book shows the character using her lack of societal recognition to her advantage in interesting ways (* spoiler *: for example, it enables her to up and leave her husband since no courts really care about her legal status, and since she can't own property anyway, there's not worry about leaving everything behind). It also is an exploration of male-female dynamics in the quest for love. Anyway, I could go on and on about this book.

I'm one of those folks who loved all the classics I had to read in school and in college. I don't mind sad or upsetting endings. I don't mind a good ambiguous ending, either. I am much more frustrated when everything works out to be rainbows and puppies in the end (The Secret Garden) because my life has never been that way.

Flowers for Algernon is a book I read in the 7th grade. Although I can't remember a time I didn't love reading, this book took my emotional involvement with characters to a whole new level. It also sparked research in areas I had never considered before (what is intelligence? what do we know and not know about the human brain? can we really find ways to help people with mental disabilities overcome their limitations? when ethics and scientific progress are at odds, what is the right response? ) This book is probably why I was a double major in college--English and psychology.

I was a bit of a "book snob" in college until I read The World According to Garp for a contemporary fiction class. This book opened me up to considering books besides the tested and true classics. I love the shocking, unsettling aspects of characters and the dark humor.

Invisible Man and Native Son both taught me more about racism and its destructive nature than any documentary or history book ever could. I didn't get to these books until late in my college career. I'm hoping my kids are ready for them before then.

Riceball_Mommy
12-06-2014, 03:06 PM
I am getting more classics back on my to read list now. I'm going to check out more Hurston books soon, and revist Their Eyes Were Watching God too.

I read another book for a diversity credit in a college class, can't remember the name of the class but I loved the book Love Medicine. I'm on a diverse books kick right now. I'm trying to find some for my daughter but I keep adding to my to read list. We both really like fantasy right now, but I'm looking for age appropriate and available in audio book.

aspiecat
12-10-2014, 10:29 AM
I rather like discovering books by authors who are known for one (or more) novels but not for others they wrote. An example is Charlotte Bronte's Villette, of which most people have not heard. TBH, most people will say, "Oh yeah, she wrote Jane Eyre" but not be able to name anything else she wrote. When I was about 15/16 and discovered Villette in the school library, I tried it out and really liked it. Not as much as Jane Eyre, but it was still a book I couldn't easily put down.

One book I will never, EVER read again is Wuthering Heights. Too damned depressing for me. The whole book is dark, too dark. I like some levity LOL.

Riceball_Mommy
12-10-2014, 12:59 PM
I like finding other books an author wrote too. I had to read two Steinbeck books for summer reading before 9th grade. I expected Of Mice and Men to be amazing, so I read Tortilla Flat first. I was blown away by Tortilla Flat, I cried over that book. Of Mice and Men, I didn't like much at all. Of course I've since heard that you usually love the first Steinbeck book you read and then anything after just doesn't feel as great.
That was also the source of one of the most infuriating tedious assignments with a set of books. We were supposed to stop every time we saw a word we didn't know, look up the definition and write it down. We were supposed to have a certain number of words for each book. Problem is when you are working with the same author for both books by the time you get to the second book you'll have a good handle on the vocabulary and really author's tend to develop a vocabulary and writing style so it's really not that likely that you'll find as many new words in the second book. Now that I really think about it too reading a book just to find words to define probably isn't the best way to get lost in a story either.

ikslo
12-10-2014, 04:14 PM
Now you can just Google "Vocabulary from Of Mice and Men" and get nicely prepped word lists before you even start reading. :)

squares
04-21-2015, 11:55 AM
I liked this thread. I was a voracious reader, but always resisted assigned reading. On my own, I'd read to a certain level - Newberry Award winners and the like - but not the biggies (Shakespeare, the Russian classics, etc.). I think that the "biggies" were just too far removed from my understanding.

Reading this thread made me realize how much effective my 8th grade English teacher was for me. I didn't have a special personal relationship with her or anything, so I hadn't classified her in my group of "best teachers," but I think I will now.

We started the year with To Kill a Mockingbird. I had to read it over the previous summer, and I did, but only after I told my mom that I was having a hard time getting into it. She opened the book to, like, page 5 and told me to just start from there. Once she did that, no problem! It's a great story and the writing is very accessible.

The way the teacher handled the story might not have worked for many people, but it worked like a charm for me. For one thing, we read it aloud in class - the whole thing. So, the kids who didn't read it like they were supposed to, read it anyway. And it slowed it down, and it was fun for those of us who didn't have a reading-aloud phobia.

She required us to have highlighters in specific colors. This part sounds so directive but it really worked for me - when we came to a part that reference a certain theme or motif or whatever, she'd say "highlight these words in pink." Then we'd just move on, so we could get through the narrative without sidetracking every couple of sentences.

After the reading, we'd discuss the motifs and such. But just highlighting them as we came to them, without dragging each down in a giant discussion, it was like turning a light bulb on for me. I really, really got it. I started seeing those themes on my own. My copy of the book was lit up like a Christmas tree, every page has highlighted words and phrases in multiple colors (there was a logic to the colors, I don't remember what, but it worked).

