Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

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ranthlor
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby ranthlor » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:54 am UTC

"My Antonia"

We could have read a book with some kind of message or point to make about ethics or politics, or even could have read something entertaining. but instead we read a book about the midwest written by some author who everyone forgets the name of. Seriously, the most exciting part of the book is when a guy kills himself, then it just goes from boring to gloomy and depressing.

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Kendo_Bunny
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:06 am UTC

[quote="ranthlor] but instead we read a book about the midwest written by some author who everyone forgets the name of.[/quote]

It's Willa Cather :P

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby MoreOrLessJake » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:54 pm UTC

Flying Betty wrote:Great Expectations. Ugh.

Does having to read something for school make it that much worse? I went through a phase where I felt like I should read some classic literature because my high school's English department sucked, so I've read the last three books mentioned above and was at least satisfied with all of them.



Yes. Yes it does.

I had to read "The Grapes of Wrath" for my junior English lang/comp AP class, and I hated the thing, couldn't get halfway through (still got an A on the paper though, alcohol makes writing easy). I have since become a huuuge Steinbeck fan, but still haven't gotten around to getting through TGOW, just out of the horrible memories I have of it. I have never read a book for school and enjoyed it. Twain, Dickens, Shakespeare, all of them hated in high school, but once I go back, i really enjoy them. Maybe my school just had a really awful english department, or there could be a measurable loss in satisfaction in books read for school.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby BlueNight » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:08 am UTC

MoreOrLessJake wrote:
Flying Betty wrote:Does having to read something for school make it that much worse?

Yes. Yes it does. (...) Maybe my school just had a really awful english department, or there could be a measurable loss in satisfaction in books read for school.


I guess it's a good thing for Conservatism that few professors assign Ayn Rand.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby mystic_aura » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:20 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:I guess it's a good thing for Conservatism that few professors assign Ayn Rand.


Oh torture.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Chicostick » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:31 am UTC

Internetmeme wrote:The Great Gatsby. This is the single worst book I have EVER read in my life. I didn't really even understand the ending. The book was just so incoherent! Here's what I read from it:
Spoiler:
-Some guy moves to New York onto an island called the West Egg (I bet this is somehow "symbolism")
-He knows a girl that is there. He visits her.
-They go to New York.
-They shop, the girl's friend buys a dog.
-They argue about something about the dog (I think it was the gender) that I didn't get any sense of
-They take the dog home (I bet the dog is more "symbolism")
-There is a party the protagonist is invited to
-He meets a drunk guy in a library (probably more "symbolism")
-He meets Gatsby
-Gatsby invites him on a plane (maybe more "symbolism")
-Protagonist notices a light on dock (ITS A FUCKING LIGHT IT IS NOT FUCKING "SYMBOLISM". THAT IS STRETCHED AT BEST. ALSO, IF THIS IS SYMBOLISM THEN EVERYONE IS JESUS IN PURGATORY. FUCK YOU "SYMBOLISM")
-Some more crap happens
-They go to New York
-A SHADY GUY is added to your party!
-A SHADY GUY has mentioned a PLOT COUPON
-A SHADY GUY has left your party!
-Some more crap happens
-Gatsby mentions how much he loves girl protagonist knows (Daisy?)
-Protagonist brings Daisy and Gatsby over
-Protagonist leaves them home alone and takes a walk (dirty thoughts ensue)
-We learn about the obvious "symbolism" of Gatsby's house
-Gatsby goes home
-another party
-GATSBY has joined your party!
-DAISY has joined your party!
-your party has left for NEW YORK
-Some more crap happens
-GATSBY has left your party!
-DAISY has left your party!
-DIRTY THOUGHTS have joined your party!
-Gatsby drives Daisy home
-Gatsby hits old women
-Some more crap happens
-Daisy's boyfriend shoots Gatsby
-Protagonist finds Gatsby's father ("symbolism" I guess, at least it isn't a FUCKING LIGHT)
-Some more crap happens
-Protagonist moves somewhere else
-GAME OVER


