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I was the sort of English student that teachers loved. Not only was it my favourite subject, I enjoyed almost every writer that was ever assigned to us in those courses. Often I’d even go out and read as many other poems, essays, or books by that same author as I could find for the sheer fun of it, but I’ll save those stories for August 28 when we all blog about assigned works that we really enjoyed in school.
There were a few exceptions to my love of literature, however.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I struggled so hard to connect with this book, but the characters were simply too vain and materialistic for me to bond with them at all. Those are simply two personality flaws that I have little patience for in fiction or in real life.
While I immediately enjoyed other nineteenth century poets like Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe, Whitman was too verbose for my tastes. He had wonderful ideas, but I kept wanting to edit his poems down to a third of their original size when I read them.
There are several Shakespeare plays I really like watching on the stage and will gush about in a few weeks, but King Lear is not one of them. The idea of playing favourites with one’s children deeply irritates me. I’ve seen the longterm effects of that in other families, and it’s destructive for everyone involved.
Due to this, I found it hard to sympathize with King Lear. It seemed to me that he could have easily had a peaceful retirement if he’d only chosen to treat all three of his daughters equally.
Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.
26 Responses to Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books I Had to Read in School and Didn’t Like
Gatsby was a killer but at least it was short. Catch-22 was my kryptonite. I read the whole thing for A level but I was just looking at the words, I don’t think anything really went in.
Catch-22 is another good pick for this topic! Yeah, I couldn’t get anything out of it either.
At the time, I liked Gatsby. Probably because it was short. I haven’t been back to it. Where the Red Fern Grows is my kryptonite. Can’t do it.
It’s interesting to see what books everyone just can’t get through!
I so relate to this post 🙂
Thanks for stopping by earlier. I have to say this time we’re different. I loved all the ones you listed (I love Shakespeare in general).
You’re welcome. Yeah, I’ve had that same reaction to some of the other posts this week. It makes me really curious to see which books everyone loved in school!
I saw your comment on my post earlier and I agree – we are kinda opposites! I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby, but I also read it when I was older (in my early 20’s). Can’t remember reading any Walt Whitman, but I did have serious issues with James Joyce. But that might have been because my teacher was obsessed.
You know, I might have liked The Great Gatsby more if I’d read it as an adult! There are some books that really are best enjoyed by people who’ve had more life experience than most teenagers have.
Teaching about someone you’re obsessed with sounds like it could be tricky. Sometimes it can be hard to understand why others wouldn’t enjoy something general-you really love.
I can understand that – I probably wouldn’t have liked it much at 16 either.
Exactly that – he loved Joyce and couldn’t wrap his head around anyone who didn’t agree. He was an odd man. 🙂
I was also the type of student English teachers loved! (Well, to some degree. I read all the books and then some, but I was often too shy to volunteer much information in class.) The one MAJOR exception for me was Charles Dickens. I couldn’t stand any of his works that we had to read for school.
Also, I saw another commenter mention Where the Red Fern Grows. That one horrified me, and is one of the few books that I refuse to go back and even attempt to re-read.
It’s funny – I don’t think of you as shy at all based on the snippets of your personality that poke through your posts! Do you still think of yourself as shy as an adult?
Yeah, Where the Red Fern Grows was a real tearjerker. I read it once as a kid and doubt I’ll ever go there again.
I whole heartedly agree with all your choices.
as for Whitman, “When Lilacs Last at my Doorstep Bloomed, was okay. “Oh Captain, My Captain,” was better. “Song of Myself” was god awful.
Heh, “Song of Myself” was actually what we were assigned to read in school. I don’t remember what his other poems were in that unit, but I was not impressed with him.
I would generally agree with all of this, though I do think The Great Gatsby gets a lot a more enjoyable once you realize/decide that you aren’t supposed to like the characters, and that the whole book is basically written to lampoon the extremely rich. Reading books where you’re not supposed to like the main characters always throws me off, though.
My list is here.
Oh, I didn’t realize that! I don’t think our teacher ever mentioned the fact that the characters were supposed to be unlikeable when she taught it.
I’m honestly not a big fan of books with unlikeable characters in general, but it’s good to know that my reaction to them was at least a normal one.
Ohhh, yes. They’re horrible people. I do wonder how many of these might have been sooooo much more enjoyable and/or accessible if they’d just been properly introduced.
But yeah, I have the same problem: why in the world would you ever want to write about characters you don’t like?!?!?
And the answer appears to be: when you’re trying to make a point.
That makes sense. 🙂
I quite liked Gatsby, but that may have been because I didn’t have to study it.
That may have made a difference! Reading a book for fun isn’t the same as being tested on it. How old were you when you read it?
About sixteen, as I recall. I went back to it recently and liked it even better.
I hated Of Mice and Men but now I think it was the way it was taught, and my attitude at the time, rather than any defect of Steinbeck!
When and how you’re exposed to a book is so important. Were there any books you were assigned to read that you really enjoyed? Did you ever go back and read more Steinbeck?
Moby Dick would probably be at the top of my list for this topic. I probably would have liked it more if it was about 200 pages shorter, lol.
Heh, I hear you there.