School reads! The bane of people’s lives. Often, it’s not the books themselves that are bad: it’s the system which puts them through the mill until the words “Mice” and “Men” and “Flies” and “Shakespeare” make you squirm with unresolved anger issues.
First offs, I think we should discuss what we read/are reading at school/college (I’m counting school until the age of 18, to university, because I still study English literature at college which is for ages 16-18… if you understand me). Personally, I read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare and A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller (also studied by the drama students at sixth form). Last year at college, I studied In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (which I actually really liked, and everyone else hated). And this year, I study Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays by George Orwell, and I’m over and done with Macbeth by Shakespeare and Pulp Fiction by Avery and Tarantino. So that’s 9 texts over 4 years. Nice. (Obviously, going on to study English Lit at Uni means I’ll be reading a lot more books, but still.)
Okay. Breathe. On with the post.
So having had that massive list (I’m sure you’ve read at least one of those, if not studied as well), here’s what I have to say: I’m glad I studied them.
“Really, Hannah?!” I hear you ask. “I thought you hated them! All those unresolved anger issues…”
Well, yes, I do hate them. Well, some of them. For example, I never want to read Of Mice and Men or A View from a Bridge (uuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhh) ever again, but I think some, especially the ones I’ve looked at at college, have helped me to understand not only the wider world of literature, but the wider world in general (such as the history of Ned Kelly; older dystopia; and a more in-depth look at a now-favourite Shakespeare play). Reading ICB and THOTKG in Year 13 has opened my eyes to a whole new genre I didn’t know existed: faction.
So, sure, I don’t like some books and yes, they’ve been “ruined” for me. But, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I would have picked those books up anyway, so in a way it’s just meant I’ve read more widely. Of all of the books there, I think I’d read Lord of the Flies, Macbeth, and True History of the Kelly Gang again. Studying Orwell too, has also meant I’ve read more widely of this famous, and yet unread, author. Of course I’d heard of Animal Farm and 1984, but I’d never read them until I studied Orwell. I actually have one of his earlier novels, A Clergyman’s Daughter on my shelf now, borrowed from the library (Orwell hated it, but, due to English classes, I want to read it because I like the author).
Overall, I think studying books at school is a good thing, even of the book itself is mauled to death and hated by (most) students for years to come. But, even if the book is hated, the ideas and learning which has come from it will surely carry on into the future.
What’s your opinion on school reads? What did you read at school? Let me know in the comments below, I love to hear from you! 🙂