Friday, August 21, 2009

A Returning To School Gift

for my friends who teach high school English -- five worst required reading books. So you have advanced warning, two of my least favorite are on the list. The Old Man and the Sea and something -- anything -- by Dickens.

6 comments:

ilse said...
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ilse said...

I have only read two. I hate Dickens and Hemingway and refuse to teach them (or read them, frankly).

I read Things Fall Apart last year and I was impressed by it, but wouldn't teach it except maybe to an AP class, if I were teaching a semester with a theme of colonialism and oppression of "primitive" peoples.

I have not read Ivanhoe, but it sounds dreadful.

My year this year is starting with Of Mice and Men (9th grade) and Hamlet (12th grade).

I'll have to show you the list of approved books as I decide what I'm going to teach in 12th grade for the rest of the year. Interesting options.

Landru said...

Dittos. Dickens has to die, but he's already dead, so we've been cheated. Hemingway needs to blow his own head off with a shotgun, but he already did it, so we've been cheated.

Hawthorne sucked donkey cocks. I haven't read the rest, but Things Fall Apart looks a lot like that dumbass cliche cultural awareness book Ilse teaches to 9th-graders. Y'know, when I was walking to school uphill both ways through chest-deep snow while being chased by velociraptors, we didn't need books that weren't written by either dead white guys or dead aggressive Commie lesbians. In fact, those hairy anarchist bitches were all the alternative perspective we needed to understand other brown people.

So, in summary, I'd like to say, Fuck Education. Thank you.

Gothmog said...

I like A Passage to India, but I wouldn't teach it, or any Forster, to HS students. Hemingway and Hawthorne I agree with: two big reasons why I don't teach any American Lit.

As you know, I'm a fan of Dickens, although ATOTC isn't my favorite (that would be Bleak House). I know that Dickens, like Shakespeare, is so badly taught in most high schools that most kids would rather have root canal. While being waterboarded. But I still soldier on and occasionally find it rewarding.

Things Fall Apart is actually pretty good, but I replaced it years ago in my AP curriculum with Poisonwood Bible, which the students like a lot more.

As for Ivan the Hoe, it's literary slop, and the Robert Taylor / Elizabeth Taylor movie has to be the most maudlin piece of seagull dung every put onto celluloid.

My summer reading assignments, btw: Brit Lit--One Corpse Too Many (a Cadfael mystery by Ellis Peters) & Pride & Prejudice; World Lit-- Poisonwood Bible and parts of Edith Hamilton's Mythology (which could also go on this list, but it's a necessary evil to get the students up to speed on all the mythological allusions that are going to hit them in the Fall).

Sasha said...

Things Fall Apart is really dated. Poisonwood is better. And Landru? Should teach the little motherfuckers.

Swami said...

I love A Tale of Two Cities! I can't read the last page without crying.

I'm not a Hemingway fan but I did enjoy The Old Man and The Sea and I thought the pared down language was interesting.

I read Ivanhoe as a teen (because it was on a list, of course.) I think I was more than halfway through the book before I got used to the archaic English - but then I did like the tale. Just not the telling of the tale. It did help that I was always picturing Roger Moore as Ivanhoe. :)

Never read The Scarlet Letter or Things Fall Apart.

A Passage to India is just okay.