The Great Gatsby is the worst book you've ever read? Seriously? If that's your worst book count yourself freaking lucky my friend, as the only reason you don't like it is because you clearly don't understand it. I hate to say that and sound like one of those literature snobs, but your summary is pretty much like saying the Mona Lisa was "a painting of some chick with a smile and whatnot." Not to mention parts of your summary aren't even right, as you had the "the girl's friend buys a dog" when it is actually Myrtle Wilson, the woman in an affair with Tom Buchannan, the husband of Daisy. Also Gatsby didn't invite him on a plane, a "hydroplane" is what they called motor boats at that time. The light on the dock occurred before Nick ever went to Gatsby's party... I could go on. My advice is study literature for a few more years then head back to it. It's a fantastic read, which is unusual in so famous a book.

My current worst: Do You Hear Them (or more accurately, Vous Les entendez? as the novel is french) by Nathalie Sarraute. It is a 150 page novel written entirely in stream of consciousness/dialogue sort of way. There are rarely periods, and no chapters, and most of it is filled with ellipses that jump between thoughts. Dialogue has no quotation marks, you just have to guess when it is happening by the tone of the sentences. And there is no plot. None. There is literally no plot to this novel at all. It is about a father and his friend discussing a piece of statue that one of them found while the father keeps hearing his children laughing. For some reason, this calls into question the fathers entire life. Or something. All 150 pages of it is just this conversation and meandering thoughts about how their laughter is meant mockingly to the father.

"Laughter... aimless, targetless, spreads out freely in the void that surrounds them... innocent spurts, childish explosions.... again and again... And then nothing more... Across the table the nice frank eyes look into his.... I wonder why... -Why what? -I wonder why Cretan sculpture... the large hand slowly turns the animal around... Cretan sculpture... how strange...


This is one of the more coherent passages of the book. I am currently ensnared in writing an essay that addresses a moment of ambiguity in the novel that refines itself into a finite meaning, and I must use parts of Schleiermacher's essay on hermeneutics to do so. It's as awful as it sounds.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:27 am UTC

Chicostick wrote: My advice is study literature for a few more years then head back to it. It's a fantastic read, which is unusual in so famous a book.


Not for everyone. I understand 'Gatsby' perfectly. I did when I read it in high school and I did when I read it in college. I detested it both times - Fitzgerald had a real talent for language, and he wasted it writing tabloid sensationalism.

Maybe some of it is just me. I love James Joyce, because while nothing happens, it's all on the level. I don't like books that I perceive as gossipy or sensational, and books that report salacious details as more than just plain facts fall under that category. Joyce commenting on X character masturbating in public passes no judgement - it's just something that happened, while Fitzgerald doing the same would be 'Look what awful, empty lives the Jazz Set really leads! Aren't you glad you aren't in it?'.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:07 pm UTC

Chicostick wrote:
I hate to say that and sound like one of those literature snobs, but your summary is pretty much like saying the Mona Lisa was "a painting of some chick with a smile and whatnot."


Why, please do enlighten us on that score!

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Internetmeme » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:07 am UTC

