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Wednesday Five: 5 Books Assigned in School I Actually Liked

June 15, 2011

I remember struggling miserably through certain books in school, and over the summer: Catcher in the Rye, Far from the Madding Crowd, Great Expectations.  Yuck! And we won’t go into how mad I was the summer I read the wrong damn Hemingway novel… and then had to go read the other one.

Often, there’s something about reading something for class that kills a book, especially a classic. Analysis, discussion, having to write essays? Looking for things like Theme or Mood or Descriptive language? Who knows!

Fortunately, there were a handful of books I was assigned to read that I wound up adoring.

1. Anna Karenina– Leo Tolstoy. I had to read it for AP English… and I loved it. It reminded me of a gossipy sort of airport novel. All sorts of scandal and sensation. And I liked the writing style too, or, I guess, the translation style. Because I remember enjoying The Death Of Ivan Illyich, a novella by Tolstoy, as well.

2. Wide Sargasso Sea– Jean Rhys. Liked this much, much better than Jane Eyre. I don’t remember when in high school I read it though, I think the summer before junior year, it was required reading. Gorgeous and steamy and atmospheric.

3. The Metamorphosis– Franz Kafka. Gregor woke up. He was a cockroach. His family got mad at him for it. He worried about being late for work. Hilariously absurd!

4. The Odyssey– Homer.  Read most of it in Mr. Mulgrew’s English class, which might account for how much I love it. He was a fantastic, dynamic, stand-on-the-desk-and-declaim, slightly insane sort of teacher. I owe the Odyssey a reread now that I’m more familiar with poetry.

5. Annie John– Jamaica Kincaid. I am pretty sure I read this in Ms. Baker’s English class, so 10th grade. A story about a girl growing up in the tropics. I don’t remember what I liked about it, just that I did.

There have to be others. For example, I can’t remember if I read The Haunting of Hill House because it was assigned… but I remember reading it on a vacation, at the beach, and the juxtaposition of the creepy shadowiness of the book, with the bright warm sunny day, utterly blew my mind!

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 15, 2011 2:10 pm

    I also liked metamorphosis ^.^ although I think part of it was also that it wasn’t that long… it pretty much got to the point all the way through too… unlike Bartleby, which was also short but took its sweet time getting anywhere

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