21 January 2011

Literary Blog Hop - I Won't Be Going There Again...

Literary Blog Hop

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.

10 comments:

  1. Hi Laura,
    Yes, you're right: we share the same philosophy on the value of reading even books we find distasteful. I will say this: I simply won't read pulp fiction of any sort, because I want to continue to claim that even when I dislike a book, I can shift my reading experience into something beneficial to myself and others. I fear that some books have so little merit that I'd be hardpressed to do so, and thus I avoid them!
    Thanks for visiting me, and I look forward to more of your thoughts as the weeks progress.
    I too teach English, so perhaps that's why we agree on this aspect of reading.
    L (www.whatsheread.blogspot.com)

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  2. If the person running the course, invests some passion, or can at least allow the book to live & by that I mean not constrict it in some formulaic textbook answers read in monotone, almost any book can be made interesting, it at least not deadly dull.

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  3. I have never read Walden cover to cover, although I did read excerpts in college. I can't say that I disliked it, but I wasn't enamored either. Interesting choice!

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  4. Nice to have that philosophy. Sadly, most young readers don't live by those rules. Required Reading is poison to many.

    My post: http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2011/01/required-reading-dont-get-me-started.html

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  5. I remember feeling cheated when I learned Thoreau wasn't actually isolated as well! I had thought that was such a big point he was trying to make but obviously I missed what he was going for.

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  6. Yes! I loved the book when I was young, but was incredibly disillusioned when I found out he took his laundry home to Mom regularly.

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  7. I think the secret to Walden is to read in small chunks, preferably in a silent, contemplative mood. It doesn't bother me so much that Thoreau wasn't completely isolated--it makes him human to me. I think you've got to love the man who says "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

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  8. I have not read it. So can't comment.
    Some books, you just can't get into!

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop: Disliked Book post!

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  9. My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?

    Stop by my blog if you like...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.

    http://silversolara.blogspot.com

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  10. I've never read Walden, but it's one of those books I've always felt I should at least try. Maybe someday...

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I love your comments. Thanks for making me a happy blogger.

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