Chicostick wrote:
Internetmeme wrote:The Great Gatsby. This is the single worst book I have EVER read in my life. I didn't really even understand the ending. The book was just so incoherent! Here's what I read from it:
Spoiler:
-Some guy moves to New York onto an island called the West Egg (I bet this is somehow "symbolism")
-He knows a girl that is there. He visits her.
-They go to New York.
-They shop, the girl's friend buys a dog.
-They argue about something about the dog (I think it was the gender) that I didn't get any sense of
-They take the dog home (I bet the dog is more "symbolism")
-There is a party the protagonist is invited to
-He meets a drunk guy in a library (probably more "symbolism")
-He meets Gatsby
-Gatsby invites him on a plane (maybe more "symbolism")
-Protagonist notices a light on dock (ITS A FUCKING LIGHT IT IS NOT FUCKING "SYMBOLISM". THAT IS STRETCHED AT BEST. ALSO, IF THIS IS SYMBOLISM THEN EVERYONE IS JESUS IN PURGATORY. FUCK YOU "SYMBOLISM")
-Some more crap happens
-They go to New York
-A SHADY GUY is added to your party!
-A SHADY GUY has mentioned a PLOT COUPON
-A SHADY GUY has left your party!
-Some more crap happens
-Gatsby mentions how much he loves girl protagonist knows (Daisy?)
-Protagonist brings Daisy and Gatsby over
-Protagonist leaves them home alone and takes a walk (dirty thoughts ensue)
-We learn about the obvious "symbolism" of Gatsby's house
-Gatsby goes home
-another party
-GATSBY has joined your party!
-DAISY has joined your party!
-your party has left for NEW YORK
-Some more crap happens
-GATSBY has left your party!
-DAISY has left your party!
-DIRTY THOUGHTS have joined your party!
-Gatsby drives Daisy home
-Gatsby hits old women
-Some more crap happens
-Daisy's boyfriend shoots Gatsby
-Protagonist finds Gatsby's father ("symbolism" I guess, at least it isn't a FUCKING LIGHT)
-Some more crap happens
-Protagonist moves somewhere else
-GAME OVER


stuff

I was forced to read it for English III Honors over the summer.
Then, I decided to switch to the advanced chorus from the one I would have been in (It would've been a beginning guys-only choir. Plus, I prefer guys/girls combined in a choir.). The choir occupied the slot of English III Honors.
I switched into English III CP (normal-level). So, it turns out I didn't have to read it.
And until college, I will not be forced to over-analyze it.

That's the main thing that has killed books for me every time we read something: Over-analyzing. Having to search every paragraph for the littlest bit of symbolism, metaphor, allusions, or rhetoric just for a test. I get that I might take a lesson out of it, plus I'll get references to the work, but it just seems so forced. A lot of it seems like a stretch, like how I was told that when they kill the mother pig in Lord of the Flies, they were really raping it. I just did not read that. I just read that they killed a pig, and mounted the head on a pike.
Last edited by Internetmeme on Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:35 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
Spoiler:

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby frogman » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:31 am UTC

Internetmeme wrote:That's the main thing that has killed books for me every time we read something: Over-analyzing. Having to search every paragraph for the littlest bit of symbolism, metaphor, allusions, or rhetoric just for a test. I get that I might take a lesson out of it, plus I'll get references to the work, but it just seems so forced. A lot of it seems like a stretch, like how I was told that when they kill the mother pig in Lord of the Flies, they were really raping it. I just did not read that. I just read that they killed a pig, and mounted the head on a pike.


I agree with this. While in some books (like Gatsby) the symbolism is so obvious that you couldn't see it easier if it were dancing naked in front of you, books like Lord of the Flies have little to no symbolism, no matter how much you want the pig on a stick to represent Satan or whatever the hell it was.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:19 am UTC

Oddly enough, I don't usually mind this. Maybe my school's English classes just do it well, but I never felt like we were stretching to find symbolism in Gatsby, although all we really talked about were the eyes, the wasteland, and the light. I read LOTF on my own and, while I don't believe they were actually "raping" the pig, I do see how that passage could be read very sexually.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:22 am UTC

Chicostick wrote:There are rarely periods, and no chapters, and most of it is filled with ellipses that jump between thoughts. Dialogue has no quotation marks, you just have to guess when it is happening by the tone of the sentences.
What is truly awful is that some students might actually get the idea that this is an acceptable way of communicating. The ellipsis is so horribly abused as of late.

Not that you can't be confusing and terrible without ellipses - but I already talked about Steppenwolf.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Cynical Idealist » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:22 pm UTC

MoreOrLessJake wrote:or there could be a measurable loss in satisfaction in books read for school.

Sounds like a job for SCIENCE!

I would like to propose a mechanism for this potential loss in satisfaction:
In books read for school, your pace is limited. Either you read for only a few minutes a day to keep up with the assigned reading, or you enjoy it and read it all the way through...and then have to go back and reread small portions each day to refresh yourself on the assigned reading. Both methods are painful.

