Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Love

Inspired by yesterday's post over at Between Fact and Fiction to remember by high school required reading, I remembered some books I hated (**cough** Ethan Frome **cough**) but I also remember some that I really enjoyed.

Ender's Game. Anyone who's met me in person is groaning. Yes, I love that book. Yes, I reference it all the time. But, senior year, my English teacher gave us a Select-a-Quest option on our term paper to design our own book pairing and question, so I got to compare to Ender's GameThe Republic. Did the book feel different when I had to analyze certain components and think of it for literary value? Yes. Did I still love it? Yes. Because it was a choice, and because it was a book that a kid my age might actual choose to read of their own volition (which, let's face it, few school assigned books are).

Romeo and Juliet. The first time I read the play was for a class. And my teacher made it fun. True, we had to memorize passages and perform them for the class, but I'm a thespian, so I didn't mind that so much. And she only made us do that twice. Actually, my earliest memory of a close friend was his train wreck recitation of the prologue, so these recitations helped kids make friends. Instead of analyzing Act 5 in a paper, she let us perform it. Which, if you had kids in your class like I did, was hella fun. And there's something about a woman who looks like your grandma saying, "He's telling a sex joke. If you're confused, assume he's talking about sex," that just makes you know you're going to enjoy that unit.

The Odyssey. Long as heck, but my English teacher that year was a dream. She and I had a very similar sense of humor. Every act, we had to do a presentation. And, yes, these presentations did have to involve acting a scene out. But, if you're like me and you find zero budget productions to be absolutely hilarious, then you found that be to absolutely awesome. One guy, for the rest of the year, was known as "The Supple [Name Deleted to Preserve His Privacy]" because of the t-shirt he wore during his presentation. My teacher actually made it fun to work on.

What were some of your favorite books from the days of school assigned reading? How did the teachers make it good for you?


  1. I remember reading "The House of the Seven Gables" and "The Scarlet Letter". My teacher was a former Harvard professor who was wanting to experiment with teaching high school for a while. She took those books and flipped them inside out for us. I've never enjoyed reading anything as much as I enjoyed reading those two books, digging into the meanings, the suggestions, reading between the lines and around them. It was a wonderful experience, and I've been a better reader since then.

    Other readings that she made good for me were "The Iliad", "Oedipus Rex", "Medea", and "Paradise Lost". I still have all of my high school copies of those books, with all my little scribbles of notes in the margins. I'll never get rid of them!


  2. I loved The Great Gatsby. I don't know that the teacher did anything to make it fun to read, but I just liked the story.

  3. Nevine -- She sounds like a great teacher. I would keep those books forever, as well. They've got your thoughts in them, so now they're a part of you.

    Susan -- If you liked it, that's great. :D