Anyone else thought that assigned reading in high school was some equivalency of torture? I LOVE reading, but when you force it on me, nope, it becomes the least enjoyable thing in the world. I know it only takes a few hours to read most books, and I probably spent more than that on social media within a few days, but rationality doesn’t make assigned reading any easier.
Side note, I don’t care if Shakespeare was one of the greatest poets and theater writers of all time, I don’t want reading to give me a headache. That being said, a year or two after I graduated high school, I decided I should give many of the classics another shot (besides Shakespeare, sorry not sorry) and I am so glad I did. I ended up enjoying most of them if not all of them and I see why these are required readings in school.
I encourage everyone to go back and reread some of them with our new, grown up lenses. My favorite classics are…
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- 1984 by George Orwell
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is actually one of the few assigned books I liked in high school, and I can accredit this completely to my AP Language Arts teacher. He LOVED the book, and mentioned he read it over 30 times. You could really feel his excitement when he taught it and that rubbed off on us. I also happened to be reading this book for school the year it was released as a movie so I guess you can now deduce my age lol. Back to the book, the writing and language are tremendous, the symbolism and foreshadowing are subtle, yet eye catching, and the characters have depth. There was definitely no happily ever after and although I do wish Gatsby got the ending he deserved, I love the realism and tragicness of the story. Anyone else ever pull a Jay Gatsby and post something on your insta/ snapchat stories hoping that one person will see it? Ya, neither to do I ;).
Man oh man, I did not appreciate Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury enough the first time I read it. It is a masterpiece that is wasted on 9th grade assigned reading when I was unable and unwilling to comprehend the themes and lessons of the story. As you all know by now, I am an avid (obsessive) reader, so a world where books are illegal is an absolute nightmare to comprehend. I love Montag’s character growth, but my favorite character is Captain Beatty. He is a walking oxymoron, with a side of cunning. Even though I am sure mostly everyone is familiar with story, or have at least Sparknoted it at some time, I encourage you to read it again and really absorb the wonders the Bradbury created.
We are well on our way to 1984 by George Orwell becoming a terrifying reality. Big brother, facial recognition, mass ignorance and propaganda, the list goes on. I lived in China for a year as a foreign English teacher, and although I greatly enjoyed my time there, I saw a little to much overlap for my comfort. The censorship of media was impossible for me to get used to and when the VPN’s would go down (which was often), I felt very disconnected. Also at airports, they had mirrors where it recognizes your face and tells you what your flight info is, what gate to go to, etc. I am not a technology dooms day person, I think it greatly improves our quality of life and allows me to stay connected to my friends and family around the world. But using it as a form of control, which is what it is often used for nowadays is unsettling. I don’t think there has every been a better time to read this book. It is a fantastical work of fiction and is really able to grasp your attention and open your mind.
I hope after reading this post, you take the time to (re)read some of the classics you associate as a burden from high school. They are classics for a reason. The craftsmanship and story telling is incredible and the unique story lines for the time resonate with the present day readers. Thank you for reading. My next post in the Book Recommendations series is going to cover Science Fiction/ Dystopian novels. Stay tuned.