Also, for most classes, the incessant analysis of every little detail. And really stretching to find symbolism.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby mmmcannibalism » Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:15 am UTC

books like Lord of the Flies have little to no symbolism, no matter how much you want the pig on a stick to represent Satan or whatever the hell it was.


conch=leadership and order

glasses=social order, reason

pig head=indulgence, the devil, inherent evil in the human heart

fire=hope

piggy's death=the death of reason

Good to know there isn't any symbolism.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:11 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:fire=hope
So, at the end, the whole island is set alight with Hope?

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:09 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:fire=hope
So, at the end, the whole island is set alight with Hope?


Absolutely - and for good reason since they actually got rescued...

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Chicostick » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:50 am UTC

The thing about "over-analyzing" is, you can't actually do it as long as you remain within the boundaries set by the text, the time in which it was written, and the author's personal life.

You can't look "to deeply" into a book. However, many people tend to end up projecting themselves onto the book instead of actually interpreting what the book is saying, which is often the case in those more pretentious sort of circles that do monistic/idealist readings into things and try and get the interpretation that best suites themselves.

In addition, the literary work is a pliable entity, and many novels have multiple meanings that will either subsume or supercede one another. This adds to the complexity, saying that the pig head in the lord of the flies was just a pig head is entirely correct, but it is also a symbol for evil and such. These two meanings are not independent of one another, and subsume each other. You can't say there isn't symbolism or there strictly IS symbolism, there's BOTH. This isn't always the case, sometimes in a story something is either on or the other, and it can't be both at once. Yet this moment of pliability could have been eliminated in most cases by the author simply saying "this is this" and ending it, so even though it cannot be both the presence of both interpretations still effects the overall meaning.

The problem with this sort of thing arises from the fact that the task of hermeneutics is infinite. The only real things that a reader can do is narrow down moments of ambiguity in a text and try and reach either a finite meaning or a more definite area of what Iser calls a "blank" where the reader does not have enough knowledge to proceed with the analysis. So really, you can analyze a book for the rest of time, the changes within language alone will guarantee that it will never be completely analyzed.

I believe this is where a lot of people have problems. It's a completely hopeless task in a way, there is no "answer." Language is just the means by which people organize our thoughts, and like our thoughts language is infinite. You can't say "this is the truth" because the truth is fluctuating throughout all of time. Even if the Author says "this is what I meant" there will still be more meanings within it than the author was even aware of.

This stuff is to hard to explain for a simpleton like me. Trying to define language and the task of hermeneutics has been an ongoing struggle that has lasted hundreds of years and is still going. Unfortunately, just because you don't agree with something or don't see it being there doesn't mean it isn't there. And the opposite is also true, just because you read into something doesn't mean that something is actually there. Take this whole "Dumbledore was gay" thing for an example. From simply reading the text, this conclusion cannot be made. There is never a point where it specifically says that he was in fact gay. J.K. Rowling may say that he is gay, but the author does not get to decide exactly what the text means. If she had wanted to make it clear, she could have put it into the book. Lacking that, it can be seen as a stupid publicity stunt or some other nonsense.

Honestly I have no way of making what I'm trying to say clear because I swear I've totally lost track of my point. :lol:

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby rrwoods » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:22 pm UTC

Re: Gay Dumbledore -- Rowling said she "saw him as" gay. Nothing else. That says, to me, that it may have been in her mind while writing the character, but it wasn't an integral part of the story.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:42 pm UTC

rrwoods wrote:Re: Gay Dumbledore -- Rowling said she "saw him as" gay. Nothing else.
The way I heard it, she was examining a script for one of the last movies and, upon reading a bit with Dumbledore reminiscing about past relationships, made the note, quite unambiguously, that "Dumbledore is gay!"

