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

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

Postby Dave_Wise » Wed May 05, 2010 9:41 pm UTC

Hmmmm, well that makes it marginally more acceptable, but I'd argue that that exact message isn't inherent in the text. Maybe I should have a go at re-reading it with that in mind, but I don't honestly know if I can be bothered- it's a long trek through christian mythology, much of it either invented or formalised by Milton himself, and it can get a bit dry. Maybe I'll just pick it up and see if it grabs me. I'm nothing if not open-minded. I'll say one thing for this book, though: it destroyed forever my idea that christianity was a monotheistic religion.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Kaeyn » Fri May 07, 2010 4:23 am UTC

Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. I enjoyed it when I first read it independently, but the more we read through it, the more flaws I found in it, and the more I hated it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Nullifidian » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:33 pm UTC

Well, I remember coming near to fainting when doing a roundtable reading of Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows. I got the paragraph where
Spoiler:
the boy's coon dog is savaged by a mountain lion while protecting the boy and there is a description of the dog's physical condition following the attack.
Because I grew up without much television in my formative years, I had an keenly developed visual imagination that could conjure up the entire scene in an instant. I turned green, felt faint, and almost passed out. I had to be sent to the nurse's office. :oops: The rest of the kids assumed that I was just ill, but my teacher made the connection between the book and my reaction and felt really bad about it. :lol:

So that was one book that I couldn't stand, but was nevertheless very well written. :D

Because of growing up poor and without TV for a while, I read voraciously and I liked anything that was a mystery, supernatural tale, or adventure story. And the things that fit the bill around our house as often as not came from an old, multi-volume collection of "classic works" in imitation of the Harvard Classics. The difference being that these works were presented without abridgment and included some authors that Eliot didn't, like H. Rider Haggard. He was one of the writers I read, along with Jules Verne, Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. Nobody told me I shouldn't be reading these authors until I got to second grade and had a teacher so freaked out by my reading works that were not "age-appropriate" that she even ripped White Fang straight out of my hands. So I grew up with a certain level of comfort with the 19th and early 20th century style of writing.

Now, two books I absolutely hated then (and do now) were Anthem and The Fountainhead, more so the latter. My teacher admitted to me that she wouldn't have assigned them except for the Ayn Rand Institute's scholarship prize. I also remember disliking Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but I can't remember the reason why. I still have the book and I may give it a second shot, as I'm reading Jude the Obscure right now and enjoying the hell out of it. So either Tess is one of Hardy's lesser works (which is possible) or I just wasn't in the right headspace to appreciate it at the time (also possible). I do remember going through a phase of my life when I thought that public school was more about servile acquiescence to arbitrary rules than learning the subjects they were ostensibly supposed to teach me. And that phase has lasted...oh, right up to the present (I'm 30 now). But now books like Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault, Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, and The Student as Nigger by Jerry Farber have given me the theoretical basis to explain why I only then sensed inchoately. I also have qualms about higher education, which have become more pronounced the closer I get to the ultimate goal of a Ph.D. and a teaching/research position at a university in biology.

Sometimes, even though I don't need "general education" credits at this point in my education, I just take humanities classes for the hell of it. Last summer, I took a Mexican Lit class where we were assigned Malinche by Laura Esquivel, Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, and Here's to You, Jesusa! by Elena Poniatowska. I loathed the first book, and my professor admitted it wasn't very good, but it did feature women's writing and covered a portion of Mexican History he wanted to discuss (the period of the Conquest). I believe, though, that Poniatowska, Sor Juana, and Macuilxochitzin (a Nahuatl-language poetess) was enough and we could have chosen a different author. For example, Carlos Fuentes' The Old Gringo would have been interesting to read and contrast with Here's to You, Jesusa!. That way we could have had the difference between an old white man (Ambrose Bierce) and a young Mexican woman and their respective experiences of the Revolution.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby orinjuse » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:02 am UTC

I had to read The Handmaid's Tale in highschool, and I hated it. But I'll admit that I was a lot younger then, and it had been part of a reading list put together by a teacher who seemed to not like men very much. Maybe if I re-read it now, I'd like it more.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Lioness » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:45 pm UTC

I had to read Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. At that stage, I was in the 'Why would I analyse books? It takes the fun out of it' stage, and thus hated analysing it to bits. It had no storyline. It was boring. Etc.
I don't know whether I'd like it now that I'm (a lot) more of an English nerd.

