So this an interesting topic I’ve wanted to discuss. Does reading a book required for school make you enjoy the book less? Or are you indifferent to it – a good book is a good book, right? Though, let me say, and I mean no offence to any writers out there, but I feel as though a lot of the books school choose to study are what you would call “deep and meaningful”, awash with symbolism and layered meanings. I find that these are the books I’m less inclined to like.
Of all my years of schooling, I’ve liked only one – yes, one – book I studied in school. It was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Funny, really, because I hadn’t expected to like the book at all. I’m not a huge fan of classics. I read it in literally a couple of hours. (Though it was really short so maybe this is not saying much.)
When you read a book for school, though, you don’t just read it and move on to the next thing. You’ll read it, study it, and write many, many essays – most likely you’ll have to read portions / all of it again to find quotes and symbolism and whatnot. And this is where, I believe, that some of the dislike for required reading came from me. I don’t like to analyze things too closely. It’s okay if you do, but that’s not me. I like the story to unfold on its own, and I don’t want to have to pick and pick and pick at the author’s writing – finding every small metaphor or literary technique he / she might have used to convey her point.
I just . . . couldn’t help myself, okay?
For example, do I think of any of these things when I write?
I don’t. I’m sure that there are many literary techniques in my own writing, but as a writer, I don’t sit down before my laptop and think, “Oooh, let’s add a metaphor here to show the reader my characters’ undying love for each other!” or whatever. I just don’t. I find this area of the subject English to be very vague and just downright pointless – why am I nitpicking every little thing the author has to say? How is this supposed to help me in life? And how do you, as a teacher, even know that was what the author actually meant of those words? Here is the wonderful thing about books: they mean something different to everyone.
More to the topic, though, does this affect your reading enjoyment? When you’re going over a novel, again and again, doesn’t it become tiresome? I know after reading The Shoe-Horn Sonata for Year 12 (this was a play, actually, not a novel) I wanted to throw it out the window. It’s a fantastic, moving play, really – but the months of picking it apart for essays and questions made me grow resentful towards it. I can’t help it. It almost made me understand why people out there don’t enjoy reading. It also makes me wonder whether required reading for school hinders people’s willingness to read on their own rather than helps.