Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let's Talk: Required Reading

Let's Talk is a weekly meme hosted by Melissa at i swim for oceans. Each week, there's a new topic to discuss. 

I just discovered this meme only yesterday, and I thought I'd give it a go. I've been thinking about doing discussion type posts on here for a while now, but I'm terrible at coming up with ideas, so this serves as a great prompt!

This week, let's talk about Required Reading.

Which books from your required reading days (high school/middle school) made the biggest impact on you?

I remember that in high school, there was always one book that you actually enjoyed reading, and the rest you absolutely loathed. I don't know how much of an impact these books have had on me, and considering I'm struggling to remember some of them, let's talk about the ones I do remember - that one book each year that I was actually happy to read. 

In Year 7, it was Exodus by Julie Bertagna. This was one of the first dystopians I ever read - little did I know how much I would come to enjoy dystopians in the future. And, just now researching this book to find the author's name, I've discovered that it's part of a trilogy - and now I'm actually considering going back, re-reading the first novel (which I never do), and then getting into this series. Whether that actually happens is fairly unlikely, but just the fact that I'm even thinking about it should convey that I did really enjoy this book, way back when I was 12 years old. 

I honesty don't remember any of the books we had to read in Year 8, so lets skip forward to Year 9. That year, I was content to read Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos. I say content because at the time, I wasn't into reading deep and emotional books that tackled the feelings and emotions related to eating disorders, but for that year, that was the best book. 

In Year 10, it was To King a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This one's a given, although I do think the play Oedipus came a close second, just because it was so messed up. To King a Mockingbird is such an iconic novel, pretty much anyone who's read it loves it, or enjoyed it at least. 

In Year 11, it was The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. Now, I didn't actually finish this book, but I did like the bits I read...I guess that speaks volumes for the books we had to read in Year 11. Actually, we spent the majority of our time studying a movie called Jindabyne. I think that movie's stuck with me the most, not because it's any great movie masterpiece, but rather, because it's the complete opposite. 

In Year 12, it was Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Even though this novel is full of the technical devices that English teachers love (which isn't surprising, since Guterson was a teacher before becoming a novelist), I really enjoyed it. It's a great murder mystery with some racial prejudice in there to spice it up and make it quite interesting to read. 

So there you go, a look into some of the novels that have stuck with me from my school days. Was this interesting at all? I realise I didn't actually say much about each novel I mentioned, simply because I find it hard to remember what they were about. Required reading for me just wasn't all that memorable; most of the novels I just read because I had to, and then as we began to dissect them, I found I liked them less and less, until I positively hated them. What about you? Did you have any required reading that really struck a cord with you? Or were you like me, and hated almost anything you studied in class?

Posted on Let's Discuss hosted by The Fiction Conniption and Oh, Chrys! 


  1. To be honest, I hated all the books that I was required to read during the my elementary and high school days. All of them were Classics and since I am not fan, I never experienced getting excited about a new book that we're going to read in class.

    I am not sure why our teachers didn't give us students the option to choose what we like to read. That would have been a very refreshing experience. And it would certainly make me less intimidated with books.

    I was already 15 when I started reading books because of Harry Potter. Before that, I thought books were for genius people so I tried to avoid them as much as possible. But after Harry Potter, I realized that we all just have to find the right book to bring out the reader in us. Apparently, Classics weren't the one for me.

    1. I agree, most of my experiences with required reading were not good. You just can't enjoy a book if you have to dissect everything about it.

      Our English department had the great idea of getting us to do 'Wide Reading', so every 2 weeks or so we would visit the school library to grab some books that we were actually interested in reading. I think more schools should have programs like that, to allow kids to pick what they want to read, so they actually get into it.

  2. When it comes to required reading, I am always the most excited in class. Yes, there is that mandatory overanalyzing aspect that does take some joy out of the read, but for me, it never quite bothered me. I always looked that over. Out of the books you mentioned, I liked To Kill A Mockingbird. That book is certainly iconic, and I loved the characters - especially Atticus. To me, the best thing about required reading is that for many it is their first novel experience, whether it is deal breaker or maker for future literary endeavors. Great post.


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