And then there was I am David, read in year 8. Still don't like it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Psycho Goose » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Nullifidian wrote:He was one of the writers I read, along with Jules Verne, Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. Nobody told me I shouldn't be reading these authors until I got to second grade and had a teacher so freaked out by my reading works that were not "age-appropriate" that she even ripped White Fang straight out of my hands.
Goddamn it, some teachers just piss me off. Punishing you for being a good reader--what the hell. Am I the only one who had this reaction?

As for books I couldn't stand, this year takes the cake. Now, overall, I've been incredibly lucky with the books my teachers have assigned this year, which include (though I'm probably forgetting a couple): A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Slaughterhouse-Five, Song of Solomon, White Noise, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Angels in America, M. Butterfly, and No Exit. Yeah, I definitely forgot something or other, but I liked all of them on some level. Portrait was actually pretty okay (thanks in no small part to an English teacher who I all but worship), and even No Exit was a pretty decent play, even though I have a serious bone to pick with Jean-Paul Sartre. (Specifically, his seeming belief that three messed-up people, once put in Hell, are totally incapable of improving themselves, getting used to each other, or maturing in any way whatsoever. Some of the ways in which they "torment" each other come off as rather petty and contrived, but the play still is reasonably involving. But I digress.)

But I hated, hated, hated Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child. The book is about a woman who aspires to be a housewife. She succeeds, and she and her husband have four children, and they all live in a big house that they can just barely afford. Good for them, but I find it rather hard to care. Then they have an unplanned (cue snare roll) fifth child. They are already rather unhappy about the kid, as they're rather stretched for money to support another child and don't have the responsibility in them to use birth-control or to not have sex. Then the wife starts believing that the fetus is trying to kill her. Then the kid is born, the parents deride it as a monster while making no attempt at understanding it, they get driven apart by their inability to cope with the kid who, when he gets older, starts hanging around (gasp!) bikers, and the mother spends the entire second half of the book angsting about her being torn between her hatred/fear of her son and her duty to try to take care of him anyway, while the father just takes the apathetic route and ignores him entirely in favor of the other children. Good. Job. Doris. Lessing.

Truth be told, that could be a very interesting story--cynical though I sound, postpartum depression and fears surrounding the breakdown of one's family are interesting, fascinating, and significant concepts for a book to deal with. And I can deal with imperfect, flawed, and unlikeable characters--look, I liked The Great Gatsby, for chrissake! But I can't deal with stale, one-dimensional characters who never evolve beyond the simplest of stereotypes. Especially when the author doesn't seem to realize just how flat her characters are. And though we did spend a while in class talking about the admittedly well-developed symbolism, good symbolism can not rescue a bad story. I hate it when authors over-rely on symbolism. And the symbolism was really the only interesting component of Doris Lessing's style, in my opinion--the language was plain and boring and dry.

You know, looking back, The Scarlet Letter really wasn't all that bad. But The FIfth Child? That book Sucked. Capital-S Sucked like the bizarre offspring of a prostitute and a vacuum cleaner--speaking of which, I call Rule 34 on that Hoover company from now on. God, what a painful mental image.

Excuse my rant. I've been bottling it up for a whole year and just needed to get it outa my system. Seeing as I'm done with that rant, can anybody tell me if any of Doris Lessing's other books are any good? I mean, she's supposedly a significant author and everything. Maybe that book was just a fluke. I'd like to not hate her; hating people is no fun. Except for Jack Thompson, who quite frankly deserves it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby B.Good » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:12 pm UTC

I had to read The Scarlett Letter in tenth grade. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. Nathaniel Hawthorne is unbearably verbose and the plot quite honestly wasn't very good in my opinion.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Atomic Toast » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:13 am UTC

Honestly, The Illiad.
From an objective point of view, I can say it is very good, but it's just not an engaging read for me.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:52 pm UTC

B.Good wrote:I had to read The Scarlett Letter in tenth grade. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. Nathaniel Hawthorne is unbearably verbose and the plot quite honestly wasn't very good in my opinion.


