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Required Reading

Everyone's had experience with books you've had to read for school. My feelings with them are a bit mixed. In elementary and middle school, I hated them because they were always books below my reading level - I remember once in fifth grade, I was assigned a book I had read three years ago. But once I came to my new (and much more academically rigorous) high school, lit class has become much more interesting!

We don't read as many traditionally classic books (if that made any sense). For instance, this year, we haven't read anything from before the 1950s, and some books were quite modern. They were all books I would never read on my own, but for most of them, I ended up enjoying them and having to actually think, which was nice.

The first book (well, play) we read was The Crucible by Arthur Miller. This one's about the Salem witch trials, but it's actually about communism, and was written in the 1950s during McCarthyism and all that fun stuff. The communism angle was pretty interesting, but the story as a whole did bore me. There were places where things got quite intriguing, but they were few and far between. It probably doesn't help that I only got a B+ on the essay. (My essay skills have improved greatly since then!)

Next we had a choice between Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. I was rather torn between the two and finally went with Angela's Ashes, just because the cover was cooler. I don't really regret it, though. Although the memoir could be a little graphic (I really didn't need to read about the author's sexual exploits and though I don't have anything against sex when it's an actual part of the story - e.g. The Duff - I felt toning them down couldn't have hurt anyone), I ultimately had a positive experience reading it.

After that we read Richard Wright's Black Boy. Initially, I didn't like it that much and found it equally disturbing and boring. However, as I went on, I found Wright's introspections to be increasingly interesting and profound. Of course we're all familiar to some extent with racism, but he had some intriguing thoughts on how deep-rooted it is/was(this book is from back when racism was more prominent in everyday life) and how that affects not just colored people but non-colored people, and what it does to warp society.

Finally, we're currently reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I'm only about a third of the way through so I won't offer much about my thoughts yet. I will say that it's definitely a fascinating read thus far, and I'm actually excited to write the essay for this. So much to analyze!

So, what do you think about school-required reading? Share your positive and negative experiences in the comments!


Cialina at said...

Ooh, these books are pretty much what I had to read in freshman year of high school minus Angela's Ashes. Out of all of them, I really enjoyed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest the most, followed by the Crucible.

Izzy G. said...

I'm starting to really like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest too!

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Interesting list. Required reading is hit or miss in my opinion. I could go on and on about it, but your list doesn't appear bad.

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