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby PumpkinKing » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:29 am UTC

Catcher In The Rye was hands down the worst book that I have ever read, now I know that tonnes of people are probably gonna be like *high pitched mimic voice* "oh no PK it's a great book; it will have a good meaning for you; I read it in high school and had a good message" I have to say, no, fuck you, you don't know what you're talking about, it stopped being relevant very soon after I was born. Furthermore it's supposed to be this great, well write piece of literature, no, while it is well written it has little to no plot and ends up being(what is it like) 15 or so chapters of some self obsessed, angsty bitch of a teenager complaining about how his life is so hard(okay his brother died, ill give him that)


oh, and not technically a book, but Thank You Ma'm was a waste of a week
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby frogman » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:05 am UTC

PumpkinKing wrote:
oh, and not technically a book, but Thank You Ma'm was a waste of a week


I most certainly agree with that.
yeah yeah yeah

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

PumpkinKing wrote:Catcher In The Rye was hands down the worst book that I have ever read, now I know that tonnes of people are probably gonna be like *high pitched mimic voice* "oh no PK it's a great book; it will have a good meaning for you; I read it in high school and had a good message" I have to say, no, fuck you, you don't know what you're talking about, it stopped being relevant very soon after I was born. Furthermore it's supposed to be this great, well write piece of literature, no, while it is well written it has little to no plot and ends up being(what is it like) 15 or so chapters of some self obsessed, angsty bitch of a teenager complaining about how his life is so hard(okay his brother died, ill give him that)


oh, and not technically a book, but Thank You Ma'm was a waste of a week


My goodness, if the only thing you see in that book is a teenager with angst, I do feel sorry for you. Also, what's wrong with you not being able to enjoy books with little plot; is hardboiled action the only way to go? Look at Dostoyevsky's books, like Brothers Karamazov, with basically no plot at all - they still are great masterpieces of literature.

You don't have to appreciate the depth of The Catcher in the Rye, neither spot some mystical "good meaning" which tells you the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, just enjoy his wonderfully put sarcasms, and the way he completely sees through the "phoniness" of people - for he really does.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:35 pm UTC

It has been...eh...two years since I read Catcher in the Rye, and I found his sarcasm and cynicism irritating and childish and all his points about the "phoniness" to be...teenage angst, yeah. There's actually a dedicated thread for this flame war.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:36 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:It has been...eh...two years since I read Catcher in the Rye, and I found his sarcasm and cynicism irritating and childish and all his points about the "phoniness" to be...teenage angst, yeah. There's actually a dedicated thread for this flame war.


So pointing out that the woman crying at a film, but not caring for her son, is phoney - that's teenage angst, is it? This along with other examples, which I don't have time to bring up atm, then proves teenage angst to be a good thing...

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Zohar » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:44 am UTC

Kangaroo, please try to avoid the cliches of "you didn't understand the book," because it's possible to not like something you do for valid reasons. I also hated the book, because I hated the main character and his attitude.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:29 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Kangaroo, please try to avoid the cliches of "you didn't understand the book," because it's possible to not like something you do for valid reasons. I also hated the book, because I hated the main character and his attitude.


I'm not saying that if you dislike the book, then you haven't grasped the concepts therein presented; what really gets my goat here is that many people disregard everything in the book as teenage angst, on the grounds that they hate the character. Surely the protagonist is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, spoils his life for apparently no reason and seems to blame society for it; hate that and I'm with you, but just don't come with this nonsense that a lack of plot equals a bad book, etc.

Also, I look forward to see your valid reasons for not liking the novel.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Thing is, all the "phony" points may have been true, but I never felt like they led into anything. It really had no effect on me, because I didn't feel like pointing out all that phoniness...mattered. He didn't seem to make any overarching statement with it, besides "sometimes, people are inconsistent." The bit in the novel about the "Catcher in the Rye" and saving children's innocence failed to make an impression on me because it grows out of such a pessimistic view of the world--that the adult world is so bad that it'd be better to remain as ignorant children--that I simply can't sympathize with it at all. Maybe I should reread it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Zohar » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:41 am UTC

You're right that a book with little happening in it can still be interesting.