The Scarlett Letter is a right of passage; you count as an adult in all puritanical cultures upon completion(assuming survival). It was lost to history that you shouldn't actually read it for enjoyment.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby RabbitWho » Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:14 pm UTC

We had to read Harry Potter in 4th year.. Giving a book written for 7 year olds to a class of 16 year olds.. I mean if you like it that's okay with me, I like Peter Rabbit.. but if they'd given it to me in class I'd have been equally distraught. What on earth were we supposed to learn from that? We had to read a chapter a week, we got through about half of the book and were expected to finish it ourselves. I returned it to the library and that was it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:47 pm UTC

RabbitWho wrote:We had to read Harry Potter in 4th year.. Giving a book written for 7 year olds to a class of 16 year olds.. I mean if you like it that's okay with me, I like Peter Rabbit.. but if they'd given it to me in class I'd have been equally distraught. What on earth were we supposed to learn from that? We had to read a chapter a week, we got through about half of the book and were expected to finish it ourselves. I returned it to the library and that was it.
Well, they did give The Goblet of Fire a Hugo award. So which book was it? And were you actually doing serious work on it, or was it just "here's a book, read a chapter a day from it?"
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Flying_Cookie » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:28 am UTC

Lord of the Flies. The first time I read it was in 5th garde, and it was fine, I liked it. Then I had to read it three times for different classes in the following years. I cannot stand that book anymore. So many fucking symbols and allusions. I don't care that the chapter "The Beast from Water" is a reference to "Leviathan" I get the picture that the Author, like Hobbes, thinks human nature is crap. ><

The Great Gatsby. The two characters I could stand where the guy who ran a repair garage/gas station thing, and the mobster, because they where actually interesting, and the first one actual acted like a logical person.

The Joy Luck Club. Oh god the Joy Luck Club. Stupidest book I've ever had to read. The characters where so flat I ended up sticking them all together to make one rounded character in my head. And some of their problems where so trivial I wanted to scream. One character contributed to the drowning of her younger brother. Totally legitimate issue. Another one couldn't make up her mind about things, and so made her husband decide everything, then complained about it. Ugh.

Finally, Siddhartha. I don't even have anything to say about this, it was that boring. I can't remember any of it!
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Redjack443 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:23 pm UTC

I hated pretty much all books I had to read for school, at least the Dutch ones. The ones we had to read for English class were a little better, but not by much. I do actually like reading, but not if someone is making me.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby RabbitWho » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:44 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
RabbitWho wrote:We had to read Harry Potter in 4th year.. Giving a book written for 7 year olds to a class of 16 year olds.. I mean if you like it that's okay with me, I like Peter Rabbit.. but if they'd given it to me in class I'd have been equally distraught. What on earth were we supposed to learn from that? We had to read a chapter a week, we got through about half of the book and were expected to finish it ourselves. I returned it to the library and that was it.
Well, they did give The Goblet of Fire a Hugo award. So which book was it? And were you actually doing serious work on it, or was it just "here's a book, read a chapter a day from it?"



Well of course they weren't going to give us a book in the middle of the series.

Serious work on it? How do you do serious work on it!?
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

Oh dear, book 1. Yes, that's pretty sad.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby RabbitWho » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:20 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:Oh dear, book 1. Yes, that's pretty sad.


:) Thank you for understanding. :)
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Woopate » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:32 am UTC

It's hard for me to dislike anything that can be read, but two kinda stand out for me. Probably because of the context in which they were read.

Stone Carvers Story about the construction of the Vimy Ridge Memorial. It's supposed to be touching and a tear jerker. For me, was more of a head-nodder. One of the first times I've fallen asleep face first into an open book. Mid-class.

The GiverThis was read as a class out loud changing readers each page or so. I was mostly finished the book within the first period I was given it. I tried for a small period of time to stay with the class, but that just resulted in me reading the same pages eight or nine times before turning the page. All the topics students had to discuss were old news to me by the time they finally got around to it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby sikyon » Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:22 pm UTC

I read the only 2 books I never finished in school.

In grade 10 I read Brave New World. Never finished the last few chapters. Normally I like that kind of stuff but it was just so boring to me.

In grade 12 we read Crime and Punishment. Never read the last few chapters - my eyes were going to fall out of my head. The story simply wasn't engaging after the discription of the horse being beaten and the murders, in my opinion.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:02 pm UTC

Woopate wrote:The GiverThis was read as a class out loud changing readers each page or so. I was mostly finished the book within the first period I was given it. I tried for a small period of time to stay with the class, but that just resulted in me reading the same pages eight or nine times before turning the page. All the topics students had to discuss were old news to me by the time they finally got around to it.

