Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Books You Read in High School You DON'T Have to Read Again

Some books are just weird. It doesn't matter if they teach you about tyrannical governments or technology take over, they are just weird. Why force kids to read a book they will definitely hate which then causes them to not like reading? I'm all for students reading classics, some of them are just not necessary.

1. Animal Farm

Orwell is a master of words. There is no arguing this. But I really don't think freshmen in high school understand Soviet Communism. Nor do I think they necessarily need to understand Soviet Communism. The allegory is creepy and disturbing. It is simple to read, the characters are stereotypical on purpose and while the themes are good ones to learn, they could all be learned through a more audience appropriate book like How to be an Alien by George Mikes. It has less creepy factor with similar themes.

2. Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome is written in an interesting style. It is a prolonged flashback but there is little to the plot. The writing is dry and many of the themes often go misunderstood by high schoolers. It is also pretty depressing. While I agree, students need to learn that not all stories end happily, I also think it is important to instill hope in young people. We have enough cynics already. I would personally prefer to inspire positive creativity.

3. Catcher in the Rye

I'll be honest, I didn't read this one. However, when I asked my friends and colleagues, Catcher in the Rye was frequently at the top of their most hated list. One of the biggest complaints was that Holden was difficult to connect with as a character. In addition, he was whiny and immature. I cannot back up these allegations, but from them, I have been deterred from ever reading it.

4. The Stranger

I hated this book. Existentialism was difficult for me to comprehend as a high schooler and Camus purposely creates a character who has no connection to anything or anyone. It was hard for me to accept that this man was a murderer and had no remorse which was supposed to somehow be fine. No thank you. The plot was not friendly to a young audience and neither was the writing. It is always interesting to learn about new perspectives, but "interesting" only goes so far.

5. The Grapes of Wrath

I loved Of Mice and Men. It was beautifully written, tragic and moving. But for some reason, The Grapes of Wrath just didn't do it for me. It was unnecessarily long and many scenes were highly uncomfortable for me. Under no circumstances was I expecting a book about The Great Depression to be happy go lucky. I was expecting to have my heart broken, but I never loved the book enough for it to break my heart. I guess my problem was my love for Of Mice and Men.  Maybe if I had read this first, I would have liked it.

1 comment:

  1. On the topic of Orwell, I always thought it would be a cool project to have Juniors or Seniors read King Lear and then have them read these two essays:

    Leo Tolstoy against Shakespeare:

    George Orwell in defense of Shakespeare:

    Great introduction to all three of these literary giants