To be honest, I've read the book several years ago and I don't remember it very well. I mostly disliked the book because I hated the main character. I thought he was juvenile and insistent on seeing the bad side of everything. I didn't agree with him on anything, at all. I can't judge the book on other things because I don't remember any. I think it's a valid reason to dislike a book, though. I don't have to always love the main character, of course not, but I should at least be interested in what happens to it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Marbas » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:31 am UTC

"Laughter... aimless, targetless, spreads out freely in the void that surrounds them... innocent spurts, childish explosions.... again and again... And then nothing more... Across the table the nice frank eyes look into his.... I wonder why... -Why what? -I wonder why Cretan sculpture... the large hand slowly turns the animal around... Cretan sculpture... how strange...


So, I understand stream of consciousness is supposed to be kind of spontaneous and weird. But uh...what I really must know is, who on earth thinks like this? What person has a "stream of consciousness" this disorganized? Isn't extremely disorganized thought a symptom of schizophrenia? Actually, I've noticed this with a lot of bad efforts in this narrative mode. They seem to be disorganized and badly thought up.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:13 pm UTC

Kangaroo wrote:Also, I look forward to see your valid reasons for not liking the novel.


Okay, want some valid points?

1) Holden is whiny and self-absorbed. He is only relatable to other whiny, self-absorbed people, or people who are surrounded by the whiny and self-absorbed.

2) Holden is the biggest phony of all. There, the entire "meaning" of the book. WE GET IT!

3) His pretentious, preachy defenders who believe that if you don't like listening to a big baby piss and moan for 200 pages, then decide that he is the best qualified to save children's innocence, presumably by pissing and moaning at them until they slit their wrists, that you just don't "get it".

4) The book is not badly written, it just has the world's most annoying main character. Also, I find the stream-of-conscious complexities of James Joyce to be far more stimulating. When nothing happens in Joyce, you are forced to ask yourself why. In Catcher in the Rye, you are told straight-out why nothing happens. It's rather condescending.

5) The narrative structure of the book is not so much complex as it is confusing. Because everything is filtered through Holden's self-righteous whining, the only point that is accomplished is that rich kids have no sense of proportion. In fact, it reminds me of Twilight because of that - a whiny-pants protagonist wanders through a narrative, interacting only to complain, and then to get self-righteous about things that are out of their control. Granted, Salinger uses words correctly, unlike Stephenie Meyer, but Bella Swan is the Holden Caulfield of this generation.

6) There does not need to be a good reason not to like a particular book. I'm sure you're read books that just didn't click with you for some reason, and that doesn't mean that you are stupid or lack understanding. Although, hate to say it, but you appear in this thread to be one of those pretentious fans, so I'm sure you won't ever admit to not liking a book you have been told has "literary merit".

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:39 pm UTC

Kendo_Bunny wrote:Okay, want some valid points?

1) Holden is whiny and self-absorbed. He is only relatable to other whiny, self-absorbed people, or people who are surrounded by the whiny and self-absorbed.

What do you mean by relatable, that he only relates to other idiots? Well, he enjoys being with his older brother and sister, neither are self-absorbed and whiny. Also, many depressed people can't handle people being nice to them, since they know how bad they themselves behave. I'm not sure I got your point, though.

2) Holden is the biggest phony of all. There, the entire "meaning" of the book. WE GET IT!

As I saw it, one of the main themes of the book is his struggle against phoniness and becoming of "them" (the phony adults), and it also brings up the question of how to keep innocence, like the nuns did for instance; but that's quite different from your view, that the only thing that matters in this piece of crap is Holden's phoniness.

3) His pretentious, preachy defenders who believe that if you don't like listening to a big baby piss and moan for 200 pages, then decide that he is the best qualified to save children's innocence, presumably by pissing and moaning at them until they slit their wrists, that you just don't "get it".


Oh, yeah. Well, THAT decides the quality of a book! Spot on!

6) There does not need to be a good reason not to like a particular book. I'm sure you're read books that just didn't click with you for some reason, and that doesn't mean that you are stupid or lack understanding.


Never said you have to "click" with every book, nor that you're stupid if you don't; just don't claim the book's bad as soon as it doesn't fit your taste.