For me, this was 5th grade, Johnny Tremain and Foster's War (and probably all the other books we read, I just don't recall them). It's actually a quite negative memory, because the rule was that when it came to be your turn to read and you didn't know where the class was, you had to stand up to read and got a point docked or something. I get that it was to discourage the slackers, but I got punished and humiliated because I read so fast I was usually several chapters ahead of the class. >:(

It was sort of made up for, that the time I (completely innocently) let slip at one point that I was just finishing up Jane Eyre. Librarian: "You're not supposed to read that until high school!"
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Woopate » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:22 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:
Woopate wrote:The GiverThis was read as a class out loud changing readers each page or so. I was mostly finished the book within the first period I was given it. I tried for a small period of time to stay with the class, but that just resulted in me reading the same pages eight or nine times before turning the page. All the topics students had to discuss were old news to me by the time they finally got around to it.

For me, this was 5th grade, Johnny Tremain and Foster's War (and probably all the other books we read, I just don't recall them). It's actually a quite negative memory, because the rule was that when it came to be your turn to read and you didn't know where the class was, you had to stand up to read and got a point docked or something. I get that it was to discourage the slackers, but I got punished and humiliated because I read so fast I was usually several chapters ahead of the class. >:(

It was sort of made up for, that the time I (completely innocently) let slip at one point that I was just finishing up Jane Eyre. Librarian: "You're not supposed to read that until high school!"


I hate that attitude. I actually had parent-teacher meetings due to the fact that I was reading "too much". In classes like Math and Science, granted, but it was not negatively influencing my marks in any way.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby fullmoonmidget » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:27 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. Having to read it for school makes it worse. I struggled all the way through Oedipus Rex and the Odyssey, but now that I'm done, I want to go back and read the other two plays in the series.

To the Lighthouse. I do not understand how this is literature. It is long, drawn out, and makes little to no sense. I felt like I was caught up in a ramblers mind. I get enough of that when it's my own thoughts, thanks!
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby MisterCheif » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:31 pm UTC

kinigget wrote:who was it who was talking about Montana 1948?

I really have to agree with you there. That book is completely based on the possible rape and possible murder of a native american woman, and for some reason the main character keeps accidentally seeing women naked. I just thought that the book should be a little more readable.


Such a bad book...

Though not as bad as the Awakening. I have to read it now, and I could see from the first chapter that it would turn out roughly like this:

Woman not satisfied with marriage -> Fall in love with other man -> Get depressed over it not working out -> etc.

So far I am at Chapter 15, and I did see the post about her killing herself, so I wasn't to far off.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:32 am UTC

I think the biggest problem with reading books like The Awakening in high school is you really don't get the proper context. Yeah, the plot is cliched and old hat now, but it was a really important work for bringing attention to the plight of women trapped in loveless marriages. But my experience in schools is that they tell you 'Oh, this is important!' and neglect the historical and literary context - they ask the student to look at the book from a modern perspective to "put their own interpretation" on it, but sometimes the modern perspective doesn't really help.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:33 am UTC

The Awakening? I was just reading about that. :D
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2011/3/9axford.html
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:34 am UTC

Ebert, that charming fellow, was all up ons over a simplified ESL version of The Great Gatsby recently.
http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/07 ... em_to.html

He does make a pretty compelling case for re-visiting it; I'd completely forgotten about the closing and of "boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past". Still, I recall just enough of the experience of reading it to know that such nuggets of prose are not at all easily mined.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Nat » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:06 pm UTC

pygmalion. Quite possibly the most absolutely pointless book ever. The only possible reason I can think of that it got so popular was that George Bernard Shaw was popular when he wrote it and phonetics were in, and the British seem to never let anything go.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby folkhero » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:28 am UTC

Nat wrote:pygmalion. Quite possibly the most absolutely pointless book ever. The only possible reason I can think of that it got so popular was that George Bernard Shaw was popular when he wrote it and phonetics were in, and the British seem to never let anything go.

I can think of plenty of books that are more pointless than one that explores the relationship of language/behavior and social class, and was turned into one of the great musicals of all time.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:39 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:
Nat wrote:pygmalion. Quite possibly the most absolutely pointless book ever. The only possible reason I can think of that it got so popular was that George Bernard Shaw was popular when he wrote it and phonetics were in, and the British seem to never let anything go.