After that, I could find the little "secrets" in many books, even Stephen King stuff. Most of the time, only the bigger themes are discussed in class, but marking every little one allowed me to see more than the main ones. In high school, I'd usually write my papers on smaller motifs, and I think the teachers liked getting a little variety.

HawaiiGeek
04-22-2015, 03:04 PM
I loved my literature classes in High School. To be able to read and have that count for school work to me was the absolute best. They all intrigued me and I just loved the discussions about the books in class. I am a geek so that may explain it, but oh it was heaven for me. My favorite was Of Human Bondage. Of mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, the Great Gatsby, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities - I don't think I would read them again, but I enjoyed them at the time. Wuthering Heights was my first exposure to crazy (besides my Mom - but I didn't know she was crazy yet) and I really liked discussing what was going through Heathcliff's mind. Little Women I did not read in school, I read it later because I was named for Beth. I remember being mad at my Mom, why the heck did you name me after Beth she is way too passive - I was definitely a Joe. It does explain why I came to Homeschool through the back door, I think when your memories of public school are often very positive, you aren't as quick to jump to HS and my memories of high school literature positively glow.

Mariam
04-22-2015, 11:40 PM
For me there are two distinct tracks - what I read for school and what I read when I wasn't in school. I would spend my entire summer on the couch reading. The only way my mom could get me off the couch was to take me to the library or to the swimming pool.

In school this is what I remember reading in jr high and high school (though I might be mixing up required with pleasure reading)

lots of Shakespeare (I think I have read almost all of the plays) - I loved Shakespeare in high school and my school let you choose your classes with a specific focus, so I took every Shakespeare class offered.

Death of a Salesman, Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie: I loved the plays, the angst that goes on, so much like a teenagers life. I remember reading these multiple times as a teen.

lots of American poetry - Still love poetry. Reading it, writing it.

Siddhartha - This book was very formative and is probably one of my favorite books from high school.

the Bible as literature - This a great class. I was an exchange student in Israel the semester before and I was very interested in the historical aspects of the bible. It was a great class and the teacher handled the students and the subject well.

The Outsiders - I read this just before the movie came out. Loved it at a teen. Perfect for my teenage heart. And then when the movie came out, swoon! :)

Edgar Allen Poe's stories - This was the kind of horror I loved. Add the Vincent Price interpretations made them more fun!

Lord of the Flies - meh - nothing to add to what others have already said.

The Good Earth - Great novel that showed me a part of the world that was unfamiliar to me.

1984 - Helped form my conspiracy theories about society

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - I was deeply fascinated with WWII.

To Kill a Mockingbird - So sad, yet very formative to the issues of injustice.

Lots of American short stories, like Hemingway and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

On my own:
Wuthering Heights - Oh Heathcliff!
Edith Wharton's books - the class issue is what stuck with me
Gone with the Wind - While I deplore some of the themes in the book today, I loved the book as a teen.
Flowers for Algernon - It was so sad. I didn't know what to do with it.
The Bell Jar Same. I liked the story, but I couldn't relate.
Fahrenheit 451, Halloween Tree and other Ray Bradbury short stories - Love, love, love Fahrenheit 451. A reminder of what the future could be if we don't maintain the freedom of reading.
James Mitchner books (Alaska, Hawaii, The Source, etc.) Love the historical fiction
Go Ask Alice - More sadness
The Chocolate War - For some reason I remember reading the book, but not much about it.
Jackie Collins - Hollywood Wives and other trashy novels, much to my mother's chagrin.
Judy Blume - Forever - teen sex!
Lots of books whose titles escape me that were never on any must read list, mostly mysteries, time travel, and historical fiction, with some supernatural thrown in.
Lots of non-fiction about supernatural, astrology, sports, religion, history - especially WWII and the Civil War, biographies

CrazyMom
04-23-2015, 12:51 AM
Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger.

I'm one of the few people in the world who doesn't hate Salinger. In fact, I quite loved Nine Stories and all the tales of the Glass family. I liked Catcher quite a lot.

Hated all things Charles Dickens. With a passion.

Loved The Dubliners (James Joyce), Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)

I love that they're teaching Sherman Alexie in highschool now, because he's one of my all time favorites, and The Absolutely true Diary of a Part-Time Indian....is a gorgeous book. I was stunned when Elle read him for AP English.

crunchynerd
05-02-2015, 08:05 PM
Required/school books in high school, and my reactions to them:

Catcher in the Rye: skimmed it, deemed it shallow, boring, and smutty, didn't bother to tune back into class for a while
The Great Gastby: Hated it! As bad as "Thirtysoming" in terms of getting bored to death with privileged people and their self-indulgent self-pity, and their general selfishness. Didn't even finish it; couldn't force myself to.
James Joyce: a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: BO-RING!
The Grapes of Wrath: loved it, though it was a bit too Faulkner-esque...I knew depressive all too well and didn't find it any kind of novelty. But loved Grapes of Wrath.

