Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Holes in my Reading Education

I've always been a reader.  I'm sure that's hardly unique around the book blogging world.  As soon as I could read I did and I'm good at it.  I read quickly and have decent interpretation just don't ask me anything about symbolism.  Sometimes the curtains are just blue!  I didn't discover I was good at math until college so my only advanced classes in high school were English classes.  In college, however, it kind of switched.  My computer science major mean I only had to take a couple of really basic English classes and there wasn't any real required reading for any of them.  Luckily I did do a bunch of classic reading in high school but there are so many classics that it seems like everyone's read that I missed.  So here's my list:

I've read The Pearl (hated it), Of Mice and Men (liked it and loved it when I saw it performed as a play) and East of Eden (loved it - actually read it for pleasure) but somehow Steinbeck's most famous novel never ended up on my reading list.

I've read some of the Russians - Crime and Punishment, Fathers and Sons by Turgenev - but never the major one.  Since my main memory is being really confused by them I have my doubts I'll ever get to this one or Anna Karenina

I've never been a big science fiction reader and hadn't really read any until the last few years.  This was always on the alternate reading lists and I just never got around to it.  I thought I had seen a movie adaptation of it but it turned out that I was getting 1984 confused with Fahrenheit 54.  I've had this explained to me enough times that I do understand the term Big Brother

Or actually any Tolkien.  I did attempt The Hobbit right when this movie came out but I was in college and it didn't go well.  We own them all and my husband has read all the books a billion times but I have not.  I have read all the Narnia books and since Lewis and Tolkien were friends it kind of counts right??

Part of the problem is I lump Melville in with Hawthorne for some reason and I hated The Scarlet Letter.  Like didn't finish it, got the cliff notes hated it.  

I read Pride and Prejudice and enjoyed it and have actually reread it but I never got to this one.  I did decide I was going to read all the Austen novels around 10 years ago but the first one I found in the used bookstore I used to frequent was Northanger Abbey which I didn't particularly care for.  That kind of put a damper on the Read All the Austens quest.  However, of all the ones on this list this is one that has the greatest chance of actually being read.

I have a vague memory of this being on the syllabus for one of my college English classes but running out of time.  I know who Sylvia Plath is, I know a bit about her life but I've never read any of her actual writing.

I read Great Expectations in 9th grade and didn't care for it.  Other than loving Mrs. Havisham I mostly remember Pip complaining A LOT.  This didn't exactly inspire me to read more Dickens.

I know people absolutely adore this one but for some reason it was never on my radar.  This is another one that's likely to get read in the near future.

12th grade English was International literature and Joyce fell into that category.  Why my English teacher had a bunch of 17 year olds read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is beyond me.  I remember spending a lot of time sitting class asking each other things like "Wait, who is her?  Is it the friend or the naked chick in the creek?" and "I thought I kind of understood but now I'm completely lost.  What is this book about??"  To make it better my teacher's teaching philosophy was we read the book in class then took the test.  New book, repeat.  I had a fabulous teacher in 11th grade which cemented a love of Shakespeare but I definitely don't get the warm fuzzies about Joyce or the Russians.

So that's a few of the gaps in my education.  What are you missing?


  1. Rebecca du Maurier is an author I hadn't even heard of until I began blogging. I don't know how I could have gone so long without at least knowing her name. I have yet to read a book by her, but I hope to someday.

    Ulysses is one I haven't read and don't really have an interest to read. Or Moby Dick. Some day I am bound and determined to get through War and Peace. Fourth times the charm, right?

    1. 4th time is definitely a charm. I'm thinking War and Peace is for a time in my life when I don't have small children!

      I'm not sure I would've heard of du Maurier if my Grandmother hadn't been a big fan of Rebecca. It definitely didn't come up in school. I love Rebecca but I was even more impressed by a collection of short stories I read earlier this year. She's definitely worth searching out.

  2. Love love loved East of Eden, went and bought Grapes of Wrath, never read it. Liked S&S but Persuasion was my favorite of the three I've read.

    1. I do love East of Eden which is why it's kind of strange I didn't read anymore Steinbeck. I'll have to read Persuasion and just more Austen.