I can think of plenty of books that are more pointless than one that explores the relationship of language/behavior and social class, and was turned into one of the great musicals of all time.
I have already ranted elsewhere about what an utter travesty Maguire's Wicked is.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Isotope_238 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

Two specially hellish reads I remember:

1. Snow Falling on Cedars by a guy I don't care enough about to bother googling his name. I hate this book, and I hated the lengthy class discussions on what the gratuitous fucking had to do with the wider social message of the book. Also (pettiness alert) the title has nothing to do with the content. I'm not looking for a title like
Spoiler:
The wife of the accused man in a murder trial with racial and political implications once screwed and dumped the reporter covering the case, so he's faced with a personal moral decision, and everybody spends a shit-ton of time remembering past injustices and screwing (of the figurative and sexual varieties)
but the actual title still drives me up the wall.

2. Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by G-something Courtmanche, a fictionalized account of the Rwandan genocide. It has gratuitous fucking. Lots of it, and some quasi-consensual rapey stuff, plus graphic rape and murder (which, being historically accurate and not pointless, doesn't bother me intellectually). And when none of the characters are doing it, they're talking about doing it in one way or another. Most annoyingly: Look, viewpoint character. If you can see a genocide coming and your new lover is definitely going to be a target, don't just sit on your ass. Absolutely don't make flimsy excuses like "I love this country! It's so much more pleasant than Canada or where I used to live and be depressed in the snow after my wife died/left me/I don't remember! Also, smoking hot barmaid I'm grappling with, you're going to be a victim of genocide if we stay here. But I can't take you away, because you belong here with the dirt roads and shacks! And, to make myself look like more of an indecisive self-absorbed fatalistic loser, I will explicitly state that I can get us plane tickets out of here, well in advance of any unrest."
Maybe it's historically accurate. I understand that we need our viewpoint character on scene for the genocide, which is the point of the book. Still, WTF, dude?

@Jorpho: thanks for the link to The Machine Stops. I couldn't remember title or author, and I'm glad I found that story again.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby existential_elevator » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:12 pm UTC

RabbitWho wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
RabbitWho wrote:We had to read Harry Potter in 4th year.. Giving a book written for 7 year olds to a class of 16 year olds.. I mean if you like it that's okay with me, I like Peter Rabbit.. but if they'd given it to me in class I'd have been equally distraught. What on earth were we supposed to learn from that? We had to read a chapter a week, we got through about half of the book and were expected to finish it ourselves. I returned it to the library and that was it.
Well, they did give The Goblet of Fire a Hugo award. So which book was it? And were you actually doing serious work on it, or was it just "here's a book, read a chapter a day from it?"



Well of course they weren't going to give us a book in the middle of the series.

Serious work on it? How do you do serious work on it!?
"How did Harry feel when he opened the letter?"
"He thought Hogwarts and magic were shit and wanted to read Emmanuel Kant. "
I'm pretty sure I've ranted about this earlier in this thread, but the same thing happened to me. Except it was during my A-Levels, so... 17 - 18 years old? There is nothing deep in the Philosopher's Stone, just a collection of really half-arsed puns that you have to sit around and pretend are clever.

Quick edit for: The work we did on it was mainly for linguistics. We did a comparison in terms of literary works for children with Tom Brown's School Days.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Jorpho » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:25 am UTC

Isotope_238 wrote:Two specially hellish reads I remember:

1. Snow Falling on Cedars by a guy I don't care enough about to bother googling his name. I hate this book, and I hated the lengthy class discussions on what the gratuitous fucking had to do with the wider social message of the book. Also (pettiness alert) the title has nothing to do with the content. I'm not looking for a title like
Spoiler:
The wife of the accused man in a murder trial with racial and political implications once screwed and dumped the reporter covering the case, so he's faced with a personal moral decision, and everybody spends a shit-ton of time remembering past injustices and screwing (of the figurative and sexual varieties)
but the actual title still drives me up the wall.

2. Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by G-something Courtmanche, a fictionalized account of the Rwandan genocide. It has gratuitous fucking. Lots of it, and some quasi-consensual rapey stuff, plus graphic rape and murder (which, being historically accurate and not pointless, doesn't bother me intellectually). And when none of the characters are doing it, they're talking about doing it in one way or another.
I am intrigued that your school readily allowed the assignment of books that featured "gratuitous fucking".

