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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Opinions on Books We Read as Kids/Teens

    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
    Last edited by aspiecat; 11-18-2014 at 09:31 AM.
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  3. #2

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    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.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    "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.
    *************************************************
    GRADUATION, SUMMER 2015!
    NOW ON TO COLLEGE, 2015/2016 SCHOOL YEAR

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    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.
    *************************************************
    GRADUATION, SUMMER 2015!
    NOW ON TO COLLEGE, 2015/2016 SCHOOL YEAR

  6. #5

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    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.
    Spending my days learning with DD 10 and DS 8.

  7. #6

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    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.

  8. #7

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    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.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by amradiofairyland View Post
    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!

  10. #9

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    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.
    *************************************************
    GRADUATION, SUMMER 2015!
    NOW ON TO COLLEGE, 2015/2016 SCHOOL YEAR

  11. #10

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    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.

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Opinions on Books We Read as Kids/Teens