As I finish up my year in college, I can’t help but think of the fact that I never have to take an English class again, if I don’t want to. In a lot of ways, that thought saddens me, because I loved English class in high school. In a lot of other ways though, it doesn’t sadden me. Of course, I like learning about literature and getting to discuss books in-depth with others, as I don’t have many people I do that with in my spare time (that’s part of the reason I started blogging, so I’d have an online way to do that). Yet, for as much as I love all that, I did read some truly horrific books in high school English classes, and I’m glad I don’t have to subject myself to anymore of that. If I don’t like a book now, I can just DNF it.
I figured for today’s post, I’d talk about a few books I remember hating in high school. There were definitely more than this, but I can get to those in another post. I’ll also write another post soon about books I loved reading for English classes in high school, because those definitely outnumber the few bad ones.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This was the summer reading book for my English class going into freshman year. I was actually excited to read this one, because it sounded like a cross between 1984 and The Book Thief, which were two books I read in middle school and loved. I was just disappointed with Bradbury’s tale though. I know it’s a classic, and it certainly hits on themes that are important, but I found it slow in the beginning and the end seemed kind of boring to me too. It felt like nothing much happened in the book, and because it hits on the same themes as 1984 and The Book Thief, I felt kind of let down, and thought it would be better to have just reread those two to get the same thing out of it.
Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai
I read this book about halfway through my sophomore year of high school for a world literature class I was taking. And I really wanted to like this book too. I had written a 10 page research paper about Indian culture for the same class earlier that year, and I thought this book would be a cool connection to that. Instead, it was slow and just a bit boring. I felt like there were a ton of more interesting ways that the story could have been presented. It also seemed a bit disjointed: if I remember correctly, the last third of the book focuses on the main character’s brother in America, and her story isn’t entirely resolved (nor is the brother’s at the end). It was like two stories, but the author didn’t give enough attention to either of them.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
After reading this book, I came to the conclusion that Dark Romanticism should only be taken in small doses; namely, in the form of short stories. We read a ton of short stories with dark romantic themes leading up to this book my junior year, and I loved them, even the ones Hawthorne wrote. But this book just dragged on forever. There was way too much religion and preaching by crazy Puritans, and while Hester was pretty great, it all got old after a while. Like, we get it: You think Pearl is the devil and everyone is going to hell to pay for their sins. Cool. Now hurry up and end this book.
So…I don’t know. I know these were classics (well, I don’t know about Fasting, Feasting, but the other two are classics) and maybe I’d appreciate them more if I went back and read them now. And I obviously understood the significance of the books when I read them, even if I didn’t like their plots. I guess they just weren’t my thing when I read them.
Are there any books you remember hating in school? There’s a few more from my senior year I’ll have to talk about in a future post, along with all the ones I loved from school.