@Jorpho: thanks for the link to The Machine Stops. I couldn't remember title or author, and I'm glad I found that story again.
You're welcome. I occasionally think of changing my sig, but then I realize that there are still probably people who haven't read it yet. ;)

existential_elevator wrote:I'm pretty sure I've ranted about this earlier in this thread, but the same thing happened to me. Except it was during my A-Levels, so... 17 - 18 years old? There is nothing deep in the Philosopher's Stone, just a collection of really half-arsed puns that you have to sit around and pretend are clever.

Quick edit for: The work we did on it was mainly for linguistics. We did a comparison in terms of literary works for children with Tom Brown's School Days.
Well, linguistic comparisons do not really require great depth, no?

(I might have thought E. Nesbitt's stuff would be a natural choice for comparison, but upon examination Schooldays is a good deal older.)
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Isotope_238 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:26 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:I am intrigued that your school readily allowed the assignment of books that featured "gratuitous fucking".


Well, Snow Falling on Cedars was an option during a high school senior lit course that was ostensibly for college credit. I got the feeling that there was very little supervision from within the school district because the class was a joke anyway. Sunday at the Pool in Kigali I read in college as part of an administrative hazing of the freshmen mind-opening first-year required course.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

Isotope_238 wrote:Sunday at the Pool in Kigali I read in college as part of an administrative hazing of the freshmen mind-opening first-year required course.


Oh, you had one of those courses too? At least I personally didn't have to read literature (not a big fan of analyzing things) but the section I was in was called "Where have all the fishes gone?" and was about over-fishing. In order to truly appreciate this, you have to realize that I'm kind of terrified of fish. It's stupid and illogical, but I am. My mother laughed for a solid minute when I told her. So, that was an interesting class.

Anyway, books I hated in school:
First one I can remember was Sees Behind Trees from 4th grade. All I know is that it was about native Americans and that I hated it. I have no recollection of why.

I also remember disliking quite a few books in middle school, but I can't actually remember the books. Also, I think my main dislike for them was because they were so easy. I remember reading The Giver in 4th grade and really enjoying it. However, that was evidently on the 8th grade curriculum so I nearly had to read it again and I was obviously annoyed by that. After the first few chapters though, we were allowed to read another Lois Lowery book. Sadly, I'd already read that one too, but that was on my own time.

High school of course was horrible. I really did not enjoy Of Mice and Men or Lord of the Flies. Sadly, I think that had I read them on my own, I would have seen them just as ok books, but because we read them in school, it was horrible. Also, I really didn't like Romeo and Juliet. The only part I enjoyed was the "Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" portion. Other than that, I could believe that anyone would be so stupid. Let's kill ourselves because someone we met 3 days ago has died. Dumb!

Also, the majority of my English teachers were very hypersensitive about being feminists. Now, I consider myself a feminist, but the majority of these were feminazis. So we read a ton of feminist literature when we weren't doing the standards.

Oh! The Scarlet Letter is probably one of the worst things I have ever read in my life.

I'm still really disappointed we never read any Twain. He's one of my favorite classic authors and we never even read a short story. Maybe that's a good thing as I can still enjoy him.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby TheStrongest » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:20 am UTC

Oh, the usuals, like Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet. For summer reading, I remember slowly plodding through Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, which I felt was bland and disjointed. I still don't understand why we read it. At the moment, I'm struggling to complete Kate Chopin's The Awakening. I already am familiar with the plot, and I have to say the conclusion is quite shallow. Perhaps it's just the fact of the matter; trying to get a male student to read a more antiquated novel written by a feminist forerunner.

I have never encountered reasons as to why a school selects a certain book for required reading list other than the often cited "it's a classic" viewpoint, or an attempt to impart a moral or lesson to the students. At least in my experience, there seems to be a correlation between a book's reputation as an established classic and it being enjoyable to read. I'm not saying that academic institutions should discount a piece of literature because contemporary opinion calls it boring, but I wish that my school would try to choose more appealing books for us to read. If you want to keep my reading comprehension up to par, why not let me accomplish that while enjoying myself in the process?
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Sartorius » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:25 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:Also, I really didn't like Romeo and Juliet. The only part I enjoyed was the "Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" portion. Other than that, I could believe that anyone would be so stupid. Let's kill ourselves because someone we met 3 days ago has died. Dumb!

Oh! The Scarlet Letter is probably one of the worst things I have ever read in my life.


Romeo and Juliet isn't the greatest thing ever, but we listened to excerpts on tape until everyone got fed up with how stupid and whiny the characters were, and then my teacher went, "THAT'S WHAT YOU GUYS SOUND LIKE." It was (actually) hilarious, and I still think of that story when I think of melodramatic teenagers.

