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My sister is two years ahead of me in school. One of the cool things about that was that she would give me a head's up on what was coming in my grade. One of the things she shared was what book they assigned her class to read. Of course, being incredibly nosy, I would want to read those books too (even if they were Not On My Grade Level (tm) -- some books I loved (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
that I read when I was seven), and some I wasn't so fond of. Naturally, like older siblings everywhere, my sister wasn't above playing a trick or two on her credulous little sister.
Like this book, Hatchet
by Gary Paulson -- was assigned to all sixth-graders at school. My sister told me, in confidence
, that the novel contained a scene where the marooned main character, in dire straits, decides to eat the dead pilot's body. I complete believed her! I thought cannabalism was pretty heavy stuff for twelve year olds to deal with! Of course, she lied. When I actually did read the book and went to confront her, she played dumb. What? Huh? I told you he ate turtle eggs!
I've never trusted her since! (I kid, I kid.) The good:
But yeah! Anyway. Growing up, I was always the weirdo who usually enjoyed the assigned reading. In high school and then college, I was assigned to read Crime and Punishment
three times (I had read it first on my own steam), and I loved it more each time. The Great Gatsby
? Oh, I love it. DAT LAST PARAGRAPH. Hamlet
? Ham-yes! The House on Mango Street
? MORE PLS.
In college, I wasn't an English/Comparative Lit major (although maybe I should've been -- the results would have been exactly the same), but I loved the classes I took in both of those departments. They introduced me writers that I'm still fannish about -- namely Dashiell Hammett and Rosemary Sutcliff. Good times, man. Good times. The bad:
But of course, there were a couple of stinkers too. I will never like The Scarlet Letter
, and not only because of the labored search for symbolism that always followed every discussion of the book. (Although. Is there any Dimsdale/Chillingworth out there? I'm asking for a friend. Or Pearl futurefic.)
Oh, and A Separate Peace
. So awful, so pointless. I switched schools between ninth and tenth grade and guess what they both reading that year? My 10th grade English teacher, who was otherwise a very wise and kindly woman, absolutely would not accept the explanation that 90% of the class backed -- that Gene's actions only made sense if we assumed he was in love with Finny and then reacted from that. At the time, I thought she was a horrible hypocrite. Now I realize that it's entirely possible that she didn't want some conservative parents all up her grill, but...
Meh. There are better, more relateable coming-of-age stories out there. So! Flist! Tell me about your assigned reading! Which ones were your faves? Which ones did you Cliff Note? Enquiring minds want to know! This entry was originally posted at http://moetushie.dreamwidth.org/316781.html. comments. Speak here or there.