As I Lay Dying, by Faulkner: YUCK! I get it, I got it. Perhaps too well because of having lived some things most hadn't in my tender years? But I HATED it! If you had to watch a horse die of thirst, you wouldn't want to read about it later. I wrote a scathing mimicry of that, and no one got that I was being sarcastic. They loved it. I was mad.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Riveting. Loved it. Even though it was smutty, (and I was no innocent, so perhaps that is why smut didn't hold much glamor for me?), it was dazzling. Til the end, and then I wished I could wipe the ending from my mind. Still considered it artful. Just wished it could have been more uplifting. It went REALLY well with the music I was delving into at the time, though.

Shakespeare: by the time we got to it in high school I had BTDT. I read it when I was 11, and was bored to pieces in class, in high school, even though I really liked "The Phoenix and the Turtle".

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Was studying Russian for a few years by then, so also liked reading the Russian (better, really) and really got into the depressive groove. It spoke to me. Loved it.

The Brothers Karamazov: Not so much. It was good, I was just really thinking about other things by then. And it seemed a bit too scattered a piece.

War and Peace by Tolsoy: Agreed with critics who tired of his incredibly long and detailed descriptions. Otherwise, liked it.

Madame Bovary: Didn't get into it. Was into my own problems too much, perhaps.

Lord of the Flies (9th grade) felt it was a pretty accurate assessment of how kids go bad, when left to raise and organize themselves in absence of adults. Yuck, but potently moral in its way. It became a literary touch-stone for me.

The Canterbury Tales: Middle English was no biggie to me, and it seemed like the only depth they went into for this, in class, was exposing us to what was supposed to be a challenging form of language. I barely paid attention and still got top marks. Big deal. One of these days I will actually, as a homeschool mom, pay attention to it for the sake of my kids' cultural and historical education, and then probably be embarrassed of how blase I was about it, in high school.

Anna Karenina: A friend begged a favor, a huge favor, that I ghost-write an essay for that person, because that person had a really important competition to attend at the same time, and... knowing better, I went and did it. yes, it was cheating. yes, it was wrong. Yes, I stayed up all night and typed a paper on that book, for that person. And yes, I chewed on the bitter fruit long after, when that person's essay, that I wrote, got school-wide acclaim, and no one could ever know it was my work. Gosh darnit. I don't even know if I turned in that essay, for myself. Might have taken an F. What a fool I was! But in the long run, it didn't matter. But if I had a do-over, I wish I could have told that person they ought to have been ashamed for even asking me such a thing, and roundly turned by back on them, because I lost respect for them, thereafter.

ikslo
05-03-2015, 10:58 AM
I stayed up all night and typed a paper on that book, for that person.

I'm tellin'!

crunchynerd
05-03-2015, 10:23 PM
I'm tellin'!

Believe me, the punishment fit the crime: I learned the hard way, that doing that kind of favor wasn't worth it, and had to grit my teeth and bear it silently, when the whole school seemed to decide that this paper was worth raving about. And because I wrote it for someone else, I didn't get mine done. And had to live with it.

Sometimes natural consequences are really the best teachers.

alexsmom
05-04-2015, 04:41 PM
With any justice, the person who received credit for the paper was ashamed too.
So a lesson for both of you.
And over something with no real lasting consequences. :)

I really feel like I hated everything I was forced to read in school starting with Middle School.

Movin forward, I hope DS has been enjoying the books that are read to him. He claims to enjoy all of them, so far, at least. I hope the trend continues. Hes *finally* starting to read for pleasure on his own.

Mariam
05-04-2015, 07:43 PM
Here is an interesting article about summer reading lists and what librarians think about them. (I'll give you a hint. They think reading should be for enjoyment.)

Those Tired Summer Reading Lists. Here?s What to Do. | School Library Journal (http://www.slj.com/2015/04/programs/those-tired-summer-reading-lists-heres-what-to-do/#_)

HawaiiGeek
05-05-2015, 03:27 AM
Mariam, thanks for the link. It breaks my heart to think that kids are not only required to read certain books during the summer, but then have to write about them. Way to kill the joy. I can understand requiring that kids read a certain number of books over the summer, but there should be no requirement as to which books. I spent many a happy day in the summer reading, but I was so fortunate that in the 80s there was absolutely no requirement of any kind. I loved my high school literature classes, but think that those books would have been hard to get through without the discussion in class.

Mariam
05-05-2015, 11:19 AM
I spent many a happy day in the summer reading, but I was so fortunate that in the 80s there was absolutely no requirement of any kind. I loved my high school literature classes, but think that those books would have been hard to get through without the discussion in class.

Yes, me too! I was in school at the same time. I spend entire summers at the library, reading piles of books - none of them required. Alas, it seems that the system wants to take the fun out of it.

azdad
05-05-2015, 03:21 PM
I read with my 7 year old every day - he reads to me and I read to him. Today we are in the middle of Matilda, by Roald Dahl. We read the chocolate cake eating chapter - just about one of the funniest things I have ever read aloud. Very advanced vocabulary for him and it didn't matter a bit. We were both laughing our heads off. Reading time is our favorite part of the day...

- Rich