Reading for English Class Ruins Novels

When I think of books I’ve read that I can’t stand, most of my lists consist of highly renowned books of literary value that were forced on me in English classes. I can’t stand Animal Farm, The Good Earth, The Scarlett Letter, Tale of Two Cities, The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness, Lord of the Flies.  I don’t remember anything at all from Farewell to Arms or All Quiet on the Western Front.  And I would rather never visit my favorite pizza joint again than have to read or discuss The Metamorphosis or any interpretation there of, ever again.

But after high school, I felt like my literary education was somewhat lacking, and so I went back and read other classic novels. I felt my hatred was born from English class and not necessarily anything wrong with the novels themselves. After all, in high school my favorite author was Alexandre Dumas and I loved A Clockwork Orange.

In college, I was absorbed in Slaughterhouse Five and Pride and Prejudice.  But I couldn’t get through On the Road, and thankfully didn’t have to.  Holden Caulfield can eat it. And as much as it pains me to admit it, Dracula is a cure for insmonia.  Luckily, since it wasn’t for any English class, I didn’t have to discuss these novels for weeks/months thus fueling my hatred of them.

The reason I’m thinking of all this now is that Woody Allen movie again, Midnight in Paris.  I was so delighted to see the actors portraying so many talented artists of the time time.  Of course this lead to a nagging thought… I loved the surrealist painters in the movie, but I’ve never enjoyed the work of the authors portrayed. I’ve never met a Hemingway or Fitzgerald book I liked. Is it because I was forced to study them in school? Or did I truly not like it? I can’t even remember most of what I read. Except The Great Gatsby. That stupid little green light in the book was shoved down my metophorical throat. It symbolizes greed and envy. I get it. Stop talking about it already. How about enjoying the story in and of itself?

So that’s what I’m going to do. I picked up Tender is the Night from the library. A book I think I might have read. I read a summary on it and I’ll give it a shot. I think I want to start up again on that quest of mine to read novels that I think I should have read by now. There’s some on this list, but there’s quite a few novels on that list that I know I won’t enjoy (hello, dystopian society books. I don’t like you).  But I have others in mind:  Ender’s Game, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Catch-22.  And I just found out that Kiss of the Spiderwoman was a novel adapted to stage-play. I thought it was the other way around. So I’ll probably get that next because I love that story and am anxious to read it in it’s original form.


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