This blog post is brought to you by Pride and Prejudice and my AP Lit class.
I've been thinking a lot about required reading, probably because I'm having to do so much of it. School comes with many types of required reading. Today, I won't be talking about reading excerpts from textbooks on various subjects, because I think everyone agrees that unless the subject is of particular interest, those readings are boring at best and painful at worst. Instead, I'm talking about being required to read entire works of literature (or, less often, nonfiction).
During winter break this year, I was required to read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I thought that this would be one of my easiest assignments ever. I LOVE that book. I read it for fun two summers ago and could barely put it down! I was expecting wonderful days curled up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, enjoying the chance to revisit one of my favorite novels while still being productive. Best of all, since it was my one big assignment, I wouldn't have homework hanging over my head for the entire break because I'd actually be motivated to finish within the first few days.
Except...that didn't happen.
I practically had to drag myself through that reread. It took me all of winter break (and a little bit more) to finish. I was bored. Any non-vital conversations felt like they were just there to make things longer, though I know I loved them the first time I'd read it. I skimmed paragraphs of description that I'd previously found beautiful. All in all, I didn't care.
What happened? Well, one option is that my opinion of Pride and Prejudice changed dramatically, but I doubt that's the case; after we finished discussing it in class, I reread some of my all-time favorite passages. They were a bit sour from the forced reread, but I still liked them. And if we're including adaptations, I've since watched the entire 2005 movie and some episodes of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, both of which I adore.
The other option that I see is that I disliked it just because required. I also had to annotate, which didn't help matters (even though I may have written mostly about how much I hate a certain character). I hope that this is the case, because I really don't want one of my favorite classics ruined for me forever because of school. I'll just let time pass and go read it again on my own terms.
Then, I started thinking about all the other required reading that I've done this year. As it turns out...I haven't liked any of it. Did I hate anything? No, but I didn't actually enjoy the time I had to spend reading The Iliad, or Crime and Punishment, or the other things I've had to read. If I don't limit myself to this year, there are so many more books that I wasn't a fan of.
On the other hand, there's been required reading that I've really enjoyed. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Outsiders, and The Great Gatsby were all wonderful, and that's not even the full list. I would have probably read some of these on my own (eventually), but I know there were some that I'd never have otherwise picked up.
So, my final verdict?
I don't know. I may not like being required to read in general, but even when I don't like the book, there are worse homework assignments. And sometimes, the book selection works out in my favor! For now, I'm just staying optimistic and hoping that I won't be forcing myself through all of my required reading forever. And here's hoping that the rereading Hamlet in a few months won't be like this.
What are your thoughts on required reading? What's your favorite/least favorite book you've had to read for school? Tell me in the comments!