Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The college reading list

When I was in High School, I somehow got place in the Honors English Section. I really have no idea how it happened. And straight away I should mention that it sounds like a bigger deal than it is- it really wasn't a big deal. I was a pretty average student and a very average writer, especially for high school students- I mean the drivel that comes out of high school students- ICK! But the Honor's English program was full of these very intense women teaching English. Seriously intense. At some point during freshman honors english, Mrs. Neal handed out the reading list for college bound readers. UGH! So I'm a rule follower and I'm obsessive and now I feel like to be a good person, to be able to breathe the free air I must read all of these books. I think there were 50 or 100 of them. Now, I like to read, don't get me wrong. I always have. But I am a SLOW reader. I just am. I was a slow reader in the second grade. I was a year behind in reading and I knew I was behind but I kind of enjoyed talking to my neighbor more than reading in school. Now I'm given this reading list and I think we were supposed to pick a book off the list, read it and compare it to something. And in my head I realize, she doesn't want us to read 1 book now I have to read 2- and there is this time frame and I'm a little intense and obsessive myself and so immediately I get up inside my head and I'm never going to finish this assignment. I did but the whole time I was crazy uptight. Throughout high school these crazy intense women kept coming at us with this reading list, which I quickly started looking at as a list of reasons I'm never going to get into college. Now nevermind the fact that each time I read one of the books off this list I found that I had a new favorite book (I'm not giving these crazy intense ladies the satisfaction of knowing that they did their job- i'm resentful like that). Oh, except for Jane
Eyre and Ethan
Fromme, I'm still damaged from having to plod through them both. Ethan
Fromme really does take the cake for the WORST book I've ever read and the fact that Mrs. Wheeler thought it was worthy of teaching is beyond understanding. How many good books did she pass over to make us spend 2 weeks on Ethan
Fromme?

Fastforward to present day, I went to University and did just fine. I, like a large number of college graduates, am doing something completely unrelated to my field of study, which of course had nothing to do with Ethan
Fromme or many of the books on the college bound reading list. But still I think I have a copy of the reading list and still I'm working my way through it. I read other stuff but I always come back to it when I'm looking for a book to read. My husband (who happens to be an English Professor and is a little crazy intense when it comes to books)sometimes asks me what I'm going to read, or what I am reading and inevitably its off the list. I explained this to him once and he said those lists are entirely subjective. They are put together by publishers and organizations to suit their own agendas. This just aggrivated me. He pulls out all kinds of different lists. Now I have all of these lists to read off of! A few of my real all time favorite books are on the list To Kill a Mockingbird is probably my favorite still and I was made to read it by my Sophomore Honors English Teacher. My favorite author however is often not on the lists, any of them. I adore Graham Greene. Never read anything I didn't love from Graham Greene. I've found that I love G. K. Chesteron - The Man Who was Thursday is wonderful.

So since buying my Nook at christmas I've been uploading the list. What's fabulous is that by and large, the list is free because they are old books that no one wants to spend money on. If I pay money its .99$, which means I can buy lots of books. The problem is that the list is as full of great books as it ever was. It keeps me up at night and the Nook doesn't loose my place and I don't need a bookmark and I can read in bed at 2:00a.m. when I can't get back to sleep after baby ! woke me up. I find myself thinking more of those crazy Honors English Ladies and growling. What were they thinking of?

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