Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why Everyone Should Re-Read the Books You Were Forced to Read When You Were a Teenager

You remember reading all of those books in high school you absolutely hated? When I was in my junior or senior year of high school, I don't remember which, I had to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I slogged through it, but I recall hating this book with every single fiber of my being. I mean, I reviled it. I didn't understand its humor. I didn't understand much of the political environment in which it was embroiled. I hated the fact that women/girls didn't seem to come off extremely well in the books' pages. I thought Huck was a pretty horrible character, and Tom Sawyer ... don't even get me started on him.

And then, I read the book as a college junior. It was only a few years later. I really wasn't all that much more worldly. But on the second go around, I loved the book. I thought it was uproariously funny. I was pierced by both its humor and its humanity (I still hated the last several chapters, I have to say, but for very different reasons than why I didn't like the book when I was in high school. And I still didn't like Tom, but I came around to Huck).

What I'm getting at here is that everyone should re-read the books that we were forced to read when we were young, even if we developed an appreciation of those books at the time and especially if we hated them. Because as an adult, we will most likely love, revile, or appreciate those books for very different reasons.

Here's what is on my list of books to be re-read in the new light of my advancing age (hey, I will be 40 in a few years). Oh, and let me know what books you hated in high school. I'll put them on my reading list;). A/J

Maureen Corrigan's book on Gatsby's appeal has really made me want to return to this high-school classic and reopen its pages. I read it when I was probably a junior in high school, and I enjoyed it. But I don't think I got it. I also re-read it in preparation for my field exams for my doctorate, but that reading was so swift and so pressured that I don't think I enjoyed it or thought about it as much as I could have. 
I just started re-reading this book last night, which I read during my first semester of graduate school. I loved the beginning of the book, but if I'm being completely honest here, I never finished it. I will now. 
I didn't much care for Holden, the main character in Catcher, when I was a teenage girl. Maybe I'll be more sympathetic now? Or maybe I'll despise him even more?
Don't even get me started on Billy. We spent months and months on this book (that's what it seemed like anyway). My teacher loved it. She could not understand why we didn't. Why we were so recalcitrant in our dislike. I now understand where she was coming from, so I'll give it a second chance. 
This is a book I adored as a teenager. I want to go back and see if I adore it just as much now. 
Here's another one that I despised in high school. I just could not identify with it. I'm ready to give it another chance.
One thought, we apparently didn't read many books by women in my high school. I'm shocked. Not.

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