I actually enjoyed the Scarlet Letter, but maybe that's because I grew up in the southern U.S. and I liked that the theologically-based society was hell. Take that, Christians who want to legislate their morals at the expense of the livelihood of others!
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Adacore » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:17 am UTC

On 'bits of Romeo and Juliet that are good', I really like the passage from Mercutio's death scene up to the point Romeo is banished. That's really well written, and is actually believable (much more so than the 'lets both kill ourselves' bit at the end).

"'Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man." - one of my favourite Shakespeare lines ever.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Magnanimous » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:31 am UTC

existential_elevator wrote:
RabbitWho wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
RabbitWho wrote:We had to read Harry Potter in 4th year.. Giving a book written for 7 year olds to a class of 16 year olds.. I mean if you like it that's okay with me, I like Peter Rabbit.. but if they'd given it to me in class I'd have been equally distraught. What on earth were we supposed to learn from that? We had to read a chapter a week, we got through about half of the book and were expected to finish it ourselves. I returned it to the library and that was it.
Well, they did give The Goblet of Fire a Hugo award. So which book was it? And were you actually doing serious work on it, or was it just "here's a book, read a chapter a day from it?"



Well of course they weren't going to give us a book in the middle of the series.

Serious work on it? How do you do serious work on it!?
"How did Harry feel when he opened the letter?"
"He thought Hogwarts and magic were shit and wanted to read Emmanuel Kant. "
I'm pretty sure I've ranted about this earlier in this thread, but the same thing happened to me. Except it was during my A-Levels, so... 17 - 18 years old? There is nothing deep in the Philosopher's Stone, just a collection of really half-arsed puns that you have to sit around and pretend are clever.

Quick edit for: The work we did on it was mainly for linguistics. We did a comparison in terms of literary works for children with Tom Brown's School Days.

I spent two years working with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in high school.

... Granted, it was in Latin.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby Nat » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:
Nat wrote:pygmalion. Quite possibly the most absolutely pointless book ever. The only possible reason I can think of that it got so popular was that George Bernard Shaw was popular when he wrote it and phonetics were in, and the British seem to never let anything go.

I can think of plenty of books that are more pointless than one that explores the relationship of language/behavior and social class, and was turned into one of the great musicals of all time.

Yeah, it's probably interesting in historical context, so it might be a good read for history class. Its literary value as a story alone is rather low. (Yeah, there's more pointless stories, but the difference is my high school English teacher didn't try to force me to think they were great). It was disappointing, because I really liked most of the other stories she gave us.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby PerchloricAcid » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:16 pm UTC

Anna Karenina, The Iliad, Hamlet, Romeo&Juliet, Old Goriot... I'm quite sure there are many other books that gave me a damn hard time, but I seem to have repressed 'em. Thankfully. :roll:
(Need I explain? Fine, fine, I believe there are some of you out there that have lotsa fine words for these books, but I found them extremely boring and hard to read. Actually, Goriot wasn't THAT bad, but the Iliad, with which I had trouble deciphering all those metaphors, ancient Greek metaphors and shit, sure made me wanna puke after a whole night of reading it. Anna K. seemed to me like a gorram soap written way before TV's and bored the hell outta me. Hamlet.. well, one moment it's all paranormal with the ghost conversations and such shit, and the other moment we've got a family drama gone terribly out of control with multiple manslaughter. Btw, I don't quite remember what sucked about R&J so much, probably just not my style, but I hardly made myself finish it.)

Besides these, there were several books by Serbian writers I highly doubt any of you have heard, some of them acting as weapons of political indoctrination, some of them just plain boring. One is even considered (by certain linguists and other professionals on language, literature and related fields I've spoken to) to be THE representation of illiteracy in Serbian schools.

Okay, honestly, I admit that reading all* those books in high school (including ones I'd hated) definitely helped build up my literacy and vocabulary, but, for Christ's sake, couldn't they have given us more interesting ones? :mrgreen:


__________
*Besides the one(s) written by the illiterate.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby plsander » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:41 pm UTC

Atomic Toast wrote:Honestly, The Illiad.
From an objective point of view, I can say it is very good, but it's just not an engaging read for me.


In my experience the quality of the translation matters greatly in the enjoyment of Homer's work.
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