Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is Which “Classic” Author’s Work Do You Loathe and Why?
Mine? THE DEERSLAYER, by James Fenimore Cooper.
Yes, I read it in 5th or 6th grade - because I was forced to - but the scars remain. I had been pushed into some sort of advanced reading pod with other unsuspecting
It was the first time IN MY LIFE that I DIDN'T ENJOY READING.
I mean, my mother read to me every night, until I started reading over her shoulder and correcting her mistakes. At which point, she threw up her hands and just handed me the books. I think I was about six. I was allowed to check out five books a week from the library and it was an effort to make them last. Once I had allowance money, I spent it on books. I read books in class, on the playground, at home, in the car. I even invited my friends to come over and read.
I was that kid.
Probably a lot of you were, too.
So to make me hate reading took a lot of effort. I still remember the woman who insisted I should like this book. When I told her I didn't want to read it, she said I had to.
I loathed everything about it and her.
Many years later I found the Mark Twain essay, Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, which made me feel at least validated in my loathing. But really, at ten or eleven, I wasn't thinking about all those excellent points Twain makes. I hated reading about this guy who was boring and hateful at once, about women being scalped and raped, and about things I had zero interest in.
This kind of thing is how we teach kids to hate reading. I know things have gotten better and I celebrate those teachers and librarians out there putting books into kids' hands, helping them find books to LOVE.
That's what reading should be about.
I always hated almost everything that was assigned reading.ReplyDelete
So sad how that happens! :-(Delete
Oh my gosh yes, and Mark Twain's essay about JF Cooper is everything, it made me LOL when I read it and yes like you I felt vindicated.ReplyDelete
We truly are soul sisters, Brenda!Delete
All too often, the books we are forced to assign are not right for the age or mindset of the kid. We are working to change things, but it's a slow road.ReplyDelete
You're fighting the good fight, Hope, which is one of the many reasons we love you!Delete
I think I've mentioned it before, but Dutch literature is enough to turn any teen off reading. When I was reading for my list (we had to read 20 books on the Dutch literature list I think) I made sure to read at least 2 books I actually wanted to read to every book I read for the list. I've seen people get completely turned off from ever reading again sadly enough.ReplyDelete
What a great antidote, though!Delete
The first assigned book I hated was Are You There God, It's Me Margaret. My young self simply didn't connect and didn't want to read it, but my teacher made me finish because we had to talk about it in small groups, book-club-style. It was horrible and I was the only kid who voiced an opinion of not liking it. I remember the shock on my group member's faces as I sat and explained why the book didn't work for me. Maybe an early hint to my book-review hobby ;)ReplyDelete
Did you ever come back to it? I remember reading it, but not loving it like I was "supposed" to - and not like I loved other Judy Blume books!Delete
I did try again, middle school-ish, and still didn't connect with it. There were some other Blume books that were so fun! Just not that one :/Delete
Totally get that!Delete
Actually, Jeffe, you were still 3 when you started correcting me. You were getting your own books when you were 4.ReplyDelete
Ha! And you're still scarred :-)Delete
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It was just so boring and seemed endless. I also dislike how some classes made you tear a book apart to find deeper meaning. I am more of a straightforward kind of girl.ReplyDelete
I actually got a lot out of Heart of Darkness - but I read it senior year in HS for AP English with an exceptionally deft teacher. It *definitely* required digging. And maybe a lot more angst and life to get it.Delete
Oh, I have so many. But one of the first I remember loathing was The Great Gatsby -- which gets me horrified looks and scorn to this day.ReplyDelete
I think that's another that only makes sense if you've traveled certain circles. It's a great examination of wealth and privilege, but if you didn't know people like that, it reads as a surreal circus.Delete