Although, hate to say it, but you appear in this thread to be one of those pretentious fans, so I'm sure you won't ever admit to not liking a book you have been told has "literary merit".

Come now, you seem to love it - stop lying to yourself! :O Lady, I am sorry for not agreeing with your sophisticated and righteous taste in literature, and my heart grows even sadder at the thought of you being wrong also on this point, but I'd really appreciate it if you'd keep yourself on topic and away from unnecessary insults; my taste in other books has nothing to do with my understanding of the Catcher.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:08 pm UTC

Considering that you ragged on everyone else that "We just don't get it" if we don't think Catcher in the Rye is the deepest book ever written. It is extremely overrated. Salinger wrote things that are much more accessible, much less pretentious, and much more engaging, and yet, he's remembered best for capturing the tone of the times for writing the very model of a modern major douchebag. It's a damn shame.

I think Catcher was the least sophisticated of Salinger's works, and it's not a terrific example of stream-of-consciousness, especially when compared with Joyce or Woolf. I think the book is not good because I have read much better. Maybe I just read Catcher too late, considering I had already read The Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by the time I got around to it. Maybe it's an excellent baby-step into stream-of-consciousness, but it is not irrelevant that Holden is a whining baby and that he is the biggest phony of all. Those prevent the book from being enjoyable or instructive to an awful lot of people, which would prevent it from being a book of high merit.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kangaroo » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:30 pm UTC

Kendo_Bunny wrote:Considering that you ragged on everyone else that "We just don't get it" if we don't think Catcher in the Rye is the deepest book ever written. It is extremely overrated. Salinger wrote things that are much more accessible, much less pretentious, and much more engaging, and yet, he's remembered best for capturing the tone of the times for writing the very model of a modern major douchebag. It's a damn shame.


Have you even bothered reading what I wrote, or did you just see red at the instant you noticed someone didn't agree with your book bashing? He may have written better books, it may be overrated, it may be a big shame and whatnot, but that still doesn't make the book bad. No, it's not the best book ever written, far from it, but that doesn't make it bad either. Let's just agree to disagree, if that's fine with you.

The only bad book I've read for school is My Mother Gets Married by Moa Martinson. It seemed to have no message whatever.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby remo451 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:02 pm UTC

Grendel by John Gardner

I hated it... as much as I like stream-of-consciousness and stories about the inner workings of the mind of a character, I had no idea what was going on in Grendel. Reading, analysing, rereading, and spark-noting Beowulf did little to make me appreciate the book. Plus, it doesn't help that my english class (senior year of high school) had to study the book for three weeks of classes, complete with discussions and essays asking for our opinions on events.
I also did not like The Berlin Wall: A World Divided by Frederick Taylor; I liked the subject material (me being a big history buff), but I didn't like how Taylor presented the material - the book is very dry and reads like a textbook. Non-fiction books are usually not the most gripping and thrilling books out there, but I've read a lot more interesting non-fiction accounts. Taylor is the world's leading Berlin Wall historian and I learned a lot about the subject, so the book isn't a total waste.

I generally like books assigned in school, however. My junior year English class sparked my interest in several American novelists like Jack London, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Mitch Albom.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby glitterbug12 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:30 pm UTC

The Chrysalids. I tried to like it, but found it weird in an unpleasant way and it bored me. It started to get exciting towards the second half, but in my opinion the ending sucked. I was pretty disappointed, but I find that it's a lot easier to hate a book you have to read for school than one you choose to read.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Okapi » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:05 am UTC

Kangaroo wrote:
Kendo_Bunny wrote:Considering that you ragged on everyone else that "We just don't get it" if we don't think Catcher in the Rye is the deepest book ever written. It is extremely overrated. Salinger wrote things that are much more accessible, much less pretentious, and much more engaging, and yet, he's remembered best for capturing the tone of the times for writing the very model of a modern major douchebag. It's a damn shame.


