21 January 2011
Literary Blog Hop - I Won't Be Going There Again...
Thanks to The Blue Bookcase for hosting the always excellent Literary Blog Hop.
This weeks topic:
Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?
At first I wasn't sure how to respond to this one. I have a personal philosophy that helped me get through grad school: I always like books. Even if I don't enjoy them, I search to find something that makes me excited about the material. I think, like many readers, I encountered some stuff in high school that was really boring, and no one really did anything to make it more exciting or relatable. I also think that I wasn't spending the time to understand the books, because I was far too busy doing other, teenager-y things. So, when I got to college and I saw how much I was going to be reading, I adopted my "make the best of it" attitude and eventually I really did start to find merit in most things.
That said, it suddenly came to me as I was pondering the topic. I hate Walden.
I'm probably not being entirely fair, because I don't think I've read all of Walden. I first encountered it in high school, where I'm sure I was supposed to read the whole thing. I remember the bean field chapter, and my only thought was, "Are you kidding? What on earth could I possibly be learning from reading about some guy who watches beans grow?" I was further disenchanted in college when I learned that Thoreau was not all that isolated at Walden pond. I slogged through the required selections in my American survey course. Then, when I was a TA for a writing class in Santa Cruz, we had seventh graders read it, and it started to come to life for me a little bit. I've always appreciated transcendentalist ideas, but the thought of reading Walden cover to cover makes me shudder.
Any Walden fanatics out there? I wish someone would convince me otherwise, but until then, Thoreau will remain collecting dust on my shelves.