Have you even bothered reading what I wrote, or did you just see red at the instant you noticed someone didn't agree with your book bashing? He may have written better books, it may be overrated, it may be a big shame and whatnot, but that still doesn't make the book bad. No, it's not the best book ever written, far from it, but that doesn't make it bad either. Let's just agree to disagree, if that's fine with you.

The only bad book I've read for school is My Mother Gets Married by Moa Martinson. It seemed to have no message whatever.
To suggest that just because somebody doesn't like a particular book automatically is ergo they do not understand it is semantically identical to a meatheaded pick-up artist assuming that a woman is a Lesbian because she won't sleep with him the first time she meets him. It is a idiotic assumption, and you know what they say about assumptions--They aren't very nice.

And I have read your comments. And Catcher In the Rye. And I am one of the few people I know that have actually liked Catcher, even though it is supposed to be the kind of book that everybody likes. But agree that it is not very deep, and that you are spouting contrived bullshit that has been repeated a thousand times a thousand ways instead of actually looking at the damned book.


Let's see, things that I had to read for school and hated. Anything I had to read by Bradbury; Anything I had to read that was self-help; Anything I had to read that was preachy Christian propaganda; Especially "Chicken Soup"; Grapes of Wrath. I am, as a previous poster was, a big Steinbeck fan, but I really don't like Grapes of Wrath, either. I think it is probably just not very good. There are some others, but I can't be bothered to actually look back and recall every single shitty book I was forced to read. (I later stopped reading "required reading" books, though my interests crossed the list at several points, such as Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, etc.)

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Dave_Wise » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:45 pm UTC

"Ac yno glywodd swn y mor", a welsh language novel. Partly I hated it because the teacher was a horrible, bigotted, evil old cow who played favourites with her pupils, but also because of the content. It was obvious that at one point the author had been arrested for rape, and was now using his literary career to make himself appear the victim and whinge about how he was treated. Worse, I suspect that he is not as innocent as he claims. The amount of venom directed at the english didn't help either, but I've always regarded failure to enjoy a work of art because of your political convictions to be rather vulgar. No, I had good solid literary reasons for hating it as well. The characters were either caricatures or vehicles for the author's wish-fulfillment, the plot was overly complicated and ineptly sequenced, the welsh used was often of poor quality and I've always considered that even a work of prose should posess some measure of scansion, which yno glywodd swn y mor never did. I am relatively alone in my opinion of this book, seeing as welsh language books are a bit of a specialist area, and the book actually won eisteddfod awards. But I stick to it nonetheless.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:25 pm UTC

Okapi wrote:Let's see, things that I had to read for school and hated. Anything I had to read by Bradbury;
What else could there have been aside from Fahrenheit 451? (I suppose we did cover one of his Venusian short stories in high school, come to think of it; I can readily see how the old-timey depiction of Venus could be a big turn off.)
Anything I had to read that was preachy Christian propaganda; Especially "Chicken Soup"
They made you read Chicken Soup? That's just kind of sad.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Dave_Wise » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:41 pm UTC

Actually, come to think of it, the worst one was paradise lost. I conceived a deep hatred for Milton when he started listing demons and citing them as gods of other religions. The smug morality and archaiisised language annoyed me.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:54 pm UTC

Dave_Wise wrote:Actually, come to think of it, the worst one was paradise lost. I conceived a deep hatred for Milton when he started listing demons and citing them as gods of other religions. The smug morality and archaiisised language annoyed me.



Well, there was a reason for it. Christian humanism had to mesh the good of other prior religions with Christianity, but couldn't admit them as superior. The demons who were actually gods ended up doing a lot of good things (inventing the Olympics, for one)... at that particular point in the narrative, they aren't horrible demons, but fallen angels who retained some of their heavenly light. Satan lost his the fastest, but it's not until the end of the poem that he completes his transformation from something beautiful to something monstrous.

Then again, most classes don't really explain Christian humanism or syncretism, and without that, it comes off with Milton being a huge prick. As is, he didn't think the other people were wrong for not having followed a Christ who did not exist on Earth, just misguided. He also seemed to be of the school of thought that once the Second Coming happened, the good people who died before Christ would be given another chance.


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